Ever get the question, "How do I do this?"

If so, you've likely become your company’s unofficial expert, who everyone turns to for help. This happens a lot to project managers, training and development folks, HR professionals, and anyone involved in internal knowledge management.

AI-generated image
AI-generated image

While being the go-to person has its perks, it also comes with its share of difficulties. You often find yourself addressing repetitive inquiries that take up precious time.

Moreover, unclear instructions can also lead to misunderstandings among colleagues,  causing confusion and hindering work productivity.

And it's not just employees; repeated how-to queries from customers can overload the help desk, causing untimely responses that lead to a poor customer experience.

Fortunately, there’s a powerful and incredibly simple solution: Step-by-Step Instruction Guides. These guides offer clear and concise directions to your end-users, saving everyone’s time and hassle.

In this blog, we’ll explore the transformative impact of well-crafted instructions, how to create them, and how modern technology can enhance your step-by-step guidance.

Let's get started!

What are Step-by-Step Instructions?

Step-by-step instructions (also called ‘how-to guides’ or ‘instructional guides’) are a type of documentation that organizations use to explain how to do something clearly and gradually to their end-users.

These step-by-step instruction guides are ideal for:

  • onboarding new hires to understand processes and systems quickly,
  • conducting refresher training for current employees,
  • addressing customer queries with consistency & accuracy
  • introducing new product features to customers
  • assisting employees with software training and troubleshooting.

We can see multiple step-by-step instruction examples within organizations. Here’s one to give you a complete picture.

Suppose an employee needs help filling out a detailed payroll form in an HR system.

This is what step-by-step instructions might look like for employees:

  • Step 1: Open your web browser and go to the HR system's login page. Enter your username and password. Click the "Login" button.
  • Step 2: Once logged in, navigate to the "Payroll" section from the main menu. Select "Payroll Forms" from the dropdown menu.
  • Step 3: Enter the employee’s name in the designated field. Input the employee’s ID number.
  • Step 4: Fill in the number of hours worked. Enter the hourly wage or salary.
  • Step 5: List any tax deductions such as federal, state, and local taxes. Enter any other deductions like health insurance or retirement contributions.

And so on...

Why Use Step-by-Step Instructions?

Using instructional guides can help employees do their work more efficiently and effectively. Here are some key benefits of using step-by-step instructions:

Boosted Teamwork and Motivation:

When your teams follow step-by-step instructions, they are less likely to make mistakes – improving the quality of their work. Eventually, this boosts their performance, sparking even greater motivation to excel in all tasks.

With basic questions addressed through detailed instructions, team members hardly interrupt each other for help. This allows them to focus on more strategic and collaborative initiatives.

Did you know your employees can experience technostress when dealing with enterprise applications? This can be due to several reasons, such as:

  • Complexity: Enterprise applications often have complex features and functionalities that overwhelm users.
  • Constant Updates: Frequent updates and software changes can create a sense of instability and require continuous learning.
  • High Expectations: There is often pressure to quickly adapt to new technologies and perform tasks efficiently, which can be stressful.

Breaking down application training into step-by-step instructions can greatly help. These easy-to-follow guides simplify complex digital processes, reducing chaos and confusion.

Enhanced Documentation For Knowledge Sharing

One of the core missions of training managers and L&D professionals is to ensure that knowledge is effectively captured, communicated, and retained across our organizations. Effective process documentation plays a pivotal role in this mission.

With stepwise documentation, new hires and everyone in the loop get up to speed quickly, reducing the initial learning curve. Further, you can also create a supportive environment where everyone feels comfortable learning and growing.

Saving Time and Money

Clear, step-by-step guidance streamlines workflows, minimizing time spent figuring out what to do next. When everyone follows the same process, there’s less deviation and fewer errors, leading to more consistent results.

This standardization enhances efficiency and reduces the need for extensive training and rework, saving your organization time and money. This empowers your team to work more effectively and with greater confidence.

