Picture of How to Write an Instructable

Instructables are the reason this site exists.

There are many ways of presenting your work here, and everybody finds their own style, but there are things that good instructables have in common, and that is the purpose of this Instructable.

Pay attention, there may be a test.
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Step 1: Subject Matter

Picture of Subject Matter

The first question from every new Instructabler is "what should I write about?"

The simple answer is... anything. If you have enough passion to create a project, then you have the passion to share it. You should preferably publish something original, but with tens of thousands of projects already published here, it's possible that somebody else has already had a go at your idea, even if you thought of it by yourself.

Don't let that put you off. It's quite likely that many people will prefer your style of writing, or find your instructions easier to follow.

You should use an Instructable to...
  • Show us what you have made.
  • Show us how you made something.
  • Show us how to do something (demonstrate a skill, rather than produce an object).
You should not use an Instructable to...
  • Show us somebody else's work (if you've found something cool online, start a forum topic).
  • Try and sell us something without telling how to make our own.
  • Post something inappropriate.  "Inappropriate" is a hazy thing to define, but please remember that this site is used in schools. Generally, if you wouldn't show your teacher, don't publish it here.

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Nice! I have a question. How do you 'collaborate' on an instructable?
Kiteman (author)  maxstevenson3 years ago
When you start an instructable (or edit an existing one), there is a tab called "More" - hover over it, and select "Collaborate".

You can then add the names of the members with whom you wish to collaborate. They will then be able to edit the text and add pictures, just as you can, but only you will be able to hit the "publish" tab.

Say I read a good how-to in a book. Am I allowed to make that as an Instructable? Should I credit the source?

Kiteman (author)  LocutusOfBorg1 month ago

Rewrite the instructions in your own words, use your own photos, and mention the book, you'll be fine.

Jan_Henrik10 months ago

Very cool!

Kiteman (author)  Jan_Henrik10 months ago

Thank you!

Son is off to school. Time to create an instructable. So much to do in so little time. Lol...any way to slowdown time? Lol :)
very useful.i think it will help me improve my instructables
Kiteman (author)  argha halder1 year ago
uglystank1 year ago
Great intstructable. Btw, I am your neighbor
Kiteman (author)  uglystank1 year ago
Awesome! Thanks for sharing, Kiteman!
Kiteman (author)  M.C. Langer1 year ago
You're welcome, although I don't think *you* really need it.
Thanks! :-)
rimar20001 year ago
Kiteman, this guide is very useful.

I have a [request | prayer | entreaty | petition | cry | wish | instance] to make for step 9: when creating a video instructable, PLEASE ADD SOME CAPTION for non anglophone readers. We are many millions, maybe billions, that can read English but don't understand it when hear.

NOTE: I prepared an explanatory screenshot, but I can't upload images here. When I select the image, the editor does not aware.
That suggestion could be also at the beginning of the Create Video Instructable page: "Consider to add English subtitles / captions to your video, for non anglophone readers around the world" or so.

Kiteman (author)  rimar20001 year ago
Oh, I see.

(Edit coming up. )
Kiteman (author)  Kiteman1 year ago
(And done!)
The Rambler3 years ago
Just a note on a simple and very common mistake in wording that I've noticed.

People often say things like "See picture below" because when you are creating your instructable the pictures are added into a box below the text. Remember that when viewing a published instructable the picture is actually shown above the text.

I know this doesn't seem that important, I just figure it's another way to make an instructable the best possible instructable it can be.
Very clever note. I agree with you.
I've contemplated writing up a "how to write an instructable" instructable myself! I'm glad to see someone much more eloquent than me has already done that! to get everyone to read it before they post their crap. :) Nice work!
Kiteman (author)  doodlecraft1 year ago
Thank you.
This is so great, I learned a lot from this. Thank you so much.
Thank you for this, but is it able to get an old programm from you which is very simple? ;-)
Kiteman (author)  christoph1232 years ago
This is as easy as I could make it.

The best way to start is to make your "thing", and take photographs of everything you do.

Upload those images to the site, start creating an instructable, and then describe what you are doing in the photos.
darman122 years ago
That's a cool coincidence...i'm the 2000th viewer :)
AshleighLm2 years ago
Where do I go to start an instructable?
Kiteman (author)  AshleighLm2 years ago
At the top of every page, there is a tab marked "Create".

Click that, then choose the kind of Instructable you want to write.

(Thank you for reminding me that this needs updating!)
AshleighLm2 years ago
Kiteman (author)  AshleighLm2 years ago
Thank you.

How do I go to the next step? I do not have any "add step" or "next step" button.
Kiteman (author)  ExquiseMarquise2 years ago
You have accidentally started a photo slide-show.

When you click the Create tab, you get three options turn up, Photos, Step-by-step and Video. It is the second option you need to use, which will look like the screenshot below.

Don't worry about the photos you have already uploaded to the slideshow, they are freely available to you in your library, and you just add them to your step-by-step.
Start step by step screen shot.JPG
Thank you very much, you have been really helpful!
Kiteman (author)  ExquiseMarquise2 years ago
You're welcome.
Winged Fist3 years ago
Thanks for this important Instructable... Should be required reading!;-)
A question: I've tried using Google Translate to translate Instructables, but can't figure out how to get Google Translate to view Instructables in the "Allsteps Preview" mode. Any suggestions?
Kiteman (author)  Winged Fist3 years ago
Sorry, I've just a play with it, and I can't make it work with all-steps.

I think that's because it's a within-site option, not part of the URL.
Thanks for trying Kiteman! I hope Instructables can come up with a way to generate PDF's using Google Translate, as there are so many members from around the world, and obviously English is not everyone's first language...
Kiteman (author)  Winged Fist3 years ago
Nice idea, but I think it would involve a large amount of coding?

However, once you've created an instructable, there's nothing stopping you editing it to include a link to a google translated version of the page, like this.
I'm not a programer, but I can't imagine this would be that complicated? Google has already done the "heavy lifting" with the creation of Google Translate. And Instructables already uses a Google based search engine. And if I click on a link from my Gmail, Instructables automatically logs me in. So all that would be required is the Instructables website recognizing my IP address when I log in via Google Translate, I think?

As far as including a translate link in my own Instructable, that wouldn't really work, as I have not idea what language(s) other users might prefer to read it in...

(I tried your link, and it still defaults back to a "step-at-a-time" view, with ads, even though I'm logged-in and have preferences set to "Allsteps" view).

That's just my two cents... and theory. Thanks again for the fine Instructable!
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