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31 Votes

Guide to Making a Guide: Improving the Overall Quality

March 27, 2013 by Nubtrain
Comments: 14    |    Views: 22081    |   

Introduction to Guide-ception

Hello and welcome to Nubtrain's guide to making a guide! I am writing this because I have noticed a bunch of guide writers posting not enough information, huge wall of text or both! I want to address the issue and hope to bring to a realization of how bad this problem is and how boring/lazy a majority of guides being produced are. Please do not take offense to this as I'm only trying to help you improve your guide since you're the back-bone of DOTAFire! If you have any suggestions to add to this guide, leave it in the comments below!

Check out Dr. D's Guide Formatting and You. A great guide to learn how to format your wall-of-text essay into a top-notch visual appealing guide with loads of content.

Content: Where is it?

The Basic Necessities

  • Introduction
  • Pro/Cons of Hero
  • Showcasing Abilities
  • Item Build Justification

The Basic Necessity #1: Introduction

A basic introduction to the hero is a must to help the reader get a general understanding or idea of what the hero can do for the team. This area is also a good place to include the lore of the hero which will help readers get some light reading once-in-awhile(ironically).

The Basic Necessity #2: Pro/Cons of Hero

A basic listing to show the strength and weaknesses of a hero. Very self-explanatory of what the hero can do and shows the limits of that particular hero. Not only that, it's a good indicator of how well the writer knows the hero themselves. So please study-up and get experienced with that hero before writing a guide!

(Recommended at least 50 games)

The Basic Necessity #3: Showcasing Abilities

Listing the spells show what assets that particular hero offers while being a good gate-way to offering tips and tricks to using that ability. I highly recommend writers to show a visualization of that ability with pictures or video to help the viewer get a clearer understanding of what it does.

The Basic Necessity #4: Item Build Justification

Give reasons to why you've chose this build for the hero you're written about, helps the reader understand why you went for that build. For example if you were building a
standard build, explain to the users why you bought Manta Style for Anti-Mage, even better if you went for a niche build like Armlet of Mordiggian on Windrunner. Helping the readers understand why you went for this build helps the players overall skill-level and the reader can then chose items for himself in the future. That's what guides are meant to do, help players get a grasp of that hero and game!

Go Indepth: Avoid the Bare-Minimum

Guide Development Goals

  • Choosing Luxury/Situatuinal Items
  • In-depth with Skill Usage
  • Early/Mid/Late
  • Tips and Tricks
  • Allies and Foes
  • Good Against, Bad Against
  • ETC

Avoid the Bare-Trap
A lot of guide writers feel that once writing the bare basics are met, it's a finished guide. That's so far from the truth, your guide is never finished and it's always supposed to be in constant update. Writing only the basic information on a hero where a reader can get that same information by just looking up that hero is a waste of effort for both the reader and writer.

Guide Development Goals
Provide more information to help your reader win an edge over your enemy! Go more indepth with alternative item builds so they can adapt to different situations, diversity is one of DOTA's main strong points!

Guide Development Goal #1: Luxury/Situatuinal Items

After you've discussed your skill-build, go deeper into why you need certain items. Don't present the items in your guide and think it's self-explanatory, yes it provides health but should you get it for that situation? Every item is situational after getting your few core items so explain why they should get this item for whatever situation they're in!

For example:
Good description: Get this item if someone is dealing a lot of damage like Clinkz but you'll have to be pretty tanky to make full use out of this item. Otherwise you'll die before someone like Clinkz will, which is why it's often bought by Axe since it syngerizes really well with him!


Here's a sample code for this sort of formatting, replace "Insert ____" with desired name/title.


Guide Development Goal #2: In-depth with Skill Usage

Advance your guide with more tips and tricks to using that particular ability, whether you need to aim or micro with it, make a separate section on how to use it properly in a clear and detailed paragraph(s) or list(s). Using pictures and videos will help illustrate how to land a spell like Powershot in less than a paragraph if you put in the effort of finding/making the video!

For example:

Good description: Spell Steal is one of the most game changing spells and with the right hands can devastate the opposing team. This spell allows Rubick to be very versatile in many roles, whether it's to be an initiator or support, he can do 'em all... or most! There are some spells he cannot steal like passives which are clearly explained in this video link! (You can show the video but I didn't want to take too much space!)


Guide Development Goal #3: Early/Mid/Late

Give detailed explanations to that hero's role and goal during each stages of the game. What are the strength and weaknesses during each stage? What should you be doing during early game if you're a late gamer carry or what should you do if you're an early game support in late game? These are examples of what your guide should explain so the reader can have a better understanding of what to do!

Here's an example:
Good description: Defend and secure Anti-Mage's farm so he can carry the team during the later stages of your match. Not only that, make warding one of your top priorities since it will help with being the gankee and ganker! Please don't take farm since the carry needs it the most, you can find other ways to get farm or get gold after the lane phase!


