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 Post subject: How to write a guide
PostPosted: Sat Jun 14, 2008 10:30 pm 
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Joined: Feb 8, 2008
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Introduction
The purpose of any guide is to teach. A good guide will not only give insight on a topic when people first read it, but will be the kind of document that players want to come back to and reference over and over again. Layout and formatting are important tools to make sure that your message gets across clearly.

Table of Contents
  1. Structure
  2. Style
  3. Subject matter
  4. Other People's Guides

1. Structure
As you can see, this guide is already broken up into sections. First there was a brief Introduction (also known as Preview, Summary, or Teaser) section, giving a summary of what the guide is all about. It should be no more than one paragraph, just so readers know what your guide aims to teach them. In a short guide with an obvious subject matter, it may not be necessary, but it never hurts. Alternatively, an Attention Getter section can be used, some fact, example, or joke that demonstrates the subject you wish to teach.

After that, this guide contains a Table of Contents (also known as Bullet Points, Topic Listing, or What You Will Learn), listing the major sections. This is helpful for two reasons. Firstly, if people come back to reference your guide, this breakdown will make it clear how you are laid out, so they will know which section to jump to. Secondly, studies show that showing the section listing before teaching helps people absorb structured information. This is more important for longer guides, where it isn't obvious what comes next.

Then comes the actual guide. Each section should be, as much as possible, self-contained. Putting a great Structure tip in the Style section wouldn't help readers to find it later. Put the sections in the order that seems most natural to you, obviously considering when one part builds on the last one. Have as many sections as you need, but if the guide gets long you may want to break it up into major sections and minor ones within that. Like the following one:

Alternative structures
This guide has simple subject headers, with a few paragraphs explaining each. But that isn't the only way to write a guide. Another format is FAQ:

How do I use a FAQ structure?
Section headings, instead of being simple subjects, are phrased as questions. Remember though that you still need structure! One common pitfall is to simply answer a bunch of questions in no particular order. This is confusing to read and time-consuming to reference. So if there are many questions, you may still want a subject header for different sections.

And then some guides are a direct how-to. In that case, the ordering is the most important thing.
1. Decide if this style applies to you. It works best when the steps need to be in order, and all build toward one achievement.
2. Pick out the key phrases Those will be your subject headers, in a sense, even if it's just one for each line.
3. Include numbering. It helps readers to be clear that things must be done in order.

And any other structure you want to use is fine as well, if you have a good idea for it. The only requirements are that it be structured, logical, and easy to read.

One last word on structure: examples. Examples are very useful for helping readers understand what you are teaching. Consider either putting examples throughout the text, or having an example section at the bottom where you demonstrate what was taught. Use whichever approach fits your subject better.

2. Style
The Simunomics forums support BBCode formatting. This is a common way to allow anyone to use bold, underlined, or italic, or colored text. Other features are possible as well, including size changes, bulleted or numbered lists, hyperlinks, quotes, images, etc.

For a BBCode reference, there is a link to the left of any new post box. To make it easier for you, the text editor has buttons above it that will insert the relevant code. Once you get the hang of it, it is very useful and easy to do.

Code:
If I wanted to make something bold, [b]I would put it in brackets like this.[/b]
The same goes for [i]italics[/i] and [u]underlining.[/u]
That's how BBCode works.  First [color=red]comes a tag to open it and set the style, and then[/color] another tag to close it.
Hyperlinks work like this: [url=www.simunomics.com]Simunomics main site[/url]
Images work like this: [img]http://forums.simunomics.com/templates/GO_aphrodite/images/logo.gif[/img]


BBCode should be used to emphasize your structure and text. You can make section headers larger, or in bold, or in another color, or all of those things at once. Sometimes when you're writing, you want to emphasize a certain word, like you would stress it if you were talking. And then of course hyperlinks are always helpful when you're talking about another document. Note that you can link right into the game, and as long as the user is signed in, the page that comes up the right one for their company.

Images are sometimes helpful. We tend to encourage off-site hosting, using photobucket, imageshack, or any other hosting site. These sites make it easy to upload any image and paste the image right in. Please try to keep images smaller whenever possible, out of consideration for smaller screens and slower connections.

IF YOU ARE NOT COMFORTABLE USING BBCODE
--------------------------------------------------------------

That shouldn't stop you from writing a guide. Just use spacing, caps, and perhaps horizontal lines. These are just tools to help you express what you want to say. The most important thing is your message.

The most important tip for a well-formatted guide is this: preview! When you finish writing, hit the preview button and read it over. You'll catch typos, things you want to re-write, and formatting that doesn't catch the eye the way you'd hoped it would.

3. Subject Matter
If you think something is worth knowing, write a guide for it! There are any number of topics. Here are a few examples:

  • Picking the best price for the market.
  • How to set up a partnership.
  • All About Advertising.
  • The Insider's Guide to Car Manufacturing
  • How to make a banner
  • Forming your own Trade Group
  • Everything you need to know about Raw Materials
  • Getting to know the Transportation System
  • Picking what to build

And on and on. You can cover a chain, a type of building, a financial topic, an expressive technique, or anything else. A guide can even be just about the forums, as this one is.

One thing we do not recommend however, is something like "Committed's List of Random Tips." These tend not to have the impact that you would want, since people are less inclined to read that topic and very unlikely to find it again later. If you can organize your tips into a focused topic, it will be much more memorable.

Naturally, please keep your guides polite and helpful. If you want to make them funny or serious, standalone or part of a series, that is entirely up to you.

4. Other People's Guides
Writing a guide is a lot of work, and people aren't doing it for their own benefit. If you like what someone has written, please let them know. If you disagree with what someone has written, or want to add in some extra details, feel free to say so. That can make it all more helpful - as they say, 2 heads are better than 1. But always be constructive and polite.

_________________
"Please let me make my own mistakes? 'cause I really like to learn stuff." --Wise words from Hillside Cottage

Please read the rules. Have information? Why not write a guide?


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 Post subject: Re: How to write a guide
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:23 am 

Joined: Sep 11, 2011
Posts: 145
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User avatarCompany25414
Manufacturer
wait so theres a guide on how to write a guide?
:crazy: :crazy: :crazy:
lol jk


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 Post subject: Re: How to write a guide
PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2011 6:00 pm 
Developer

Joined: Feb 8, 2008
Posts: 2888
Offline
User avatarCommit to Excellence
Bellerive Chamber of Commerce
Yes but it was difficult to write because no one had given me any guidelines on how to do it! :wink:

_________________
"Please let me make my own mistakes? 'cause I really like to learn stuff." --Wise words from Hillside Cottage

Please read the rules. Have information? Why not write a guide?


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