General Project Questions

  1. Why should I care about the iFixit Project?

  2.  
  3. General Project Questions

  4. IFIXIT QUESTIONS

  5.  

STANDARD PROJECT QUESTIONS

  1. DEVICE PAGE QUESTIONS

  2. Troubleshooting Page Questions

  3. Guide Creation Questions

  4. Photo Questions

 

FAST FIX QUESTIONS

  1. CHOOSING A FAST FIX

  2. Creating a guide


Why Should I Care About the iFixit Project?


  • You are making the world a better place.
  • You are getting real-world experience that can go on your résumé. Students often tell us that having the project on their résumé helped them land a great job.
  • Your guides will be used by real people all throughout the world. Past student guides have received well over 50,000 views.
  • You are contributing to an open-source repair manual—that people can use for free.
  • E-waste is not a joke; it's a real problem.
  • You get to take stuff apart.
  • You get to build your photography skills.
  • It beats writing a huge paper that will eventually end up in a recycle bin.
  • If you do well, we'll send you a recommendation letter, and your guide will serve as a role model for future students by being placed on the Featured Student Guides page.

We want this project to be a fun, meaningful learning experience. We want you to get a taste of industry and have a good time getting your feet wet in technical writing. If you feel that this project isn't your cup of tea, send us an email or talk to your professor—we're always interested in feedback so we can make the program better!

 

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General Project Questions


What does a "good" project look like? 

We can explain all of the ins and outs of this project a hundred times, but nothing will probably benefit you and your group as much as seeing firsthand what makes a great student project. Here are a few of our staff favorites from past terms:

All of the projects above received "A" grades because they are clear, thorough, and comprehensive. If you are interested in looking at more projects, check out our Featured Student Guides page. Who knows—if your group has got the right stuff, maybe your project will make its way onto this list!

Want to learn more about what makes a good student project? Head on over to the Putting It Together: Building A Successful Project infographic, as it's chock-full of helpful tips on how to create a great project. 

Why are there two websites for this project?  

All of the work you do on your project is hosted on our main website, www.ifixit.com. This website, edu.ifixit.com, is a separate place for us to keep all of the documentation pertaining to the university technical writing project. 

Is my device safe to work on? 

We've compiled a list of safety tips for some of the most common devices. Almost any device can become dangerous if mishandled, but some devices pose more hazards than others. Some devices, like CRT televisions, are so inherently hazardous that we ask you not to work on them at all in connection with your student project. Others, like cell phones, only become dangerous if you do something specific, like rupture the battery. Ultimately, it's up to you and your team members to select a device that you feel comfortable working with.

what if my device requires soldering?

For most student guides, soldering (or desoldering) is not necessary. However, there are some devices that do require soldering, and this can be quite a hassle for folks who have never soldered before or are uncertain of their soldering skills.

If the opportunity presents itself, we encourage you to practice your soldering skills during this project. The device that you are working on is often already broken, so this is a great opportunity to practice real-world soldering with little inherent risk.

However, if you choose not to do any soldering work, there is still an opportunity to complete your guides. Often, soldered parts are "top of the food chain" components, meaning that they are one of the last parts to be removed, and their removal isn't a prerequisite for other components. In this case, we suggest that you do the guide as you normally would and simply leave the last step with instructions on where to solder or desolder. Here is an example of a student guide that requires soldering, but the students decided to not desolder the connections.

Sometimes there is a substantial amount of soldering required for the repair guide. In that case, we encourage you to do the soldering. After all, these guides are meant to be used, so leaving out large parts of the repair guides would be very frustrating for someone trying to do the repair! Here is an example of a device that requires a fair amount of soldering.

We ask that you shoot your photos as "mock-soldering," rather than actually soldering in your photos. If you don't feel comfortable soldering, feel free to clip the wires after shooting your "mock-soldering" photos.

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iFixit Questions


HOW CAN I REACH IFIXIT?   

We've set up an email alias just for you. Please send an email to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com and one of us will respond (we have multiple people manning the email alias).

ARE YOU JUST A SLIMEBUCKET COMPANY TRYING TO PROFIT OFF THE FREE LABORS OF STUDENTS?

