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Information on writing an article for the SDN

1-1-2009 - SDN, Rob Willemsen

As a start ...

If you are interested in sharing an article (or maybe even more than 1) with our members or prefer to receive more information up front, please don’t hesitate to contact me (by email to redactie at sdn dot nl).
For more information you can – of course – visit our website and if you prefer, we can also send you a recent copy of our magazine.
The SDN has an author pack you can use in which the following guidelines have been applied as far as possible.


The SDN is always looking for articles with useful information for its members. We strive towards as much new materials as possible, so we try to limit republishing of existing articles (a bit), although this is not a strict rule. The main issue is that an article should be sufficiently informative and actual.

Articles can be focused on starting, intermediate and expert developers. A list of possible subjects is:

  • Principal ideas (beginning)
  • Thorough knowledge articles (intermediate/expert)
  • Success stories and best practices (incl. gotcha’s)
  • Standards and guidelines, development techniques, software architecture, etc.
  • Product reviews

And many more of course ...

Often, questions and problems that have kept you ‘busy’ for a while, make up interesting stuff for our readers, so if you’re willing to share that knowledge and information with them ...
Besides full-blown articles also book-reviews, columns, tips & tricks, etc., are welcome.

Structure of an article

An article should be structured in a logical way:

  • A short introduction that mentions the subject or problem and its context
  • Followed by a more detailed elaboration
  • And in the end the conclusion, which could include pro’s and con’s of the mentioned solutions

Articles can include – and please do  - code-listings (always very useful to clarify theoretical issues) and images (a picture is worth a 1000 words).
The SDN has an author pack where these guidelines have been translated into a practical structure, which could serve as a starting point for an article. This might make life easier for you (and for us!), so we ask you to please use this template.


  • Make sure your article has a clear and logical order. Start with a clear intro, and work ahead step by step. The use of outlines during the writing of an article can be very useful. Use subheadings for a new part of the article.
  • Write about something new or different. New subjects are highly appreciated, as is information that can be used ‘immediately’ within the projects of our readers. So ask yourself what every journalist would do: who, what, where, why and how?
  • Avoid extreme words. Write in a normal, friendly and enthusiastic way. Your article should be easily comprehensible for everybody. Keep speaking language as your guideline. A useful aid is reading the article up loud  yourself. You’ll find the parts that don’t sound smoothly.
  • Use the seven ‘rules of style’:
    1. Simplicity: avoid long sentences en difficult language constructs; don’t use difiicult words; keep the reader in mind all the time, etc
    2. Accuracy: avoid vague words; use clear references; it should be clear where words like ‘that’, ‘them’, ‘they’ and ‘it’ are pointing to, etc
    3. Punctuality: use phrases without lots of ‘large’ words; don’t turn around the bush, be specific, etc
    4. Liveliness: use the direct form, don’t use passive oo past tense, vary in the choice of words for same item; use the I-form to keep your reader involved, etc
    5. Correctness: Check your facts (fallacies will be recognized by readers!); don’t worry too much if you caught all the syntax-errors, but please try to use correct English/American/...  since it is not the main langauge of the editor(s), etc
    6. Pureness: avoid too many foreign words (foreign for you, since they will all be foreign to our Dutch audience ;-)); do use the English phrases in current to software development, etc
    7. Tidiness: avoid sloppiness in interpunction, be consistent in upper/lower-case, etc

To be short: consider your reader to be your guest.

Sample code:

The editor’s goal is to get the code in the article the right way, so the reader can cut-and-paste it from the (website-)version of the article and use it right away in his project(s). Therefore, please keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Use comments in your code whenever necessary.
  • Make sure your code works. Consider asking a colleague to look ait it.
  • Use the word listing for a code sample and point to a listing by using a number. So please use "see listing 3" instead of "see the listing below".
    Thus guideline goes for images as well.
  • It is important that the code fits on a page, even on a webpage (without horizontal scrolling)! So please, don’t make lines of code more than 70 chars long.
    NB: Is the article is to appear in the magazine as well, there is a maximum length of 57 chars!
  • Break the lines of code your self, do it in the right way for the language you’re using, do it in a logical place and in a consistent way.
  • Please use 2 space (and no tabs) for indentation per level.
    PS: This is not a judgment-rule, but a practical way to show our readers as much code as possible and all in the same way.


  • Put your images inside the article, but please do provide the used images on their own as well!
  • Use as high a resolution as you can when producing the images, and rather use BMP than JPG. ‘Downsizing’ is always possible, ‘upsizing’  is more difficult.
  • A pictures tells more than 1000 words, and they give color and life to an article.  So please use them, but to the limit (maximum of 2 images per (A4) page).
  • Refer to an image by using "see figure 3" instead of "see the figure below".

Transfer to SDN

The article(s) should be addressed/transferred to the SDN through one of its organizational members involved with the network of the SDN you’re writing the article for. This will often be the same person that made the initial contact with you. This person will also ‘judge’ the article on its contents and on aspects like clarity, correctness, thoroughness, etc. If he/she feels necessary, he/she will contact you about possible adjustments.


The article is – unless clearly agreed upon – published on the website of the SDN ( The article could be divided into 2 or more (logical) parts to be published sequentially, as judged by the SDN.
A limited part of the articles will also be published in the SDN magazine, appearing 4x a year and delivered to all SDN-members. For the remaining articles there will usually be a short introduction or reference in the magazine to its location on the website, where the full article can be found.

The maximum length of a book-review is 800 words. For columns it is preferable to make an agreement on a (half)year-basis.


The SDN does not demand exclusiveness with regard to the publication of articles, nor does it impose other limitations to authors concerning publications of articles. The SDN does however strive towards publication of information that is as new as possible, which means it will sometimes limit the republishing of existing articles.
As an author it is explicitly your own responsibility to see if there are limitations in place with regard to republishing an article for the SDN. The SDN will not be responsible for the consequences, should problems arise from such a matter.