- Added generation of prompt instructions
- Added visualization of a mind map
- One-shot prompts added
- Self-criticism added
- Phrasing tips added
What is the best way to interact with ChatGPT? There is virtually no right or wrong way to interact with the AI. However, there are some guidelines to help formulate the right prompts.
ChatGPT has been available since the end of November 2022, and users have been exploring the limits and possibilities of the chatbot ever since. But OpenAI is also constantly making adjustments.
To achieve the desired result, you need prompts that are as concrete as possible. In addition to simple text generation for blog or social media posts, ChatGPT is capable of much more diverse, sometimes curious, use cases.
While there are many tips and suggestions for ChatGPT commands floating around the web, we want to share a few selected and reviewed ones that we find particularly helpful.
- By default, every chat starts with the fastest GPT-3.5 model. If you have an active Plus membership, you can use a button to switch to GPT-4, GPT-4 with web connection and the plugins.
- Browsing mode and plugins may need to be enabled in Preferences.
- ChatGPT will process up to 4,096 tokens in one input. If the input is too long, an error message will be displayed. A token is roughly equivalent to a word, depending on the use case.
- The generation of responses can be stopped with the stop button above the input field.
- After a response has been generated, it can be re-generated by clicking the “Regenerate response” button, which may result in a different response.
- If too much knowledge has been exchanged in a chat, it may be helpful to start a new chat to avoid distorting the subsequent answers.
- At least so far, ChatGPT’s interface doesn’t allow you to bookmark certain chats to quickly return to them. There is, however, a small workaround: Chats can now be shared with other users via a link. This link can then be added to your own list to save it.
- The link can also be used in GPT-4 with browsing mode to retrieve information from an older chat in a new chat.
- Chats can only be deleted one at a time, not several at once. However, there is a way to delete all previous conversations from the context menu after clicking on the profile in the lower left corner. But be careful: This step cannot be undone.
- By default, OpenAI uses all user-entered data to train its models. If you do not want this, you can turn off data processing in the settings. However, this also means that chats will not be saved for later use.
How to write
- ChatGPT was trained on multilingual data, but the proportion of English text in the training material is significantly higher. It may help to perform queries in English and only translate the output afterwards using tools like DeepL.
- Although communication with ChatGPT sometimes feels almost human, pleasantries like “please” and “thank you” are unnecessary. ChatGPT does not need eloquent instructions, but clear ones.
- You should give voice AIs like ChatGPT as clear instructions as possible. This also means that it is best to use strong, expressive verbs. For example, instead of “rewrite the text”, “clarify the text” may give a better result.
- Also, use positive rather than negative phrases, e.g. “write formally” rather than “do not write informally”.
- Separators such as triple quotes (“”” “””), XML tags (<tag> </tag>), or section headings can help the AI separate sections of text that should be treated differently.
- ChatGPT cannot count exactly, but will usually roughly follow any word or character limits given in the prompt. GPT-4 is better at counting than GPT-3.5.
- After a successful conversation, it helps to ask ChatGPT for a summary (“Write a summary of our chat so far.”).
Prompt strategies for ChatGPT
Linux terminal, philosopher, tea taster or Bible translator – ChatGPT can play all these roles and more. All the AI needs is a nudge in the right direction. Conveniently, developer Fatih Kadir Akın has compiled a whole series of such situation descriptions, including formulated prompts, on his website.
The prompts always have the same structure: First, ChatGPT receives a prompt telling it what role the AI should play. Then the prompt tells the AI what information the user has provided, followed by what the AI is supposed to do with it, including rough suggestions for direction. Finally, the developer puts the first concrete instruction in quotation marks.
Example travel guideI want you to act as a tour guide. I’ll write you my location, and you’ll suggest a place for me to visit near my location. In some cases, I will also tell you the type of places I will visit. You will also suggest places of a similar nature that are near my first location. My first command is “I am in Istanbul/Beyoğlu and I just want to visit museums.”
Define address and channel
It is advisable to give ChatGPT as much information as possible to avoid tedious rewriting, either manually or through another prompt. You should clarify for the AI how you want the reader to be addressed and what channel the text is intended for.
It makes a big difference to ChatGPT whether the text is output as a blog post, a store page, a LinkedIn post, a tweet, a TikTok, or a YouTube script. ChatGPT also handles gender, as long as you specify the desired form at the beginning.
Example TikTokI need a script for a TikTok about the opportunities and risks of ChatGPT. Use as short sentences as possible. Address the viewer as you. Use gender-neutral language if possible.
Give an example answer (one-shot prompting)
The less effort you put into formulating the prompt for ChatGPT, the less effort the AI seems to put into it. Such open-ended “zero-shot prompts” often produce unsatisfactory results because the AI has to make too many decisions on its own.
The goal can be achieved by providing a structure with sample content (or template) for an answer in the request, which ChatGPT will then follow. This strategy is also called “one-shot prompt”.
Example One-shot prompt
Describe the bird species using the following format:
Name: golden eagle
Wingspan: average 200 to 220 cm, can reach 260 cm.
Diet: Golden eagles are birds of prey and feed on a variety of animals, such as groundhogs, hares, foxes, and deer. Other birds are also part of their diet, such as pheasants, capercaillies and even other birds of prey.
Habitat: Golden eagles are at home in the mountains and live in rocky regions and mountains. They are found in Europe, Asia and North America.
Natural enemies: Because of their size and strength, golden eagles usually have no natural enemies. However, they can be attacked by wolves, bears or lynx, especially when they are still young.
Name: etc. …
A keyword often mentioned by experts in connection with better ChatGPT input is “chained prompting”. This involves breaking down complex tasks into multiple intermediate steps in the hope that the AI will deliver a more concrete, customized, and thus overall better result. This works in a single long prompt as well as in several in a row.
