Milestone 3: Overview
In Milestone 3, you will create guides showing how to replace the proposed components of your device.
You are finished with your guide images when they:
Are well-lit and correctly exposed
Are shot in landscape orientation
Show a person's hands performing the actions being described without obstructing the view
Place the action in the center of the frame
Are zoomed in far enough to see relevant detail while still showing enough of the device to provide reference points
Are in focus—not blurry or grainy
Have correct white balance without a colored tint
Have a clean, white background free of distracting clutter
You are finished with your guide text when it:
Is easy to understand and follow for an audience with an average to below-average technical background
Is clear and concise—free of verbose and muddled directions
Avoids vague language
Describes the procedure with adequate detail
Correctly identifies the device components and tools being used
Is free of major errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Includes the head types (e.g. Phillips #0) and screw lengths (in mm) of every screw
Follows the standard format for titles ([Device Component] Replacement) for the guides
You are finished with your guide mechanics when they:
Correctly use prerequisite guides to create an easy-to-follow "chain" of replacement guides
Have a brief summary on each guide
Include a descriptive introduction outlining why the procedure is necessary, background on the procedure, and other relevant information
Include all parts of the Details section, such as the difficulty, time required, and tools
Properly include colored markup in guide photos with appropriate bullets colored to match them
Make proper use of the Note, Reminder, and Caution bullets
Email Us When...
...your first guide is complete. We'll be happy to review your guide, answer questions, and provide feedback to help with the rest of your guides.
In this milestone, you will create guides showing the replacement of each component you chose in your proposal. (Remember, you are not responsible for creating a teardown or for repairing broken components.) Since reassembly is usually just the reverse of disassembly, you should not write reassembly steps. The final step in each guide will show the removal of the component being replaced. By default, each guide automatically concludes: “To reassemble your device, follow these steps in reverse order.”
Each completed guide should contain the following:
A title and brief (1-2 sentence) summary
A descriptive introduction
Estimated difficulty and time required
A list of any required tools
Step-by-step instructions written in clear, complete sentences
An accompanying photo or photos to demonstrate each step
Visual markup, when appropriate, highlighting key areas of the photos, matched to color-coded bullets in the text (see guidelines here)
Keep in mind that your final guides will have a global audience, so you shouldn’t rely on the text alone to communicate key information. Ideally, your readers should be able to complete the guide using only the photos, or only the text. Both the written and visual portions of your guides should work together, yet be able to stand on their own.
The following examples from past projects give a good idea of what your completed guides should look like.
To see more awesome student work, check out our Featured Student Guides page.
use prerequisites to save time
In most devices, you'll want to remove the battery early in the repair process. Instead of having to repeatedly explain how to remove the battery at the beginning of every guide, you can write the battery replacement guide once, and then select the battery guide as a prerequisite in future guides. After adding the prerequisite, your battery replacement steps will show up automatically at the beginning of your new guide, and you can add further steps from there.
The battery is just one example; any number of guides can be used as prerequisites.
Effective use of prerequisites can be a huge time saver, but there are potential pitfalls. You can only use prerequisites for portions of the disassembly that are sequential. For example, suppose we’re writing guides for the iPhone 5. After investigating the design of the device, we've concluded that the components can be removed in the following order:
1. Front Panel Assembly
3. Volume Controls
3. Logic Board Assembly
Notice that the volume controls, vibrator, and logic board assembly all share the same number. This means that once you've removed the first two components, you can choose to remove any of the next three. The volume controls guide is not a prerequisite for the vibrator, because you don’t have to remove the volume controls to take out the vibrator.
This can get tricky to keep track of in your head, so draw a tree diagram that shows the order components are removed from your device. This will be helpful (and save tons of time) later:
You can see that before you even get to the volume controls, you must go through the same steps that are found in the battery guide. The battery and front panel assembly guides are both prerequisites for the iPhone 5 Volume Controls guide.
We’ll go over how to import a prerequisite guide later on the Add Guide Details page.