We welcome and admire your skepticism! Here at iFixit, we have a big goal: to teach everyone to fix every thing. Repairing the world requires lots of know-how, repair documentation, and advocacy on why repair is so important. Our mission is to use repair to save resources and end the e-waste crisis, not to be a slimebucket company going for the bottom line. Teaching people how to fix all the things they own is a monumental task to accomplish—which is why we are a community‚ not just a tech company.

We don’t host third party ads, so we don't make money by hosting your guides. We do sell parts and tools to help users complete their repairs, and these resources are linked through the guides—but they're a recommendation, not a requirement. People don't have to buy anything to use the guides. The guides you create as part of this project are protected by this Creative Commons license forever. And people all around the world will also be able to edit them, like Wikipedia. Your guides become part of a growing database of repair knowledge. 

Our education staff and programs function outside of our operations and were created for the benefit of students and our repair community. Not only will you have the opportunity to take apart a device and learn some repair skills, but you’ll also gain professional and technical communication skills as well as project management experience with a real company. Many of our former students have told us this project helped them to get hired by some awesome companies. In fact, we’ll be more than happy to write you a letter of recommendation if your content is featured on the site.

Ultimately, we hope you find that, by participating in this project, you’ll not only be gaining valuable skills but also impacting the world by helping real people repair their devices. If you still don’t think this project is for you, reach out to your instructor as soon as possible to discuss an alternative project. If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to email our program director at education[at]ifixit[dot]com. We look forward to working with you!

 

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Device Page Questions


How do I create a device page?  

Read Milestone 2; it will guide you through creating the device page. Make sure you name and capitalize the device correctly. If you mess this up, you will have to delete the page and recreate it using the correct name—editing the "title" won't be enough.

How do I delete a device page? 

  • To delete a device page, the page's original author should click the "Edit" link in the top-right corner of the page.
  • At the bottom left of the page, select the "Delete Device" link with a trash can icon.
  • A pop up will say "Are you sure you want to delete the entire page?"
  • If you want to continue and delete the entire page select "OK."
  • The page should now say "This device page does not exist yet, but you can start it now!"

What should the device page look like?  

An example of a good device page is the MacBook Core Duo. Note that the Repair Guides, Support Questions, and Parts sections populate automatically, so you shouldn't try to add those. Upgrades may or may not be applicable to your device. After completing the Summary, the only section headers you need to add are Background and Identification, Troubleshooting, and Additional Information. If you want to be extra awesome (and secure a good grade for the device page portion), you can add a Technical Specifications section, like the one for the iPhone 5.

How do I format my device page correctly?

Device pages and Troubleshooting pages on iFixit use wiki formatting and syntax. For help while editing a wiki, click on the yellow "Help" icon that links to our wiki formatting page, which explains all the formatting options available to you.

How do I link my guides to my device page?  

You don't! As long as you use the same device name consistently, the guides will automatically link together. When creating each guide, just make sure that the name you put under "Device" exactly matches that used on the device page. (You'll see your guides listed as "Private" while you're working on them, and they will only be visible to you, your teammates, and iFixit admins until they are published at the end of the project.)

my device page url is incorrect. how do i fix this? 

If you typed the device name incorrectly the first time around, your URL will not reflect the correct device name. Once you create a device page, you can't simply change the title because the page's URL has the title in it. "Changing" the title requires first creating a new page with the correct name, copy/pasting all the information from the old page, and then deleting all the information from the old page. If you're planning to change the name or URL:

  • Copy all the text from the old page.
  • Create a new device page with the correct device name as the page title.
  • Paste the old content to the correctly named page.
  • Email us a link to your old page and we'll delete it for you.

How do I migrate guides to a new device page?   

If you already have some repair guides started, moving them to the new device page is easy.

  • Go to the Edit screen for the guide.
  • Change the text in the Device field to the new, correct device name.
  • Click the save button.
  • The guide should now be associated with the new device name.

How do I choose a good device page picture?  

The best device page pictures are ones that are taken by our users. Before disassembling your device, take a picture of it on a white background. Many of our MacBook device pages are edited to have perfectly white backgrounds, but proper lighting is all you need, as shown by our iPad 3G device picture. Avoid simply searching your device online and copying an image from the search results. You run the risk of violating copyright laws if there is no Creative Commons license to commercially use the image.

