Lesson 1

Achieving Precise Output Length: Core Principles


Welcome to the lesson on the "Core Principles of Getting the Right Size from One Try" as part of our course on Engineering Output Size with LLMs. This lesson is pivotal as we embark on a journey to master the art of controlling the output length when interacting with Large Language Models, such as GPT-3.5. The ability to generate responses precisely tailored in length — from a single word to detailed articles — is invaluable across various applications, from concise data generation to expansive content creation. In this lesson, we will discover how to achieve this control with a thoughtful prompt design and strategic use of model parameters.

Understanding Output Control

Output control is about not only commanding what the model generates but also controlling how much it generates. Whether you're looking for a concise answer or an elaborate exposition, the key lies in effectively designing your prompts. Let's explore the foundational principles that allow us to get the desired output size from the very first attempt.

Take, for instance, a prompt asking for a definition:

1__ASK__ 2Define "Prompt Engineering" in one sentence. 3 4__CONTEXT__ 5- The concept pertains to the field of artificial intelligence. 6 7__CONSTRAINTS__ 8- Keep the explanation to a single sentence.

The output might look something like this:

Prompt Engineering is the practice of designing inputs to elicit desired responses from AI models.

Efficiency in Brevity: Single Words and Sentences

When crafting prompts to elicit very short responses, clarity, and conciseness in your __ASK__ and __CONSTRAINTS__ sections are key. Directing the model to respond "in a word" or "in one sentence" focuses its processing on distilling information down to the essentials — a skill crucial in areas ranging from naming to summarization.

For example, to get a product name suggestion:

1__ASK__ 2Suggest a name for a new productivity app. 3 4__CONTEXT__ 5- The app helps users manage tasks and time efficiently. 6- The app is gamified to help with motivation. 7 8__CONSTRAINTS__ 9- The name should be exactly one word 10- You can combine a two words to make a single new word

Sample output:


Exploring Depth: Paragraphs and Articles

As we move towards generating longer content, like paragraphs or articles, setting clear expectations becomes even more critical. Indicating the desired length, specifying sections, or better yet, showing an example can guide the model in structuring the output appropriately.

1__ASK__ 2Write an introductory paragraph about the benefits of meditation. 3 4__CONTEXT__ 5- The focus is on mental health and productivity enhancement. 6 7__CONSTRAINTS__ 8- The paragraph should contain at least 5 sentences. 9- It should cover both mental health and productivity aspects.

Sample output:

Meditation, a practice deeply rooted in various cultures for millennia, has gained recognition in modern times as a powerful tool for enhancing mental health and boosting productivity. By promoting mindfulness and fostering a sense of calm, meditation helps individuals reduce stress and anxiety levels, leading to improved overall well-being. Furthermore, the practice of concentrating on one's breath or a specific thought during meditation enhances focus and attention span. This heightened level of concentration directly translates to increased productivity, as practitioners find themselves better equipped to manage their tasks efficiently and effectively. Additionally, regular meditation has been linked with enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills, further contributing to professional and personal growth. Thus, incorporating meditation into one's daily routine serves as a holistic approach to nurturing mental health while simultaneously unlocking potential for greater productivity.


Mastering the core principles of output control from the first attempt requires a nuanced understanding of how prompt design influences model behavior. By specifying the desired output size, detailing the context, and setting clear constraints, we can effectively direct LLMs to produce content that meets our exact requirements. This skill set is essential for a wide range of applications, from concise data generation to comprehensive content creation. As we progress through this course, keep these principles in mind to refine your prompt engineering techniques for optimal output control.

Enjoy this lesson? Now it's time to practice with Cosmo!

Practice is how you turn knowledge into actual skills.