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The categorization on Android Wiki looks pretty arbitrary and redundant to me contemplating the single articles in the categories. In every one you find a tutorial, guide and how-to on for example How to root an android phone, so these are mostly step-by-step instructions or a numeric list on how to proceed. This differentiation seems kind of pointless to me. Aren't they all synonyms?

Only guide and how-to imply to me something like a written manual, while tutorial can also be verbal instructions in a seminar or a YouTube video. But on a webpage with only written articles, does this differentiation make sense?

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I would add that a great many people misuse "how-to", particularly in discussion forums, using it as an equivalent for "how do I…" which, properly, it is not. –  msanford Nov 15 '11 at 16:23

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Based on experience with the terms in computing/technology, not necessarily the same as general usage:

  • A tutorial is a step-by-step walk-through for someone with no experience.

  • A guide gives basic information, not detailed instruction. Think "pointers".

  • Particularly for computers, a how-to is more of a list of detailed steps for particular operations. Here's a list from the Linux Documentation Project

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Just my interpretation from Wikipedia descriptions:

  • Tutorial: Set of videos, quizes or wizards may work.
  • User guide: Product manual, set of instructions, warnings, etc.
  • How to: Specific task descritpion. May be one step-by-step instructions to complete a task.

Short descrition of each:

  • Tutorial: Interactive set of instructions to teach by example in certaing area of knowladge.
  • User Guide: A manual written by technical writer intended to give assistance to users. May include include screenshots and diagrams.
  • How to: Simplified and short description of how to accomplish some specific task meant to help non-experts.

References:

wiki:Tutorial

A tutorial is one method of transferring knowledge and may be used as a part of a learning process. More interactive and specific than a book or a lecture; a tutorial seeks to teach by example and supply the information to complete a certain task. Depending on the context a tutorial can take one of many forms, ranging from a set of instructions to complete a task to an interactive problem solving session (usually in academia).

wiki:User_guide

A user guide or user's guide, also commonly known as a manual, is a technical communication document intended to give assistance to people using a particular system.[1] It is usually written by a technical writer, although user guides are written by programmers, product or project managers, or other technical staff, particularly in smaller companies. User guides are most commonly associated with electronic goods, computer hardware and software. Most user guides contain both a written guide and the associated images. In the case of computer applications, it is usual to include screenshots of the human-machine interface(s), and hardware manuals often include clear, simplified diagrams. The language used is matched to the intended audience, with jargon kept to a minimum or explained thoroughly.

wiki:How-to

A how-to or a how to is an informal, often short, description of how to accomplish some specific task. A how-to is usually meant to help non-experts, may leave out details that are only important to experts, and may also be greatly simplified from an overall discussion of the topic.

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Just my interpretation, but

  • tutorial: teaches you what to do, but stays focused on the scope given in the title
  • guide: teaches you all the steps from zero to done including very simple basics
  • how to: just tells you what to do when you generally know what you're doing
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I think you have an off-by-one error in there: either move the terms down one, or the definitions up one, so that tutorial = all the steps, guide = general instructions for someone already familiar with the subject, and how to = focused tutorial. –  Marthaª Nov 15 '11 at 21:35

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