Creating Document Attachments: Docs, Sheets, and PDFs

Document attachments are an optional educational tool you can include alongside your tutorial. They are an additional document to your tutorial and not a copy. They are useful for directing the reader to take action on the concepts they’ve learned from your tutorial.

We have some simple guidelines to follow when creating document attachments to include with your tutorials, as well as examples to help get you started.

Types of Document Attachments

There are a number of types of documents you may create to offer as an attachment alongside your tutorials. Here are a few:

  • Worksheets - This is a document the reader downloads, fills out, and works with. It is composed of various exercises with instructions. The common format type is PDF.
  • References - These documents are meant to serve as additional information. They may complement what the reader learns in a tutorial or give them examples (real or theoretical) to reference. The common format type is PDF.
  • Spreadsheets - These are workable spreadsheets that the reader can fill in and use as a tool. Or a reference sheet that serves as an example. The common format type is XLSX.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point. Feel free to make suggestions to your editor on additional document types or formats you’d like to use as attachments along with your tutorial.

Published Examples on Tuts+

There are a range of strategies you may use for creating a document attachment that assists the reader and complements your tutorial. These examples represent a few common approaches and format types in action:

All of the document attachments above give readers additional tools to work with and actions to complete. They all use slightly different strategies to assist the reader. You can take a similar approach to the examples above, or try out innovative techniques.

Best Practices

When possible document attachments should have self-contained instructions, so they both complement a tutorial and work well on their own. Also, reference them from within your tutorial when appropriate as well.

When discussing an attachment in your tutorial, be sure to link to it the first time it’s mentioned. We include a link in the sidebar, but this gives the reader a quick heads up with a download link within the context of the content as well.

Style Guide

Keep document designs fairly minimal.

Stick to black, white, and grayscale. Color is fine to use, such as in spreadsheet headers, or to add graphics or photos, but typically keep color use to a minimum.

Document fonts should be in Helvetica. When that’s not available, then use Arial or a similar Sans Serif alternative.

How to Create Document Attachments

We use Google Drive (Sheets and Docs) for creating our document attachments, which is free to use. You’re welcome to use another application though, as long as you work within our style guide and can export in the recommended formats.

Working With Templates

To work with these templates follow a link below. It will take you to a Google template. Then click the Use This Template button. This will open a new copy of the document using our template formatting. You can freely create from within this new document, overwrite examples, and make it your own. Don’t worry, it won’t affect the original template itself.

Here are templates with examples to help get you started, which include embedded styles to work with:

Doc Formats and Uploading

After creating your document attachments in Google Drive, you’ll need to download and then package them for upload to your tutorial.

Export Google Docs as PDF Document (.pdf). Export Google Sheets as Microsoft Excel (.xlsx). You’re welcome to also export docs in another format when appropriate as well. You can do this in either Docs or Sheets by going to File > Download as and choosing the appropriate format option.

If you have more than one document, then Archive/Zip your files together. Then upload your final file(s) to your tutorial using the Attachment option in our CMS sidebar (this option is available inside a Tutorial or Article in our CMS). Click Choose File, then select the file you’d like to upload and click Open. Then be sure to Save your post.

You’ll notice a link added under Attachment after uploading. You can also add this link inside your content where appropriate as well. This link will be made available to readers to download on publication via a Download Attachment button in the sidebar.