How do I remove the "Device Stub" and "No Area" flags?   

All of the device pages on our site fall somewhere into the navigation tree that includes numerous areas and family pages. Having an area link makes your device page easy for users to find on our site, which is good once all of your content is uploaded, but can be quite a pain if you're still working on it. To avoid unwanted help from outside users, we may not add an area link to your device page until the end of the term. Once your device page is linked to its corresponding area, the "No Area" flag will disappear, and your work will be viewable to the public. The "Device Stub" flag will also disappear once your guides have been published.


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Troubleshooting Page Questions


How do I create a troubleshooting page?   

Read Milestone 1; it will guide you through creating the troubleshooting page.

How do I delete a troubleshooting page?   

  • To delete a troubleshooting page, the page's original author should click the "Edit" link in the top-right corner of the page.
  • At the bottom left of the page, select the "Delete Wiki" link with a trash can.
  • A pop up will appear that says "Are you sure you want to delete the entire page?"
  • If you want to continue and delete the entire page, select "OK."
  • The page should now say, "There is no article with this exact name."

What should the troubleshooting page look like?  

Your troubleshooting page should follow a format of main headings and subheadings. The main headings will be user-experienced problems (Device does not power on, Screen is black, etc.), and the subheadings will be a quick explanation of what could be causing the problem (Dead battery, Bad motherboard, etc.). Under each subheading should be text explaining the problem and what causes it, along with any repair information and links to iFixit repair guides or other appropriate resources.

When in doubt, take a look at one of the troubleshooting pages that iFixit has published for a device. A good example of one of these is the MacBook Unibody Model A1278 Troubleshooting Page.

how do i format my troubleshooting page correctly?

Device pages and Troubleshooting pages on iFixit use wiki formatting and syntax. For help while editing a wiki, click on the yellow "Help" icon that links to our wiki formatting page, which explains all the formatting options available to you.

Where do I find information for the troubleshooting page?   

Research. Research. Research.

The internet is a great source of information, and it's all at your fingertips. Use manufacturers' service and support information on their websites, as well as forum-based web communities to identify common problems for your device and solutions to those problems.

Our device doesn't work! Isn't that going to affect our troubleshooting?  

How well your device works (or doesn't) has no impact on the troubleshooting page; the point of the troubleshooting page is to help readers identify what's wrong with their device, not what's wrong with yours. All the information that belongs in troubleshooting is spread across the internet, and it's your job to compile it into one, user-friendly document.

My troubleshooting page url is incorrect. how do I fix this?   

If you typed the page title incorrectly the first time around, your URL will not reflect the correct page title. Once you create a troubleshooting page, you can't simply change the title because the page's URL has the title in it. "Changing" the title requires first creating a new page with the correct name, copy/pasting all the information from the old page, and then deleting all the information from the old page. If you're planning to change the name or URL:

  • Copy all the text from the old page.
  • Create a new troubleshooting page with the correct page title.
  • Paste the old content to the correctly named page.
  • Email us a link to your old page and we'll delete it for you. 

 

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Guide Creation Questions


Which guides should I create?   

It doesn't matter if the device we give you is brand-new or broken—you can write a guide for the replacement of any component that might break on the device.

To help keep the greatest possible number of devices out of landfills, try to write guides for the components you think are most likely to fail, break, or require an upgrade. For instance, shattered displays are very common on phones and tablets, and built-in rechargeable batteries are guaranteed to fail eventually—so display and battery guides are often more useful than, say, a microphone replacement guide.

Below are some examples for common devices. If your device doesn't fall under one of these categories, fear not—these examples should give you an idea of what to expect. You can also look online for what kind of parts your device has; if all else fails, you'll at least know what's in the device when you open it up.

Feel free to email techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com with questions. Remember, these are just examples of the kind of guides to write—you're not required to do them all, and they don't all apply to every device.

Phones   

Phones are relatively simple devices, and these guides will apply to most of them. Some phones have soldered components, which would make some of these guides harder or near impossible.

