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10 Step-by-Step “How-to” Guide Templates

By Jennifer Gaskin, Dec 05, 2022

step by step guide

Making sure that everyone on your team knows exactly how to complete the tasks necessary for their job is easier said than done. After all, we’re not living in “The Matrix,” where you can just download instructions directly to your brain — at least not yet.

That’s why you create step-by-step infographic guides. These training and development materials can provide clear instructions on how to complete a task, a project, a workflow or just about anything else.

Use the inspiration and guidance here to spark your next idea, or start something from scratch with Venngage’s professionally designed process infographics templates.

 

Click to jump ahead:

What is a step by step guide?

A step-by-step guide (also called a step-by-step instruction guide) outlines the steps required to complete a particular task. Here’s a simple example:

step by step guide infographic
 

If you’ve ever assembled a piece of furniture — say, from a store that also sells meatballs — you’ve encountered a step-by-step guide. While not every guide you’ll create for your team is as detailed as a set of Ikea instructions, their function is exactly the same: Ensuring that a task is done correctly.

(By the way, if you’re really into steps… Check out the instructions for the LEGO Millennium Falcon. The 104 steps show you how to assemble the 7,000-plus pieces of Han Solo’s famous ship.)

In a workplace context, you can use step-by-step guides to train new employees on a new piece of software or an update to standard operating procedures, and they are a wise addition to an onboarding packet for a new hire. Note that besides providing detailed instructions for tasks, these how-to guides can also help people troubleshoot technical problems or explain the ins and outs of creating a business plan.

This step-by-step guide, for example, explains to hospitality workers how travelers book their vacation packages. In addition to providing details they may not know about how this process works, the graphic elements and large numbers guide workers down the page via each new step.

step by step guide
 

Why use a step-by-step guide for your business?

In addition to ensuring things are done correctly, breaking down a complex process into its constituent actions signals to your team that it’s actually doable. Think about putting together a puzzle; you see the image on the box and all the pieces inside and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But going step by step, eventually, the task is done.

For example, take a look at this effective how-to guide:

step by step guide
 

This step-by-step job aid helps break down a daunting task — dealing with negative reviews — into something any new employee will feel is much more manageable. A template like this is perfect for processes that have lots of moving parts, given that exactly what the person does will depend largely on how the customer responds.

Additionally, documenting processes as step-by-step instructions also guarantees a smoother transition of knowledge among team members — especially for new employees. As you continue creating step-by-step guides for your employees, you also contribute to the company’s internal knowledge base and help prevent knowledge from getting lost as employees come and go.

Still not convinced that creating visual content for training purposes is a good idea? We’ve got the research that might change your mind.

How do you prepare a step-by-step guide?

Understanding what your step-by-step guide should include and actually assembling it are, of course, two totally different prospects. The biggest reason is that creating an effective how-to or step-by-step guide necessarily means getting very detailed and granular.

Here’s a simple breakdown of the steps you need to take to create a how-to guide (last time we’re getting so meta, I promise):

  • Step 1: Name the process or task
  • Step 2: Establish the individuals or departments responsible for carrying out the process, and determine who in the organization is responsible for monitoring and improving upon the process, if necessary
  • Step 3: Identify the ideal steps involved in completing the process or task successfully. Interview team members if needed.
  • Step 4: Document the steps with all the details required. Think of your target audience when you write down the steps — make sure you use language that they can relate to. Also consider using visuals here — popular options include flow chartschecklists and standard operating procedures, among others.
  • Step 5: Determine if or when it’s ever appropriate to deviate from the process, and, if so, describe scenarios where this might occur
  • Step 6: Put the process into practice and monitor its success or failure; consider what steps can be taken to improve it and implement them, again reviewing for success

Even in the previous example of a broad how-to guide, say, for doing affiliate marketing, it is still necessary to take a step back (pun intended) to see things from a holistic perspective. The next step is mentally or on paper listing out those actions, and this will allow you to see if you’ve overlooked something important.

Once you’ve got the steps listed out and they are complete (and in the right order), simply use a template here or create a design from scratch, and try to think of things from the perspective of someone who hasn’t done this task before. Will they have what they need to get started (in the case of a broad step-by-step guide) or fully complete a specific task (in the case of a narrowly focused how-to guide)?

step by step guide
 

As this step-by-step guide shows, it’s important to keep details of each step as brief as possible. If you find yourself writing a book about each step, that’s a good sign the step should probably be broken into at least two steps.

