Mastering Prompt Engineering: A Guide to the CO-STAR and TIDD-EC Frameworks

12 min readFeb 5, 2024


In the realm of Generative AI (GenAI), the evolution of technology has ushered in a new era of innovation and creativity. Among the most ground-breaking advancements are Large Language Models (LLMs) like LLama, ChatGPT, GPT-4, which have transformed how we interact with machines, making them more intuitive and human-like than ever before. These models can generate text that’s remarkably coherent and contextually relevant, opening up a plethora of possibilities across various sectors including education, customer service, content creation, and more. However, to harness the full potential of these AI marvels, a critical skill has emerged as indispensable: Prompt Engineering.

Understanding Prompt Engineering

Prompt Engineering is the art of crafting queries or instructions that guide LLMs to produce the desired output. It’s akin to communicating with a highly intelligent LLM which is capable of performing complex tasks, provided they’re given clear, precise, and well-structured instructions. This necessity arises from the models’ reliance on the input prompt to determine the scope, tone, and direction of their response. Therefore, the quality of the output is directly influenced by the effectiveness of the prompt.

Exploring the CO-STAR Framework

In world of Prompt Engineering, where optimizing interactions with Large Language Models (LLMs) like LLama, ChatGPT, and GPT-4 is crucial, a frameworks stand out for their efficacy and adaptability is CO-STAR, which recently became famous as this framework Won Singapore’s GPT-4 Prompt Engineering Competition.

Breaking Down the CO-STAR Framework

C — Context — Sets the stage for the interaction, providing background information or the scenario in which the request is made.

O — Objective — Defines what the prompt aims to achieve, specifying the goal or the desired output from the language model.

S — Style — Specifies the desired writing or response style, guiding how the content should be presented or articulated.

T — Tone — Indicates the emotional character or attitude of the response, shaping how the message is emotionally conveyed.

A — Audience — Defines the intended audience or reader of the content, influencing the language, complexity, and approach of the response.

R — Response Format — Describes how the response should be structured, determining the organisation and presentation of the content.

This framework stands out as a highly effective framework for prompt engineering, offering a structured approach that ensures clarity and relevance in the responses generated by Large Language Models. Its emphasis on context, audience, and tone makes it particularly valuable for crafting content that resonates deeply with specific target groups. However, its broad scope requires careful consideration to balance detail with conciseness, making it a powerful yet demanding tool for optimising AI-generated content.

TIDD-EC: The Precision-Focused Challenger to CO-STAR

While the CO-STAR framework has proven its efficacy, especially highlighted by its recognition in Singapore’s GPT-4 Prompt Engineering Competition, another framework emerges on the horizon, offering a different yet equally powerful approach to prompt engineering. This is the TIDD-EC framework, which, like CO-STAR, aims to refine and structure the interaction between humans and Large Language Models (LLMs) but focuses more on the precision and clarity of instructions. Let’s explore the TIDD-EC framework and how it contrasts with and complements CO-STAR.

Understanding the TIDD-EC Framework

T — Task Type -The type of task at hand, providing a clear indication of the type of activity the LLM is expected to perform.

I — Instructions — Outlines the specific steps or guidelines the LLM should follow to accomplish the task. This component is crucial for ensuring that the model’s output aligns closely with the user’s expectations.

D — Do — Specifies actions the LLM should take to successfully complete the prompt. This includes the use of certain language, structures, or information that should be included in the response.

D — Don’t — Highlights actions or elements the LLM should avoid in its response. This is essential for preventing common errors or misinterpretations that could lead to inaccurate or irrelevant outputs.

E — Examples — Provides concrete examples of desired outcomes or responses. This component is invaluable for guiding the LLM towards the expected format, style, or content of the response.

C — User Content — Data provided by the user that the LLM should use or reference in its response.

The TIDD-EC framework excels in providing precise and actionable guidance for interacting with Large Language Models, emphasising clarity and specificity in task execution. Its structured approach, particularly through the inclusion of dos, don’ts, and examples, ensures high accuracy and relevance in the generated outputs. While highly effective for tasks requiring detailed instructions, its utility might be less immediate in scenarios that demand more creative and open-ended responses.

Comparing CO-STAR and TIDD-EC


The task involves transforming a straightforward text into one imbued with a mysterious tone, aiming to captivate the reader’s imagination and evoke a sense of intrigue. This exercise tests the framework’s ability to guide the LLM in creatively altering the style and substance of the text while maintaining its original intent.


The comparison is conducted in the OpenAI Playground, utilizing the ChatGPT model set with a temperature of 0, and a maximum response length of 2000 characters. This controlled environment allows for a focused evaluation of how each framework influences the AI’s approach to the task, highlighting differences in creativity, adherence to instructions, and overall effectiveness in achieving the desired tone transformation.

Example: Using CO-STAR

System -


I am working on a project that involves creating captivating and mysterious narratives. The goal is to transform standard texts into versions that evoke a sense of mystery and intrigue, drawing readers into a world of suspense and curiosity.


