Setting Parameters in OpenAI

Codecademy Team
A guided look at OpenAI parameters and how to use them


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on setting parameters in ChatGPT! If you are intrigued by the potential of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and looking to delve deeper into customizing your interactions with ChatGPT, you are in the right place. Whether you are a beginner just starting out or an intermediate user aiming to fine-tune your ChatGPT experience, this tutorial is crafted for you.

ChatGPT, a state-of-the-art language model developed by OpenAI, is known for its versatility and adaptability in various applications. By tweaking its parameters, you can significantly alter its responses and behavior, tailoring it to suit your specific needs. Let us embark on this journey to unlock the full potential of ChatGPT through parameter customization.

Understanding ChatGPT Parameters

What Are Parameters in AI?

In AI and machine learning, parameters are crucial settings that influence how models like ChatGPT behave and respond. You can think of them as knobs and levers, which when adjusted, can significantly change the output of the AI.

Key ChatGPT Parameters:

Here are some common parameters you will encounter with the ChatGPT API:

  • Temperature: Controls the randomness of responses.
  • Max Tokens: Sets the maximum length for the model’s output.
  • Top P (Nucleus Sampling): Dictates the variety in responses by only considering the top ‘P’ percent of probable words.
  • Frequency Penalty: Reduces repetition by decreasing the likelihood of frequently used words.
  • Presence Penalty: Promotes the introduction of new topics in the conversation.

Knowledge of what these parameters are, and their impact is the first crucial step. Now, let us transition into practical applications. In the next sections, we will dive into how you can adjust these parameters to shape ChatGPT’s responses according to your specific needs and scenarios. This hands-on approach will help solidify your understanding and give you the confidence to experiment with these settings in real-world applications.

Adjusting Basic Parameters

Adjusting ChatGPT’s parameters allows you to tailor its behavior and responses to fit your specific needs. Below, we will walk through how to adjust each key parameter we introduced earlier:


Purpose: Controls randomness and creativity in responses.


  • Lower (e.g., 0.3) for more predictable, straightforward answers.
  • Higher (e.g., 0.7 or above) for creative, diverse responses. Use Cases: Ideal for creative writing at higher settings and factual queries at lower ones.

Max Tokens

Purpose: Determines the maximum length of the model’s output.


  • Increase for longer, more detailed responses.
  • Decrease for shorter, concise replies.

Use Cases: Longer responses for storytelling or detailed explanations, shorter for quick answers.

Top P (Nucleus Sampling)

Purpose: Influences the diversity of the model’s responses.


  • Lower values (e.g., 0.8) make responses more predictable.
  • Higher values increase diversity and surprise.

Use Cases: Varied answers for brainstorming sessions or when seeking creative input.

Frequency Penalty

Purpose: Discourages the model from repeating the same words or phrases.


  • Increase to reduce repetition.
  • Decrease for more consistent use of key terms.

Use Cases: Useful in maintaining topic consistency without excessive repetition.

Presence Penalty

Purpose: Encourages the introduction of new concepts and topics.


  • Higher values for more varied and new topics.
  • Lower values for staying on topic.

Use Cases: Helpful for exploratory conversation or brainstorming.

With the insights gained from adjusting basic parameters, you are now better equipped to elevate your ChatGPT interactions. The next step in our journey takes us into the realm of advanced parameter settings. This is where you can fine-tune the AI’s behavior to an even greater degree, tailoring it to specific and complex use cases. Next, we will explore some of these advanced parameters, providing you with the tools to take your ChatGPT experience to new heights.

Advanced Parameters and Best Practices

While the basic parameters cover a wide range of use cases, exploring advanced parameters can further refine your interactions with ChatGPT. Let us delve into an example of an advanced parameter:

Response Length Penalty

Purpose: This parameter influences the length of each continuation (part of the response) that the model generates.

Adjustment: A higher penalty value (e.g., 2.0) will encourage the model to generate shorter continuations. A lower value (e.g., 0.5) will result in longer continuations.

Use Cases: This is particularly useful when you want to control the verbosity of the model. For instance, in an application where you need concise answers, a higher penalty would be beneficial.

Best Practices for Parameter Adjustment

Experimentation: The best way to understand the impact of different parameters is through experimentation. Try various settings to see how they affect the responses.

Balance: Strive for a balance between creativity and coherence. Extreme values in some parameters can lead to less meaningful outputs.

Context Awareness: Consider the context and purpose of your ChatGPT application when adjusting parameters. Different scenarios may require different settings for optimal results.

Parameters in Action

Let’s look at parameters used in API calls.

