What is Prompt Engineering in AI? A Detailed Guide


By Muhammad Hazeem Mubashar at Discovering CS

Updated: March 04, 2024      Reading Time: 30 mins

Prompt Engineering in Artificial Intelligence

Prompt engineering is a fascinating aspect of working with language models like ChatGPT, Dall-E, etc. Basically, it's the art and science of crafting prompts that yield specific and desired responses from the model. This can involve tweaking the wording, adding context, or even using formatting tricks to guide the model towards generating the kind of content you're looking for.

In IT Industry, the Artificial Intelligence is the fastest growing field and it is bringing a revolution in IT. Prompt engineering is a dynamic and evolving field of AI that requires a combination of creativity, intuition, and empirical observation to master. It's a bit like fine-tuning an instrument. This means that utilizing the AI Model to its maximum potential. The AI Based systems require the user input for processing. The better the user input the efficient the system will respond. Let’s consider the famous LLM (Large Language Model) ChatGPT. ChatGPT works upon your input. That input is a prompt. By implementing the concept and techniques of prompt engineering, you can make your prompt more better so that ChatGPT can respond you with the best possible response.

One of the key challenges in prompt engineering is finding the right balance between specificity and flexibility. You want your prompt to be clear enough to guide the model towards the desired output, but not so restrictive that it stifles creativity or limits the range of possible responses.

Experimentation is also a big part of prompt engineering. It often involves trying out different variations of prompts and observing how the model responds to each one. This process can help you gain insights into how the model interprets language and what kinds of cues it responds to most strongly.

Additionally, prompt engineering is not just about the words you use in the prompt itself, but also about the context you provide to the model. This can include things like providing background information, setting expectations, or priming the model with relevant examples.

Skills Involved in Prompt Engineering:

Prompt engineering is a crucial aspect of working with AI models. Here's a breakdown of the skills involved:

  • Communication: Effective communication is essential for conveying the desired output or task to the AI model. This includes clarity in expressing what you want the model to generate and providing context if necessary.
  • Analytical Thinking: Analytical thinking involves breaking down complex problems or tasks into smaller components. In prompt engineering, this skill helps in designing prompts that guide the AI model to produce relevant and coherent responses.
  • Critical Thinking: Critical thinking involves evaluating information, considering different perspectives, and making reasoned judgments. In prompt engineering, critical thinking helps in assessing the effectiveness of prompts, identifying potential biases, and refining them to improve the model's performance.
  • Understanding the AI Model: Familiarity with the underlying AI model is crucial for prompt engineering. This includes understanding how the model processes input data, its strengths and limitations, and how different prompts may affect its output.

Additional skills that are important for prompt engineering include:

  • Domain Knowledge: Depending on the application, having domain knowledge relevant to the task can be highly beneficial. This helps in crafting prompts that are tailored to the specific context and produce more accurate and meaningful responses.
  • Creativity: Creativity plays a role in designing prompts that elicit diverse and engaging responses from the AI model. Thinking outside the box can lead to innovative approaches that enhance the quality of generated content.
  • Empathy and Ethical Considerations: Considering the societal impact of AI-generated content is crucial. Prompt engineers need to be mindful of potential biases, sensitive topics, and ethical implications when designing prompts and interpreting the model's responses.
  • Experimentation and Iteration: Prompt engineering often involves a process of trial and error. Being comfortable with experimentation and iteration allows prompt engineers to refine their approach, optimize prompts, and improve the performance of the AI model over time.

By honing these skills, prompt engineers can effectively harness the capabilities of AI models to generate relevant and coherent outputs for various applications.

Now as we have become familiar with the basic concept of prompt engineering and also have discussed the skills involved, let’s delve deeper into the detailed context and explore this amazing field of AI along with its involved elements. Let’s start with prompts.

What is a prompt?

In the context of working with language models, a prompt is essentially or simply the input or query provided to the model to generate a response. It’s just an input you provide to the AI system and based upon your given input, it responds back to you with the solution. It can be as simple as a single sentence or as complex as a paragraph or even a longer piece of text. The prompt serves as the starting point for the model to understand what is being asked or prompted to generate. To generate the most efficient response, it’s necessary that your prompt should be a good one.