Your task is to take the provided text and transform it into a version that carries a mysterious tone. Enhance the text by incorporating elements of suspense, unanswered questions, and subtle hints that leave the reader eager to uncover more. The transformation should make the text feel like it’s part of a larger, hidden story waiting to be discovered.


The transformation should maintain the original meaning of the text but alter the style to be more enigmatic and suspenseful. Use descriptive language, metaphors, and similes that add depth and intrigue.

# TONE #

Adopt a tone that is mysterious and intriguing. The text should draw the reader in with its sense of mystery, making them feel as though they are on the brink of uncovering a secret.


The target audience is readers who enjoy mystery and suspense genres. They appreciate well-crafted narratives that stimulate their imagination and challenge them to think deeply.


Transform the text while keeping its original structure intact. Focus on altering the language and style to infuse a mysterious tone. Provide the transformed text in a clear and coherent format, ready for readers to delve into its depths.

Human -

“John walked through the park, enjoying the warm sunlight and the sound of leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. He sat down on a bench to read the newspaper, unaware of the eyes watching him from a distance.”


Response —
As John ventured into the park, a shroud of secrecy enveloped his every step. The sun’s golden rays caressed his skin, casting an ethereal glow upon his path. The whispering wind danced through the trees, its gentle touch stirring the leaves into a symphony of secrets. Oblivious to the enigmatic gaze fixated upon him, John settled upon a weathered bench, seeking solace within the pages of the newspaper. Little did he know, hidden eyes observed his every move, their intentions veiled in darkness, waiting to be unveiled.

Example: Using TIDD-EC

System —

You are a master of shadows and whispers, tasked with the delicate art of transforming plain text into a realm of mystery and intrigue. Your mission is to recast the ordinary into narratives that beckon with secrets and suspense.


Your objective is to envelop the provided text in a shroud of mystery, carefully manipulating its fabric to draw readers into a labyrinth of curiosity and suspense. As you embark on this transformation, maintain the essence of the original narrative while guiding the prose into uncharted territories of enigma. Adopt a tone that is both inviting and elusive, crafting sentences that hint at deeper, hidden truths waiting to be unraveled. Your audience, aficionados of mystery and suspense, craves narratives that challenge their perceptions and ignite their imaginations. They are detectives in their own right, eager to dissect your words and uncover the secrets you’ve woven between the lines.

# DO #

- Employ language that teases the senses and provokes questions, crafting an atmosphere thick with anticipation and possibility.

- Introduce elements of suspense and subtle hints that suggest a larger, concealed story, enticing the reader to delve deeper.

# DON’T #

- Strip the narrative of its original intent or distort the fundamental facts.

- Overwhelm the text with complexity; the mystery should allure, not confuse.

- Reveal too much; the charm lies in what is hinted at, not laid bare.

Human -



Join us this Saturday at 7 PM at the community center for an evening of live music, refreshments, and fun. Everyone is welcome!


This Saturday, as the clock strikes 7, a select gathering will commence under the veil of twilight at an undisclosed location within the heart of our community. An evening shrouded in melody and whispers awaits, where secrets will unfold amidst harmonies and shadows. This is an invitation to step beyond the ordinary, but only for those who dare to seek the extraordinary. Will you be among the chosen?



“John walked through the park, enjoying the warm sunlight and the sound of leaves rustling in the gentle breeze. He sat down on a bench to read the newspaper, unaware of the eyes watching him from a distance.”


Response —
In the dappled embrace of the park, John meandered, his steps guided by the golden rays of the sun. The air whispered secrets as leaves danced in a tender breeze, serenading him with their gentle rustling. Oblivious to the clandestine gaze that followed his every move, he settled upon a weathered bench, seeking solace within the pages of a newspaper. Little did he know, hidden eyes observed his every word, waiting for the perfect moment to reveal themselves.

Evaluating the Responses

When comparing responses generated from prompts structured using the CO-STAR and TIDD-EC frameworks for a task focused on transforming text into a mysterious tone, several key differences and similarities emerge in terms of effectiveness, specificity, and creativity. The task at hand is to infuse a given text with a mysterious and intriguing tone, a challenge that tests each framework’s ability to guide the LLM towards producing a desired stylistic outcome.

Effectiveness in Achieving a Mysterious Tone

CO-STAR Framework:

  1. The CO-STAR framework’s emphasis on context and audience can lead to responses that are well-tailored to the expectations of readers who enjoy mystery and suspense genres. By specifying the tone and style, it ensures that the transformation aligns with genre conventions, potentially resulting in a text that skilfully evokes a sense of intrigue.
  2. However, the broad nature of the CO-STAR components might result in responses that, while mysterious, could lack the nuanced guidance needed for more subtle or complex transformations.

TIDD-EC Framework:

  1. The TIDD-EC framework’s detailed instructions, coupled with explicit dos and don’ts, provide the LLM with clear boundaries and creative directions. This can lead to responses that not only adopt a mysterious tone but do so with a keen awareness of what elements best contribute to suspense and intrigue.
  2. The inclusion of examples in the TIDD-EC framework serves as a concrete reference, potentially leading to more consistently effective transformations that capture the essence of mystery.