Good description: During your laning phase you want to get as much farm as possible before night time arrives. Secure farm so you'll have a good start when you must start ganking, I recommend a Smoke of Deceit if you're playing with people that knows how to counter you with wards! During the night, gank as much as possible since it's where all your spells are strengthen. Put pressure so Anti-Mage can farm freely.

Bad description: GANK AT NIGHT!

Good description: During the early-mid game your #1 priority is to farm! You have a goal to reach, at 10 minutes you should have around 50 creepkills or more which shows a good indication of how well you're farming. On the 20th minute you should have around 100+cs or more, which you should be good enough to participate in fights if you must but farming is still your #1 priority.

Bad description: FARM AND CARRY TEAM!

Guide Development Goal #4: Tips and Tricks

Provide helpful tips and tricks to help the reader gain an edge over their enemies! Is there a secret spot to ward? Is there any special surprise spots to get a kill when otherwise enemy would of just ran? Which rune is better than the other and why? Anything that can help the player get better with the hero is always welcomed! Showing videos in this section will greatly help the reader understand the mechanics since you can see the tip/trick in effect! Here is a video example which would help the reader learn some interesting tricks!

Guide Development Goal #5: Allies and Foes

We're not done yet! There's more to go, we need to discuss which heroes will synergize well with your hero so you'll gain even more of an advantage! Why does this hero work well with this hero? Some examples can be Juggernaut and Crystal Maiden or Phantom Lancer and Keeper of the Light! When there's a good there's also bad, which heroes should you avoid picking that's going to be counter-productive? What about enemies that you're suppose to look out for whether they're just overpowered or they upright counter you, detail why that would hinder your progress! Work on providing accurate data and experience with everything you have listed so far.

Here's an example:

Good Syngergizies

Bad Syngergies

Here's a sample code for this type of separation

[columns] [indent] [/indent] [indent] [/indent] [indent] [/indent] [indent] [/indent] [nextcol] [indent] [/indent] [nextcol] [indent] [/indent] [nextcol] [indent] [/indent] [center][h2][color=#00ff00]Insert Title Here[/color][/h2][/center] [list] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [/list] [nextcol] [indent] [/indent] [nextcol] [indent] [/indent] [center][color=#00ffff][indent] [/indent] [indent] [/indent] [indent] [/indent] [nextcol] [indent] [/indent] [center][h2][color=#ff0000]Insert Title Here[/color][/h2][/center] [color=#0080ff][list] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [*] [icon=Insert Hero Here size=40] [/list][/columns]

Guide Development Goal #6: Good Against, Bad Against

What type of hero is your hero good against? This is very important information for the reader to know since it coincides with how well you can syngergize with your team and counter the enemies'. What are your heroes' strengths that can be used effective against another? A part of DOTA's gameplay revolves around countering another team's strengths so if an enemy player picks a hero that your hero can counter, the player will know by reading your guide!

Here's an example:

Good Against

Bad Against


Is there anything else you should include in your guide that will help improve the reader's experience and help them get better? A good way to help the reader improve their skill beyond guide is to include VODs of pro-level play of that hero you're writing for! You can find good sources of pro-level games in DOTATV which is the in-game client replay system!

Visual Appeal: Put Some Structure to That Body!

Formatting Goals:
  • Organization
  • Grammar Police
  • Clear Information
  • Total Make-Over

Organize your guide that has a good flow as you read from top to bottom. If you were recently talking about core items, the next step is to talk about luxury items. A seemingly easy flow for the reader makes reading enjoyable (IMO) and when combined with other aspects of writing a guide or an essay, organization is then highly recommended.

Organization helps with:
  • Flow of content
  • Readability
  • Guide Management

(Had to put this picture here, point is clear and funny ^_^)

Grammar Police
I know not everyone has perfect grammar but authors need to make their sentences make sense and as professional as possible. Adding slurs in your description or title doesn't make you look any better than a desperate middle-schooler.

As an example, just because Lina has boobs and badonkadonks, that doesn't mean it's deserves a + in her PRO/CON description. Keep in mind that people reading these guides come from all ages and backgrounds so having you describe a hero by saying, i.e: a ****, IMO makes your guide look worse than it should and so much less mature.

So keep in mind of:
  • Age of Viewers
  • Tone of Language
  • Professionalism

Clear Information
If you're describing a situation in detail and typing every possible outcome, do so clearly. Make bulletin points to list the points you want to make in fewer sentences as possible can help to make the guide more enjoyable to read. I personally will not bother reading a wall-of-text if it's not being separated by content.

Here's an example from one of the Magnus guides on DOTAFire:

""Magnus can play as a utility hero making items such as arcane boots,blink dagger,Drums,Shivas,Refresher
Following this build he should probably go to hardlane or solo mid.

Or he can be played as stupid right clicker (which imho is pretty bad) making items such as Battle Fury,Mask of Madness,Daedalus,Monkey king bar,Treads,Abyssal blade
Following this its better to pick the easy lane for yourself and have a support watch your ***.

