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Generative AI: Subject Guide: Prompting

What is Prompting?

Prompting is simply what you type into the chat box.  It is what you ask the AI to do.  The way you prompt has a huge impact on the quality of results that you receive.   AI needs very specific information.

  • Always verify the information it gives you.  ChatGPT sometimes makes things up. It's designed to write in a way that sounds like a human. It's not designed to know facts.
  • It gets confused if you change topics in the middle of a conversation.  When you want to change topics, start a new chat.
  • Don't ask ChatGPT (free version) for a list of sources . It will make them up. Instead use library search, library databases, or Google Scholar.  
  • Choose an output format. In addition to paragraphs it can give you a table, a bulleted list, ascii art, multiple choice quiz questions, emojis, computer code, and more.
  • In ChatGPT you can see a history of your conversations and in the settings you can delete your history and turn off the saving of future history. You can also export your history and save it on your own computer.
  • Don't enter any personal, private data in ChatGPT, because OpenAI may use your input to help improve the model. 

Tips for Writing AI Prompts

Crafting a well-formulated and specific prompt to interact with Generative AI can improve your results.  Guidelines from the CLEAR Framework for Prompt Engineering provide these things to include and consider when crafting a prompt:

  • Concise-brevity and clarity in prompts
  • Logical - structured and coherent
  • Explicit - clear output specifications
  • Adaptive - flexibility and customization
  • Reflective - continuous evaluation and improvement

Source: Lo, Leo S. “The CLEAR Path: A Framework for Enhancing Information Literacy through Prompt Engineering.” Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 49, no. 4, July 2023, p. N.PAG. EBSCOhost,

The CLEAR path: A framework for enhancing information literacy through prompt engineering.

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