Unit 1: Overview

In Unit 1, we will show you how to get started on the guide builder project. in this unit, You will create an account, join a team, and write a project proposal.


You are finished with this section when you:

  • Sign up for an iFixit account using your school email address

  • Join a student team

  • Create a profile

  • Learn how to use unit pages

  • Receive an iFixit-provided device that already has device and troubleshooting pages. Keep in mind, you are not responsible for editing any existing content for your device.

  • Check out the Putting It Together: Building A Successful Project infographic

  • Read through existing content for your device

  • Email a PDF of your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com, including all the requirements listed on the Project Proposal page

  • Incorporate all feedback from the iFixit technical writing team and get approval to move on to Unit 2

Email Us When...

...you have a proposal. You must email us with a proposal, even if it is informal. Proposals allow us to give you the necessary privileges to work on the site without problems.

Please note: It can take the iFixit technical writing team up to two business days to respond to your email, so make sure to plan accordingly.

If you have any questions or concerns about your involvement in the project, be sure to check out the Student FAQ page, talk to your instructor, then reach out to our technical writing team at techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com.

Join a Team

1. Click here to register and add yourself to a team.

  • Even if you are working alone, you need to be on a team. Being on a team, even a team by yourself, gives you student privileges that allow you to complete your work.

    • Use your name and school email when signing up for the account.

    • Make sure to select the appropriate information from the drop-down menus. If you add yourself to the wrong team, just click "Leave my team" and try again.

    • Team tags follow this format: School-InstructorLastName-T#S#G#. For example, if you are attending Cal Poly in Dr. Jon Doe's class, in Fall 2018, assigned to section 4, group 7, your team tag will be: CPSU-DOE-F18S4G7. Your instructor will assign you a group number. You'll need to include this team tag in the subject line of your emails to iFixit, so jot it down or copy it from your profile for later use.

2. Go to your profile if you'd like to add an avatar or view your team.

  • You can click on your name in the top right corner of the homepage to view your profile. To view your profile from other pages on iFixit, click on your name in the top right corner of the site and select “My Profile” from the dropdown menu.

    • On your profile page you'll see all the guides you've created.

    • On the same page, click the team tag below your avatar to view a list of your team members and your team's activity.


So, why is this project so important? By teaching people how to fix their own stuff, you are helping keep devices out of landfills and end the e-waste crisis! To learn more, check out the video below, as well as the Why We Do What We Do page and iFixit.org.

Pick Your Guides

The device you are working on for this project already has some information on iFixit. Your goal will be to supplement that information by determining which components still need guides. Since your device already has some content on iFixit, choosing which guides to complete is a little trickier than starting from scratch.

Remember that all guides replace a specific component. We ask that you focus on replacement guides because often, replacing one problematic component can revive a non-functioning device. Many repairs require advanced techniques (such as board-level fixes), so by creating replacement guides, you’re helping more people fix their stuff!

To determine which guides you should create, follow these steps:

  1. Write out a list of the major components for your device. If you're having trouble figuring out which components are in your device, head to our Student FAQ for some examples. 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.

  2. Search for the existing device page on iFixit.com. Enter your device name (found on the white iFixit label on your device) into iFixit’s search tool. Make sure to click on “Devices” to filter out other search results. The device page will show which components already have guides, listed under "Replacement Guides."

    Take a look at this example device page for the Dell Inspiron 13-5638. Under the “Replacement Guides” section, you will notice that guides already exist for the following components: battery, fan, heatsink, display, touchpad, and webcam.

  3. Once you have eliminated guides that have already been created for your device, start to research which components might be likely to fail or need repair. Check out online forums or similar devices on iFixit to get an idea of which guides might benefit users the most.

  4. Prioritize your list of components, and choose the top guides, making sure you select the required number for your class. When you've got your list of guides, you can move on and start working on your proposal.

Project Proposal

Once you receive a device, we require that you submit a proposal and wait for iFixit’s approval. It will save you time in the long run if you carefully read the instructions below.

A proposal outlines what your project will look like from start to finish. We have a sample proposal to help you get an idea of what yours should look like—just bear in mind that every instructor has slightly different specifications, so make sure to cover all the required points for your class. You are more than welcome to use the sample proposal as a reference, but the content must be written in your own words.

