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Writing for Design News

Writing for Design News

Click HERE for the Design News' 2016 Editorial Calendar.

Design News serves the biggest community of design engineers working in all manufacturing industries and end-markets. Design News, therefore, offers contributing authors the biggest exposure anywhere for your thought leadership. We welcome contributed articles from engineering professionals, consultants, as well as industry vendors. If you are the latter, we especially encourage you to send us objective, non-promotional articles that educate and contribute to the knowledge ecosystem.

Our editorial team simply can't cover it all in our huge engineering universe. When you write for us, we value your first-hand expertise and perspectives on engineering, manufacturing, and specific industry issues affecting wherever you happen to work and operate. We invite articles and op-eds that are timely and advance the knowledge base in a particular field of engineering and design. Contributing authors will have their own bylines, and those who excel potentially will get a regular space on our site.

Write with altruism and nothing else. Your thought leadership will go a much longer way to establishing credibility with our readers than anything with a pitch or motive. Contributing and giving back to the engineering profession is what it's all about. Do this enough, and you'll become a rock-star contributor.

All of the articles accepted by Design News will be published online, with necessary editing to make sure they are presented clearly and professionally and accessible to a wide audience.

So here is a comprehensive guide to what works for us and how to go about getting an article published on Design News.

The Purpose of Contributed Articles

Design News' mission is to provide design engineers the latest technological and market intelligence that helps solve the design problems they are facing. Often, the most effective articles identify emerging design challenges, discuss market forces that influence those challenges and ideas, and then describe solutions that working engineers engaged in those challenges can practically implement.

Our (and your) sole mission is to inform and educate. (And if you manage to entertain our audience a little while doing this, that's icing on the cake.)

We strive to provide our readers the kind of content that would be presented in industry educational conferences and technical sessions -- and even the kind of real-world observations and opinions that happen in the halls between sessions. In an age when time is a luxury, Design News' goal is to offer the global design engineering community content that efficiently helps our audience or at least stimulates ideas to solutions.

We welcome thought leadership from industry professionals -- as well as vendors, but with one important caveat. We do not have a place for promotional material such as product descriptions or glowing scenarios (as are often presented in case studies and application stories). That is marketing communications, not engineering communications, and belongs in other venues. Contributed articles from vendors must be discussions from an objective, fair, and non-product-specific standpoint.

The Design News Audience

Design News serves an audience of professionals from all fields and markets, be they industrial machinery; consumer electronics, products, or packaging; automotive; aerospace; green technology; etc. This community not only includes design engineers but their colleagues and peers, including but not limited to system engineers and project engineers; manufacturing and industrial engineers; evaluation, verification, and test engineers; quality engineers; and technical managers.

So now... what works and what raises red flags for us.

Design News readers value articles that provide educational information and help them in their everyday work challenges, with specific ideas or means of approaching problems and finding answers. This information can be presented as a simple essay, or as a numbered list or set of actions following a brief introduction and presentation of background material.

Our readers also like articles that give a technical, even mathematical, analysis of a situation so that they can work out answers for themselves. On the other hand, writings that offer highly practical "nuts-and-bolts" knowledge, tricks and tips, and "how-to" articles are also engaging. Even articles that describe a problem without proposing a solution are valuable if they contribute to the engineering community's attempts to understand the challenge.

Some types of articles simply don't work for our audience. The prime example is the product pitch. A story that simply describes the features and benefits of a new product will not be accepted; our readers know when they are reading something educational and when they are being sold to.

A closely related article type is the "and as if by magic" story. This purports to be an article of the problem-solution type, but in fact the definition of the problem has been carefully crafted to match the benefits of a particular product. So after a brief statement of the problem, the article becomes a features/benefits description.

A third article type is the application story, or field-case study, which is similar to the previous story type. These articles put a context around a customer, by framing a problem experienced by the customer and then highlighting a vendor product or service that solves the problem. Needless to say, these articles are designed to put a supplier in a good light.

Our readers face an onslaught of marketing and product catalogs on a regular basis, so such articles described above do not find an audience at Design News. Instead of pitching a product, present thought leadership to show that your organization is on top of industry trends, issues, and challenges and is capable of addressing them.

Writing style

Design News is not a scientific journal or an encyclopedia. We encourage writers to write for our audience as they would for other team members within their own organizations, or for that matter in their engineering notebooks. We encourage active, rather than passive, verbs, simple sentences, and limiting technical terms to those that would be understood within the intended audience. Avoid overuse of acronyms and do not use abbreviations.

