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How many times have you gone to a wikipage looking for the answer "How do I ...? and the answer assumes you know things you have no idea what they are talking about.

I learned how to create HowTo documents when I was asked to help create a training course at Boeing for 15,000 people when we were switching from paper to computer for recording our work processes. (It has been said that the paperwork to build a 747 would fill it.)

I had to teach people who barely knew how to use a computer to record all their work on one.

I put together a beta training manual and had a class of 20 students attempt to "sell a job" or record that their work package was complete.

As I watched the class, I saw some whiz right through the exercise while others struggled,

When they were all done I asked them how it went. They all said "I got to this point and it stopped"

Confused, I looked at where they were and they were all stopped at the same point.

"Why didn't you hit the "Enter" key?" I asked.

"It didn't say to" they answered.

My point: When explaining how to do something don't assume anything.

Record EVERY step involved in the process. Every

  • Mouse click
  • Tab click
  • Enter click
  • Selection
  • Keystroke

In other words, if you have to do it, record it.

Is this going to be more information than most of your audience needs?

Maybe, well OK, usually. But for the people struggling to figure it out it will be a god send. supports nearly 60,000 public groups plus an unknown number of unlisted ones, from very tech savvy to some that got their first computer a few months ago.

For the tech savvy, most of the information will be ignored, for the novice it is invaluable.

A good way to capture every move is to use a screen recorder like Camtasia ($249 - ouch) or what I use, Screencast-O-Matic (Free or $18/year)

I used it to create HowTo - Reply to Individual Instead of Group 

Creating the subtitles forces you to think about what you're doing.

The official user documentation is in the Help Center.