Roundup

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Linux Format writer's templates

Six-page Roundup

Click here for the template in plain text


1 PURPOSE:
To compare the best applications in a certain field. By reviewing them against common testing criteria, you should be able to pick an overall winner and give readers an idea of which application is best suited to their needs.

Your commission should tell you which applications to include in the Roundup. If it just offers suggestions, rather than a definite list, please run your final selection past the person who commissioned you.

2 WORD COUNT:
a/ Intro page = 320 words plus 'How We Tested' testing criteria box of 140 words
b/ Roundup covering four pages, split up as you choose:

  • one product on a page including a pull-quote and box-out or second image = 775 words
  • two products on a page, each including a pull-quote = 310 words each
  • three products on a page = [no word count available yet in redesigned layout. Please ask LXF for guidance if you choose this option]

c/ Verdict page = 400 words plus image, diagram and table

3 LAYOUT:
Unless the commission dictates the layout, you choose whether a review is a half page, full page or whatever. You should devote a whole page to the winner if there is enough to say about it! If not, a half page should suffice.

  • If there's anything you need to point out to design and production staff, label it ///DESIGN NOTE/// and put it IN CAPS at the beginning of the text in square brackets, or at the relevant point in the body if it refers to something like an annotated pic or flow diagram.

4 PICTURES AND BOXES:
Each application in the Roundup must be illustrated. It is most common to use a nice-looking screenshot, but if you are reviewing applications that have no interface, such as compilers, consider illustrating them with a box shot from the company, a graph or even the application's logo. If you are reviewing non-GUI applications such as consoles, please make the illustrations look as attractive as possible, with coloured text, for example, or by allowing some of the surrounding desktop to show as background.

  • Full-page reviews will require /two/ illustrations, or one illustration and a box. On the verdict page, the winner must be illustrated again, using a fresh image.

Notes about images

  • Images should be colour, and 250 DPI. Screengrabs are best sent in PNG format.
  • Please crop all images yourself before submitting them, unless you mark otherwise.
  • Name all screengrabs appropriately with something relevant to the application's title.
  • All images should have an INTERESTING caption. A good caption contains some titbit of information that has been held back from the body copy. Captions are also usually an appropriate place to exhibit a bit of wit, and it's encouraged!
  • Avoid grabs that have copyrighted images as your desktop wallpaper, show the Linux Format website, or include images of your pets or children.

Notes about boxes and diagrams
For full-page reviews, you should complement the main image with:

  • a second illustration
  • a box

OR

  • a diagram or chart. We can redraw them in-house.

The box text should be about 100 words. Ideas for boxes:

  • Detail about a particularly cool, or particularly awful, feature.
  • Background information or history of the application.
  • An explanation of a key technology underpinning all the applications in the Roundup, so you don't have to explain it in each review.

NOTE: If you do a box like this, it should go early in the Roundup.

  • A three-step walkthrough showing perhaps why the application is so good, or how a certain problem comes about.

NOTE: Because walkthroughs are bigger than normal boxes, the text of a full-page review is reduced from 775 words to 515 words.

5 STRUCTURE:

///TOP BAR///
ROUNDUP xxx
Where xxx is the type of application being reviewed

///HEADER///
Roundup
[This is always the same]

///STRAPLINE///
Every month we compare tons of software so you don't have to!
[This is always the same]

///TITLE///
The type of software that is being rounded up.
eg Remote desktops

///STANDFIRST///
20 words or so to introduce the subject of the Roundup and author's name.
eg In an attempt to thwart Royal Mail's monopoly, Patrick Sherrill looks at a collection of mail servers.

///OUR SELECTION BOX///
An alphabetical list of the products compared in the Roundup, with each title on a new line.
///END BOX///

///ON THE DVD LOGO///
We try to put most free software used in tutorials on to the LXF coverdisc. Please contact the disc editor as soon as possible to let him know what you are reviewing and where the code is kept online so that he can take a look. Email mike.saunders@futurenet.co.uk.

///BODY COPY START: INTRODUCTION///
An interesting and thought-provoking introduction to the topic please!

IMPORTANT: if there are apps that you tested but chose not to include in the Roundup, please mention them at the end of the intro along with 10 words for each explaining why it didn't make the cut. Eg "Apps that didn't make the cut: XYZ was super fast and light, but crashed far too often; ABC was only available as a binary for kernel 2.4 distros; etc"

///CROSSHEAD///
A one-line title that:
a/ breaks up the dense text of the main body copy
b/ highlights an important point or a new section.