Probably the simplest form of chain prompting is to first ask for the structure of an article. Then you can ask ChatGPT to formulate the corresponding bullet points.
This method also saves time: If you notice that the AI is going down the wrong path during the outline, you can make the necessary adjustments before the full text is generated.
Example Chained PromptingWrite an article about ChatGPT. First give me the outline, which consists of a headline, a teaser and several subheadings. [Output] Now write five key messages for each subheading. [Output] Add five keywords to the key messages for each subheading. [Output] And so on …
Even if you have followed all the previous advice, you may want to prepare the same content for different channels, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. The text should be adapted to the tone and formatting of the target channel.
Again, ChatGPT takes care of this task with the right command. Important arguments can be the mention of the channel, but also descriptions of the format.
Example TwitterFormulate the generated text in several tweets. Note the maximum length of 280 characters per tweet. Use short sentences and do not stretch them over several tweets. Start the tweets with a consistent numbering.
Example LinkedInFormulate the generated text as a LinkedIn post. Note the maximum length of 3000 characters. Structure the core statements of the text as a clear list. Get started with an exciting teaser sentence and end the post with a call to action for comments, shares or likes.
By default, ChatGPT responds verbosely in plain text. However, the AI tool actually handles formatting in the Markdown markup language, such as headings, bold or italic text, ordered (numbered) or unordered lists, and even tables.
You can use these features in your text generation. In most cases, however, ChatGPT does not come up with the idea itself and therefore needs a suitable formatting hint. Of course, you can format afterwards using chained prompting.
Example MarkdownI want to have a blog article written about ChatGPT. Write a headline, a teaser, a subtitle and a paragraph. Format everything in markdown.
Special prompt examples for ChatGPT
Generate prompt guide
Justin Fineberg came up with an interesting way to communicate with ChatGPT. Similar to the first tip above, the AI is instructed to take on a specific role. This time, however, ChatGPT takes over the tedious task of generating the structure for further prompts.
In other words, the chatbot will ask itself the exact questions it needs to answer in the next prompts. If ChatGPT writes the questions in the form of a numbered list, you can refer directly to the numbers.
Example prompt instruction
You are a robot for creating prompts. You need to gather information about the user’s goals, examples of preferred output, and any other relevant contextual information. The prompt should contain all the necessary information provided to you.
Ask the user more questions until you are sure you can create an optimal prompt. Your answer should be clearly formatted and optimized for ChatGPT interactions. Start by asking the user about their goals, desired outcome, and any additional information you may need.
Interview a panel of experts
Following the general tip of assigning a specific role to ChatGPT, you can also get the opinions of various experts with just a few prompts.
As a first step, the AI will help you make a list of the experts you require. It will then run a role play in which each of the fictional people gives a tip.
Example interview a panel of expertsI want to start a business. What kind of experts could best help me with this?
Play a role-playing game in which each of the experts gives me advice on what to do.
Let people practice self-criticism
ChatGPT is already a useful tool for critiquing text written by humans, so why not apply this tactic to text written by AI?
In line with this idea is the following strategy, which is divided into two steps (see “Chained Prompting”): First, ChatGPT should convincingly dissect the text piece by piece. Then, in a second prompt, get the AI to rewrite the text based on those very criticisms.
Example self-criticismCritique the following text and convince me why it is not good. Let’s think about the problems of the text step by step.
Good points. Rewrite the text and improve it based on your criticism.
Use the SCAMPER method
The SCAMPER method is a creative thinking tool that offers seven different techniques for solving problems and generating ideas: Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Modify, Repurpose, Eliminate, and Reverse.
Original promptWrite a short story about a spaceship.
SubstituteWrite a short story about a submarine.
CombineWrite a short story about a spaceship and a lost civilization.
AdaptWrite a short story about a spaceship trapped in a black hole.
ModifyWrite a short story about a spaceship controlled by an artificial intelligence system.
Put to another useWrite a short story about an old spaceship being used as a museum.
EliminateWrite a short story about a ship.
ReverseWrite a short story about an alien civilization that discovers a human spaceship.
Visualize mind maps
A major advantage of ChatGPT over GPT-3 is that the user interface inherently supports output in Markdown format. This allows for quick visual differentiation between different hierarchies of headings, which is very helpful when visually structuring a text.
Markdown texts can be converted into mind maps via the free website markmap.js.org, as Alexander Leirvåg writes on Twitter. Based on the hierarchy of the respective headings, the website displays the entered text as a mind map and even supports further formatting of the individual entries, e.g. for code or formulas.
The graphic can then be downloaded either as an interactive web page in HTML or as a vector graphic in SVG format.
Important: To properly copy text that is formatted as markup, you must prevent ChatGPT from displaying it as markup. This can be done by telling the AI to include the output of
``, which means Markdown formatting for code.
In markmap, each layer becomes a separate branch by #.
Example: mindmapping a birthday party.
### Fishing Candy
Use Markdown to create a mindmap for planning a wedding. Enclose the output in ` and `.
If you like it a bit more complex, you should familiarize yourself with the syntax of Mermaid. You can simply give ChatGPT an example to follow. Mermaid diagrams are more visually appealing than simple mind maps and can even be provided with icons that ChatGPT selects itself.
Mermaid cannot handle hyphens in node labels (e.g. “make-up”). These must be removed from the ChatGPT output. You can paste the output of ChatGPT into mermaid.live to convert it to a graphic.
Create the code for a mindmap in Mermaid for planning a wedding, using appropriate icons. Make sure you have the right number of spaces for the hierarchy of layers. Enclose the output in ` and `.
Here is an example of code for Mermaid: