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Article Summary: Mastering ChatGPT – How to Craft Effective Prompts


ChatGPT (Chatbot Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a potent AI language model that learns from vast text data input. It understands prompts and responds to them with human-like language derived from more pre-September 2021 information than one human brain could ever hold. To wield this awesome power, learn to write good prompts. While fears surrounding ChatGPT abound – how it will take white-collar jobs, how students are using it to cheat on essays, how it will become sentient and take over the world – why not use this technology to make your job, which you might soon lose to the machines, easier?


  • Effective ChatGPT prompts provide specific context, a clear framework and restrictions for the expected answer.
  • Advanced ChatGPT prompt techniques include role-play, step-by-step instructions, cumulative reasoning tasks and refined iterations.
  • Don’t be too vague, yet leave some room for surprise and use your common sense.
  • Embrace trial and error.

Article Summary: Mastering ChatGPT - How to Craft Effective Prompts


Effective ChatGPT prompts provide specific context, a clear framework and restrictions for the expected answer.

When you use a large language model, you get what you give: The more precisely you design your prompt – which can take the form of a question, a statement, an instruction or a blend of all three – the more discerning, accurate and creative the response. A prompt is akin to a conversation starter; it sets the direction and tone for the ensuing dialogue. If you learn to craft effective prompts, you’ll end up with answers that not only give you exactly the information you need but also delight and surprise you.

A powerful prompt feeds the AI with enough context to generate useful, germane responses. It communicates the parameters of your search and tells the AI what you expect from an answer. A well-phrased prompt inspires the AI to be creative, and it sets strict parameters to avoid receiving responses that don’t align with your needs.

“The purpose of a prompt is to guide the AI in understanding the context and the user’s expectations, enabling it to generate a relevant and useful output.”

ChatGPT churns out the best results when your prompts are pertinent, pithy and informative. Be specific, provide necessary context, include guidelines and restrictions, and try out different wording choices to hone the response. For instance, “Tell me about electric cars” is a vague, open-ended instruction that will yield a generic response. To furnish a response that meets your needs, describe what you need: “Please provide an overview of the key differences between electric cars and traditional gasoline-powered cars, focusing on environmental impact, performance and cost.”

Advanced ChatGPT prompts techniques can include role-play, step-by-step instructions, cumulative reasoning tasks, and refined iterations.

Numerous hacks can help you unleash the full potential of ChatGPT:

  • “Context setting” – If you set the context at the beginning of a conversation (for example, “I want you to act as a personal trainer, who can create customized fitness programs, provide exercise instructions, and offer guidance on healthy lifestyle choices”), ChatGPT’s responses will adhere to those instructions for the entirety of your conversation.
  • “Step-by-step instructions” – If you’re facing a difficult, overwhelming task, breaking it down into smaller steps makes the challenge more manageable. ChatGPT can help. For instance, instead of asking, “How do I build a website?” ask, “What are the first three steps in building a website from scratch?”
  • “Role-playing” – Assigning ChatGPT a role can inspire creative, imaginative answers from a new perspective. For example, to generate a new recipe, you could cast the AI as a culinary expert: “You are a renowned chef, and I am your apprentice. Teach me how to prepare a gourmet pasta dish with a unique twist.”
  • “Refining responses” – If ChatGPT’s first response doesn’t convince you or tick all your boxes, tweak your wording and probe again. Say, for example, “That’s a good start, but can you please explain the concept in simpler terms and provide a real-world example?”
  • “InstructGPT” – Have ChatGPT consider multiple facets of a problem to cultivate a more comprehensive and thoughtful response. For instance, “Please think through the advantages and disadvantages of solar energy, and then provide a balanced assessment of its potential as a renewable energy source.”

Don’t be too vague, yet leave some room for surprise and use your common sense.

Vague prompts foster generic responses, while overly detailed prompts may narrow ChatGPT’s opportunity to provide you with new, creative information. Find a happy medium: Give ChatGPT something to work with, but don’t overload the model with superfluous information. Focus on the most relevant information to get an applicable, actionable response.

“When there’s too much information, ChatGPT might struggle to determine the primary focus of your request, resulting in less-relevant or less-focused responses.”

September 2021 is the cutoff date for the data set that trained ChatGPT, so bear in mind that the answers it provides may not be up-to-date. Moreover, remember that ChatGPT tends toward the literal, and its responses are often fictional. Thus, employ good judgment, and verify information when taking direction or receiving wisdom from AI. If you feed it a prompt like “how to lose weight fast,” remember that chopping off a limb or starving yourself would be an inadvisable, but technically correct, answer. Consider asking for sustainable, healthy weight loss solutions instead.

Embrace trial and error.

Study both effective and flawed prompts to hone your craft. Experiment to find new creative ways of engaging in dialogue with ChatGPT. Such deliberate practice will improve your conversations with the AI.

About the Author provides a ChatGPT Prompts Library to assist the public in using OpenAI’s GPT-3 and GPT-4 AI language models.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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