Monday, March 16, 2009

Tutorial Tutorial [Tutorial]

What? You're confused already? Come now, friends. Let's learn us somethin'.

So, I'm writing a Tutorial Tutorial upon request, since my ways are a little mysterious and doesn't everyone just want to get to the bottom of what the F I'm doing with my tutorials and how do they get PDF'd and linked up and why do they look like that and how.

Don't they?

Well, some people who emailed me do, and that's enough for me. And if you happen to be one of the people that thinks my methods are full of shit, feel free to skip this post and come back when I'm talking about mixing cocktails or something.


To give you a little background (because I can't just give you the skinny without a really long ass story first), I was posting these tutorials/recipes/planting instructions and using other people's tutorials/recipes/planting instructions and all the while I was annoyed because in order to take them to the sewing machine/kitchen/garden/etc with me, I would have to print them out and it would always take a billion pages to print and that is wasteful and stupid. Plus then I'd have this stack of papers for one friggen tutorial that could really have been condensed onto one page.

So, sometimes I would open Word, like it was 1997 in my house, and copy/paste the whole business onto a page so that I could condense it myself. Then I'd print the one page and be happy that I only had one page, but pissed that I had to spend all that extra time.


When I started creating my own tutorials here, because I'm self-involved and imagine that people want to make things that I invent in my pea brain, I decided that I wasn't going to be that Annoying Tutorial Guy anymore, and actually provide tutorials in a format that begets printing/transporting elsewhere.

Because as green and helpful as it may be to just say, "take your computer with you to the kitchen when you go blending up a vat of tomato sauce", I think we know that it's not happening.

At least not for me. I don't have a place in my kitchen that would keep my laptop safe from hot splattering messiness, so printing is necessary. I just don't think risking the ThinkPad's life for the sake of one sheet of paper makes any sense. But that's me. You decide how much you value the integrity of your machine.

So, here I am, with printable tutorials, which, if you exist near a printer made after the millennium, you could actually print double-sided and only use one measly sheet of paper. And then, if you're like me (You might be! I'm not the only freak around here!), you can slide that one measly sheet of paper into your crafting binder for future use. And when you go to the machine, garden, kitchen, you won't have to wrestle a stapled stack of crap while you're also trying to tame some aggressive chard.

Now that is nice.

So, how does it work? Yeah, let's talk about that.

Tutorial Tutorial
Print this thing
A copy of CutePDF (Free)
Word processing software (I use Word. Imagine that.)
A Google Site (Free)

To make:
Create a PDFd tutorial
Basically, create the layout for your tutorials in Word, including slots for images, materials needed, instructions, header logo, project name, copyright logo, etc. I found the best way to make a template that worked for me was just to write up a tutorial, paste in pictures and move the info around until it all fit onto 1-2 pages and was easily readable/understandable.

This layout, which was based on an actual tutorial, was better than me just sitting there designing an "it looks pretty but never fits all the stuff I need" template, which I've been known to do. In the past. It's all in the past now.

Then save your doc as a template (ex: Template_Tutorial.doc) AND ALSO as whatever the tutorial is (ex: Hoop_Scarf_Tutorial.doc).

Go back to your tutorial and click Print.

BUT WAIT - When you choose the printer to Print your copy, choose CutePDF rather than the HP whaddyacall that lives in your closet. Or whatever.

This will prompt you to name your PDF, which I'd suggest naming the same thing as your .doc. (Ex: Hoop_Scarf_Tutorial.pdf) I have a folder for all my tutorials (docs and PDFs) so they're easy to contain.

That was an added bonus, that last part. Enjoy.

Now you have a PDF of your tutorial, so no matter who opens it and no matter what kind of machine they're using (Hi, Mac people. I know you're there.) your document will look just the way you saved it. As long as they have Adobe Acrobat. Which they should. Unless they actually DO live in 1985, which I realize is still a possibility. Albeit a shameful one.

So, now you have a tutorial and a template and the tutorial has been PDF'd. The magic! But how do we get it out to the clamoring masses?

Google, der.

