Cheat sheet authoring guidelines

Cheat sheets and composite cheat sheets enable a user to achieve a goal by completing a sequence of steps. These guidelines discuss when to use cheat sheets and how to best write a cheat sheet.

When to create cheat sheets

Cheat sheets are well suited to tasks which consist of  steps which lead towards a tangible goal, such as building a simple application. The goal must be well defined so that the user can see success when all the steps in cheat sheet have been completed. Tutorials are often good candidates for cheat sheets, in a tutorial the goal is to learn how to perform a specific task. Cheat sheets will usually contain up to 10 steps and can be completed in a half an hour or less. For larger tasks consider using a composite cheat sheet.

When to create composite cheat sheets

Composite cheat sheets are used to for providing guidance through a task which is too large to describe in a single cheat sheet or which has multiple goals. A composite cheat sheet can be used to describe a sequence of tasks each of which builds on its predecessor.

When not to use cheat sheets

Cheat sheets work best when problem can be solved by a sequence of simple steps. Cheat sheets are not a substitute for the help system which allows for creation of HTML pages with rich graphics and random access of information using search and hyperlinks. Cheat sheets are not intended for tasks which require a large amount of text to be input by the user.

Guidelines for creating a cheat sheet

Guidelines for creating a composite cheat sheet

Related links

Working with cheat sheets
Working with composite cheat sheets
Simple cheat sheets
Composite cheat sheets