Crafting effective AI prompts is not just about what you ask, but how you ask it. Through extensive testing of over 2,000 prompts, certain best practices have emerged for phrasing prompts in a way that generates better AI output. While the subject matter may vary wildly, following key prompt writing principles and techniques can help any beginner start formulating prompts that produce more accurate, relevant, and human-like AI responses. Though it may seem complex, prompt writing boils down to understanding a few key dos and don’ts. With the right phrasing approach, anyone can learn to write prompts that speak AI’s language and yield optimized results. It’s not really about the question itself, but rather the style and structure of how you communicate it to the AI.
An AI prompt is like placing an order at a coffee shop, but instead of talking to a barista, you’re communicating with an artificial intelligence. To get what you want from an AI, you have to clearly prompt it with specific instructions, just like you would order a mocha frappuccino by name at a cafe counter rather than hoping you’ll be magically understood through telepathy. Prompts provide the guardrails for the AI, telling it precisely what kind of output, task, or simulation you need it to generate. Whether you want the AI to write original content, analyze data, or mimic a human conversation, you need to frame an effective prompt to steer the AI in the right direction.
A well-structured prompt serves as the recipe for the AI to cook up the results you want. Simply put, prompts allow humans to guide AI interactions by giving clear directions about their expectations and desired outcomes.
Why do we need good AI prompts?
Do good AI prompts really make a difference? Imagine trying to navigate through a foreign town when all the signboards are in Greek. Confusing, right? Well, ineffective prompts are like those ‘Greek signs’ to the AI. It’s trying its best to understand what you want, but 9 times out of 10 it will probably get it wrong.
A quality AI prompt, on the other hand, bridges the gap between user intent and AI comprehension. It frames things in a way that the AI can understand, so you can get a better result much more quickly.
This is something Darrell Lerner, co-founder of Saturday App & Snap Interactive says you need to remember:
It’s vital to remember that AI serves as a powerful tool to be leveraged rather than a plug-and-play solution. In the context of prompts, the old adage, “garbage in, garbage out,” holds true. To generate desired outputs, focus on crafting well-structured prompts. Embrace experimentation and keep iterating to improve the results.
How to write good AI prompts
Much like a Google Maps for AI prompts, this section will guide you through the streets, signals and speed-breakers of crafting stellar prompts.
First, understand your AI’s capabilities
First things first, you’ve got to rap with the AI you’re using, and we’re not talking freestyle. It’s essential to understand the diverse features and functionalities of your AI tool, its strengths, shortcomings — be fully aware of what it can and cannot do. Knowing the AI capabilities is akin to understanding the laws of physics before inventing a new gadget. It helps you tailor your prompts that exploit the AI’s full potential and avoid instructions your bot buddy might fumble with.
A crash course in writing effective AI prompts: 3 tips for beginners
Writing AI prompts is somewhat like penning a clear, concise email. But unlike email recipients, AI relies heavily on cues provided by the prompts. So you’ll want to paint out things for it that might seem painfully obvious to you. Here are three golden rules to abide by:
- Keep It Simple and Direct: Your AI doesn’t appreciate riddles and treasure hunts. So, the straighter the instruction, the better. Be clear, be concise, and be direct.
- Provide Adequate Context: Context is like handing your AI a detailed map to the treasure chest. A prompt sans context is like asking Da Vinci to paint a portrait blindfolded.
- Single Tasks Only, Please: Overloaded prompts can overstimulate and confuse your AI—it’s not built to multitask.
Here’s the advice Aadit Sheth, author of the Neat Prompts newsletter, gives to beginners:
We have finally reached a place where the AI understands our underlying motive. You CAN be descriptive and share the underlying motives when using ChatGPT. But you want to do 3 things: 1. Be clear. 2. Share an example (if you can). 3. Provide the format you want your answer in.”
AI prompt writing checklist
Like a recipe for a piquant dish or a pre-flight checklist for an airplane, this checklist keeps your prompt writing on track.
- Have you given clear instructions?
- Have you provided specific details?
- Have you provided background for the task?
- Have you formatted your prompt with a clear structure?
- Have you used simple and concise language?
- Have you given examples and ideas?
- Have you made sure there are no spelling or grammar errors?
Test your AI prompts here on this page
Want to test an AI prompt? You can use the template generator to try any of these prompts out right now, without even leaving this page. To generate an unlimited number of email templates, add the free Magical Chrome extension to your browser.
23 prompt templates & examples of good AI prompts
Great learning stems from great examples. Let’s stroll into the gallery of AI prompt masterpieces.
AI prompts for content generation
Crafting valuable content is challenging, and these prompts are designed to guide your AI to become your little Shakespeare.
- You’re writing a blog post called: 10 Tricks You Must Teach Your Dog. I’m going to give you one dog trick at a time, and for each one I want you to tell me 1) a fun name for the trick, 2) when a dog owner might use it, and 3) one insight about why the trick is important. Say OK if you understand.
- Write a persuasive email to a client who has shown interest in purchasing our productivity software, but has said that they’re unable to commit at this time because of budget constraints.
- Write a 500-word speech accepting an award for “Best Marketer of the Year.” Include a few jokes that only marketers would understand.
- Compose a 1,000 word blog post about the recent surge in sustainability practices in fashion.
- Craft an engaging intro for an article discussing the pros and cons of remote work. Use an interesting metaphor to kick things off.
- Help me generate catchy social media captions for our brand’s spring collection, based on the following product names: X, Y, and Z.
- Please generate an engaging blog post discussing the impacts of blockchain technology on digital marketing.
- Create event invitation emails that inspire customers to participate in our grand anniversary sale.
AI prompts for data analysis
Data analysis is all about crunching numbers, patterns and correlations. And these prompts empower your AI to handle it all.
- Analyze the correlation between ad spend and sales for the last quarter.”
- Help me interpret the user engagement metrics from our recent social media campaign.”
- Perform a competitive analysis of our website’s loading speed against industry benchmarks.
- Conduct an analysis on our sales data sorted by geography and product for the past year.
- Identify traffic patterns of our e-commerce store and highlight peak sales periods.
AI prompts for customer service
Customer service is the heart of any successful business, and AI can be the pacemaker that keeps it beating beautifully.
- Generate thoughtful replies to customer inquiries about our product’s features.
- Our app was recently updated and we are getting the following questions from customers. For each question, draft a response that is under 250 words explaining that the change is due to the app updating, and that they can find all of the old features under the “Archive” section.
- Draft an empathetic response to a complaint feedback of late delivery.
- Develop a comprehensive FAQ section that addresses potential user queries about our new subscription model. Here are the details: X, Y, Z.
- Generate a series of 3 follow-up emails post-purchase that ensures our customers feel appreciated.
Prompting gone wrong! Common mistakes to avoid when writing AI prompts
Like avoiding a pothole on a speedy road, sidestepping these common mistakes is essential to ensure smooth sailing. (Or driving? I dunno, these metaphors are getting confusing.)
Overcomplicating the Prompt
Unnecessarily complicating the prompt is like serving a spicy, saucy lasagna to a toddler who can barely grasp a spoon. Keep it simple!
Not Providing Enough Context
Providing too little context to the AI prompt is like asking a tourist to find a secret alley without a map. For example, if you’re going to ask it to draft words for your business, you’re going to first need to tell the AI more about what your business does and what products you offer.
Ignoring the AI’s Capabilities
Continuing to drive a car with an empty gas tank is futile. Similarly, expecting your AI to perform beyond its capacity is no more than wishful thinking. For example, ChatGPT tends to make up sources and URLs if you ask for it to link to articles.
Frequently asked questions
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. More specifically—ChatGPT has answers. That’s right, here’s how GPT-4 responds to some of your most burning questions.
How can AI prompts enhance my AI interactions?
Think of AI prompts as a secret codebook for AI interactions. They guide your AI, helping steer the direction of responses to ensure relevant and insightful outputs. They’re like the spices in a dish—add them thoughtfully, and they’ll elevate the whole experience.
What are some tips for writing effective AI prompts?
Keep your prompts concise and slap on some specificity—an AI is better directed when the commands are clear and specific. Stay within context—prompts should be relevant to the scenario. Remember it’s a conversation, not a command-line, so don’t shy away from some level of conversational lingo.
How can I adapt AI prompts for different AI capabilities?
Different AI systems have varying capabilities, so it requires a certain level of customization. Consider the AI’s main features and tailor prompts that best use these strengths. Do your research beforehand to make sure you know the tool and what it’s best suited for, and more importantly—what its weaknesses are.
What are the best practices in AI prompt creation?
It’s all about making them prompt, precise, and pithy. Go for short, clear instructions. Dress your prompts in a tell-don’t-ask fashion, that way you’re directing the AI, not questioning it. Persistence is key here, try different things and optimize along the way.
How can I optimize my AI prompts for better results?
Optimization is about making regular adjustments, so don’t sit back after writing your prompts. Observe how your AI responds, and tweak the prompts based on its performance. Communication is key in any relationship, AI included—think of this as an ongoing dialogue where you’re continually refining the conversation. So go on, champ, optimize away!
Test your prompts anywhere using Magical
You can add the free Magical Chrome extension to try any of these AI prompts anywhere in your browser. Magical lets you call up AI on over 1,000,000+ websites and web platforms, so you can generate emails, messages, and web copy exactly where you need it. Better yet—Magical helps you automate repetitive tasks like data entry, form filling, and messaging to save you an average of seven hours a week.
1. What are AI prompts?
AI prompts are instructions that guide AI systems on the desired output. They provide context and set expectations to steer the AI.
2. Why are high-quality prompts important?
Well-written prompts lead to more accurate, relevant, and human-like AI results. They act like a recipe to help the AI deliver what you want.
3. What makes an effective AI prompt?
Effective prompts are clear, direct, and concise. They provide necessary context and examples. Single-task prompts work better than overloaded ones.
4. What are some common prompt writing mistakes?
Overcomplicating prompts, lacking context, ignoring AI capabilities, and unclear instructions are mistakes to avoid.
5. How can I optimize my prompts?
Observe AI responses and continuously tweak prompts based on performance. Refine like you would a conversation. Persistently experiment.
6. How do I adapt prompts to different AI systems?
Research the specific AI tool and tailor prompts accordingly. Focus prompts on the strengths and account for limitations.
7. Where can I test AI prompts?
Browser extensions like Magical enable prompt testing anywhere by letting you generate text from AI on any website.
8. What are some prompt writing best practices?
Keep them simple, direct, formatted, and example-driven. Use clear language and avoid errors. Iteratively improve prompts.