Specificity and Creativity

CO-STAR Framework:

  1. Responses generated with the CO-STAR framework might exhibit a broad range of creativity, given the framework’s flexible structure. The style and tone components encourage imaginative approaches, but the outcome’s specificity and alignment with the mysterious tone depend heavily on how detailed the initial prompt is.
  2. The framework allows for creative interpretations but might require more iterations to hone in on the desired mysterious effect if the initial prompt lacks specificity.

TIDD-EC Framework:

  1. The TIDD-EC framework’s structured approach, especially the dos and don’ts, directly informs the LLM of the specific characteristics that should and should not be present in the response. This specificity can lead to highly creative yet focused transformations that closely adhere to the mysterious tone objective.
  2. The framework’s emphasis on examples further guides the LLM’s creativity, providing a clear benchmark for what constitutes a successful transformation.

Insights from the Task

Both frameworks can effectively guide an LLM to transform text into a mysterious tone, but they do so in slightly different ways:

CO-STAR: It is well-suited for tasks where the broader context, audience expectations, and general stylistic goals are paramount. It encourages responses that are tailored to the genre and audience but may require additional refinement for tasks demanding high specificity.

TIDD-EC: It excels in tasks where detailed guidance and clear boundaries are necessary to achieve a specific stylistic transformation. It fosters creativity within a structured framework, leading to responses that closely match the desired mysterious tone with a high degree of consistency.

The choice between the two frameworks might come down to the nature of the task and the level of specificity and guidance required to achieve the desired outcome.

Real-World Applications of CO-STAR and TIDD-EC

TIDD-EC Framework:

1. Entity Extraction:

Task: Extracting specific information, such as names, locations, and dates, from large volumes of text for data analysis or database population.

Why TIDD-EC: The clear instructions and examples can guide LLMs to accurately identify and categorise entities, crucial for tasks in legal document analysis, customer feedback processing, and content categorization.

2. Classification:

Task: Categorizing text into predefined classes, such as sentiment analysis, topic categorization, or spam detection.

Why TIDD-EC: The framework’s structured approach ensures that LLMs understand the criteria for each category, improving accuracy in applications like email filtering, customer sentiment analysis, and content moderation.

3. Data Analysis:

Task: Analysing text data to extract insights, trends, and patterns for business intelligence.

Why TIDD-EC: The framework’s emphasis on structured responses can guide LLMs in summarising key findings from data, making it valuable for market research, social media analysis, and competitive intelligence.

CO-STAR Framework:

1. Creative Writing:

Task: Generating engaging narratives, stories, marketing copy, or content that requires a strong emotional or stylistic component.

Why CO-STAR: Its focus on context, style, and audience makes it ideal for crafting content that resonates with readers, useful in advertising, entertainment, and brand storytelling.

2. Customer Support Chatbot:

Task: Providing automated, yet personalised and contextually relevant responses to customer inquiries.

Why TIDD-EC: By defining specific dos and don’ts, and providing examples, TIDD-EC can help chatbots generate precise and helpful responses, enhancing customer experience in e-commerce, banking, and service industries.

Both Frameworks:

1. Summarization:

Task: Condensing long articles, reports, or documents into concise summaries.

Application: TIDD-EC can ensure summaries are focused and cover key points by providing clear guidelines, while CO-STAR can be used to tailor the style and tone of summaries to specific audiences, such as executive briefs or consumer-friendly summaries.

2. Translation:

Task: Translating text from one language to another while maintaining the original meaning, style, and cultural nuances.

Application: TIDD-EC’s structured approach can guide accurate and context-aware translations, especially for technical or specialised content. CO-STAR can ensure translations match the desired tone and style, important for literary works, marketing materials, and global brand communications.

3. Q&A:

Task: Providing accurate and relevant answers to user queries based on a large corpus of information.

Application: TIDD-EC can help structure responses to be direct and informative, crucial for educational platforms and technical support. CO-STAR can be used to adjust responses to be more engaging or tailored to the audience’s language level, useful in customer service and interactive learning applications.

4. Text Transformation:

Task: Altering the style, tone, or format of existing text to suit different purposes or audiences, such as making technical content accessible to laypeople.

Application: CO-STAR excels in making content resonate with specific audiences through its focus on context and tone, ideal for educational materials and localized content. TIDD-EC, with its precision and clear guidelines, is perfect for accurately simplifying technical texts. Together, they provide a versatile approach to text transformation, enhancing accessibility and engagement across different sectors.


The CO-STAR and TIDD-EC frameworks cater to different needs in prompt engineering for LLMs like LLama, ChatGPT, and GPT-4, with CO-STAR focusing on creative engagement and TIDD-EC on precision and clarity. Nevertheless, infusing strategies like chain-of-thought, least-to-most prompting, and others with this framework can further refine LLM accuracy. The key to unlocking the full potential of these models lies in verbosity: “More verbose you are with these LLMs, the better the responses are going to be.” This principle highlights the importance of detailed and structured prompts in eliciting high-quality outputs from Generative AI.

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