Shoot Guide Photos
While shooting guide photos, there are some important things to keep in mind:
Shoot in first-person perspective. By shooting images from your point of view, they will match what readers will see while keeping the orientation consistent throughout your guides.
Use your hands and tools in each shot to demonstrate action. Action shots should visually communicate what is being accomplished in each step.
Don’t use the metal spudger unless absolutely necessary. The nylon spudger and iFixit opening tools are ESD-safe alternatives that won’t damage the device and are safe to use with batteries, glass, and motherboards.
Pay attention to continuity. Always consider how your photos will flow from one photo to the next. As you shoot, be sure to ask yourself, “Will this photo transition well from the previous one?”
Use the guide below to start taking great-looking pictures to document each step in your procedure.
Now that you've taken some awesome photos, it's time to create your guides on iFixit!
Click the “Create a Guide” button on your device page.
For guide type, choose “Replacement.” All your guides should be replacement guides for your device’s components, unless you’ve made arrangements in advance to do something different.
Don’t change the text in the “Device” field. This is filled in automatically and must exactly match the name used on your device page. If this text is altered, your new guide won’t show up on your device page.
Type the name of the component you’ll be replacing in this guide in the next field (Battery, Display, etc.).
Don’t change the guide title unless you notice a problem. This field is filled in automatically based on your earlier selections. It should only be changed if the auto-generated title doesn't convey what the guide is doing.
Write a short summary for your guide. The summary is used in search results, so keep it brief (one or two sentences), and include any terms or phrases that your readers would be likely to search for. Always make sure to include your device’s full name and model number. A good example of a summary might be, "How to replace the battery in an iPhone 7."
Leave the “Flags” section alone for now. At the bottom of the page, you may see some auto-generated "In Progress" or “Student In Progress” flags that mark your guide as being part of a student project. Don’t try to remove them! We’ll do more with flags in Milestone 4.
Click “Save.” Congratulations! You’re ready to start your guide and will now be taken to the Edit page for the first step.
WHILE WORKING ON YOUR GUIDES
Don’t work on the same step at the same time as your teammates. It's okay for multiple team members to work on the same guide at the same time, as long as each team member works on different steps. If more than one team member tries to edit the same step at the same time, they may overwrite each other's work.
Don't worry about adding step titles. Even though your guide steps say "Add A Title," step titles are not enabled for this project. A concise, clearly written step usually does not require a step title—the titles quickly become redundant, making the document longer and therefore more of an effort to read. Step titles are best used to mark the beginning of a series of related steps. For instance, if you add a prerequisite guide, a step title is automatically added to denote the first steps in the prerequisite sequence.
For each step in your guide, you'll add both written instructions and photos demonstrating those instructions. Let's go over photos first.
preparing and uploading your pictures
Before adding pictures to your guide, you can use Photoshop or other software to lighten them up—however, we have a few guidelines:
Please do NOT use Photoshop to remove photo backgrounds. Your backgrounds don’t have to be perfectly white; a nice uncluttered background is less distracting than one that has been crudely cut out. Even if you really, really know what you’re doing, your time is better spent on other parts of the project.
Please do NOT use Photoshop to add markup to pictures. Instead, use iFixit's built-in markup tool. This way, anyone can change the markup in case a mistake is made, whereas Photoshopped markup is permanently attached to the picture.
Position your camera in landscape orientation, and be sure to photograph the device against a solid white background that is well-lit.
Keep your pictures as large as possible in terms of resolution. If a picture is 4000 x 3000 pixels in size, so be it!
To upload a photo, add/edit a step and click the camera icon. This brings up your personal media manager, where you can manage your existing photos and upload new ones.
To crop a photo, go to the step editor and click on the gear icon in the bottom right corner of the image. Select “Crop.”
In the new window that opens, click and drag the corners of the selection box to frame your photo. Once you have your photo in position, click Save.
Write Guide Text
Technical writing is a little different from what you've done in other English classes, so we created this "cheat sheet" of sorts to help prevent you from committing any word crimes. For further instruction on technical writing (and tips on how to write guides like “How To Use Your Samurai Sword For Zombie Defense”) check out the Tech Writing Handbook.
