5 Things to Tips for a Top Notch How-to

September is National Sewing month.  In the spirit, the St. Louis Public library put together this “One Stitch at a Time Topic Guide.”  I’ve been noodling over sewing.

My mother was a brilliant seamstress.  My skill level?  I’ve never driven a needle through my finger.  Or my thumb.

I’m fascinated by the thought of sewing but I sewed masks in March and April.  No one would guess by the things I said that I might consider sewing for fun.  And yet…

It’s also been a long time since I wrote how-tos.  I really enjoy that kind of writing.  If writing a how-to is something you’ve been considering, keep these 5 things in mind:

Know Your Audience

This one is always important but in how to writing it is vital.  If your audence is the young reader, you are going to have different limits than if your audience is an adult.  And who is that adult?  A teacher guiding 15 young learners for the project is going to want something different than the grandparent working one-on-one with a child.


What supplies you can include will depend somewhat on the publication.  Some sites want every item used to be something the person may have on hand.  Others allow you to include two or three things that will have to come from the store.


Many how-tos open with a hook.  Why is this something that your reader will want to do?  Is it a traditional Christmas dish in Finland?  Or perhaps it is something they may want to make for Grandparent’s Day.


When you write a how-to, record each step in chronological order.  Do 1.  Then 2.  And next 3.  Do not write 2 and then say “But before this do 1.”  Keep things in order!

Test Your Instructions

Once you have drafted your how-to, follow your own instructions.  If you didn’t write it down, you can’t do it!  As you find the things you forgot to include, pencil them in.  And note anything that can’t be done as written.  If you can’t follow your instructions to achieve the final product, neither can your readers.

How-tos are a lot of fun to write but before I try guiding a young reader through a sewing project, I need to try my hand and threading a needle and making something fun.