Write a T&M article for EDN

-December 06, 2016

Skimming through the pages of June 4, 1992 EDN issue, I found "Consider writing a technical article" by Jay Fraser. That reminded me to remind you that although we're online only now, we still depend on publishing in-depth technical articles that you can use at your job.

What we looked for in 1992 isn't much different than the technical articles we publish today. We know that you still expect the kind of quality that we've produced for the last 60 years. We know that you enjoy "how to" articles where you get technical tips, procedures, schematics, equations, and sometimes even source code.

As Fraser noted, "Your main purpose is to convey information, not to dazzle the reader with your writing style." By that, he meant "write as you talk." It works, I've been doing that since a week before Jay's article was published—I started with EDN's sister publication, Test & Measurement World on May 26, 1992. If you can speak your story, you can write it.

You can get the details and mechanics on what we look for today at Writing a technical feature for EDN. Click on the thumbnails to see the pages of Fraser's 1992 article or download the PDF.

While most of what we look for in a technical article hasn't changed, a few things have. For instance, Fraser gave an example of a hand-drawn schematic alongside a clean version drawn by one of EDN's artists (see the second thumbnail). Today, we don't have an art staff, but you don't need to hand draw schematics because you probably have access to a schematic-drawing app or you can easily download one. In the print days, EDN needed a more consistent look throughout an issue. That is, we had a certain style for drawing components such as transistors. In this online world, that's not as important as long as engineers understand the schematic symbols. But if you like consistency, you can download my symbol library (PDF).

Another difference from print to online is in the content we can present. We're not limited to page length and we don't have to make article fit around ads. Today, we can post videos so if you have something that you can't convey with a photo, consider shooting a short video to make your point. You can even shoot the video on your phone. We can do some editing here.

Some possible test and measurement topics to consider.

  • Automated test: How to configure a system for use in verification or production test.
  • Test equipment tips and tricks: Do you have a novel way of using that oscilloscope, meter, or spectrum analyzer?
  • RF/wireless test: What are the important measurements and how should they be performed? For example: modulation, noise, dynamic range, frequency response, and so on.
  • Signal-integrity and power-integrity measurements: Comparing measurements to simulations.
  • Signal conditioning and processing: Have you developed a circuit or algorithm to process signals?

  • Calibration: How do you calibrate instruments?
  • Wireline communications (electrical and optical): Signal power, jitter, modulation, return loss, insertion loss, and others.
  • EMC measurements: Setting up a precompliance test, measurements for diagnosing EMC problems, or working with a test lab.
  • Network measurements: How are you dealing with the ever-increasing amount of data?
  • Interoperability: How well do you know if your product will communicate with other devices?
  • Design for test: How to make a product testable.

Write a blog
In the print days, we didn't have a place for short contributed articles, what we call blogs today. In our online form, we have unlimited space. If you have an opinion, noticed a trend, so have a professional issue you'd like to share with the EDN community, we welcome them. For test issues, we have a blog called Test Voices where we often post one-time articles. Don’t feel that you need to write a blog post regularly, although we welcome those, too. If you have a specific area you'd like to cover in a blog, we can set you up with one and give it a name.

Perhaps the most important thing that hasn't changed is that we don't accept advertisements. For my nearly 25 years as an editor, I still get product pitches, many are often disguised as technical articles. We used to call those "poof" articles. Why? Because the author describes a problem and "poof" his or her company's product appears and the problem is solved. If you work for a test-equipment company, we still welcome your contribution but we keep a sharp eye out for veiled product pitches. For years, marketing and PR people have told me "the article won't be a promotion, for we won't mention our product." Sorry, but that's not good enough if the story still discusses something that can only be done with your product or the story attempts to tell just how well your product works.

If you have an idea for an article, don’t write it all, just contact us with your idea. Start with an abstract or outline, but sometime all you need to is tell us your idea. Some of the best articles started with a phone call where we discuss your idea, hone in on the topics, then write the outline. Many companies have technical writers who can help, but we'll editor what they send us anyway.

Don't have an idea for writing something or you'd like to see an article that's outside your area of expertise? Leave a comment. Perhaps someone else does.

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