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How to write a how-to

The how-to guides on this website are there to support people and strengthen the voluntary sector. They provide practical tips and guidance. 

This guide explains how to create a how-to guide for NCVO Knowhow Nonprofit - it covers what to do and how to approach writing it. Before writing your how to, please read our community content guidelines.

Things you'll need

  • Knowledge and experience of the subject you're writing about
  • Details of any further sources of information your readers might find useful, if you have them
  • An ability to write simply
1

Decide what to write about

Decide if you have some experience or knowledge that you think other users of this site would find helpful. Choose something that you can convey as a set of instructions or guidance rather than just talking about your experience - case studies are better for this.

It can be related to anything in the voluntary sector - you might be a 'specialist' who knows a lot about charity accounting, or you might have had some experience setting up your own charity that you want to share in order to help others who may be in the same position.

If you can think of someone that you know who might find what you are writing useful, that's a good sign.

2

Create the how-to on the website

Create a new how-to by clicking on the 'add a new how-to' button.

You will see a page with a set of blank text fields that you'll write into.

'Title' and 'Introduction'

Make sure you give your how-to a title and a simple introduction that make it clear what the how-to is about.

'What you'll need'

Fill in this list so readers know what they'll need to do or get before they start, in order to get the most from your advice. This is a bit like the ingredients list in a recipe.

It'll automatically turn it into a bullet list for you.

3

Structure and write the how-to

The how-to template is structured so you can divide up your main text into easy-to-follow steps. Think about how you can structure your advice in this way so it comes across as a simple step-by-step guide.

Each step has its own heading field and text field. You can add bullet lists, pictures and any other formatting you like, as you would in a typical Word document.

  • Give each step a heading which describes what the step is about.
  • Each step should cover one self-contained task or 'stage'.
  • Make sure you write the steps in the order that they should be carried out!

Try to write simply and clearly:

  • Your how-to doesn't have to be long. Less can often be more!
  • Don't use long and complex sentences.
  • Try to use active sentence construction rather than the passive. For example, 'file your accounts by January' is better than 'your accounts should be filed by January'.
  • Avoid jargon, acronyms or specialist words that people might not be familiar with.

Please don't promote your organisation in the main body of your guide - use the ‘Further links’ or 'Further information' sections to add a link to your website.

4

Include any further information

You can include any further sources of information you know about that might be useful, eg websites or publications.There is a 'links and further information' text field especially for this.

5

Publish your how-to

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Further information

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Page last edited Sep 13, 2017 History

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