How to Publish Technical Articles

Determine the Guidelines

Writing technical articles for publication in newspapers and magazines is accomplished according to a set of guidelines that is dependent upon the nature of the publication, its mission, and its target audiences. If guidelines are failed, any article may be more readily discarded, along with the writer’s hard work.

Readability

For example, many American daily newspapers (“dailies”) are largely written at the 8th grade reading level – that’s the reading level of the average American child enrolled in the 8th grade and from ages 12-13, all of which indicates that the child is “on grade level” in reading skills. As a comparison, romance novels are written generally on the 6th grade level. Popular magazines may be found that contain articles often written at the grade levels of 8, 9, and 10; i.e. Popular Mechanics, Psychology Today, Science, Prevention, and many others. Peer reviewed journals offer pieces written above the 12th grade reading level – often far above. Non-American publications may proceed from a different set of standards altogether, and the author must determine what these standards specifically include.  

Determine the Readability Statistics of any article you prepare by setting that feature of the word processing program in use to provide those numbers. The program will likely offer a grade level and other statistics, such as length of average sentence, etc. 

Suggestions for Technical Articles

  • Requirements for technical articles vary, according to the nature and mission of the publications to which they will be submitted. These publications have guidelines that must be followed, The author must first access the website of the publication in which he or she is interested, or find the guidelines in the hard copy publication or locate the address to which (s)he may write in order to obtain a copy of the Guidelines for Submission.

  • Guidelines for Submission will be more stringent for peer-reviewed journals, requiring the use of the Scientific Method and of appropriate reporting in the article itself.  In addition, pay attention to the number of words permitted or required. Depending on the publication, a good article might have 3 to 5 graphics and less than 500 words, or 10 graphics and 1,000 words. In this light, it is easy to see that a PhD Dissertation or a Master’s or other graduation Thesis might contain enough material for many articles.

  • The author must determine whether the publication chosen accepts uninvited articles. Some do not and will simply discard your article and not communicate with you. Therefore, it is the author’s responsibility to determine and follow the proper procedure. Some publications accept articles “by invitation only.”

  • A writer must understand that some publications require that the article not be re-published elsewhere, either in hard copy print or online. If re-publication is permitted, then you might be able to prepare a set of articles on the same topic, written at different grade levels for different audiences.

Formatting A Technical Article

In preparing a technical article for publication, follow this formula [or the Guidelines for Submission if more stringent]:

  • Gather and organize your graphics: tables, charts, diagrams, pictures, etc. A reader should be able to gather the gist of the article by reading the titles and captions of the graphics.
  • Prepare a meaningful Title and Caption for each graphic. The Title should serve much the function of a Heading in the article. The Caption should explain the graphic data in a short summary.
  • Use good labels on any graphic – meaningful and understandable, without confusion or multiple meanings.
  • Supply understandable, clear text between the graphics to tie them together in a meaningful flow, step by step, summarizing the date succinctly.

Plan your text in this manner:

  • Title - Choose a title that is pertinent, clear, and easy to understand. It should not be too wordy or in any way ambiguous.
  • Statement of the Problem or Area of Interest or Instruction,
  • Short Introduction and Background – Answer the question Why is your topic important?
  • Data Presentation – Graphics and Explanatory Text
  • Short Summary of Results
  • Short Discussion of Implications for the Future – Answer the question Why are the results important?
  • In short, using your article, tell your readers THE SIX W’s [not the 5 of journalism]: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and So What?
  • Add references, and depending upon the publication, you might include a list of community and online resources related to the article.

SEE A SAMPLE TECHNICAL ONLINE AT Technicle Article and TECHNICAL ARTICLE.

Formatting Resources

  • AP style 
  • APA
  • Chicago
  • Harvard
  • MLA

Find these and others at THE PURDUE OWL ONLINE.

Alternative Methods of Wtiting Technical Presentations

From Computer Science at Columbia University: Publication Methods.


Example of a Technical Presentation

Readability Example

For comparison, listed below are the Readability Statistics for the article presented above:

Reading Level: Grade 12

Words per sentence: 19.7

Sentences per paragraph: 2.0 (This is fine for news type articles; technical articles will likely have fewer paragraphs with a greater number of sentences in each.)

Number of Paragraphs: 33

Passive Sentences: 15% (Aim for a low percentage.)

The Word for Windows Readability Statistics feature also offers the number of characters included in the entire document, the number of characters in each sentence, and even the number of characters in each word. This information is useful, because populations that have lower reading levels are generally more comfortable with shorter words and sentences. However, a PowerPoint Presentation of the same article may use either shorter or longer words or sentences, according to the audience viewing it and the purpose of the presentation. A writer may check the readability of any sentence or paragraph in a document, For example, this paragraph is one of grade level 16.2, according to the year and edition of software I am using.

Careers: Becoming a Technical Writer

More by this Author


Comments 3 comments

issues veritas 7 years ago

Hi,

Interesting hub, I am not sure that I agree with all of it.

I looked at both samples

SAMPLE TECHNICAL ONLINE AT Technicle Article and TECHNICAL ARTICLE.

The first one came out on my browser the entire width of my screen That could be because I am looking at it on a TV screen, lower resolution.

Technical articles that I like only use a portion of the page or screen width.

It seems to make it easier to scan.

The second one on New Mexico fossils is a nice format and easy to read for articles that have small amounts of text.

My comment on grade level is that because of the terminology of the technical subject the grade level is higher.

This hub is easy to read and has a nice look to it.

My preference in writing technical documents is to use paragraphs as a eye scan device. This makes skimming the article easier and faster to decide if it is worth your time. I also believe that color is a great device to bring attention to those areas you want the reader to easily find. This is in addition to using Bold,

I also use color fonts as an association device.

For example, if I were writing a technical article about a device that had an input, an output and in between the two there was a process, they would be color coded. Each of the three parts of the device would have a different colored keywords. So as the article discusses the device, the colors set the part of the device in your focus. Again, my preference because I feel that it is a visualization and a reinforcement to what you have read.

This would work well for a resume, because in my experience resumes are speed reading and skimming material for the person looking a the resume.

The alternative writings mentioned and the links were interesting.

All in all a worthwhile hub, Thanks


angeline rivera 7 years ago

give some article for technical journal


Nancy Hutchins 6 years ago

As a professional writer, editor and proofreader of technical articles, I thought your piece was well done You cover all the main points that I would cover. Thank you.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working