Gear your writing towards an audience with little technical knowledge. iFixit is a website by everyone, for everyone—not just the gadget whizzes of the world. When writing your guides, ask yourself if your relatives who still use dial-up could follow your instructions.
Use the active voice. You're telling someone what to do in your guides, so tell them something to do. Simply stating that a component can be removed is passive and weak.
Be clear and descriptive, yet concise. Writing instructions that people actually want to read requires finding a middle ground between vagueness and verbosity. Read your own text out loud to yourself. You'll quickly have a feel for whether or not you've found the happy medium.
Tell your audience what to do and how to do it. It's important to be thorough when describing your repair procedure. Instead of simply saying "Remove the battery," describe how to remove it. "Use an iFixit opening tool to pry the battery up and out of the case."
Write complete sentences. Don’t let those bullet points deceive you—proper grammar is critical to a clear and comprehensible guide. Remember to include all punctuation, including commas and periods.
Use articles like “a,” “an,” and “the.” Articles tell your brain that a noun is coming.
Identify tools and components correctly. This might sound obvious, but once you open your device up, you may run into things you've never seen before. Help your readers by correctly identifying which components each particular cable and connector correspond to.
List all screw lengths (to the nearest tenth of a mm) and head types. For example, you might instruct your readers to remove four 5.5 mm Phillips #00 screws. This gives your readers a safety net in the event that they accidentally drop or otherwise mix up their screws.
Keep it simple. Avoid writing obvious steps like “Remember to keep track of your screws,” or “Locate component X.” Your readers will quickly tire of reading tedious or repetitive instructions, but they’ll thank you for text that is accurate, to-the-point, and concise.
Include Visual Elements
Once your photos are in place, you can use iFixit’s markup system to highlight the location of screws and other key components when necessary.
To add markup to an image, first click the gear icon on the image thumbnail, and then click “Markers…”
Start off each step with red markup. Use additional colors only if there are more items that need to be marked up in the same step. Use them in the order they appear (red, then orange, then yellow, etc.). (Exception: If you’re marking up a red object—or any other color that doesn’t provide good visibility—feel free to skip to a color with better contrast.)
Use circles for screws, and squares for other things (connectors, clips, etc.).
Don't add lines, arrows, or brackets. The markup editor can create lines, arrows, and brackets, but you should not use them for this project.
Don’t overuse markup. Only add markup where it is necessary to point something out that is not otherwise obvious in the image. In many cases, a well-composed photograph that is centered on the action won’t need any markup at all.
Here is an iPhone 5 guide that shows proper use of markup.
Guides on iFixit are written in a step-by-step, bullet-point format.
Each bullet should represent one idea or action.
By default, each step starts off with a single black bullet.
You can use up to eight bullets per step if needed.
Some additional controls are found at the bottom of the window:
Indent the text to the right (or left)
Add a new bullet below
Delete the current bullet
Click on the bullet to select additional bullet colors or types.
Use a colored bullet to match the color of any corresponding markup on the image.
Use colors in order. Just like with markup, when using colored bullets, always start with red, then progress to orange, yellow, etc. as needed.
Use special bullets as follows:
Caution: Warns users of something potentially hazardous to themselves or the device.
Note: Provides information other than instructions which may be helpful in completing the repair.
Reminder: Provides reassembly tips (anything that differs from simply reversing the existing steps.)
Use special bullet types sparingly. Constant use can overwhelm your readers, making the special bullets ineffective.
Don’t write the words “Caution,” “Note,” etc. when using special bullets. The special bullets already alert the reader to pay extra attention.
Add Guide Details
Clicking on the Details tab at the top of your guide’s Edit page gives you access to some important fields. These fields are critical to help prepare and empower people to fix their device.
Before you finalize your new guide, be sure to complete the following:
Estimate the time required. Keep track of how long each of your repairs takes (not how long it takes to write the guide), and provide an estimate for your readers. This should be the total time from the start of the repair to the moment it's finished. Remember that you’re writing for a non-technical audience, so it’s best to be a bit generous with your estimate.
