The perfect "How-To Guide" template you can steal

4 min read

“How-to guides” are just as they sound, they are kb articles that guide your customers through exactly how to do something, step by step. This could be setting up a new device, creating accounts, troubleshooting common problems, or any other [technical documentation or product support your customers commonly need.]

These can be fairly simple to write, however, after [planning your technical documentation], you might discover that you have dozens, even hundreds, that you need to author. So, working from a template, rather than from scratch, each time you write an article can streamline the process. Plus, if you have a team of writers creating articles, using a singular template can ensure consistency.

Now, there are plenty of “how-to guide” templates out there, but how do you know which one is best? You don’t want to write hundreds of articles based on a single template only to discover that you left out something super important in each one. Luckily, we have done the work for you and combed through all of the templates you might decide between to make the ultimate “how-to guide template,” complete with everything your customers may need.

Simply, start with our template below, plug in your own copy and images, and voila!

The ultimate “how-to guide” template

Add Your “How-To Guide” Title Here!

Begin with a brief introduction to your content. Talk about what topics you will cover, why a customer may need this information, and any preliminary knowledge they may need to understand the article. For example, if this guide is about connecting a device to your phone, you might want to mention here that they should first get their WiFi configured (and link to the guide on how to do so). 

Table of Contents

In this guide, we will cover the following topics: (Be sure to link these bullet points to their accompanying subtitles below)

  • Explanatory information
  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Tips and tricks
  • Advanced instructions

Explanatory Information – Why You Should Learn X

You won’t always need to include this section, but if you are discussing a topic that your customers know nothing about, it can be helpful to explain what exactly you are instructing them to do. For example, connecting a device to your phone is something most of us can wrap our brains around. But, if you are writing a guide on how to turn on the device’s auto-pairing feature, you might want to first explain what auto-pairing is, how it works, and why customers should be interested in that feature. 

Think of this section as a way to convince your customers that following the next set of instructions will be worth it. You can also use this opportunity to link to other related how-to guides that customers may also find useful. 

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now, it’s time to guide the customer through how to do a specific process, step by step. 

  1. First, tell them how to navigate to a simple starting point. This could be clicking a page (if it is an online process) or putting together a product.
  2. Now, use the remaining steps to explain piece-by-piece each action they should take.
  3. Be sure to explain everything as if the customer is a complete beginner.
  4. Don’t feel afraid to elaborate on things that seem simple.
  5. Feel free to bold or underline certain words and actions that are most important.
  6. Break sentences into easy-to-read instructions, like: “click main menu > account page > edit account settings > update email address.”

Tips and Tricks

  • Tips: List out some ways customers can easily follow along with your steps. 
  • Tricks: What are some non-essential things customers might like to know about your product. Maybe it’s a few shortcuts or ways they can better use each feature.
  • Ideas: Offer up what they can do with the process you explained above!

Advanced Instructions

Now that you’ve explained the basic step-by-step process that all customers can understand, feel free to add an additional section with more advanced information. This might be advanced settings, more detailed info on what you’ve already discussed, processes that are only available to certain customers, or anything else.

Keep in mind, you can have as many “step-by-step instructions” or “advanced instructions” as you need in each guide. It doesn’t need to be just one of each! Though try not to overwhelm customers by including a million different things in one guide. If you must, be sure to include the table of contents for easy navigation!

Don't forget to add images to this section as well! Use visuals as often as you can with any how-to guide.

Conclusion

Your conclusion should be brief and simple. The most important part is to link out to other how-to guides that naturally relate to this one. 

Try saying something like, “Continue learning about X by reading Y.”

What’s next?

After starting with our template, learn the basics of writing a kb article, and read about a few examples of great ones that can inspire yours. If you’re building your knowledge base from scratch, check out our blog on how to plan all of the technical documentation you will need.

Victoria
I love to write with one goal in mind - to help you build amazing customer experiences. Our content is tailored to help you understand your customers, design great products and deliver world-class customer self-service. I share my knowledge and experience through my articles, videos, podcasts, templates, and more - so you can take your customer experience to the next level.‍

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