Lifewire How-To Editorial Guidelines

Whether it is setting up a new email address or building a computer from scratch, readers at all levels turn to Lifewire because they know we have the instructions they need, written in a language they understand.

Our collection of over 15,000 how-to articles gives context to our news and reviews. We don't leave you hanging with a product recommendation - we also show you how to make it work when you get it home. When we report on a new version of your phone's software, we don't just tell you it happened - we show you how to apply the update.

Many sites overlook the value of instructional content for their readers but at Lifewire, we take it very seriously. We know you need the fastest, easiest, and most effective way to accomplish a tech task so we painstakingly research the process and create world-class instructional content to help you do just that.

Manufacturer's support pages and user forums are great resources for help and how-to advice, but nothing beats an independent expert in the topic taking the time to guide you through a process from start to finish, anticipating where you might struggle and offering help along the way.

If you ever find an article on Lifewire that you think needs to be improved, please email us at feedback@lifewire.com.

Here's more on our process and commitments to you:

Original Research

Our expert writers create tutorials as they use the products and services themselves. We never rely on third-party instructions, manuals, or manufacturer/provider knowledge base content as first-hand information when creating how-to articles.

Typically, if our expert doesn't already own a product or subscribe to a service they're creating a how-to for, they purchase it. On rare occasions we're provided an early look at a product or service and may receive access to it for free but we promptly return the product or cancel the service as soon as we're done creating the instructions.

When creating troubleshooting content, a special type of how-to article, we primarily rely on the extensive skillset and specific product/service experience of a select few of our experts who work as tech support professionals. We require this kind of expertise because real-world experience working through problems means the best possible article to help you solve a problem.

We spend many hours researching and writing each how-to article, then more time in the editing and other reviewing phases, and then several more hours over time as we keep them updated. All of this ensures that you're reading the most accurate, up-to-date, and easy-to-follow how-to on the topic online.

Clear and Precise Language

At Lifewire, we use a modified version of the Microsoft Manual of Style, a style guide specific for technical writing that helps keep our instructional content as clear and concise as possible so you're able to follow along and avoid mistakes.

While the style guides our writers, editors, and reviewers work from are much more extensive, here are a few highlights that make a big impact on the quality of our instructions:

  • Practice "Tech for Humans": Write like you would speak to a friend. Avoid jargon and unnecessary tech-speak. Keep instructions simple and straightforward.
  • Get to the Point: Answer the question immediately. Avoid tangents. Our readers want to quickly complete the task and move on with their days.
  • Consistently Format: Use bold, italics, and other formatting the same way throughout the how-to to avoid confusion from step to step.

Adhering to a strict style guide also helps us maintain consistency across our huge library of how-to articles so you know exactly what to expect next time you visit us for help or to learn something new.

No Confusion or Surprises

We create all of our instructional content with you in mind: you, a human being, who may be doing something for the very first time. So we do a lot of things throughout our how-to guides to help keep you confident throughout the process and avoid running into surprises along the way.

In the first few paragraphs, we make sure that you understand that you're in the right place. We do that by making clear what you'll accomplish, how long it might take, and what platform, product, or operating system the instructions apply to.

Throughout the instructions, we include specially designed callouts right at the moment you might need to know something a little extra. These are often tips to help the process go a bit easier but sometimes they're important warnings to keep you from making a mistake that our expert writer has seen others make.

Many how-to articles on Lifewire cover topics that involve using apps or services from your smartphone or laptop. In those cases, we take every opportunity possible to include screenshots which show exactly what you need to do. When possible, we even annotate those screenshots to show exactly where you need to tap, click, or enter something on the screen.

Helpful for All Skill Levels

Our how-to articles are popular across skill levels, in part because we take care to craft them in a way that allows anyone to follow along at the pace, and with a depth of explanation and support, that feels most comfortable to them.

For a novice reader, who hasn't done a task before and may need help understating concepts along the way, we link to supporting articles that define concepts, or even additional how-to articles that walk you through a more complex step in greater detail. This way, an expert user doesn't have to read through explanations and definitions that they don't need.

For an expert user, we're careful to keep the first sentence of each step very short and directive, helpful for quickly skimming and getting whatever it is done quickly. When possible, we also summarize the steps in just a few bullets at the very top of the page which make it really easy to get something done when all you need is a reminder.

Diverse and Free of Bias

As part of our larger diversity and anti-bias initiatives, Lifewire is committed to creating instructional content that considers and celebrates the wide variety of experiences, abilities, locations, and life situations of those who read our articles.

We practice inclusion with our how-to content in a number of ways including using images of diverse groups of people, offering practical advice for a range of income levels, adhering to strict accessibility guidelines, and more.

Our writers, editors, and reviewers are also careful to avoid outdated technology terms with racial and gender bias.

Accurate and Up to Date

Technology changes constantly and so our how-to articles need to not only be accurate when published but also stay accurate. We have processes in place at Lifewire to ensure both of those things for our instructional content.

Technology Review Board

Experts write our how-to articles, and tech-savvy editors make sure they meet our strict standards, but we believe another layer of review is important to ensure every single fact, figure, and function is correct.

Our Technology Review Board, or TRB, does just that. This is a team of experts in their field who carry specific technical and industry certifications. They review our instructional and other supportive articles and make sure they're as accurate as possible.

You can read more about our Technology Review Board here.

Lifewire Surveillance Team

When your phone gets a major upgrade, for example, the steps required to do this or that also often change, and so we must work quickly to reflect those changes in our articles.

The Lifewire Surveillance Team handles this work. This is essentially a small army of tech-savvy updaters who watch for these types of changes from manufacturers and service providers. Once a need is identified, a project is created and work begins to quickly update the necessary how-to articles so they reflect the changed process.

If you happen notice that that one of our how-to articles needs an update before we do, feel free to email us at feedback@lifewire.com.