  • Battery
  • Screen/display
  • Motherboard
  • Front case
  • Back case
  • Headphone jack
  • Charging port
  • Speaker
  • Keypad
  • Antenna
  • Microphone

Laptops   

Laptops have a lot of potential guides, and parts vary from model to model, but here is a basic list for starters:

  • Battery
  • Hard drive
  • RAM
  • Upper case
  • Lower case
  • Motherboard
  • Optical drive
  • Keyboard
  • Display assembly
  • Fan
  • Touchpad
  • Graphics card
  • Sound board
  • Wireless card

If you feel adventurous, the display can be further taken apart, which yields a number of other guides:

  • Front display bezel
  • Rear display bezel
  • LCD
  • Webcam/Microphone
  • Inverter board
  • Display hinges

Cameras  

Depending on the camera, disassembly can either be very simple, or very difficult. Many cameras require a high level of desoldering to remove the motherboard, and it is very easy to break the device during this process. Try to do as many guides as possible before desoldering. Try to do as little damage as possible, but don't stress about breaking the device (it can happen even if you are being careful). With that said, here are some possible guides:

  • Battery
  • Front case
  • Rear case
  • Lens assembly
  • Flash assembly
  • LCD
  • Motherboard
  • AV port

Automobiles   

While we generally discourage car guides due to safety issues, there are a few low-risk repairs that can work well for a student project. These include:

  • Engine air filter replacement
  • Cabin air filter replacement
  • MAF sensor replacement
  • Window crank/motor
  • Speakers
  • In-dash stereo
  • Interior buttons/switches

Repairs that require jacking up the vehicle or removing the airbag/restraint system are generally off-limits for the project.

How do I create a guide?  

Read the Milestone 3 and Student Roadmap pages first. They will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Trust us.

Then, click the “Create A Guide” button on your device page. Follow the Guide Creation section of Milestone 3, and you'll be working on your guide in no time.

Should my guides be replacement, repair, disassembly, or teardown?   

Almost every guide you create should be a replacement guide. We often get this question, so here is a quick breakdown of what each type of guide is:

  • Replacement: Shows the steps required to remove a (usually broken) component, so that a replacement one can be installed.
  • Repair: Shows how to fix a specific problem that is happening inside of the device, such as re-soldering a solder joint that has become corroded or detached.
  • Disassembly: This type of guide is rarely used, and is intended to show how to take something apart to its bare bones, usually for scrapping.
  • Teardown: Intended to show the highlights of the internal hardware of a device. These guides are usually made when a new device comes out, and people are curious about the internal hardware.

Remember, pretty much all guides created for this project should be "Replacement" guides. If you think one of your guides might be an exception, email us to ask!

What are prerequisites, how do I use them, and why are they important?  

Prerequisites are a very useful tool which you are required to implement into your guides. The guide prep section of Milestone 3 explains how prerequisites save you time and make the guide easier to navigate.

While any guide can be used as a prerequisite for another guide, under certain circumstances you may also wish to create a prerequisite-only guide—a guide that isn't much use by itself, but exists solely to be incorporated into other guides. A prerequisite-only guide will not be viewable by anyone except your team and site admins. To create a prerequisite-only guide, write the words “Prerequisite Only” in the guide summary or introduction, and then email us at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com. We'll flag the guide appropriately, allowing you to use it as a prerequisite without it showing up as a standalone guide on your device page.

How do I publish a guide?  

You shouldn't publish your guides! Make sure all your guides have the Private and In Progress flags—otherwise, any iFixit user will be able to edit your guides. This will cause a lot of problems for your project, so leave the flags in place. iFixit will publish your guides once they have been reviewed by our staff.

How do I delete a guide?   

In most cases, the guide's original author may go to the Edit page and click the Delete Guide button at the bottom.* Guides can't be deleted if they are being used as prerequisites for any other guide, so remove the target guide from all other guides' prerequisite chains before attempting to delete it. Be warned that deleting a guide cannot be undone. Make sure you save everything you need from the guide before deleting it.

If possible, consider repurposing the guide instead of having it deleted. If you still need to create another guide for your project, you can just rename the to-be-deleted guide and to reuse it for the new guide.

*If no Delete Guide button exists, simply delete all steps from the guide, type "Please Delete" in the summary or introduction area, and email iFixit staff at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com with a link to the guide and a request to delete it. We'll take care of it!

Where do I find my guides?   

