7 essential tips for crafting effective prompts for ChatGPT

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Welcome to the world of AI prompt writing, an art shrouded in mystery and secrets. For those brave enough to delve deeper, we present seven advanced techniques that will enhance your communication with ChatGPT and other generative AI tools. In previous articles on ZDNET, we have covered the fundamentals of issuing effective prompts, but now it’s time to level up.

Here’s your guide to mastering ChatGPT usage:

1. Specify the desired output format

Similar to assigning a specific format for an assignment, you can instruct ChatGPT on how to format its reply. For instance, if you want a list of the longest highways in the United States, you can request the top four highways to be listed as bullet points.

2. Request HTML formatting

Take control over how the results are displayed by instructing ChatGPT to generate HTML output. This enables you to integrate the generated table into a web page seamlessly. You can even customize the HTML style to match your preferences.

3. Iterate with multiple attempts

Collaboration with AI often involves refining the generated output to meet your expectations. Suppose you’re unsatisfied with the initial CSS-styled table. You can provide additional instructions to align the columns, change heading appearance, and adjust the shading of data rows. Iterating through multiple attempts helps you achieve the desired result.

4. Embrace long and detailed prompts

Crafting a prompt that consistently generates the desired output can require multiple iterations. Ensure your prompt is specific and comprehensive enough to provide the necessary context for the large language model. Don’t hesitate to make your prompt lengthy if it helps the AI understand your requirements better.

5. Impose explicit constraints on the response

Specify constraints for both specific and open-ended questions. While the model may not have been trained on specific data, like World War II newspapers, you can still apply constraints within its knowledge cutoff. For instance, you can request a list of major space missions between 2010 and 2020, with further constraints to focus only on missions conducted by NASA.

6. Leverage formatting and filtering

Combine explicit constraints with formatting instructions to obtain precisely tailored outputs. You can group space missions by nation and space agency, highlight the names of nations and agencies, or exclude continents without missions from the list.

7. Explore the possibilities

As you experiment with AI prompting, don’t be afraid to explore different techniques and combinations of instructions. With practice, you’ll become more proficient at effectively communicating your requirements to ChatGPT and unlocking its full potential.

By applying these advanced techniques, you can enhance your interactions with ChatGPT and unleash its capabilities for a wide range of tasks. So dive in, experiment, and uncover the depths of AI prompt writing.

Closing remarks

It is crucial to acknowledge that AI does not always perform according to your expectations right from the start. In the previous example, I invested nearly two hours and made approximately 20 attempts before discovering the formula that effectively produced the desired outcome.

Additionally, it’s important to remember that the AI retains information from the current session. While it may provide accurate responses within the current session, it is essential to conduct an acid test by replicating your prompt in a completely new session to determine its reliability.

Stay tuned, as I will not only provide more advanced tips for prompts but also delve deeper into specific challenges related to prompting and their respective solutions.

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