wikiHow:Nepali Language Project/Writer's Guide

Two Methods:Sub-stepsSub-sections

This style guide is intended to help you create articles that match wikiHow’s format and tone. You’re writing for someone who has probably never completed this task before, who may or may not be covered in glue or dirt or baking powder as they frantically search the Internet for a solution to whatever how-to problem they’re facing. That’s why your articles need to be clear, concise, and (most importantly) informative.

Our overall goal with wikiHow writing is to provide skimmable information that readers can quickly understand while simultaneously creating rich, informative articles for more patient users. We’re trying to step away from the style of most traditional print publishers because readers of online content need to be able to comprehend information as quickly as possible. This means we’re going to throw some of the old rules out the window.

Remember: The advice below should serve as a guide while you’re writing. We realize there are exceptions to every rule, so keep in mind that nothing is set in stone, and always use your best judgment when creating or editing articles.

For questions, feel free to contact the Help Team, post in the forums, or e-mail our community facilitator, Krystle.

EditChoosing a Topic

You can write an article about how to do almost any topic (read our rules). It can be very broad (like How to Sleep Better) or very specific (like How to Sleep Better when You Have a Long Illness). If you don't know what to write about, try to answer a request.

If we already cover the exact topic you want to write, please edit the existing article instead of starting a new article. Since wikiHow is a collaborative project, we want people to work together to build one high-quality page on a particular topic, rather than each person making their own page.

EditChoosing a Title

Use the shortest title you can with the most common words to describe your article's content. Be specific.

Begin the title with a verb. Remember, the words How to are automatically added for you.

If you start an article with a mistake in the title, don't worry. Just insert {{title|new title}} at the very beginning of your article. Eventually a volunteer admin will see the request and change the title for you.


The Introduction is where the reader decides whether those delicious-looking bacon chocolate chip cookies sound good enough to make. (Hint: They do.) It should be a brief rundown of what the reader will learn from the article, and the style and tone of the Intro vary depending on the type of article you’re writing.

If the subject is fairly serious, such as in a technical or medical article, the Intro should get straight to the point. You’re probably looking at two to three sentences max, and there won’t be a whole lot of fluff or filler. Check out “How to Treat a Sunburn” for an example.

If the subject is a bit more lighthearted, such as in relationship articles, you want the Intro to be as approachable as possible. In these articles, people are probably reading to be entertained as much as they are reading for information, so we want to make sure to catch their wandering eyes. Take a look at “How to Flirt” for an example.


Now that you’ve drawn your readers in, your next tasks are keeping them engaged and making sure they get the information they need. Your main steps (the numbered guys) are the stars of your show.

  1. 1
    Start each step with an action-oriented instruction, such as “Put two cups of water into a medium saucepan.” A good way to make sure you’re being active instead of passive is to double-check that each step begins with a verb.
  2. 2
    The first sentence of the step should summarize the entire action. When you’re writing, imagine that a reader only skims these first steps, and ask yourself if the first sentences of the step would help them understand the basics actions of the how-to. If the answer is yes, you nailed it!
  3. 3
    Readers respond best to main steps that are three to four lines long. However, if you find that one of your main steps is looking a little lengthy, consider adding sub-steps to make it easier to follow. (See the bullet points under steps 1 and 2 of "How to Treat a Sunburn" for examples of good use of sub-steps.)
  4. 4
    Avoid explicitly referring to other steps, as the numbering of steps may change over time. For example, instead of writing “Repeat Step 1,” write “Repeat the rinsing process.”
  5. 5
    Also avoid generic steps such as “Be patient and eventually your flowers will bloom” or "Have fun." Steps should be tasks that are vital to the completion of the project. One exception to this is the last step of an article where readers might want to see the finished product, as in a crafting article. In this case, the last step could just be the word “Finished.”


Your sub-steps (the bulleted guys) are the supporting cast. They’re useful if you need to break one step into multiple parts or if there’s additional information that might help the reader accomplish the step.