A good prompt typically includes several key elements:

  • Clarity: The prompt should clearly convey what kind of response is expected from the model. Ambiguity in the prompt can lead to unexpected or undesired outputs.
  • Relevance: The prompt should be relevant to the topic or task at hand. Providing context or background information can help guide the model towards generating more accurate and useful responses.
  • Specificity: Depending on the desired outcome, the prompt may need to be specific enough to guide the model towards the intended content. However, it's important not to be overly restrictive, as this can limit the model's creativity and flexibility.
  • Formatting: Sometimes, the formatting of the prompt can also influence the model's response. For example, using bullet points or lists can help structure the input and guide the model towards generating a structured output.
  • Examples: Providing examples or prompts in a similar vein can also help the model understand the desired response style or content.

Overall, the prompt sets the stage for the interaction between the user and the model, and crafting an effective prompt is often the first step towards getting the desired output. Prompt engineering involves experimenting with different prompts to see how they influence the model's behavior and refining them to achieve the best results.

Prompts play a crucial role in how generative AI systems operate, serving as the starting point for the model to generate new and original content. Generative AI systems, especially those based on language models like GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), often rely on prompts to generate content. When you provide a prompt to a generative AI system like GPT, it uses the information in the prompt to guide its language generation process. The model analyzes the prompt and generates a response based on its understanding of the input, the patterns it has learned from training data, and its underlying architecture.

What is a Generative AI System?

A Generative AI System is designed to generate content, such as text, images, or even music that is new and original. These systems don't just regurgitate existing data but create something novel based on the patterns and information they've learned from training data. Generative AI systems use various techniques, including neural networks like recurrent neural networks (RNNs), transformers, and GANs (Generative Adversarial Networks), to generate content. Language models like GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) fall under this category.

Prompt engineering sits at the intersection of generative AI systems and NLP (Natural Language Processing). NLP is a subfield of artificial intelligence focused on enabling computers to understand, interpret, and generate human language. It involves tasks such as text classification, sentiment analysis, named entity recognition, and machine translation, among others.

When working with language models like GPT, prompt engineering involves crafting the input provided to the model in such a way that it elicits the desired response. This can involve using specific language, providing context, structuring the input, or even manipulating the formatting to guide the model towards generating the desired content as we discussed above. NLP techniques are employed to understand how the model interprets and responds to different prompts, allowing engineers to fine-tune their approaches for better results.

Now, let’s discuss about the purpose of prompt engineering in generative AI system.

What is the purpose of prompt engineering in Generative AI systems?

The purpose of prompt engineering in generative AI systems is a topic that can be debated from various perspectives. Here are a few points that highlight the significance and purpose of prompt engineering:

  • Controlling Output: One of the primary purposes of prompt engineering is to exert some level of control over the output generated by generative AI systems. These systems are incredibly powerful and can generate a wide range of content. Prompt engineering allows users to guide the model towards producing outputs that align with specific criteria or objectives, such as generating content relevant to a particular topic or style.
  • Tailoring Responses: Prompt engineering enables users to tailor the responses of generative AI systems to their specific needs or preferences. By carefully crafting prompts, users can influence the content, tone, and structure of the generated output. This can be especially useful in applications such as content generation, dialogue systems, and creative writing, where the quality and relevance of the output are essential.
  • Mitigating Bias and Harmful Content: Prompt engineering can also be used to mitigate bias and prevent the generation of harmful or inappropriate content by generative AI systems. By providing carefully curated prompts, users can reduce the likelihood of the model producing outputs that perpetuate stereotypes, promote misinformation, or otherwise cause harm.
  • Enhancing User Experience: In interactive applications where users engage directly with generative AI systems, prompt engineering can enhance the user experience by providing prompts that elicit more relevant, engaging, or entertaining responses. By understanding how different prompts influence the model's behavior, developers can design more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces.
  • Improving Model Performance: Prompt engineering is also instrumental in improving the performance of generative AI systems. By systematically testing and refining prompts, researchers and developers can gain insights into how the model interprets language and identify areas for improvement. This iterative process of prompt engineering can lead to more robust and effective generative AI systems over time.

Overall, the purpose of prompt engineering in generative AI systems is multifaceted, encompassing aspects of control, customization, bias mitigation, user experience, and model improvement. By leveraging the power of carefully crafted prompts, users can harness the capabilities of generative AI systems to achieve their goals while minimizing potential risks and maximizing benefits.

As, we have been talking about the prompts and specifically the good prompts throughout the article, now you must have to be familiar with the generation of good prompt. A good prompt will always be a creative one. If you somehow manage to make a prompt creative, then it means you are working with a good prompt. So, let’s discuss how you can create a prompt more creatively.

