Creating content by building better prompts

This chapter is going to focus on prompts by describing what building a prompt means and how to construct one. Then we will look at hints and tips on prompt creation. We’ll also have suggestions on where you can find further training options and more information on prompts.

What does building a prompt mean?

Building a good prompt is like finding the right keywords in a search.  Having the right prompt will help you get the results that you are looking for, in the right style and format. Your prompt can take the form of a question, text, information or coding.  Essentially anything that communicates to the AI tool what response you are looking for. Another way to think about a prompt is to think of it as a seed or a conversation starter.  You can start small and build on what you want the AI to deliver, this is called building.  In this chapter we will show you what things to think about, and some other tips and tricks.

How do I build a prompt?

There are some specific things that you can think about when you are building your prompt.


What is it?

Tone is the attitude or mood that you want the AI tool to deliver.  Author’s often use tone when they want to convey a particular mood or style.  Academics usually use a formal tone when writing for peer reviewed journals.

How do you choose your tone?

Think about what you want your output to be, and the purpose of your output.  Is it a fun email to a friend? Is it a simplified version of a research concept that you want to better understand?


Think about your intended audience.  This is going to have an effect on your output.  Are you creating prompts to start a discussion for your research? Are you looking at creating marketing content? Are you going to write a social post promoting your research?

Audience Exercise

Try this exercise. Go to your favourite generative AI tool and add in prompts for your research topic to:

  • Apply for a grant.
  • Promote your research on your blog.

Did you see a difference when writing for different audiences?


Be very clear when writing your prompt.  AI tools are not intuitive, you will need to be very specific when asking for outputs. For example; if you ask for a response to a research question, think about if you want the answer to be a long response or a concise response.

Role play

Play acting or role play is a way of putting yourself into a situation to better understand it.  You can do this with AI tools by getting them to “act as though…”.  This provides very clear directions for what sort of output you want from the tool.  A really good example of this can be seen in a blog post by Harvard University Getting started with prompts for text-based Generative AI tools.

Role Play Exercise

You try. Go to your favourite Gen AI tool and ask it to give a summary of your research topic.

  • Now ask it to act as though it is your Dean and give a summary of your research topic.

Can you see a difference?

Type of output

What type of output do you want your Generative AI tool to give you?  There are many outputs that can be generated by Gen AI tools.  Some of these include:

  • computer code
  • text
  • images
  • video
  • music
  • speech
  • product designs

Different tools are built for different uses. If you are using Research Rabbit for example, it will give you a list of references that you can use when searching. Check the specifics of your tool, and use the next chapter on Evaluate & Analyse content created to assess the tool.

Building a prompt for a specific purpose

See Using AI to plan & prepare for more information around building prompts for brainstorming, understanding concepts and finding research on a topic.

Different tools will help you create different prompts. As part of your preparation you need to think about your intended use. There are specific tools listed in our AI tools chapter that you can explore.

Hints and tips for prompt building

Below you will find some hints and tips to help you get the most out of your AI prompt building.

Boolean operators for AI

Just as you use AND, OR, NOT to refine your search, there are words you can use in your AI prompt that will assist you to include the information you do want and to exclude the information that you don’t want. Use DO to include information in your prompt.


Write a short research question for a survey to Librarians regarding the use of Universal Design for Learning, do include School Librarians.

You can see in the example above that we have specifically included “School Librarians” in our prompt. If we wanted to exclude School Librarians and only focus on University Librarians we could write it like this:


Write a short research question for a survey to Librarians regarding the use of Universal Design for Learning, don’t include school librarians.

Your turn:


Try adding in the examples above to your favourite text based AI tool and see the differences in the results.

Use examples

By using examples in your prompt you are giving the AI tool the specific information that it needs to be able to create the results that you want. Be careful with this one – remember copyright and don’t upload existing paragraphs and ask it to infringe on copyright by rewriting it. Use examples to show the AI tool  what output you want. You can see a great example of this in a blog post by the Thesis Whisperer Using ChatGPT (ChattieG) to write good.


PROMPT: The cat in the hat sat on the mat. Write a short sentence similar to this one for the cat in a wig

RESPONSE: the cat in the wig danced on a twig.

Build on previous prompts

As you do with your searching, start broad and build on it for more information. This allows the AI Tool to understand what you are looking for and allows you to refine your prompt to ensure you are getting your best results.

You don’t have to fit everything into your first prompt. As you do with your searching, try starting with a basic question and adding to it over time. Change the wording, tone or add more context and specifics to guide the AI toward the output you’re looking for.

Make corrections

By working with the AI to give feedback and correct it, you build on the knowledge available. It is important to remember that AI is a tool. You need to review the outputs and correct mistakes or ask for clarifications if needed. You still need to have a good working knowledge of your topic or research to ensure the information is correct and useful.

Document your prompts

Documenting your prompts helps you to evaluate the effectiveness of the results. You can use the exercise below to create a document to help you keep track of the changes you are making to your prompt and why.  This is particularly useful when using AI as part of higher degree research. See the chapter on Evaluation for more information.

AI prompt generators

Prompt generation can be complicated. There are generative tools specifically designed to create prompts. You can use the tips and tricks listed above, but you can also use these tools and we have listed a few below.

Remember to use the evaluation tips in Evaluate & Analyse content created to see if this tool is useful for you.

Title of Tool Description
Taskade Although there are some subscription services you can start with the free version.  Remember to use the evaluation tips in the following chapters to see if this tool is useful for you.
Freedough This prompt generator will give you prompts for ChatGPT, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion.
AI Tools This is specifically for text to image. There is a free builder on this site, but you can subscribe and have access to the more advanced version.
Coefficient This is a free prompt generator that can help you build prompts for text as well as formulas in spreadsheets.

You can find many more tools by going to your favourite search engine and searching for “AI prompt generator”.

More information

There are also many courses about prompts. LinkedIn Learning has a broad collection including both beginner and advanced. Once you are logged in to LinkedIn Learning, search for “AI prompt engineering” to see the options.


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