Your guides will be linked from both your personal profile, your team page, and your device page.

Check out the Getting Started section of Student Roadmap for instructions on how to create an account, join your team, and access your guides/device pages.

What if our device is broken?   

That shouldn't matter in most cases. This project is about writing guides to demonstrate how to replace the components of a device. If you're given a laptop, for example, a possible repair guide would be to show how to replace the LCD. Whether or not the LCD screen works wouldn't change the steps necessary for removing the part. Remember, fixing your device is not part of the project.

What should I do if I can't get my device apart?  

All devices come apart, eventually. The hard part is figuring out the best way to do so! If a device is acting stubborn, check for the following:

  • Is there adhesive holding a part in place? This is often the case with screens. If so, try to cut it with a plastic opening tool, or loosen it with a heat gun or hairdryer.
  • Is there a hidden screw somewhere? Often times, a part seems like it should pry off, but is being held down by a hidden screw. Common hiding places are behind components or under stickers.
  • Are there clips holding a component down? Use a plastic opening tool or the tip of a spudger to release clips while prying gently but firmly on the component.

How do I remove a stripped screw?   

There are a few different methods we like to use for stripped screw extraction. Check out this page for a detailed walkthrough, as well as information on other useful repair techniques.


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Photo Questions


More information on editing and uploading pictures can be found on the Student Resources page.

Why does the quality of my pictures matter so much? Isn't this a writing class?   

Well, technically speaking, it is a "Technical Communication" course. Pictures, charts, and graphs are all important means of good communication, and are often relied on by users more than actual text. High quality photographs are just one of the many things that set iFixit apart from other repair and how-to sites.

Do my pictures need to be a particular size?   

All pictures uploaded to iFixit need to be in a landscape 4:3 aspect ratio. If your camera captures images in a different aspect ratio (like many DSLR cameras), make sure to zoom out just a bit, so you'll have room to crop away the edges without losing any important parts of the image. You can crop your photos with an external image editor, or with our built-in image uploader.

All of the pictures for your guides should be at least 800x600 pixels. The larger the image, though, the better.

While taking pictures for your repair guides, be sure to take one of the device completely assembled to use on your device page.

My photos are blurry, what's wrong? 

Blurry images can be caused by a number of issues, but it usually boils down to too much movement (either of the camera or the subject) and/or not enough light. To reduce blurriness:

  • Set your camera to a larger aperture (lower f-stop). This lets in more light and allows for a faster exposure. (Going too low will also cause some blurriness due to a smaller depth of field, so the best compromise is usually somewhere in the middle of the range.)
  • Make sure to use a tripod.
  • Set a 3 or 5 second timer so you can remove your hands from the camera after pressing the shutter button. Instructions for how to do so for the camera we provide are right here.
  • Make sure you focus the camera on the subject (and not on your hands or the background).
  • Don't try to move the camera super close to to the subject, or it may not be able to focus. Every lens has a minimum distance at which it can't focus. Keep some distance from the device and zoom in if needed. For very close shots, be sure to use your camera's macro setting.

My photos are grainy, what's wrong?   

Grainy photos are usually due to needlessly high ISO settings. Read the ISO settings section of our Camera Operating Instructions page for more information. A general rule for taking pictures under ample lighting is to set the ISO as low as possible.

My photos are dark, what's wrong?   

Before attempting any manipulation with your camera's settings, check your lighting setup. You should be using our lighting kit unless told otherwise. If the lighting setup is used as best as you can, but your pictures still come out a little dark, make sure you don't block the lights with your body or hands.

If despite using lights to the best of your ability your pictures are still a little dark, you can alter the exposure settings on your camera. Read our Camera Operating Instructions page for more information. Be warned! If you have to set the EV very high, you are probably doing something wrong with the lighting, and your pictures will not come out well.

 

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Choosing A Fast Fix


What does a “good” Fast Fix project look like?

A good Fast Fix project is clear, thorough, and comprehensive. Here are three outstanding examples of completed guides:

If you are interested in looking at more projects, check out the Example Fast Fixes section of the Fast Fix page on iFixit.com. This page is continually updated with examples of great Fast Fix projects.