Where do Step-by-step Instructions help?

Using these step-by-step instructions in a business context would be useful in the following ways:

Employee Onboarding

Whatever the new hires need, all instructions should be available in a systematic and logical step-by-step manner so that they adapt quickly to their roles and responsibilities within the company.

For example, an onboarding manual can help new employees set up their email, access the company's intranet, and understand the payroll system.

Customer Onboarding

When a new customer is excited to try your app, they want to get started quickly without feeling lost. With step-by-step instruction guides, new customers can understand how to use a product effectively, improving their experience and satisfaction.

For instance, a new software user might receive a detailed guide on how to set up their account, customize their settings, and use key features. This ensures they get the most out of the product quickly and can start seeing its value immediately.

Software Adoption

When a company sometimes rolls out new software, step-by-step instructions for using new or existing applications can help employees find answers independently and make it less intimidating for them.

For example, adopting new customer relationship management(CRM) software can be challenging. However, providing your employees with easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides on creating projects, assigning tasks, and tracking progress can help users get up to speed quickly and ensure the software is used efficiently.

Organizational Knowledge Sharing

One of the most challenging yet impactful organizational tasks is seamlessly sharing knowledge, where on-demand & step-by-step guides can help employees.

For instance, a senior employee might document a complex process, like preparing a quarterly report, in a detailed, step-by-step guide. This allows other team members to follow the same process accurately, maintaining consistency and quality in the organization's outputs.

Some more step-by-step instructions examples are:

  • Customer Service SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)
  • User Manual Template
  • Software Step-by-Step Guide for Employees
  • Transition Plan
  • Leadership Development Plan

How to Write Effective Step-by-Step Instructions (2024)

To create step-by-step instructions, we will go over four simple phases:


Let’s go into detail about each.


1. Identify What Needs Instructions:

Not everything needs a step-by-step guide. For example, a competitor analysis for your sales team wouldn't work well in that format.  

First, assess your company’s needs. Speak with department heads and identify where they encounter bottlenecks.

For example, the customer support department may struggle with onboarding due to the complexity of your support systems and processes. Therefore, creating a detailed onboarding guide for new hires becomes a priority.

2. Know Your Audience:

Who are you writing these instructions for? Are they tech experts or beginners? This will affect how detailed you need to be and what technical terms you can use.  

For new support reps, assume varying levels of technical expertise. Use simple, clear language, avoiding jargon. If some reps are freshers, you can provide additional advanced tips in a separate section.

3. Note Down the Objective:

As you develop the instructions, formulate an objective or goal to be achieved by the end of each step-by-step instruction guide. What do you want your end users to be able to do by the time they're finished?

For example, the objective might be: "By the end of this guide, new customer support representatives will be able to navigate the support ticketing system, resolve common customer issues, or escalate complex cases appropriately." This objective guides the creation of the instructions, ensuring they cover all necessary aspects of the role.

4. Prioritize Wisely:

Multiple processes in several departments—sales, HR, marketing, customer service, and so on—could really benefit from step-by-step guides. But, let's be honest, creating step-by-step guides for every department can be a task monster.

So, take a deep breath and focus on the areas where your team needs the most help. Tackle them one department at a time, prioritizing areas where employee performance lags.


1. Select the Format

Once you've completed the planning phase, understood your audience, defined objectives, and prioritized tasks, the next step is to select the format for your step-by-step instructions.