Which are the ways to improve the creativity of prompts?

Prompts should be creative, and in many cases, creativity in prompt engineering can enhance the quality and novelty of the generated content. While not every prompt need to be creative, but incorporating creativity into prompt engineering can open up new avenues for exploration and discovery, leading to more engaging and impactful interactions with generative AI systems.

Here are some ways to improve the creativity of prompts:

  • Use Evocative Language: Employ clear and evocative language in your prompts to spark the imagination of both the model and the users. This can involve using descriptive adjectives, metaphorical language, or colorful imagery to paint a rich picture for the AI system to work with. For example: 
    • Instead of a plain prompt like "Write a story about a cat," you could say, "Craft a tale of a mysterious feline prowling through moonlit alleyways, leaving a trail of whispered secrets in its wake."
  • Pose Thought-Provoking Questions: Encourage deep thinking and exploration by framing your prompts as thought-provoking questions that prompt the model to consider different perspectives or possibilities. For example: 
    • Instead of "Describe a sunny day," you could ask, "What would the world look like if the sun were made of ice cream?"
  • Create Unusual Scenarios: Push the boundaries of conventional prompts by presenting the model with unusual or unexpected scenarios that challenge its creativity. This can involve combining disparate elements or imagining alternative realities. For example: 
    • Instead of "Write a poem about nature," you could prompt, "Imagine a forest where the trees sing lullabies to the stars."
  • Provide Open-Ended Prompts: Give the model room to explore and interpret the prompt in its own unique way by keeping the prompt open-ended and allowing for multiple possible responses. This encourages creativity and divergent thinking. For example: 
    • Instead of "Write a sentimental letter," you could say, "Compose a heartfelt message expressing your deepest emotions."
  • Incorporate Constraints or Challenges: Introduce constraints or challenges into the prompt that require the model to think creatively to overcome them. This can involve setting limitations on the subject matter, word count, or format of the response. For example: 
    • Instead of "Write a short story," you could prompt, "Craft a compelling narrative using only dialogue."

By incorporating any of these strategies into your prompts, you can enhance the creativity of the prompts and inspire more imaginative and innovative responses from the model.

Sometimes, a prompt becomes biased due to any reason and in that case the output response becomes biased. This biasness in prompt disturbs the prompt creativity and the response efficiency. Only the unbiased prompts can lead you to the broader and efficient results. So writing an unbiased yet creative prompt is also another challenge of prompt engineering. So, let’s get to know about the strategies to make a prompt unbiased.

How to make a prompt more unbiased?

Unbiased prompts are crucial for ensuring fair and inclusive outcomes when using generative AI systems. Here are some strategies to make prompts more unbiased, along with examples:

  • Use Neutral Language: Ensure that the language used in the prompt is neutral and does not favor any particular group or perspective. Avoid stereotypes, assumptions, or loaded language that could introduce bias. For example: 
    • Biased: "Write a story about a brave firefighter saving a helpless victim."
    • Unbiased: "Craft a narrative about a courageous individual performing a rescue in a challenging situation."
  • Avoid Gendered or Racial Language: Be mindful of using gendered or racial language in prompts, as this can perpetuate stereotypes and marginalize certain groups. Use inclusive language that does not assume the gender or race of the characters or subjects in the prompt. For example: 
    • Biased: "Describe the typical day of a hardworking housewife."
    • Unbiased: "Illustrate the daily routine of a dedicated caregiver."
  • Provide Diverse Examples: Include diverse examples or perspectives in the prompt to ensure that it reflects a range of experiences and identities. This can help prevent the model from biasing its responses towards a particular demographic or cultural context. For example:
    • Biased: "Write a poem about the beauty of a traditional eastern wedding."
    • Unbiased: "Compose a poem celebrating the joy and unity found in various wedding ceremonies around the world."
  • Consider Intersectionality: Acknowledge the intersectionality of identities and experiences by crafting prompts that reflect the complexity and diversity of human life. Avoid oversimplifying or tokenizing identities, and instead, encourage exploration of the intersections between different aspects of identity. For example: 
    • Biased: "Describe the struggles of a single mother."
    • Unbiased: "Explore the challenges faced by individuals balancing parenthood with other responsibilities."
  • Include Context and Background Information: Provide context and background information in the prompt to help the model understand the topic or scenario without relying on assumptions or stereotypes. This can help ensure that the model generates responses that are informed and sensitive to the nuances of the subject matter. For example: 
    • Biased: "Write a story about a homeless person begging on the street."
    • Unbiased: "Craft a narrative about an individual experiencing homelessness and their journey to find stability and support."

