Beginners Guide to Expert Prompt Engineering

Himanshi Singh 14 Apr, 2024
6 min read


Welcome to the exciting world of AI, where the emerging field of prompt engineering is key to unlocking the magic of large language models like GPT-4. This guide, inspired by OpenAI’s insights, is crafted especially for beginners. It aims to demystify the role of prompt engineering and offer easy-to-follow strategies for effectively communicating with these advanced AI systems.

Prompt engineering is more than just giving commands to an AI; it’s about learning how to ask questions in a way that the AI understands and responds to best. This skill is vital for anyone curious about AI, from hobbyists to aspiring developers. It’s about turning simple questions into meaningful and insightful conversations with the AI. In this era where AI is becoming a part of many fields, knowing how to ask the right questions in the right way can make a big difference.

Prompt Engineering Guide

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Let’s get started with our Prompt Engineering Guide!

What is Prompt Engineering?

So, what exactly is prompt engineering? Think of it as teaching you how to talk to AI in its language. Large language models like GPT-4 are incredibly smart, but they need the right kind of questions to give you the best answers.

Prompt engineering is about crafting those questions. It’s like giving the AI a clear map of what you’re looking for. You’ll learn how to use the right words, set up your questions, and provide the AI with the information it needs to understand and respond in the most helpful way.

This skill is super useful for anyone who wants to dive into the world of AI. Whether you’re writing a school paper, working on a coding project, or just exploring AI for fun, knowing how to ask the AI effectively can help you get amazing, insightful responses.

Through this beginner-friendly guide, you’ll learn the basics of prompt engineering. We’ll show you simple techniques and tips to start your journey in communicating effectively with AI. By the end, you’ll be more confident in guiding ChatGPT to give you the kind of responses you’re looking for.

Strategies for getting better results:

  • Write Clear Instructions
  • Provide Reference Text
  • Split Complex Tasks into Simpler Subtasks
  • Give the Model Time to “Think”
  • Test Changes Systematically

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Strategy 1: Write Clear Instructions

Prompt Engineering Guide

The clarity and specificity of your prompt directly influence the quality of the model’s response.

Include Details in Your Query

  • Do: “Provide a step-by-step explanation of how photosynthesis works in plants, including the role of sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide, and the process of glucose and oxygen production.”
  • Don’t: “Explain photosynthesis.”

Ask the Model to Adopt a Persona

  • Do: “As a nutritionist, advise on a balanced diet for a teenager involved in competitive sports, considering their increased energy needs and the importance of different nutrients.”
  • Don’t: “What should a teenage athlete eat?”

Use Delimiters to Segment Input

  • Do: “Problem: [Difficulty in maintaining concentration while studying]. Proposed Solutions: [List potential strategies]. Expected Benefits: [Describe how these strategies could improve concentration].”
  • Don’t: “I get distracted while studying, what should I do?”

Specify Steps for Task Completion

  • Do: “Outline a plan for learning a new language, starting with basic vocabulary, then moving to grammar, and finally practicing with native speakers.”
  • Don’t: “How do I learn a new language?”

Provide Examples

  • Do: “Like your previous analysis on ‘The Great Gatsby,’ can you analyze ‘1984’ focusing on themes of control and freedom?”
  • Don’t: “Analyze ‘1984’.”

Specify Desired Output Length

  • Do: “Summarize the plot of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ in 250 words, highlighting the main characters and the central conflict.”
  • Don’t: “What is ‘Hamlet’ about?”

Strategy 2: Provide Reference Text

Directing the model to specific reference materials can greatly enhance the accuracy and relevance of its responses.

Answer Using a Reference Text

  • Do: “Based on the data in this market research report [insert link or text], identify the top three consumer trends in 2023.”
  • Don’t: “What are the top consumer trends this year?”

Answer with Citations from Reference Text

  • Do: “Using the provided scientific journal article [insert link or text], cite the key findings about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines.”
  • Don’t: “Are COVID-19 vaccines effective?”

Strategy 3: Split Complex Tasks into Simpler Subtasks

Split Complex Tasks into Simpler Subtasks

Dividing a complex query into simpler, more manageable parts can significantly improve the model’s accuracy and efficiency.

Use Intent Classification for User Queries

  • Do: “Identify whether the user’s query is seeking information, assistance, or an opinion, then respond accordingly.”
  • Don’t: “Respond to this user’s question.”

Summarize Long Documents Piecewise

  • Do: “Provide a summary of each chapter of ‘War and Peace,’ then give an overall summary of the novel.”
  • Don’t: “Summarize ‘War and Peace.'”

Construct Full Summary Recursively

  • Do: “Begin by summarizing the introduction of this technical paper [provide text], followed by a summary of each subsequent section, culminating in an overarching summary.”
  • Don’t: “Give me a summary of this technical paper.”

Strategy 4: Give the Model Time to “Think”

Give the Model Time to "Think"

Instruct the Model to Work Out Its Own Solution Before Rushing to a Conclusion

  • Do: If you’re asking a complex question, like explaining a scientific concept or solving a multi-step math problem, instruct the model to break down the answer into smaller steps. For instance, “Can you explain photosynthesis step by step?” or “Please solve the equation 2x + 3 = 11 by showing each step of your working.”
  • Don’t: Avoid asking for immediate, brief answers to complex questions where the reasoning process is crucial. For example, “What’s the solution to 2x + 3 = 11?”

Use Inner Monologue or a Sequence of Queries to Guide the Model’s Reasoning Process

  • Do: When solving a problem, suggest the model to use an inner monologue. For instance, “When calculating the area of a circle with a radius of 5, first consider the formula for the area of a circle. Can you walk me through your thought process using this method?”
  • Don’t: Do not instruct the model to skip the reasoning steps or use overly simplified explanations for complex problems. For example, “Give me the area of a circle with a radius of 5”

Ask the Model if it Missed Anything on Previous Passes

  • Do: After receiving an answer, especially to a multifaceted question, ask for a review: “Can you double-check if all aspects of the question were addressed? Did you consider all relevant factors in your answer?”
  • Don’t: Avoid accepting the first answer to a complex question without probing deeper, especially if the answer seems incomplete. For instance, not following up with “Is there anything else to consider here?” or “Did you cover all the points in the question?”

Strategy 5: Test Changes Systematically

Systematic testing ensures that any changes to prompts lead to improved performance.

Evaluate Outputs with Gold-Standard Answers

  • Do:”Translate this paragraph from Spanish to English, then compare your translation with a professionally translated version to identify any differences.”
  • Don’t: “Translate this paragraph from Spanish to English.” [without any reference to comparing with a professional translation]


We have come to an end our Prompt Engineering guide. By adhering to these strategies and incorporating the do’s and don’ts, you’ll be able to craft prompts that maximize the effectiveness and efficiency of ChatGPT’s responses. This guide not only aims to enhance your prompt engineering skills but also to open doors to richer, more accurate, and insightful interactions with AI models across various real-world applications. As you embark on this journey, remember that prompt engineering is a skill that improves with practice, and each interaction with AI offers a new opportunity to learn and grow.

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Himanshi Singh 14 Apr, 2024

I am a data lover and I love to extract and understand the hidden patterns in the data. I want to learn and grow in the field of Machine Learning and Data Science.

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