And as with any training or education you do for your employees, try to get their feedback. Did they find the step-by-step guide useful? How could it be improved for use in the future?

step by step guide
 

You want any training material you create to be useful, so consider starting with a template like this one that reduces content to the bare minimum. This will allow you to provide more guidance during training or when team members are completing tasks on their own.

What should a “how to” guide include?

It may be too meta to say this, but if you’re looking to create a step-by-step guide you can use as a “how to”, it might help to have a step-by-step guide. Whoa, now I feel like I’m in “Inception.” Anyway, here’s what a “how to” guide or step-by-step guide should include:

  • Name of task or job. This could be something specific (how to download an app) or it could be quite broad (how to do affiliate marketing).
  • Number of steps
  • Explanation of what happens in each step

Beyond those three basic elements, the sky is the limit as far as what you can include in your how-to guide or step-by-step guide, and there are virtually endless ways to bring your themes to life with Venngage for Business.

For example, this step-by-step guide template uses screenshots to illustrate what the user is meant to be doing at various points:

step by step guide
 

This can be extremely useful for technical process documentation, such as when you’re integrating new technology or software. Allowing people not only to visualize the steps themselves but understand what things should look like at each step can help ensure all steps are followed to the letter.

Another important decision to make is whether your guide will need to be printed and, if so, how it will come to life. Consider these questions:

  • Will you print it on your office printers, or will you send it off to a print shop? If you’re going to print it in-house, it’s a good idea to use a design with shades of gray, as that’ll save on ink, and you should think about what paper is available to you.
  • Can you print in a large format or does it need to be letter- or A4-sized?

Use this step-by-step job aid template to get started on a simple five-step process guide that you can print out on a standard office printer. Simply update the icons and text and you’ll be off to the races.

step by step guide
 

Use this step-by-step job aid template to get you started on a simple five-step process guide that you can print out on a standard office printer. Simply update the icons and text and you’ll be off to the races.

step by step guide
 

This process infographic is an ideal starting point for your step-by-step guide, especially if you need to print it on a standard consumer printer, particularly because most of it is in shades of gray, which could help you save on ink. But even though it’s in a standard printable format, there’s plenty of space to explain each of your steps in detail.

step by step guide
 

How do you create a guide template?

Chances are you’ll need step-by-step guides for multiple tasks or processes in your business, which is why I always recommend making templates out of your work.

If you’re creating how-to guides directly on Venngage, you can just pick a template, edit it and choose to “Make A Copy” or “Save As Template”:

Venngage editor

If you are a Business user, you can also share your step-by-step guide template with your team members and collaborate with them in real time:

Venngage real time collaboration

But if you’re not creating how-to guides on Venngage, here are some ways to make guide templates for future use.

Once you’ve completed a guide that’s successful and that your employees find useful, go back to it and replace your actual content with placeholder text (here’s a good lorem ipsum generator) so you don’t have to worry about outdated or inappropriate content finding its way into future guides.

Using this step-by-step infographic, for example, replace the headers, icons and text so that you can quickly add the steps of any new process and cut down on the amount of time needed to create your new step-by-step guide.

step by step guide
 

And it’s up to you, of course, but I generally leave the old images in place as a reminder of where I had artwork previously. This is helpful in case I want my new guide to look like my old one, and even if I don’t, it’s good to look back on what I’ve done previously.

step by step guide
 

So, if I were turning this step-by-step process infographic into a guide template, I would replace the text with placeholder lorem ipsum text but leave the images of the people in place to remind me of what worked (or didn’t) last time around. Knowing what did or didn’t work is particularly important in a learning and development context, so be sure to ask your team for their feedback.

Ensure your team is well-trained by providing step-by-step guides to simplify complex concepts

Whether you’re building out an onboarding packet, describing a new process or getting your arms around a major project, step-by-step guides are incredibly useful. The good news is, they’re super-easy to create with Venngage. It’s free to try!

 
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About Jennifer Gaskin

A veteran of newsrooms and agencies, Jennifer Gaskin is a writer, editor and designer who is the only living person not to have strong feelings on the Oxford comma. She's an award-winning practitioner of journalism and information design who spent the better part of a decade as the creative director of a digital marketing shop. As a writer, Jennifer contributes to a variety of publications while working with clients as well as taking on her own projects.