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...Home ... Resources ... About Us ... Writer Guidelines ..Write for CertCities.com Thursday: April 24, 2014

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Writers' Guidelines
  • Types of Editorial
  • Authors
  • Submissions
  • Copyright
  • Editorial Policy-Vendors
    and Conflicts of Interest
  • Accuracy
  • Writing Style/Tips
  • Payment
    CertCities.com (http://certcities.com), from 101communications LLC, is an online magazine geared towards the needs of IT professionals who are certified or are seeking certification.
    This is a general guide for CertCities writers, and may be modified on a case-by-case basis.
    Types of Editorial
    CertCities offers readers several types of original editorial, both certification and non-certification related. Those sections that are freelance written include:
  • Book/Study Material Reviews: 400-600 word review of a technology book, CD training guide, or combination thereof.
  • Tips Articles: 1,000- to 1500-word article containing tips for passing a specific test or accomplishing a specific task: e.g., "Top 10 Tips for Passing the XXX Exam" or "10 Tips for Balancing Your Network Traffic."
  • Exam Spotlight: 1,000- to 1,700-word article giving insight on a particular certification exam.
  • Features: We are seeking a variety of features, including the following types:
      -- Overview of a certification or certification area (e.g., Internet certs, security certs).
      -- Trend articles on happenings in the certification world.
      -- 1st-person story on how one conquered a particular technical problem.
      -- High-level how-to technology articles instructing users on how to complete a specific task or implement a particular technology.
      -- Profiles of people of interest to the certification/IT community.
      -- Career pieces specific to IT professionals.
      -- And more.
    Note: Specific writers guidelines are available for the Reviews, Tips and Exam Spotlight sections. Please e-mail editor@certcities.com to request one or more.
    We seek authors who have an understanding of technology/certification, who often (although not always) are IT professionals themselves and hold one or more certifications.

    While we do consider unsolicited manuscripts for publication, it is recommended that authors first submit a query (article idea) via e-mail. Include an outline, when possible. An editor will respond to your query and, if we are interested in your idea, will assist you in crafting the completed manuscript. Note that all manuscripts are submitted on a speculation basis, and all assignments made by an editor are also on speculation basis. Payment is made upon publication. We reserve the right to return for edit or reject any story that we deem, in our sole discretion, unacceptable for publication, as well as the right to edit any article as we see fit.

    All articles must be submitted in electronic format. Send an e-mail with a Word or text file attachment to editor@certcities.com.

    Manuscripts are considered for publication with the understanding that they represent original material and are offered exclusively to CertCities.com/101communications LLC. 101communications buys all rights on an exclusive basis; including the right to use your article, name, image and biographical data in advertising and promotion. You must sign a 101communication's author contract before your first accepted article can be published.
    Editorial Policy--Vendors
    We do not accept vendor-generated articles. Any work authored or commissioned by a vendor or vendor's agent (e.g., PR rep.) will be rejected.
    Authors are responsible for checking and verifying the accuracy of the information included in their articles. Product versions, prices and contact information must be verified with the company for any product discussed or reviewed. This can't be over-stressed. Your readers are every bit as technical as you are. Erroneous facts and figures lead to numerous calls to the editors--and reflect poorly on you, the writer. We'll check your facts, but it's your responsibility to check and re-check them as well. For example, if you need to state how many users a system can support, check your figure against the product. Remember, your name will appear over the story.
    Writing Style/Tips
      Outline First Unless you're an experienced writer who has worked with us before, an outline of your story may be required. This saves time for both you and us, since you avoid extensive rewrites by targeting the story correctly from the start. A good article begins by telling the reader what you will say--an introduction that "hooks" the reader with the importance of your article. The body of the story then fulfills the promise of the lead. Finally, a short conclusion sums up the important points in your article.
      Short and to the Point Shorter articles are read by more readers. (Don't you tend to "set aside" long pieces for a later time, then never return to them?) We favor features between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Some sections (e.g., reviews) have their own word counts (see above). As for the "get to the point" part: Often, when readers start in an article, they'll read the first few sentences, then ask "So What?" Make sure you answer that question within your lead (1st few sentences/paragraphs) before going on to the main body of the article. More on leads later.
      Use sidebars, charts and diagrams whenever possible. Every feature submitted should come with 1 to 2 sidebars (e.g., 'Best Resources" "Tips for Passing…." "Glossary," etc.) Ask your editor for suggestions. As for graphics, nearly any story can be summed up visually with some sort of art. If you can sketch it, we can make it look polished and professional.
      Write the way you speak. As with similar publications, our style is informal. Write in a friendly, familiar, energetic style, as if you're explaining things to a coworker or friend. Use short sentences and commonly understood words. On the other hand, don't be too casual. Slang is OK for emphasis, but sloppy writing is difficult to follow. If you aren't sure about style, read the story aloud to see if it sounds like something you'd say. If it is, you're probably on the right track. Also, realize that personality counts. Unless you're writing news, a first-person tone, opinion and humor are always welcomed
      Use active verbs. Avoid passive statements and impersonal pronouns. It's better to say "you" than "they" because it involves the reader, and avoid saying "we" when you really mean "I." For example, "I finally got the software installed and running at 2 a.m." is more interesting than "It took until 2 a.m. to install the software."
      Make your article easy to read. Help your reader through the story by using subheads that follow your outline; use more paragraphs and make them shorter; use bullets and numbered lists when possible; keep text units well organized.
      Make your writing interesting. No matter what your topic, there is a dull way to present it and an interesting way. Active verbs and tone are important (see above), but so is the lead. The lead is where you'll draw people into the story, making it crucial to attracting and keeping a reader's attention. Following are some tried and true lead types:
  • A startling fact: Start with a fact like "70 percent of all dollars spent on client-server migrations go to personnel" or "By 1996 every PC sold in the US will have a CD-ROM drive as standard equipment", etc.
  • An intriguing question: Start with a question to grab the reader like "Can structured exams really test programming skill?".
  • A common myth: Try an introduction like "BASIC is considered to be a weak programming language: True or False?", etc.
  • An interesting anecdote: Start with a personal story such as "After six hours of support line calls and 18 hours of non-stop trial and error, we finally got the system installed..."
  • New information: Readers always want to learn of new programs, products, statistics, etc. Any time you can provide new information as a starting point, you'll have the reader's attention.
  • Testimonials: If you can get a quote from a well-known industry executive, CIO, or respected technical professional, your writing can support the testimonial and have much greater impact.
    We do have a set pay scale, ranging from $75 (reviews) to $200 to $300 (in-depth features). Contact your editor for specific payment information for the type of editorial you are interested in writing.

    Thank you for your interest in writing for CertCities.com. Please contact me with any questions.
    Becky Nagel
    Web Editor
    16271 Laguna Canyon Blvd.
    Irvine, CA 92618
    949-465-1369 (fax)