You can consider the following formats:

  • Numbered List: This is the most common format, using numbered entries (1., 2., 3. etc.) for each step. It's easy to follow and works well for most instructional scenarios.
  • Bulleted List: Similar to numbered lists, but with bullet points (●, ○,  ▪) instead of numbers. This can be used for less sequential processes or when the order isn't crucial.
  • Video Tutorial: This format shows a person performing the steps, often with narration. It's great for learners with visual learning preferences or difficult tasks to describe in words.
  • Screenshot Guidance: Visuals can be very helpful for instructions, especially for digital tasks. This format includes pictures or illustrations alongside written instructions for each step.
  • Checklist: These are often used for quick reminders or confirmations. They are ideal for simple tasks with key steps that don't require detailed explanations.
  • Procedural Steps:  This format breaks down the instructions into clear actions, often used in technical writing. Each step starts with an action verb (e.g., Open the application, Click on the File menu).
  • Flowchart: A flowchart can be helpful for more complex processes with decision points. It uses boxes and arrows to visually represent the steps and possible branches based on user choices.
  • Table: Instructions can be laid out in a table format, with columns for step number, action, and maybe visuals. This is useful for concise instructions with parallel steps.

Remember, selecting the appropriate format depends on the task's nature and your audience's preferences.

2.  Pick a Technology/Software/Platform

The best platform for creating your step-by-step instructions depends on

  1. the format you need, and
  2. how you want users to access them.

Here's a breakdown of popular options you can try out:

  • Use applications (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel, Google Docs, or Sheets) to format instructions into numbered lists, bulleted lists, or tables based on your needs.
  • If you wish to guide employees using video tutorials, screenshot guidance or procedural steps within an application, consider the use of digital adoption platforms (e.g. Gyde DAP) that add interactivity. These platforms offer walkthroughs that help users navigate and master a software application in the flow of work.
Gyde's audio-visual walkthrough guides users right within the application
Gyde's audio-visual walkthrough guides users right within the application
  • Project management tools(e.g. Trello, Asana) are ideal for creating checklists and flowcharts. They provide structured instructions to complete tasks efficiently.
  • Host instructional videos in a sequential order to provide comprehensive training on topics using Learning Management Systems(LMS)(e.g. iSpring Suite, Moodle)
  • Browser extensions(e.g. Gyde AI Documentation, Loom) allow you to capture screenshots and record step-by-step how-to videos to show application processes effectively.

Here are some additional considerations while picking a platform:

  • Collaboration: If multiple people will be creating or editing the instructions, choose a platform with good collaboration features.
  • Accessibility: Ensure your chosen platform allows for features like closed captions for videos and text-to-speech options for written instructions.
  • Budget: Consider free or open-source options if budget is a concern.


This step may require a significant time investment. Depending on your chosen platform, selected process, and preferred format, you are now ready to draft your instructions.

While we can't provide specific instructions tailored to your project, we can offer best practices for crafting clear step-by-step guidance.

Consider using these best practices for writing your step-by-step instructions:

1. Write as you speak

Imagine you're explaining the process to yourself. Avoid jargon and technical terms they might not understand. Opt for active voice verbs for a clear and direct tone.  

For example, say, "If you encounter a complex case, escalate it to a senior rep" instead of "If a complex case is encountered, it should be escalated to a senior rep."

2. Clear Over Clever

Your goal is not to impress users with your vocabulary but to make them understand and help them complete the task. Here’s what you can do to make that happen:

  • Break down complex processes into bite-sized steps. Don't overwhelm users with too much detail at once. Focus on one step at a time.
  • Eliminate redundancy and ensure smooth transitions between steps.
  • Use headings and subheadings to organize your instructions, especially for longer procedures.

3. Experiment with Engaging Formats

Provide context for your end user whenever possible, especially for software-related tasks. For this, you have a world of digital tools at your disposal! Some tools use screenshots, images, and short instructional videos that you can use to make the most of your step-by-step guides.

4.  Craft Engaging Titles and Introductions

Hook your readers from the beginning. Craft a clear and concise title that accurately reflects the task at hand. For example, "How to Add a Contact to Your CRM Software" is simpler and catchier than "Managing Contacts in CRM."

Write an engaging introduction. Briefly introduce the task and the user's desired outcome.

5. Use AI as a Starting Point

Consider using a large language model (for example, ChatGPT, Gemini, Microsoft Copilot) to generate draft content. Provide a clear prompt outlining your needs, and you'll have a solid foundation to edit and refine into a polished final product.

