Prompt Engineering - Basics

Discover beginner tips for prompt engineering with ChatGPT-4, as Henri shares simple techniques to improve your interactions with the language model.


Henri Hubert

5/16/20232 min read

a robot hand holding a human hand
a robot hand holding a human hand

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Dear Reader,

Prompt engineering is a crucial aspect of working with language models like ChatGPT-4. It involves crafting the input or "prompt" in a way that guides the model to produce the desired output. This can involve specifying the format of the response, asking the model to think step-by-step or debate pros and cons before settling on an answer, or even instructing it to use a specific tone or style.

ChatGPT-4, the latest iteration of OpenAI's language model as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, is even more capable and versatile than its predecessors. It can generate creative writing, answer questions, tutor in a variety of subjects, translate languages, simulate characters for video games, and much more. However, like all models, its performance is heavily dependent on the quality and specificity of the prompts it receives.

Here are a few tips for effective prompt engineering with ChatGPT-4:

  1. Be explicit: Clearly state what you want in the prompt. If you want a list, ask for a list. If you want pros and cons, ask for pros and cons.

  2. Specify the format: If you have a specific format in mind for the answer, include it in your prompt. For example, if you're asking for a summary, you might specify that you want it in bullet points.

  3. Use system messages: These are messages that set the behavior of the assistant. For example, a system message could instruct the assistant to speak like Shakespeare, which can be useful in certain creative contexts.

  4. Iterate and experiment: Prompt engineering is an iterative process. It often takes a few tries to craft a prompt that produces the desired output, especially for more complex tasks.

Remember, while ChatGPT-4 is a powerful tool, it's not perfect. It doesn't understand text in the way humans do and it can sometimes write things that are incorrect or nonsensical. Always use critical thinking when interpreting its output.

I hope this brief overview has been helpful. If you have any further questions about prompt engineering with ChatGPT-4, please don't hesitate to ask.

Best regards,


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