///HOW WE TESTED BOX///
[This box should summarise your testing criteria. What was the spec of your test machine? What were the key factors you considered? Are there certain quantitative features, such as speed or memory, that were important?]
///END BOX///

///END OF BODY COPY: INTRODUCTION///

///BODY COPY START: ROUNDUP///
Each review needs the following:

///TITLE///
Application name.

///STANDFIRST///
A punchy 5-10 word summary of the application.

///BODY COPY FOR EACH ROUNDUP///

///CROSSHEAD///
(if appropriate)

///PIC///
yourfilename_number.jpg

///CAPTION///
20 words.

///PULL QUOTE///
[About 10 words pulled from the body of your review]

///LINUX FORMAT VERDICT BOX///
This box should include the following elements:
TITLE
VERSION
WEB
PRICE [Ideally in �. Please quote price excluding VAT for business products. Include VAT for consumer products. If the product is free software, please add the type of licence eg Free under GPL.]

A 15-20 word summary of the product and how it compares to the others.

RATING
This is your overall rating out of 10, taking 5/10 as average. Consider features, performance, ease of use, documentation, and value for money if appropriate. These criteria should be explained in your introduction.
///END VERDICT BOX///

///OPTIONAL BOX///
///BOX TITLE///
This should make it clear what the box is about.
eg Resources

///BOX SUBHEAD///
This shouldn't be necessary unless the box title needs embellishing to make sense.

///BOX BODY///
The text of your box.

///BOX CROSSHEAD///
Only necessary for big boxes.

Box notes:

  • If you include pics in a box, include their filename with a ///PIC/// tag, and a caption with a ///CAPTION/// tag, as you would in the body text.

///END BOX///

///END BODY COPY: ROUNDUP///

///BODY COPY START: VERDICT///

///TITLE///
xxx THE VERDICT
[Where xxx is the same as the title at the beginning.]
WINNER'S NAME

///BODY COPY///
You must pick a winner for the Verdict, and explain your reasons in the body copy.
In this section you can also discuss:
a/ runners-up worthy of a mention;
b/ products that you didn't like, and why; and
c/ any general conclusions you came to during the Roundup.

///PIC///
yourfilename_number.jpg

///CAPTION///
20 words.

Pic notes:
This picture must not have been used already in the Roundup.

///OPTIONAL DIAGRAM///
[To show the reader how these applications work, for example]

///OVER TO YOU BOX///
///TITLE///
Over to you

///BODY COPY///
40 words asking readers to let us know what they think about the products in the Roundup and comment on your ratings.
eg Will someone implement RFB features into X11 soon? Will applications have built-in encryption and compression for their display? Are Linux developers going to lose their mind and start using RDP for remote access? Email your opinion of the Roundup to lxf.letters@futurenet.co.uk
///END OVER TO YOU BOX///

///END BODY COPY: VERDICT///

///TABLE OF FEATURES///
We like these tables; the bigger the better. Try to include at least 10 features. They can be the criteria you outline on the first page, plus other features or properties.

  • Please mark any footnotes in the table with [1], [2] etc, and write the footnote under the table.
  • Use no more than ONE tab or ONE comma to separate the fields; don't use spaces or any other method of separation. Use a single return at the end of each row. See the example below from LXF36.
Name       License       Protocol   Interface Pkg size Avg mem use Logging File transfer Encryption Alternatives

AOL IM     Proprietary   AIM        GTK       910k     6M          No      No            No         Kinkatta, GAIM
Gabber     GPL           Jabber     GTK       1.7M     8M          Yes     No            Yes        IMCom, Jarl, Pybber
GAIM       GPL           See review GTK       2.2M     4M          Yes     No            Yes        Everybuddy, Imici
Yahoo!     Proprietary   Yahoo!     GTK       583k     5M          Semi    Yes           No         Curphoo, GTKYahoo
Everybuddy GPL           See review GTK       1.1M     4M          Yes     Yes           No         GAIM, Imici
Amsn       GPL           MSN        TCL/TK    165k     3M          Yes     Yes           No         Centericq, Gtkmsn
IMCom      Distributable Jabber     Text      240k     4M          Yes     Yes           Yes        Jabber.el, Sjabber
Kinkatta   GPL/LGPL      AIM        Qt 2.x    976k     9M          Yes     No            No         AIM, nTAIM, TiK
Licq       GPL           ICQ        Qt/others 1.7M     6M          Semi    Yes           No         GICQ, Kicq

///END TABLE OF FEATURES///

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