Create a Google Site (*You'll only do this the first time around.)
*If you don't have a Google Site yet, you can get one for free as a part of your Google Account, which is also free. In fact, everything Google is free, which is lovely.

*Enough pimping, just go to, and if you're already signed in to your Google Account (if you're signed into Gmail, you're already in), you'll get a "Welcome to Google Sites" page with a friendly little button to "Create a new site".

Why are we creating a whole website right now? Well, we're not. But we are creating a place for your fancy ass PDFs to live so that you can link to them from your blog, so stop yer whining.

*Click "Create new site" and from the Home page, which is the page to which you'll next be delivered.

Once you've arrived on your new home page, look down at the bottom there to the button that says "Choose File".

Click that. Choose your PDFd tutorial from wherever you saved it. Upload it.

This PDF now appears at the bottom of your home page under Attachments.

Now, if you wanted to, you could make a page here. You could do some designing or get fancy. I have not done this, but that's because I have this blog and, well, that's plenty for now.

Link to your tutorial
Write up your tutorial as wordy and long-winded as you like on your blog/website, using all kind of swears and disjointed storytelling to get your point across.

Then, at some point in your post, offer the tutorial to readers to print. I don't care how you do this, but I just put "Print this thing" right before I launch into my mind-numbing directions and then link it direct to my PDF.

To get the link, just right click on the attachment on your Google Site (it'll say something to the affect of Hoop_Scarf.pdf) and from the menu that appears, click "Copy link address".

Now go back to your blog and highlight, "Print this thing" or whathaveyou, and paste this URL as the link by clicking the "link" button in your blog program or by adding it as the URL in your HTML code.

You know, < href="the link you just copied">Print this thing< /a >? You know.

And then publish your post. Done.

Next time you get a wild hair to post a tutorial, just take an extra 5 to create a new Word doc from your tutorial template (which, remember, you saved as Tutorial Template.doc somewhere on your hard drive) and resave it in the same folder as the new tutorial (ex: Cashmere_Cuff_Tutorial.doc), then print it to CutePDF, upload it to your site and rip the URL for linking from your blog.

And since you're all ginned up and running wild with hyperlinked (there's a good word from 1997) tutorials, you could even add a tutorial menu (or recipes or...or...) to your blog so that people don't have to bloody their knuckles digging through your blog to find them.

Wouldn't THAT be nice? I thought so. See sidebar.


Just to hammer the point some more, I'll ask you to notice the "Print this thing" link at the beginning of this tutorial. Yes, you can print this tutorial, too. Although I feel like that would be retarded given the lack of splattering tomato sauce involved in creating a PDF, but you make the call.

Soon, we do prizes for this and this.


  1. You are so, so funny. Far be it from me to be retarded, therefore, I shan't print this tutorial. But thanks for the great info anyway. You're ruining my farmer/gardener image of you with all this techy talk, ya know!

  2. A very helpful tutorial, Finny, for folks wanting to share their projects. Like you, I try always to convert to PDF for easy printing. I didn't know about the Google storage site, I'm using MediaFire (free).

  3. Anna - Yeah, I kinda thought I'd get some lip if I created the Tutorial Tutorial and then didn't link it to a printable tutorial.

    I don't want to say that word anymore.

    Don't worry, I'm still a hippie gardener, just during my off-hours when I'm not being a tech dork, which actually is my full-time J.O.B.

    Junie - Oh nice! Always good to get the free resources out there! Thanks for the reference :)

  4. Yep, I was one of the people who requested a tutorial tutorial. Huzzah! And you delivered right quick.

    You're the best!

    Not sure if I can find a way to add more exclamation marks! But I can try!

    K, I'll stop now. I think I'm up way past my bedtime.

  5. THANK YOU!!!!

    This is awesome!

  6. Yeah, thanks. I don't know how to do anything that anyone would want to learn. So it's wasted on me. But I spent a lovely few minutes reading it and thinking "gosh my friend Finny knows everything." (What can I say? I was in a drugged stupor all day.)

  7. Thanks for the tutorial tutorial. I've always wanted to know how to do this, without having to research how to do this. Not that I have any amazing tutorials to do. But if I come up with anything, I'll now know how to do one.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.