Important things to include in your proposal:

  • The device will you be working on
    It's important to get the device name exactly correct, which can be tricky because some devices have crazy names like the SuperSonic Matrix Mid SC-999. (Try saying that five times fast!) If your device was provided by iFixit, use the full name listed on the white iFixit label affixed to the device. Devices can have multiple labels, so be sure you are looking at the one with the correct name. To find the correct label, look at the pictures below. If you've decided to use your own device, take the time to research the full device name. Your best bet will be to search the manufacturer's product page. If you're still unsure of your device's correct name, ask us!

Keep in mind,  on the label in the bottom left, the “N:” is  not  a part of your device name. Some device names are a bit long, so keep an eye out for text that runs onto the second line of the label.

Keep in mind, on the label in the bottom left, the “N:” is not a part of your device name. Some device names are a bit long, so keep an eye out for text that runs onto the second line of the label.

  • The URL of the existing device page
    There should be a device page on iFixit already, so take some time and search for your full device name. Once you think you've found it, use the identification information in the "Background and Identification" section (if applicable) to confirm that it's the correct page—this is where all of your guides will link to. Please include a link to your device page in the proposal.

  • A list of existing guides found on the device page
    To make sure your group doesn’t create any duplicate content, it’s important for you to include a list of any existing guides for your device.

  • The specific guides you will write for your device
    As mentioned before, each guide should show how to replace a specific component of your device (battery, display, motherboard, etc.). We ask that you focus on replacement guides because often all it takes to fix a device is the replacement of a single, faulty component. Additionally, some components such as RAM and hard drives in laptops can be simply upgraded to keep devices working longer. To have the biggest impact—and help keep the greatest possible number of devices out of landfills—choose the components that are most likely to fail, break, or require an upgrade.

    • Do not create a Teardown, Disassembly, or Technique guide.

    • You are not responsible for repairing a broken device or broken components. You are simply demonstrating how to replace the components.

    • List all the guides you intend to create, making sure you have enough to meet your class requirements.

    • Later, you may run into new parts to write guides for, or discover that a guide you had planned to do isn't possible, and that’s okay—just email us to make sure your proposed changes are suitable.

  • The intended audience for your project
    Audience analysis is an important part of technical writing. Take a look at iFixit.com and get familiar with the demographics of the users on the site—the Answers forum is a good place to start. Remember, the overall goal of the project is to help as many people as possible repair their things so that they don’t get thrown away. In order to best help someone, you need to know who you’re talking to. Take a look at our mission. Who are we trying to help? How will this inform your project?

  • The camera you will be using
    Any digital camera of 6 megapixels or greater that can mount to a tripod is acceptable. Your instructor will tell you if you are allowed to use a smartphone camera to take your photos. However, even if smartphone cameras are allowed, we recommend using a digital camera. Digital cameras have manual settings that can be adjusted according to your specific lighting situation. Plus, we have handy tips for operating your camera!

Please include a header at the top of your proposal in this format:

  • Device: Samsung Galaxy S5

  • Team tag: CPSU-DOE-F18S4G7

  • Camera: Nancy's 16.1 MP Canon PowerShot SX700

  • Group email addresses: abc@university.edu, etc. (These must be the same email addresses that you and your team members used to create your iFixit accounts.)

Don't forget: include your team tag in the subject line of your email, CC your teammates and instructor, and include a brief message in the email's body to provide context for your proposal. Keep in mind, it can take up to two business days for the iFixit technical writing team to respond to your email.


Feeling Lucky?

Don’t leave your grade to chance. Be sure to review the Unit 1 instructions and checklist to make sure your dots are in a row. When you’re ready, email your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com, and we’ll let you know when you’re ready to move on to Unit 2.

HOLD IT! LET'S REVIEW THE CHECKLIST. Keep in mind, you're still required to email techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com to ask for feedback. *Asterisk indicates required field.
Did you sign up for an iFixit account using your school email address? *
Did you join a student team? *
Did you make a profile? *
Do you know how to use unit pages? *
Did you choose guides that are not already covered on iFixit for your device? *
Did you email a PDF of your proposal to techwriting[at]ifixit[dot]com? *
Does your proposal have all the requirements listed? Does your proposal include the correct header?