Guide to writing guides

Discussion in 'General Tutorials' started by Guild McCommunist, May 11, 2011.

  1. Guild McCommunist
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    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    That's right. It's a guide for writing guides, in the hopes that you'll write a guide that's better than this guide at the competition.

    Format shamelessly stolen from Densetsu and his nicely formatted and well written Japanese guide

    Choosing a Subject


    Before writing a guide, you must consider what you want to write it on! Consider these points as you ogle over my genius idea for writing a guide.

    • Is it an issue that matters?: There's no point writing a guide on something that isn't consistently a problem. For example, I chose to write this guide because of all the poor formatting I've been seeing in guides lately. It was a pressing issue. Choose something that you find is not well covered and important on the forum.
    • Is there enough to write it on?: Guides are mostly just looking beefy. If you have a guide with all of five lines, it'll look like a poor subject. Even if you just add a bunch of fluff to it, it's the content that counts! It's better to go too much into a subject than too little!
    • Can it be well explained?: There's some things that just are just hard to explain. Maybe it's a subject that's expansive and matters, but if people won't have an idea in the world what you're talking about, it'll be completely useless.
    • IF THERE IS A GUIDE FOR IT, IT DOESN'T MEAN IT'S OFF LIMITS!: There's plenty of guides around here, new and old. A lot of guides can be considered outdated or their holders are inactive. Don't be afraid to tackle a guide that's already been done. Thanks to Rydian for this useful tip in another thread.
    Now that you have your idea, it's time to move on to writing it!

    Writing Your Guide


    When writing your guide, there's a few things to remember...

    • Your demographic: For GBAtemp, assume that we're all on the level of third graders. I'm not saying that we are (well, some of us are), but you want to make a guide as easy to understand as possible.
    • Remember your terminology!: For most any subject, there's terminology that's really only used inside that subject, and can be confusing to anyone outside of it. Trust me, I've entered a few threads around the internet about some subjects that are completely Greek to me. Try to avoid using terminology, and if you need to, explain what it is thoroughly.
    • Write concisely!: No one wants to read a lengthy wall of text. Make your steps short and sweet.
    • Stay largely unbiased: While you have a right to an opinion, it's better to keep it out (for the most part) in guides. You can definitely say what method you personally prefer or what not, but don't bring trashing and fanboyism into it.
    Well, it seems like you've just written your guide! Now it's time to publish it!

    Formatting Your Guide


    What seems to be the big issue here is the presentation of guides. They often seem sloppy, rushed, and have the quality of an average forum post, not something that a guide should have.

    • USE PROPER GRAMMAR!: One of my biggest peeves on the internet is grammar. I'll forgive it if I'm still able to decipher it, but for something that's supposed to be professional and concise, poor grammar and editing is NOT acceptable. Uppercase when needed, use periods and proper punctuation, spell things right, and don't use abbreviations unless it's needed in the subject at hand (like no one wants to spell out Random Access Memory for RAM).
    • Break down the info!: As I said before, walls of text are boring. People will often look for a different guide or abandon the subject completely if the guide is just a big eyesore. Break down the info with bullet points, sections, and spoilers. This will also allow people to easily jump to whatever stage they need to see for the subject at hand.
    • Use visual aids!: Some people say a picture is worth a thousand words. So if your subject permits, you may as well save yourself from writing a thousand words and readers from reading a thousand words and use some pictures! There's plenty of times that just showing a picture of something is far easier than explaining it. With almost everyone having a camera somewhere (whether it's an actual camera, a cellphone, your DSi/3DS, whatever), it's inexcusable. Plus you have a forum full of friendly faces who I'm sure will be able to use their ultra pro photography skills to get you some good pictures. Well, ask some people before you make your guide, of course.
    • Make it look good!: On top of having an organized guide, you should add some visual flash to it. Make things stand out, make it flow and colorful. Whatever you need to make it look like more than just a bunch of words.
    Tools


    Honestly, everything you need for a well formatted guide can be found when making your post. Use the toolbar up top for your basic text and content management (such as bullet points, hyperlinking, etc). Here's some stuff not covered by the toolbar though.

    Code:
    - [P]Insert text here[/P]: It's what you find most User Submitted News posts use for their body text. It looks better than quote tags or code boxes.
    - [h]Insert header here[/h]: Adds the nice header you see above.
    - [spoiler][title:Insert title here]Insert text here[/spoiler]: Spoilers are nice for making long sections just short. It allows people to open and close that section of text at will. If you don't want a title, then you can omit it.
    - [code]Insert code here[/ code] (take away the space): It's a place for code, obviously. It negates normal coding.
    