By incorporating these strategies into prompt engineering, you can help mitigate bias and promote fairness and inclusivity in the outputs generated by model.

Now as we have discussed a lot about the prompts and the prompt engineering, let’s learn how these concepts are indulged in real life models. Let’s consider a famous LLM i.e. ChatGPT and try to learn about prompt engineering in ChatGPT.

What is prompt engineering in ChatGPT?

In the context of ChatGPT, prompt engineering plays a crucial role in shaping the conversational interactions between users and the model. Here's how prompt engineering is carried out in ChatGPT:

  • Initiating Conversations: When users interact with ChatGPT, they typically provide an initial prompt or message to start the conversation. Prompt engineering involves crafting these initial prompts to guide the direction and tone of the conversation. This could include providing context, asking questions, or framing the conversation around a specific topic.
  • Setting Expectations: The initial prompt in ChatGPT helps set expectations for both the user and the model regarding the nature and scope of the conversation. Prompt engineering ensures that the prompt communicates clear intentions and objectives, helping to avoid misunderstandings or misinterpretations.
  • Maintaining Engagement: Engaging prompts are essential for keeping users interested and involved in the conversation. Prompt engineering involves crafting prompts that are intriguing, relevant, and responsive to the user's input, encouraging continued engagement and participation.
  • Guiding the Conversation Flow: Prompts in ChatGPT can be used to guide the flow of the conversation by introducing new topics, asking follow-up questions, or steering the discussion towards specific areas of interest. Prompt engineering helps ensure that prompts are well-crafted to maintain a coherent and engaging conversation flow.
  • Adapting to User Input: As the conversation progresses, prompt engineering may involve adjusting subsequent prompts based on the user's input and responses. This could include tailoring the prompts to address specific questions or topics raised by the user, maintaining relevance and coherence in the conversation.
  • Personalization and Contextualization: Effective prompt engineering in ChatGPT takes into account the user's preferences, context, and previous interactions to personalize the conversation experience. This could involve referencing previous messages, incorporating user-specific information, or adapting the tone and style of the prompts to match the user's preferences.
  • Mitigating Bias and Harm: Prompt engineering in ChatGPT aims to mitigate bias and ensure that the conversation remains respectful, inclusive, and free from harmful content. This involves carefully crafting prompts to avoid perpetuating stereotypes, promoting misinformation, or engaging in sensitive or inappropriate topics.

Overall, prompt engineering in ChatGPT is a dynamic process that involves crafting well-designed prompts to initiate and guide engaging and meaningful conversations between users and the model.

When a user wants to obtain information from ChatGPT, prompt engineering ensures that he/she receive relevant and accurate responses. Here's how the user can approach prompt engineering in ChatGPT to effectively obtain the desired information:

  • Clearly State the Information Requested: Begin the prompt with a clear and concise statement of the information. This helps ChatGPT understand the user's intent and provides context for generating an appropriate response. For example:
    • Prompt: "I'm interested in learning about the history of ancient Rome. Can you provide an overview?"
  • Specify the Topic or Area of Interest: If the information request pertains to a specific topic or area, include this in the prompt to narrow down the focus of the response. This helps ChatGPT provide more relevant and targeted information. For example:
    • Prompt: "I'm researching renewable energy sources. Can you give me an overview of solar power and its benefits?"
  • Ask Direct Questions: If there are specific questions you haveabout the topic, include them in the prompt to provide detailed responses addressing those questions. This helps ensure the user receives comprehensive information on the topic. For example:
    • Prompt: "What are the main causes of climate change, and how does it impact the environment and human society?"
  • Provide Context or Background Information: If there is any relevant context or background information that would help ChatGPT to understand the user's information or needs better, include it in the prompt. This can help ensure more accurate and informative responses. For example:
    • Prompt: "I'm writing a report on artificial intelligence. Can you provide an overview of the different types of AI and their applications?"
  • Encourage Detailed Responses: Prompt ChatGPT to provide detailed and informative responses by expressing a desire for thorough explanations or additional insights. This encourages ChatGPT to generate more in-depth and helpful information. For example:
    • Prompt: "I'm interested in learning as much as possible about space exploration. Can you provide a detailed overview of the history of space travel?"