Want to learn more about what makes a good Fast Fix project? Head on over to the Putting It Together: Building A Successful Project infographic, as it's chock-full of helpful tips on how to create a great Fast Fix project. 

What is a good repair for a Fast Fix project?

A Fast Fix should not be confused with a quick hack. A good Fast Fix is a long-term repair that returns a broken item back to working condition. The primary goal of your guide is to show people how to fix their broken stuff, so a good Fast Fix guide can cover a physical repair for almost any broken item. The main requirement for the project is to choose a repair that is not already documented on iFixit. You will need to use the Search tool to make sure your fix hasn’t already been covered by someone else. Ultimately, the key to choosing a good repair is selecting a real repair that will be useful to real people.

What types of things can I repair for the Fast Fix project?

Fast Fix guides aren’t limited to electronic devices and can cover almost any broken item. In fact, great Fast Fix options range from doorknobs and drywall to appliances and alarm clocks—even accordions!

What fixes or items are off-limits for the project?

The range of great Fast Fix repairs is pretty broad, but some items and repairs are off-limits for the Fast Fix project. Your project cannot cover firearms, drug paraphernalia, or any other item that you could not legally bring into your classroom. For safety reasons, all auto repairs that require a jack are off-limits.

What if I don’t have something that’s broken?

The goal of your Fast Fix project is to show people how to fix their broken stuff. That said, the item you choose doesn't necessarily have to be broken. For example, the record and zipper guides listed on the Fast Start page didn't require damaged items in order to show the correct repair procedure. On the other hand, if you wanted to do a drywall repair guide, you'd probably need some damaged drywall in order to show what's being fixed. Use your best judgment, and plan your guide carefully.

What if I’m not sure what to fix?

If you're not sure what to fix, think about the following questions:

  • What is broken in your life?
  • What things have been broken in the home? Why did they break?
  • What things have been fixed in the home? What was the cost?
  • What things have been thrown away? Why?

For more ideas, including a list of common household items that need all manner of fixes, have a look at the Choosing Your Fix document.

What if I’m not sure my idea will work for a Fast Fix?

Have an idea that you're not sure will work? Think about this:

  • Does it restore the item to a condition where it will work for a long time?
  • Is it how a professional would do the repair? Or at least a process that you’d find recommended as a DIY solution by a professional or handyman?
  • Does the repair process take at least six steps?
  • Is this fix a long-term repair and not a quick hack?
  • Most importantly, will this repair be helpful to a real user looking to fix their thing?

 

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Creating A Guide


How do I create a Fast Fix guide?

Read the instructions on the Checkpoint 2 page first. They will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Trust us.

Then, click the “Create A Guide” button on the Fast Fix device page. Follow the Guide Creation section of Checkpoint 2, and you'll be working on your guide in no time.

Should my Fast Fix guide be replacement, repair, disassembly technique, or teardown?

Your Fast Fix guide should be a replacement guide or technique guide. Most Fast Fix projects will cover either the specific repair technique for a broken item or the replacement of a broken part.

We often get this question, so here is a quick breakdown of what each type of guide is:

  • Replacement: Shows the steps required to remove a (usually broken) component, so that a replacement one can be installed.
  • Technique: Shows a specific process used to repair an item or type of item. Technique guides can be thought of as the traditional “how to” guides.
  • Repair: Shows how to fix a specific problem that is happening inside of a device, such as re-soldering a solder joint that has become corroded or detached.

Remember, pretty much all guides created for this project should be “Technique” or "Replacement" guides. If you think one of your guides might be an exception, email us to ask!

When should I check in with iFixit?

In short, often. We have full-time staff dedicated to working with students in the Technical Writing Project, and we’re here to help. You should email us whenever you’re ready for our input on a portion of your project. At a minimum, you should email when you’ve written your proposal, during Checkpoint 1 and Checkpoint 2, and when you finish your project.

What if my fix takes only three steps?

The minimum step requirement for a Fast Fix project is 6 steps. A Fast Fix project that’s too short won’t give you much of an opportunity to work on your technical writing skills. Besides, a procedure that really only involves three steps is probably covered by common knowledge. If your proposed repair seems especially short, review your process and make sure that you haven’t missed any steps. If you need ideas for a more complicate repair guide, check out this list.

 

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