Estimate the difficulty level. Click on the drop-down menu for an explanation of each difficulty level, and select the most appropriate one. For example, “Easy” requires minimal disassembly and common tools, whereas “Difficult” requires specialty tools or skills such as soldering.
List any prerequisite guides. (Review this page for an explanation of prerequisites.) To add a prerequisite, simply start typing the name of the component from one of your existing guides—as long as it’s a guide for the same device, it should appear in the drop-down menu.
Adding a prerequisite adds ALL of the steps from that guide; you can’t add just one part of a guide. If you delete a step, you will delete it from the original guide, not just the new one.
Note that if the guide you’re importing as a prerequisite has any prerequisites of its own, you’ll need to import them separately—they won’t carry over automatically.
List any required tools. 99% of the tools you are using are already in our database, so as soon as you start typing they should appear in the drop-down menu. If you’re unsure what a tool is called, check the Tools and Materials page. If you need a new tool added, just drop us an email! Remember to include tools used in prerequisite guides as well; you can easily add them by clicking "Import tools from prerequisite guides.”
Don’t list any required parts. You’re not responsible for sourcing replacement parts for your project.
Check the conclusion. By default, the conclusion reads, "To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order," so reassembly steps are not necessary. But if this is not the case (which is rare, but it happens), then reassembly instructions can be added to the applicable step using the "reminder" bullet.
Write Guide Introductions
Now that you’ve finished your guides, you’ll need to fill out the “Introduction” sections. Guide introductions should contain any background information a reader would need before they begin the repair.
To access the “Introduction” field, click on the Introduction tab at the top of your guide’s Edit screen. Then scroll down to find the Introduction field (it’s below the “Search Summary” and just above the “Flags”).
All guide introductions should include the following information:
Full device name and model number
Alternate names and model numbers (if applicable)
What is being accomplished by the guide
Any important information about the part being replaced including an explanation of what the part does
A description of the device’s symptoms with links to relevant section(s) in your troubleshooting page
Any tips or warnings related to swollen batteries, shattered glass displays, damaged waterproofing, removing power/disconnecting batteries, hard drive backups, ESD-safe tools, proper device disposal, and anything that could be potentially harmful
Links to outside resources or articles where relevant
Some replacement guides require special skills. Here are some examples of special information to include in the introduction. Make sure to link to any applicable guides in your introduction and any relevant guide step(s).
What not to include in your introduction
Warnings about voiding warranties
Telling users to “Keep track of screws” or “Keep screws in a safe place”
Listing information already in the “Details” section, such as parts, tools (unless they require special expertise like the tools listed above), time required, and prerequisites
Wondering what a good introduction looks like? Here’s an example of a solid introduction:
If your ZTE Tempo smartphone (model 9131) isn’t producing clear audio—distorted, intermittent, or no sound—through headphones or auxiliary speakers, use this guide to replace the headphone port (also known as a jack).
The headphone port transmits audio to external speakers through an auxiliary cord. A faulty headphone port will transmit distorted audio or no audio at all.
Before using this guide, inspect the headphone port for debris that may be interfering with sound quality. Typically, a small buildup of dust can be removed using an ESD-safe brush or small dust blower. Be sure to test a few sets of headphones or auxiliary cords with your device to confirm that the faulty part is coming from the ZTE Tempo’s headphone port.
Step 5 requires you to remove the circuit board from the device. From there, you will need to desolder the surface-mounted headphone jack and solder a new one in place.
Before beginning, make sure to power off your phone completely and disconnect from any external power source.
Check out the guide introductions from these past projects for more good examples:
YOU SHALL NOT PASS...
...until you review the guidelines of the milestone carefully. There are a lot of tricksy little hobbit-sized details in this milestone that you don’t want to miss. Make sure you’ve got a good pair of elf-eyes on your guides before you email us at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com with your finalized drafts. We’ll let you know when it’s safe to cross into Milestone 4.