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· Premium Member
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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
How to write a "How-To"

The purpose of this guide is to outline what you need to do in order to create a useful and effective "How-To" article for Dakota-Durango.Com's Tech Exchange. You may submit articles on any topic that you feel would be helpful to others in the forum who want to perform the same procedure. This could be anything from accessory installations to tune-ups, power mods to transmission rebuilds. However we do not need overly detailed explanations of how to install blinky valve caps or change wiper blades. ;)


TSB's for important repairs or common problems are also welcome if you have a source (however TSB's do not count toward your total number of submissions).

"Quick Tips"

Quick Tips are helpful tidbits that address commonly asked questions. Quick Tips are treated the same as TSB's, because they are generally simple procedures copied from an owner's or service manual. For example, "How to pair additional SKIM keys or keyfobs to your truck". It is asked constantly, but it is a simple procedure which does not require a pictorial how-to.

Why do this?

Basically it's the same thing a lot of us have already done in the FAQs, Tips & Tricks forum - in fact some great How-To's that you see here now were moved from there. The main difference here is that it is all organized into one place, and follows a specific format which makes each article easier to follow.

What we need:

  • A complete list of parts that you used, including any that you had to fabricate or modify. Part numbers are greatly appreciated!
  • A complete list of tools you needed, including any that you had to fabricate or modify.
  • Concise, detailed explanation of each step.
  • Clear, in-focus photos that capture the subject of each step, especially any tricky/fiddly procedures or use of special tools.
  • Optionally, you may choose to take video clips of each step, or use videos to supplement photos on a tricky step. But video clips must still be accompanied by a text writeup.

Photo Tips

Obviously not everyone has professional cameras, but we do ask that you do your best to take high quality photos of each step. In these writeups, a good picture is definitely worth a thousand words. A bad picture can be summed up in three letters: "WTF?"

  • FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!! A blurry shot is useless! Check each shot to make sure it is clear and re-take it if needed. If you discover a blurry shot after you are done, it will be much harder to re-take, and despite what you see on CSI, out of focus shots CAN NOT be fixed in Photoshop.
  • Make use of the Macro function (the button or dial position with the Tulip icon
    ) which forces your camera to focus on closeups.
  • Try not to use your cell phone camera unless it is a very good one - and I can tell by the pics that have been posted elsewhere on the site that most of you DO NOT have good ones! :D
  • If you can't take a closeup, crop the picture down to enlarge the subject.
  • Use the flash when needed but make sure it doesn't add so much light that it 'blows out' the picture. Blowout is usually caused by trying to take a flash photo in a poorly lit garage or outdoors at night.
  • Most times being outdoors during daylight or using a good worklight to light up the whole area will give you a better photo than using a flash.

Also, make sure the subject of the photo makes up the majority of the photo. The photos will have to be scaled down for display in the article so if you take the shot from too far away, the subject will become too small to see clearly. If you have a shot that looks like it was taken from the Hubble Telescope, crop it down to enlarge the subject before you submit.

The Writeup

If you take notes during the install - especially of any tricky procedures - it will be much easier to do the actual writeup. It is also best to do the writeup while the procedure is still fresh in your head. As a precaution, type up your article in a text editor like Notepad, where you can save it on your computer, rather than type it up on the forum. This not only avoids the possibility of you losing all of your hard work in the event of a bad connection or cookie timeout, but it allows you to work on it in multiple sittings if you need to. Then once you're done, simply "Select All", then Copy and Paste it into a new post in the "Submissions" area.

Start with a brief summary of the article (just a line or two), then make up the the tools and parts lists. Use a "bulleted list" for these (just like I have used here). Press the
button and try it in a test post if you need to see how it works.

Then for the main body of your article, type up each step, leaving a placeholder with the filename (like <DSCN2254>) for each accompanying photo or video. Once you upload your photos to your photo host, replace the placeholder with the actual IMG-tagged link.

That's it! All that's left is to proofread your work to check for any spelling/grammar errors, and paste it to the forum! If you need more guidance as to the format we are looking for, have a look at some of the other submissions in the Exchange.

Once your submission is approved, it will be title-tagged for easy indexing and moved to the appropriate area.

What's in it for you?

  • Upon approval of your article, you will receive a special bronze "Contributor" status badge to acknowledge your work, and a FREE
    membership to the site (a $20 value!).
  • If you submit 5 approved articles, you will earn a silver "Contributor" badge and your Premium Membership will be converted to
    (A $50 value!).
  • A reward for reaching the Gold Contributor level has not been determined yet, but we'll have it figured out by the time someone gets there! :D

for 1-4 articles
for 5-9 articles
for 10+ articles

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and we look forward to seeing your submissions!
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