    And please, don't abuse smileys. Adding an overabundance of smileys just makes your guide look amateur and annoying. It's like handing in a college essay with a bunch of stickers on it. It looks unprofessional and is really annoying.

    Guide Sections


    Just links to all the respective guide areas so you can post yours.

    Now that your guide is complete, you can post it and thank me for making this guide 'cause I'm awesome.
     
  2. The Pi

    The Pi Lurker

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    One of the best guides I've seen here really. I'm not even joking.
     
  3. Rydian

    Rydian Resident Furvert™

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    This.
    So hard.
     
  4. Issac

    Issac I

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    Nicely written guide! Why not use it for the competition? I think it's a really good read.
    One thing though: "What seems to be the big issue here is the presentation..." is aligned to the right, unlike all the previous short texts directly after a header which are aligned to the left. Is it intentional or just a code typo?
     
  5. soulx

    soulx GBAtemp Legend

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    Great guide.
    This should be a mandatory read before anyone submits a guide.
     
    EZ-Megaman likes this.
  6. Guild McCommunist
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    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    Actually you just won part one of my intricate game of BBCode hide-and-seek.

    Actually, I accidentally put it in there since I was fooling around the the text. My bad, and thanks for pointing it out [​IMG]

    I may just take out the expletives and ship it off to the guides section if it's really that good.
     
  7. Issac

    Issac I

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    No problems. I didn't know if it was intentional since it was under the part of "Formatting Your Guide", maybe it was a way to show a different way to play with the layout. (Being a fan of books like Raw Shark Texts and House of Leaves, I enjoy when people play with the text layout).

    Maybe even making a Template would be good? (to add to the end of the guide).
     
  8. junkerde

    junkerde Banned

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    this is like guide inception, "a guide within a guide"
     
  9. Issac

    Issac I

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    Is it not the purpose of a guide to contain a guide? [​IMG]
     
  10. Guild McCommunist
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    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    I was thinking about that but if people really started using this guide, then almost every guide would look the same. I want the guides to sorta look dynamic. Just piece together the tools (like headers, fonts, whatever) to make something exciting and somewhat unique.
     
  11. Vulpes Abnocto

    Vulpes Abnocto Drinks, Knows Things

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    This just might be the most important guide contributed to the tutorial competition thus far.
     
  12. Densetsu

    Densetsu Pubic Ninja

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    Wouldn't YOU like to know?
    I swear I saw it as the recommended format somewhere, so I just copied it. For some reason I can't find the topic where I saw it, but if I'll do I'll let you know. Just saying I can't take credit for this format is all.

    And thanks for the plug! [​IMG] It's far from what I want it to be at the moment though. It's not meant to be an entry for the competition because I wasn't planning to finish it until I start my summer break (which will be at the end of this month).
     
  13. KingdomBlade

    KingdomBlade Blade v3+ (I R SHMEXY)

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    Nice guide. I mean, I'm not really going to use it but, nonetheless good guide. I don't think it's eligible due to the fact that it doesn't really fit into any of the given categories though. You also forgot to mention anchor tags.

    If you click this it will go





    over here.
    Code:
    [link=over there]If you click this it will go[/link]
    
    
    
    
    
    [a]over there[/a]over here.
     
  14. CannonFoddr

    CannonFoddr Regular GBATemp Lurker

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    ^ The anchor tag ?? - I knew about that one but didn't it 'stop working' for a while - glad it's back up & running..... That's definitely one that'll be handy in some guides - handy to 'jump' to specific sections
     
  15. Guild McCommunist
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    Guild McCommunist (not on boat)

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    I'll let the staff decide if this is competition-worthy or not.

    And thanks for the anchor tags reminder KingdomBlade, added it to the guide.
     
  16. Raika

    Raika uguu

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    This needs to be stickied with premium quality gum.
     
  17. Terminator02

    Terminator02 ヽ( 。 ヮ゚)ノ

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    o wow, they fixed it [​IMG]
     
  18. Shockwind

    Shockwind DIEEE!!!

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    This.
    This guide is great for making guides. [​IMG]
     
  19. Chhotu uttam

    Chhotu uttam DOH HO HO HO

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    TEH WORLD

    [​IMG].
    awesome guide. [​IMG]
     
  20. Shockwind

    Shockwind DIEEE!!!

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    Yeah. I agree. [​IMG]