Using Parameters Programmatically via API

When interacting with ChatGPT through the OpenAI API, you can set various parameters programmatically to tailor the model’s behavior. Here are key parameters and how to use them:


Controls the randomness of the output.

  • Usage: Lower values (e.g., 0.2) for more deterministic responses; higher values (e.g., 0.7) for more creative or varied responses.

Max Tokens

Sets the maximum length of the generated response.

  • Usage: Specify the number of tokens (words and characters) to control the verbosity of the response.

Top P (Nucleus Sampling)

Controls the diversity of the response.

  • Usage: Lower values will make responses more predictable, while higher values allow for more varied responses.

Frequency and Presence Penalties

Reduces repetition (Frequency Penalty) and encourages new concepts (Presence Penalty).

  • Usage: Adjust these values to control repetitiveness and novelty in the responses.

Whether using prompt engineering or API parameters, the key is experimentation and adjustment based on the desired outcome. Prompt engineering is more about how you phrase your questions or instructions, while API parameters offer more granular control over the model’s behavior. Both methods are powerful tools in harnessing the capabilities of ChatGPT.

Using Parameters in the OpenAI Playground

In this section, we will walk through a practical demonstration of how to use various parameters in the OpenAI Playground to tailor the output of ChatGPT.

Accessing the Playground

First, navigate to the OpenAI Playground. You’ll see a text box where you can enter your prompt. Once logged in, the Playground user interface (UI) will be displayed.

A screenshot of the OpenAI Playground UI

On the right side of the Playground UI is a set of adjustable parameters.

A screenshot of the OpenAI Playground parameter section

Selecting the Model: Choose the appropriate model version for your task. For general purposes, the latest version of GPT is usually the best choice.

Setting the Temperature:

  • Scenario: Let’s say you want to generate creative story ideas.
  • Action: Set the temperature higher (around 0.7 or above) to encourage more creative and diverse responses.
  • Result: The AI will generate more varied and imaginative story ideas.

Adjusting Max Tokens:

  • Scenario: You need a concise summary of a topic.
  • Action: Set the ‘Max Tokens’ to a lower number, like 50-100 tokens.
  • Result: The AI will provide a brief and to-the-point summary.

Using Top P (Nucleus Sampling):

  • Scenario: You’re looking for a range of different ideas or suggestions.
  • Action: Adjust the Top P to a moderate level to balance between diversity and relevance.
  • Result: The AI will provide a variety of suggestions that are still closely related to your prompt.

Implementing Frequency and Presence Penalties:

  • Scenario: You want to avoid repetitive or redundant information in a longer text.
  • Action: Increase the frequency and presence penalties slightly.
  • Result: The AI’s responses will have less repetition and cover a broader range of content.

Utilizing Stop Sequences:

  • Scenario: You want the AI to complete a list or a specific section.
  • Action: Define a stop sequence like “END” or a specific symbol that signals the AI to stop generating text.
  • Result: The AI will stop its response when it reaches your defined stop sequence.

Experimenting with Inject Start and Restart Text:

  • Action: Use these parameters to guide or shift the direction of the AI’s response.
  • Result: The AI’s output will align more closely with the context or direction you’ve provided.

Example Prompt and Parameters

Let’s put this into practice with an example:

Prompt: Write a story about a space explorer discovering a new planet.

  • Model: GPT-4 (or the latest available)
  • Temperature: 0.8 (for creative storytelling)
  • Max Tokens: 150 (for a brief story)
  • Top P: 1 (standard setting)
  • Frequency Penalty: 0.5 (to reduce repetition)
  • Presence Penalty: 0.5 (to encourage diverse ideas)
  • Stop Sequence: “[The End]”

With these settings, you can expect a creative, concise story about a space explorer, with diverse ideas and minimal repetition. The story will conclude when the AI reaches the “[The End]” sequence.

Example Story in OpenAI Playground


Mastering parameter settings in ChatGPT opens a world of possibilities, allowing you to customize AI interactions to your specific needs. From generating creative content to obtaining precise information, the power lies in how you set these parameters. As you continue to explore and learn, remember that the field of AI is ever evolving, and staying updated with the latest trends and practices will keep you ahead in the game.

For those interested in exploring more advanced parameters, OpenAI’s documentation offers a wealth of information. It is a great resource for gaining a deeper understanding of how each parameter influences the model’s behavior.

Happy experimenting and may your journey in AI customization be as enlightening as it is exciting!

To see what else you can do with ChatGPT (or generative AI in general), checkout some of the topics covered in the articles located here: AI Articles.