How to Write a How-To Paper: a Step-By-Step Guide

In a student’s life of learning, they will be required to write different types of papers that speak to the every kind of reader and in different way. Because it’s important to understand how text translates to that reader, and what they’re looking for. Writing a how-to paper is very specific to learning that reader/writer relationship.

What Makes A How-To Paper Different?

A how-to paper is different from others because it’s more about describing a process in a linear fashion. Something that would help someone who’s probably looking for instruction while they’re doing it.

For instance, If someone wants to learn about dance steps, having a instructor is a great way to learn them, but to describe the process in a paper is very different. The writer would need to make their paper as complete and immediate as if the dance instructor were showing them the steps in the same room.

Also, unlike other papers, the author is preparing their text to be for more than one kind of reader. If it isn’t for someone who follows along while they’re learning it, it’s for someone who will read the text in its entirety and retain various in memory to complete later.

Planning out the paper

Writing a how-to paper is also more than just writing down the instructions. The author must keep in mind that the reader will need to understand the entire process in pieces, so the author will need to write as if there's a stopping places after each instruction and that type of writing needs to be planned.

Even the writing of a how-to paper requires a step-by-step planning session, which includes planning out:

  • The Outline - to understand the beginning, the middle and the end and,
  • Visual Aids - parts of the text where the writer can provide visual examples for the reader.

Because the way the thinking process works, requires repetition. Before a anyone learns how to do something, they usually just do it and go through the motions per instruction and allow the understanding to come later.


It’s always a good idea to write the how-to instruction in sections. For instance, if the paper is about cooking something, it’s a good idea to have:

  • First section be for preparation,
  • Second section is the mixing of ingredients,
  • Third section about cooking and,
  • Fourth/final section about serving, garnish and other suggestions

The author would go further and break down each section with paragraphs that go into some brief detail about each step, with visual aids such as diagrams or pictures.

There’s no wrong way to write a how-to paper, just as long as it’s well organized and the reader can follow along is what’s most important. If the paper reads well, the reader will feel like the expert they weren’t, before they read the paper


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