Note:Competitive players pick the utility role for a reason .However I cant force you to be smart in pubs.In the end its pubs ...

^This can be turned into...

Magnus has multiple roles, he can be a utility hero or a right-clicker carry.

[Recommend Build]
Utility - Lanes: Solo Mid or Hard Lane
[Optional Build]
Carry - Lanes: Safe lane
Competitive players pick the utility role for a reason. However I cant force you to be smart in pubs. In the end its pubs...

Total Make-Over
This is total optional as organization and maybe a bit of color seperation will do but let's improve the guide with some formatting! Here examples to improve the look of the guide...


Vonsistency of the look is very important so you don't have to make it all fancy if you want to. If you're going for a look or style, stick with the pattern and make little variations if you need to. If you were going to separate content with blue text and have white body text, stick with that consistent blue/white text. If you turn your guide into a rainbow, it won't look as professional or as organized(IMO). Example:
Hello world!
Remember this!
Buy that!
Hello world!
Remember this!
Buy that!
As you can see, the rainbow makes it rather weird to look at but this is subjective to my opinion. If the rainbow-flow looks nice go ahead and try it. I personally like to try and stay as consistent as possible if I was going to try to stylize!

Here's a similar code for the color sample explanation:
[columns] [size=6]Introduction[/size] TEXT [size=6]Abilities[/size] TEXT [size=6]Items[/size] TEXT [nextcol] [nextcol] [size=6]Introduction[/size] TEXT [size=6]Abilities[/size] TEXT [size=6]Items[/size] TEXT [nextcol] [nextcol] TEXT TEXT TEXT [/columns]

If you want to add color, high the text you want and select from the default color pallete. If you want more colors check out the color codes here!

Video and Graphics

Find and use source material to increase the overall value of your guide. Sites like Youtube and Google are going to be your primary source of visual content unless you're able to make them on your own. Here are some tools and sites I used to make all my guides:

Other options (This isn't an extensive list)

Video Editing Tools
Image Manipulation tools
  • GIMP - Equivalent to Photoshop but free
  • Paint.NET - An upgraded Paint program similar to Photoshop but free
  • Online Photoshop - Free but you'll need an account to use

Image Capturing tool

Do and Don'ts: Unofficial Rules to Making a Guide

There are a few unofficial rules to making a guide and hopefully we'll come to realize them together :)! If there's anything I missed, let me know in the comments below.

Rule #1: Do Not Publish Unfinished Guides
More often than not if you're guide is unfinished and you know it, it's most likely going to be downvoted. How does barely putting any work into a guide that is suppose to help players... help players? There's a difference though between work you know is finished with things you can always add and a truly unfinished guide.

Does the guide have:
  • An introduction to summarize the hero?
  • "The Basic Necessity" completed?
  • Worked on at least some "Guide Development Goals"?
  • At least 5000 words to be considered a guide?
  • Content proof-read to make sure it makes sense?

If all of the bullet-points have been met, your guide is then considered finished.
Rule #2: Have Actual Experience
Playing a few games with a hero does not make you fit you write a guide for that hero. I personally recommend at least 50 games or more to give your own personal feedback into your guides. By that time you'll understand the hero you're writing about to a better extent, research anything you haven't covered and form your guide around that.

Did you:
  • Play at least 50 games with hero?
  • Understand builds inside-out?
  • Knows strength and weaknesses?
  • Understand WHY you get those items?

Rule #3: Quality over Quantity
Visual improvements and the amount you type will not matter if the quality of the content in your guide is dirt. Improve your explanations and make your point clear across all boards. For example:

Explanation #1
If you're having trouble with right-click heroes like Phantom Assassin, buy Ghost Scepter to survive longer. They can't hit you under etherael form and they'll be forced to either target someone else or wait for your physical form to return. You take more magical damage in etherael form so watch out for burst damage spells like Laguna Blade.


Explanation #2
If you're dying to heroes like Phantom Assassin because she's able to deal a lot of right-click damage with Coup de Grace, especially if she's farmed, then buy Ghost Scepter to help negate that damage. You can survive longer because Ghost Scepter provides etherael form which doesn't allow right-clicking to work on you but it increases magical damage taken so what out for heroes with high burst damage like Finger of Death! This forces enemy heroes to wait for your physical return or target someone else.

Both explanations look good but explanation 1 makes the point much clearer and quicker than explanation 2. Imagine Explanation #2 throughout an entire guide, the point won't be made as quick and might cause some attention spans to be dropped or forced. Although to make your point across as clear and informative comes with how well you did in English class so it's optional to many but I recommend! I'm not that good either so let's improve together :)


3/27/2013 - - - Added some extra codes for people to copy+paste
3/13/2013 - - - Guide Created


Hope you guys liked the guide, leave any feedback below. Whether it's something to add to the guide or any constructive criticism for improvement, let me know!

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