Then there are the subsections, which are also called “alternate methods.” Think of these like the acts in a play. They come in handy if there are different ways to complete the how-to or if you need a way to distinguish between different “phases” of a project. We’ve found that readers really enjoy articles that split things into subsections, so please don’t hesitate to use them. Check out the following articles for examples of great subsection usage:

“How to Kiss a Girl” and “How to Cope with the Stomach Flu” both use subsections to discuss the broader categories within the how-to. “How to Make Frosting” and “How to Kiss” use subsections to outline the different methods a person might employ.


  • The Tips section should contain additional helpful guidance for the reader about how to perform the how-to. Tips can do a number of different things:
    • Extend information presented in the Steps section: “To make sure your cake is done, insert and remove a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the cake is ready.”
    • Inform readers about alternatives that can be used: “A tablespoon of olive oil can be substituted for the butter in this recipe.”
    • Offer other helpful non-step information that is not appropriate elsewhere.
  • The Tips section is not appropriate for:
    • Personal opinions on the article topic.
    • Comments such as “Enjoy!!” or “Have fun!”
    • Repeating information that you’ve already discussed.


Use the Warnings section if it’s necessary to alert readers to serious problems they might encounter when completing the task, such as threats to life and limb or major costs that might be incurred. Not every article will have a Warnings section, but if you’re trying to move past that knife-throwing article without one, we would suggest re-thinking your approach.

Avoid obvious warnings such as “Be careful not to cut yourself with the scissors.”

EditThings You'll Need

In the Things You’ll Need section, include all physical items necessary to complete the task (e.g., scissors, needle, thread). Do not include non-physical needs (e.g., perseverance, time).

We’ve found that this section adds a lot of value for a reader who is looking for clear information on how to accomplish a task. Be as concise and specific as possible. Often, this section will just be a list of items.


If your article needs an Ingredients section, it should go at the top of the article, below the Intro and above Steps. Include all the edible items that are necessary for the article, as well as their measurements in both metric and imperial. Non-edible items, such as pans, utensils, or tools, should be listed under Things You’ll Need.

EditSources and Citations

We want readers to feel confident about the accuracy of the information we’re presenting on wikiHow, and that’s why we place a huge emphasis not only on sourcing, but also on choosing reputable sources.

Avoid using personal blogs and Web forums as sources unless they’re run by reputable organizations (e.g., a professor’s blog linked from his university website, or a software expert’s personal site). We realize that for lighter topics, such as cooking or crafting, there are a lot of respected individual blogs, and those are totally fine to use; just make sure your sources look professional and are free of egregious errors. Also avoid websites such as eHow, Yahoo Answers, Ask.com, Examiner.com, or other sites where you suspect that a vibrant fact verification process does not take place.

Using Sources

You aren’t required to use any sources or citations in your articles, but using in-text citations can boost the credibility of what you have written, especially if your source is well regarded and enables readers to dig deeper if they want more information about what you've written.

For that reason, we encourage you to include in-text citations for anything you write that has supporting source material. To do this, use the <ref>http://www.example.com</ref> format, listing the source (either a link or reference to a printed work) at the end of the line or section to which it relates. This automatically puts whatever is between the <ref>______</ref> tags into a footnote in the Sources section like this.[1] Refer to "How to Reference Sources on wikiHow" for complete information on how to format in-text citations.

We recommend you do not add hyperlinks to outside sources within the text, as in-text citations are far more likely to be kept with the article. Hyperlinks to external sources within the main text, however, will often be changed or removed by editors, especially if they are intended to pull readers to another site - they have too often been inserted by spammers in the past.

EditGeneral Guidelines

Brand names

Avoid referring to specific products whenever possible. For example, in an article about how to clean up spills, recommend that readers use cloths or paper towels instead of Scotch-Brite™ Kitchen Wipes.

There are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. When your article talks about how to use a specific product, such as in “How to Create a Graph in Microsoft Excel”
  2. When there is no alternative to a brand-name product (e.g., Rogaine)


To accommodate wikiHow’s international audience, always refer to both imperial and metric measurements: “Walk one mile (1.6 km) every day.” Other good practices include using general phrasing like "Call emergency services" instead of "Call 911."

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