By putting a simple prompt, ChatGPT shows step-by-step instructions
By putting a simple prompt, ChatGPT shows step-by-step instructions

Note: Below, we've mentioned some tools, such as Gyde AI Documentation, that uses Gen AI to automate content creation while making step-by-step instructions.


Now, it's time to publish the step-by-step instruction guides. There are multiple ways to share your guides, such as:

  • If your company uses a Learning Management System (LMS), it is the ideal platform to share instructional videos. It allows you to upload and manage training materials, track employee progress, and administer assessments.
  • In the case of a digital adoption platform, you just need to create and update a step-by-step guide on the backend, and the end users will naturally see it as they work.
  • Cloud storage services like Google Drive or Dropbox allow you to upload your guide and share it with specific people or generate a link for wider distribution.
  • If the step-by-step instructional guides are for your website’s customers, you can create a dedicated page for your guides or host them directly.
  • Many companies use internal knowledge base platforms to store and share procedures, troubleshooting guides, and other employee resources.

We highly encourage incorporating feedback mechanisms into your step-by-step instruction guide distribution strategy. Here’s how to do it efficiently:

  • Include a feedback form: Attach a simple form to your guide where users can rate its clarity, suggest improvements, or report errors.
With platforms such as Gyde, users can add smiley feedback to help articles.
With platforms such as Gyde, users can add smiley feedback to help articles.
  • Comment sections: If your guide is online (website, knowledge base), consider adding a comment section for users to share questions and feedback directly on the page.
  • Surveys: Conduct short surveys after a period to gauge user experience with the guide and identify areas for improvement.

Why (& How To) Maintain and Update Step-by-step instructions?

Creating step-by-step guides isn’t a one-and-done job. They need regular updates. Imagine you’ve made a training manual for a piece of software, and then two of the main processes change. Suddenly, the whole document needs a revamp.

For physical copies, that means reprinting and redistributing everything, which is a hassle. But if you used software to make your guide, check if it’s easy to update.

Remember to keep instructions current to avoid confusion, save time, and reduce errors.

Actionable Tips to Update Step-by-Step Instruction Guides:

  • Pick a system to track changes in processes or procedures. This could involve version control software, change logs, or simply keeping dated copies of previous instructions.
  • Have new users or those unfamiliar with the process test the instructions. Observe their progress and identify any steps that can be streamlined or combined.
  • Schedule periodic instructions reviews (for instance, every six months based on changes) to ensure all necessary steps are included for successful completion.

Best Tools to Get Started with Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Gyde DAP

Gyde is an AI-powered digital adoption platform built for L&D trainers and instructional designers. It allows them to create interactive, step-by-step guides directly within any software application without writing a single line of code.

It’s time-saving for end-users, as they don't have to leave the application to search for help. They will get the exact help they need, exactly when they need it. In Gyde, step-by-step instructions can be presented in multiple formats, including audiovisual walkthroughs and video guides, to promote just-in-time learning.

Using AI capabilities, it can annotate steps, create titles, generate voiceovers, and speed up instructional content creation.

Key Benefits of Gyde

  • Fewer Support Tickets
  • Improved Employee Performance
  • Safeguards Training Data


Get a Customized Quote That Fits Your Unique Requirements!

Top Features

  • Audio-Visual Walkthroughs: These step-by-step guides appear on the end-user's screen as they perform tasks within an application, providing actionable instructions with audio and visual cues.
  • Contextual Help Articles: These help articles help users understand application-related terms in a lucid and clear way while using the software. You can also share tips to help users get the most out of the application.
  • Process Videos: Gyde offers embedded video instructions within applications. This feature is ideal for creating short video demonstrations and tutorials for your application.
  • Multilingual Help: Users can auto-translate all walkthroughs and help articles into their preferred language. Plus, administrators can create content in multiple languages and accents, catering to the workforce’s diverse linguistic needs.
  • Detailed Analytics: Track how your step-by-step help content is consumed with granular-level analytics such as which step users dropped off, how many views each video has, etc. You can refine and improve your documentation this way.