That said, our engineering audience is not made up of lay readers. Spell out any acronyms that might be ambiguous, company-specific, or otherwise mysterious. Write in a professional manner, but as you would to a colleague, a peer, or a contact. We do encourage enthusiasm and even humor when it does not obscure the technical content.

Produce original content

Your article and its content must not have been published anywhere else before. Do not rework, rehash, or tweak older articles you have written for other outlets or from articles written by others. Plagiarism has serious consequences.

Be authentic and engaging

Submit articles only on topics and issues that you are knowledgeable about and can deliver an expert message. Back up your message with examples, and be specific when it comes to those solutions. Share personal experiences when relevant and as long as they don't self-promote you or your organization.

Be accurate and thorough

Our audience trusts us to be a credible source of information. If you are citing other sources, please give proper attribution and fact-check your content. Whenever you can, please offer direct hyperlinks to these sources of information you are referencing. Wikipedia should be avoided as a reference source whenever possible.

Offer disclosure

Do not hide any prior, present, or future relationship you have with a subject, company, or organization, whether financial or otherwise, if the entity is brought up in your article. Please disclose any special relationship or material connection. Always err on the side of transparency, so that readers can make qualified judgments.

Keep your train of thought on track

There's no substitute for clear and concise writing. Avoid or at least minimize abrupt jumps between subtopics of a subject. Don't change gears before finishing a stream of thought. Even though contributed article submissions will go through an editing process, please pay attention to grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, etc.

Our Editorial Process

The contributed article submission process begins when you submit a proposal to a member of the Design News editorial team. Note that we say proposal. This means an abstract, an outline, or simply a description of the article. We generally do not consider or accept completed manuscripts submitted without an approved proposal.

Editor Contact Information

The submission will be routed to the appropriate editor, who will review it based on the above guidelines and her or his view of the vital questions professionals face in the related field. The editor will then reply with a set of suggestions for moving from the proposal to a draft, including a suggested timeline. In some cases, the editor may decline the proposal at this stage, if he or she doesn't feel it meets our requirements described above.

You then respond to the editor either with a draft article, or by yourself declining, if it appears that what we suggest doesn't match up with what you want to write. The editor will review the draft and either accept it or request changes.

Once the draft is accepted, you will be sent a simple form to complete that gives Design News exclusive and worldwide copyrights to your article. This is necessary not only because Web publishing is inherently worldwide and perpetual, but because contributed articles have been republished at other outlets in the past and have hurt our standing with search engines.

We will perform a final edit for style, not content. Your article will then be scheduled for publication on our website, and you will be notified of an approximate publishing date.

Mechanical Requirements

Articles are typically 600 to 1,200 words, but can be as long as 1,500 words. Beyond that, we suggest breaking your article into a series of shorter ones.

Please provide the article in Microsoft Word file format. You may place references to illustrations/photos, tables, or equations in their proper places within the body of this file, but do not embed them within the article text. You must provide each illustration/photo, table, and equation as a separate file. Please review the following details:

  • Text: In Word, do not use special formats such as paragraph indents or spacing. Keep all text in the "Normal" style, but feel free to bold, italicize, and change the size of fonts in order to distinguish words, headlines, or sub-headlines. Feel free to use special characters available under Word's "Insert, Symbol" menu (Ω, mu, plus or minus , x, degrees , etc.). Avoid using smart fractions, superscripts and subscripts and other text elements that are unfriendly to Web publishing.
  • Equations: Please provide each equation in a separate .gif file.
  • Tables: Please provide each table as a separate file in Microsoft Excel format.
  • Figures: Please provide each figure as a separate file in .jpg or .pdf format. Do not send PowerPoint slides. Figures must be high-resolution-nominally, a minimum resolution of 300 dpi with a width of at least 3 inches. Please reference each figure in the article text, and number the figures in the order in which they are referenced.
  • References: References may be included in the main text file. If they are cited in the text, please ensure that they are numbered in order of citation. Our style is to highlight references by numbers surrounded by brackets, e.g., "[2]". References will be presented as a footnote-type list at the end of the article. However, with Web publishing, it is easier to simply hyperlink to a reference rather than denoting it.

The "Boilerplate"

In addition to having a byline at the beginning of your article, the boilerplate simply means that we provide a short space at the end of the article to feature a short author bio that includes your hyperlinked organizational affiliation and personal accreditations. Please limit your boilerplate to 100 words or less. Authors are strongly encouraged to register with and to respond to comments made by readers of their posts.

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