By following these prompt engineering strategies, users can effectively communicate their information needs to ChatGPT and receive informative and relevant responses tailored to their interests and objectives.

Writing a good prompt in ChatGPT is paramount as it serves as the foundation for effective communication and interaction with the model. A well-crafted prompt ensures clarity, relevance, and specificity, guiding ChatGPT to generate responses that align with the user's information needs and objectives. By providing clear instructions, context, and questions, a good prompt helps ChatGPT understand the user's intent and focus, facilitating more accurate and informative responses. Additionally, a good prompt encourages engagement and fosters a positive user experience by setting expectations and prompting ChatGPT to deliver detailed and relevant information. Furthermore, a good prompt can help mitigate ambiguity, avoid misunderstandings, and streamline the conversation flow, resulting in more efficient and productive interactions.

So, writing a good prompt in ChatGPT is essential for maximizing the utility and effectiveness of the model, enabling users to obtain the information they seek in a clear, concise, and engaging manner. Let’s explore how a good and creative prompt can be written in ChatGPT.

How to write a good prompt for ChatGPT?

Writing a good prompt in ChatGPT involves considering various factors to ensure clarity, relevance, and effectiveness in eliciting the desired response. Here are some best practices and strategies to follow, along with examples:

  • Be Specific and Clear:
    • Example: "I need help understanding the concept of quantum entanglement. Can you provide an explanation?"
    • Explanation: Clearly state the topic or question you're seeking information about to guide ChatGPT in generating a focused response.
  • Provide Context:
    • Example: "I'm writing an article about climate change. Can you summarize the current scientific consensus on its causes and impacts?"
    • Explanation: Offer context about the purpose or background of the prompt to help ChatGPT understand the user's information needs better.
  • Ask Direct Questions:
    • Example: "What are the major factors contributing to deforestation, and how does it impact biodiversity?"
    • Explanation: Pose specific questions to prompt ChatGPT to provide detailed and informative responses addressing the user's inquiries.
  • Include Relevant Keywords:
    • Example: "I'm studying for a biology exam. Can you explain the process of photosynthesis in plants?"
    • Explanation: Incorporate keywords related to the topic or subject matter to help ChatGPT recognize the focus of the prompt and generate relevant content.
  • Encourage Detailed Responses:
    • Example: "I'm interested in learning about ancient civilizations. Can you provide a comprehensive overview of the cultural achievements of the Maya civilization?"
    • Explanation: Express a desire for thorough explanations or comprehensive overviews to prompt ChatGPT to generate detailed and informative responses.
  • Avoid Ambiguity
    • Example: "I want to know about stars."
    • Explanation: Be specific and avoid vague or ambiguous prompts that could lead to unclear or unrelated responses. Instead, specify the aspect or topic of interest within the broader subject.
  • Be Polite and Respectful:
    • Example: "Could you please explain the concept of blockchain technology and its applications?"
    • Explanation: Use polite language and courteous expressions to create a positive interaction environment and foster respectful communication with ChatGPT.
  • Review and Refine:
    • Example: "I'm working on a research paper about artificial intelligence. Can you provide insights into the ethical considerations surrounding AI development?"
    • Explanation: Review and refine the prompt to ensure it accurately reflects your information needs and objectives before submitting it to ChatGPT.

By following these best practices and strategies, users can write effective prompts in ChatGPT that facilitate meaningful and informative interactions with the model.


In the fast-evolving realm of artificial intelligence, prompt engineering stands as a pivotal skill, shaping the interactions between users and AI models like ChatGPT. This intricate craft combines creativity, analytical prowess, and a deep understanding of AI models to craft prompts that yield precise and desired responses. From initiating conversations to maintaining engagement and mitigating bias, prompt engineering ensures that interactions with AI models are both fruitful and ethical.

As users navigate the landscape of prompt engineering, clarity, relevance, and specificity emerge as guiding principles. By incorporating evocative language, posing thought-provoking questions, and providing context, users can coax ChatGPT into generating rich and insightful responses. Moreover, by adhering to best practices and strategies such as being polite and respectful and reviewing and refining prompts, users can ensure that their interactions with ChatGPT are not only efficient but also enriching.

In essence, prompt engineering is not just about crafting inputs; it's about orchestrating meaningful dialogues with AI systems, pushing the boundaries of creativity, and fostering a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines. As we delve deeper into the realms of AI, mastering the art of prompt engineering will undoubtedly pave the way for transformative innovations and enriching experiences.

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Comments by Readers:


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