Note: Gyde also offers a knowledge base platform for customer self-support. It embeds easy-to-follow, step-by-step how-to guides and help articles within any app, instantly providing suggestive articles based on customer queries.

This allows customers to find answers to their common questions quickly and independently.

Customer Review

Global-Wurkr, Customer Success Manager, Matthew Lloyd reviewed Gyde as follows:

“Gyde has helped us interactively explain features using walkthroughs. These walkthroughs are super easy to set up & can be triggered whenever a new user logs in for the first time. Also, the bot answers the natural language questions & can trigger smart callouts to take the user to the appropriate feature.”

2. Flowshare

FlowShare is a software tool designed to streamline the process of creating step-by-step guides. It primarily generates guides in PDF and HTML formats.

Unlike traditional methods that require manual documentation, FlowShare automates the capture of actions, making it quicker and easier to generate high-quality instructions.

FlowShare simplifies the creation of guides for any process, from using software to completing everyday tasks.

Key Benefits of Flowshare

  • Cost-Effective Solution
  • Offline Functionality (Only Windows)
  • Customization


Starts at $45/mo. It also has a free trial.

Top Features

  • Automatic Capture: FlowShare runs in the background, recording every click, keystroke, and screen change as you perform a task. This eliminates the need for manual note-taking or screenshotting.
  • AI-Powered Text Generation: FlowShare utilizes AI to automatically generate captions for your actions, reducing the need for additional writing.
  • Easy Editing: You can edit the captured text and screenshots to ensure clarity and add additional details.
  • Branded Guides: FlowShare allows you to create guides with your company's branding, promoting a professional look and feel.

Customer Review

Chris M, CTO is impressed by Flowshare's abilities in this review from g2, an online software listing site:

“Finally, no more manual screenshotting and typing "Click this here" and "Hit Enter" a hundred times. Just start a recording and tweak the automatically created documentation afterward. As a developer and now Co-Founder and CTO of a SaaS startup, this tool saved me 2 hours in the first week of using it.”

3. Scribe

Scribe is a software tool designed to simplify the creation of step-by-step guides for web and desktop processes. It achieves this through a combination of automation and user-friendly editing features.

It generates interactive guides with screenshots and clear instructions. Users can click through the steps at their own pace.

Scribe uses AI to analyze your actions and suggest descriptive steps, saving time and effort.

Key Benefits of Scribe

  • Improved Knowledge Sharing
  • Reduced Onboarding Time
  • Enhanced Customer Support


Starts at $15/seat/month. It also has a free version.

Top Features

  • Automatic Recording: Record any web or desktop process with a single click. Scribe automatically captures your actions (clicks, keystrokes) and screens to generate a draft guide.
  • Single Sign-On (SSO): (Depending on the plan) Integrate your company's SSO system to simplify user logins.
  • Document Upload: Incorporate existing user guides or documentation into your Scribe guides for a more comprehensive resource.

Customer Review

Here’s a review from Brian J., Instructional Technology Coach, we found on g2:

“As an instructional technology coach, there are a lot of processes I work with teachers on--Canvas features, grade book issues, etc.--and Scribe has completely changed how I help them. I love how much time it saves me from stringing together screenshots in an email, and I love the ability to edit Scribes after I've created them.”

4. Loom

Loom is a screen recording and video-sharing platform that allows you to capture your computer screen, webcam (optional), and microphone to create short explainer videos.

It lets you record your screen activity, giving viewers a clear visual demonstration of the steps involved. This is far more effective than written instructions, especially for complex processes.

Loom recordings are typically saved in MP4 format, a widely compatible video format that can be played on most devices and platforms.

