Shooting a panorama can be very rewarding. It will provide a grand scene that can be printed at enormous sizes without loss of image quality. I have been making a point to take more panoramas and here are some tips that will help you do the same.
1) Shoot in Manual
To achieve consistent exposure and color throughout each image shooting in manual mode is a must! To help determine exposure you can put your camera on auto and note the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. Switch to manual mode and set the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture according to the readings you made in auto. The next thing to do is set your White Balance. Normally I like the look of cloudy and that's where mine is set most of the time. That's it! Now your ready.
2) Shoot Vertically
Shooting Vertically will provide a better result when shooting panoramas as opposed to horizontally. When shooting make sure you overlap about 1/3 of the previous frame. Starting from the left and moving to the right is a good practice. You can make a panorama out of 2 images to as many as you want all the way to a 360 degrees.
3) Be Level
You can certainly shoot a pano handheld, I have done it numerous times, but it's easier and better to shoot on a level tripod. I have a bubble level on my tripod, so I make sure that is level, then I make sure my camera is level. Then I use the panning base on my ball head to move the camera. There are also pano rigs on the market that can help with this process.
4) Use a Longer Focal Length
When shooting pano's you can use a wide angle, but it's often undesirable. The distortion of the wide angle will cause the foreground to make a "U" shape. It's best to use a focal length at or above 50mm to get a "correct" interpretation of the landscape.
5) Beware of Movement
Weather its people, animals, or clouds, beware of the movement in the scene. When stitching in your imaging software, moving objects may have a lot of "ghosting". Try to work fast or make sure the moving objects are not part of the image overlap.
Panorama's aren't difficult, but they are easy to mess up. If that makes sense I don't know, but the only way to get better is to practice.