Writing for Linear Audio
Update Feb 2022: I no longer publish new Linear Audio Volumes. But! I am the Technical Editor at AudioXpress and always looking for good technical articles for that journal. So, just contact me with your article ideas and we'll take it from there!
Thank you very much for your interest in writing for Linear Audio! It is through articles of authors like you that we can expand the interest in and enthusiasm for audio technology.
As you may know, Linear Audio does not employ a staff of editors (actually, we don’t employ any staff, period). Any necessary editing will be done by the Publisher/Editor, i.e. by me. You can help me a lot by writing your article in such a way that it can be published with no or a minimum of editing. This also will ensure that the article will appear just like you want it!
The following is just a guideline; experienced authors will have their own style and that’s fine, as long as the article is complete, concise and well organized. If you are one of those, you may want to just review the first sections on text and illustrations formats; I have no intention to bore you unnecessarily.
Manuscript format. Don’t use any specific formatting in your text. A standard word processor format like Microsoft Word or similar would be fine (“flat text”) with paragraph headings when needed. Do embed illustrations in the text at or near the required position; use low-resolution versions if you have them to keep the file size manageable. Include illustration numbers and captions in the text. Submit the high-res versions of the illustrations as separate files numbered with the figure- or photo-number you use in the text.
It is usefull to have an idea of the size of your article; the size of a Linear Audio page is around 3500 characters (thank you Samuel!). Then there's the illustrations of course which is difficult to size beforehand but most articles have around 30% space or more devoted to illustrations. So, if your article has 35000 characters a ball-park size would be around 13-15 pages.
Abstract. Use a short abstract of a few lines as an introduction to your actual article that describes your project or the problem you solved, how/why you did it, how it turned out. This abstract will be used on the website to draw reader attention to your article.
Tables and lists. These should preferably be submitted in a spreadsheets. This includes any partslists. I can format spreadsheet-lists for best appearance in the article.
Illustrations. This is an important issue. All article illustrations will be in black and white. If you include photos of your project, I't like to have them in color so I can eventually use them on the cover. Make photos on the highest resolution your camera supports and don't compress them. We will have a way to get them over here even if very large.
Graph figures or schematic diagrams should also be in b/w. Most CAD software can be set for b/w output. If possible, provide such illustrations in a vector format like eps, wmf, emf or pdf. Many applications can 'export' their graphs or figures to PDF or another vector format. If the app can only export in a bitmap format, consider using a 'PDF printer' to generate a high-resolution illustration. I have had very good results with Bullzip PDF (www.bullzip.com) which is free, and has a 'settings' screen where you can select 'Prepress' resolution. For printing I need at least 300dpi which is much higher than a display so screen shots are basically not useable. Note: packaging a jpg in pfd does not make it a vector format, unfortunately; it only embeds the jpg in the pdf and is useless.
Note also that the text/font sizes in your illustrations like legends and scales need to be increased significantly to make them come out well in a printed size. A good test is to display your illustration on your screen with a width of 10 cm (4 inch) and check if the fonts are large enough. Typically, font sizes need to be double the size of the fonts in most applications graphics output.
If all fails, consider to export your graph as Excell or data table format (often called '.CSV'). I have special software to turn such data tables into pub quality graphs.Another option which often saves you a lot of work is to send me the actual files from your test software like ARTA of even Audio Precision; I have that software so I can read in your test files and work on getting great graphics from them on this side.
Some figures can have a lot of in-graph info; for example a Praxis graph can have freq range, scaling, legends, dates etc in and around the graph. It's better to have that in the caption and clean the graph (for graphs like that I will crop out only the graph with axes). You can have a legend like: "Fig 4: Frequency versus directivity, 10 degrees per division". It is easier to change and format than something that is embedded in the illustration, and incuding this type of info in the caption helps people to understand and appreciate it independent of the text.
If you have multiple curves in a graph, be aware that they all look alike in b&w. If the individual curves are not clearly separated, consider labeling them like A, B,... directly in the graph if that is possible or make one a solid line and the other dashed. When in doubt, let me know and we will work something out.
Specific application illustrations
LTspice: Use "export to a .wmf file” option;
Praxis: You can select 'double resolution' when exporting a Praxis graph. It still isn't very sharp for printing but it's the best that you can do (as far as I know; if you have a better solution, let me know);
Leap: In the 'Graph | Parameters' menu increase the the scale value font to 12 points; otherwise the scale values are too small relative to the graph. Also, set the 'Grid parameters' on the same screen to width 5 for Major and width 1 for Minor; set Minor appearance to NULL. In 'Utilities|Export graphics' check the 'vector' button and select 'PDF format' in the drop-down box. In 'Graph | System curves' make all curves black and select solid and dashed as required. Set Width to 20.
Audio Precision: For AP systems One, Two and 27xx it is best to submit the complete test files ('save as test'). I have the AP software and I can load your test files and format them in such a way that they come out well when printed.
Circuit diagrams. Make all drawings large and clear, giving all component designators (R1, R2, etc.) and parts values on the drawing. Use connector dots where crossing lines are connected. Schematic parts designators may include a part number as well as the value, semiconductor type, voltage- or current ratings as appropriate, and polarity signs. If that would make the diagram too crowded just leave in the part number and value, everything else can be included in the parts list.
PCB artwork. If your package supports it, export or print a "stuffing guide" to PDF or another vector format like WMF or EPS. Select just the parts outline, parts designations and pads, in black & white. If you wish to provide a complete board artwork for readers to duplicate or Gerbers for PCB manufacturing, I can place that on-line with a link in the article.
Anything not covered? Drop me an email and we will work it out.