Key Benefits of Loom

  • Clearer Communication
  • Enhanced Accessibility
  • Reduced Misunderstandings

Pricing: Starts at $15/month. It also has a free version and a 14-day free trial.

Top Features

  • Playback Speed: Viewers can adjust the playback speed of the recording to suit their learning pace.
  • Call to Action: Add a clickable button within the video to direct viewers to relevant resources or next steps.
  • Closed Captioning: Enhance accessibility by automatically generating captions for your recordings.
  • Mobile Recording: Capture on-the-go explanations using the Loom mobile app for iOS and Android.

Customer Review

Here’s a review we found on g2 by Jessica T., Founder:

“It is very easy to use. Loom has helped take our processes to an entirely new level. I don't know what I would do without loom because I wouldn't be nearly as productive. It reduces emails back and forth and creates a connection with customers when I show them how to do something.”

5. Gyde: AI Documentation in Video & Screenshot

Gyde is a Chrome extension that lets you create quick and clear video guides in real time. Simply walk through any process on a web app, and Gyde will capture it.

It acts as a process documentation tool to create how-to guides, SOPs, training manuals, product updates, knowledge bases, new hire onboarding materials, etc.

Let's say you need to show your marketing intern how to conduct keyword research for SEO. Gyde allows you to create and share a step-by-step guide easily. For a detailed example, check out this guide on using the Ahrefs Keyword Generator for blog writing.

Gyde's built-in AI generates clear and concise titles for your screenshot guides, saving you time and effort. No need to open extra tabs or use external tools!

Key Benefits of Gyde AI Documentation

  • Quick Step-by-Step Guides Creation
  • Increased Productivity
  • Easy Knowledge Management


Starts at $9 per month. It also has a free forever plan.

Top Features

  • Centralized Resources: Simplify access to instructional materials by combining multiple guides into a single "Collection Link." This simplifies navigation for learners and keeps your process documentation organized.
  • Engaging Video Guides: With just a click, you can instantly turn your screenshot guides into video tutorials. The videos include voiceovers and time-stamped instructions, allowing users to learn in the medium they want.
  • Protect Confidential Information: Keep your guides secure by blurring sensitive details in screenshots. This ensures the safe sharing of instructional materials without compromising privacy.
  • Flexible Distribution: Share your guides dynamically with links or distribute them as PDFs for offline use. Links automatically update, so recipients always have access to the latest version.

Customer Review

Here’s an impressive review of Gyde AI documentation:

“This extension is a great solution from a training perspective. It helped me better explain processes to my team. The best thing about these guides is that once I make them for a process, I do not have to explain the process anymore(new or old employee) I just share the guide URL with them.”

Wrapping Up

With the rise of Gen AI in 2024, creating clear and concise step-by-step guides is easier than ever. With the tools mentioned in this blog, anyone can simplify the instructional guidance process, regardless of their technical expertise.

Remember the four-phased framework we discussed about.

Plan, choose, write, and share informative guides that will help end-users with a structured understanding of any complex topic and organizations with smooth knowledge transfer!

Gyde banner


How to create step-by-step instructions with pictures?

Use a browser extension such as Gyde AI documentation and capture clear screenshots for each step. With its AI capabilities, you can easily automate content creation for the step-by-step instructions and share the guide with a simple link.

What level of detail should the step-by-step instructions have?

The level of detail in instructions should be sufficient for the intended audience to complete the task without unnecessary complexity. The instructions should balance clarity with brevity, focusing on critical steps and potential pitfalls.

Is there a style guide for writing step-by-step instructions?

There isn't a universal style guide, but effective step-by-step instructions typically follow these principles:

  • Clarity: Use simple language and avoid jargon.
  • Structure: Organize steps logically using numbered lists or bullet points.
  • Consistency: Maintain a consistent format throughout.
  • Accuracy: Ensure steps are accurate and up to date.
  • User Perspective: Write from the user's perspective, anticipating their questions or difficulties.