Preparing a Review Article for the Orange Bytes

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Preparing a Review Article for the Orange Bytes
By Ted Littman, NOCCC Reviews Editor

The following suggestions for preparing a review article for the Orange Bytes are intended as a guide only. As a reviewer, your audience wants to know your opinion (as an end user) of the product (hardware, software, book) you are reviewing. Please fully identify the product, its vendor, and its cost (list, vendor discounts, & street) so that interested club members may be able to purchase it. Be objective, but balanced in your review in so

far as plaudits and criticisms are concerned. Remember, you are reviewing for your colleagues and not for the vendor.
After you have tested the product or read the book, consider these questions:

I. What is the product’s stated purpose and does it meet it?

II. Does it stand out compared to similar products?

III. What are its major features?

IV. Is it easy to use? Can a novice use it?

V. Is it worth the money? Do you recommend it?

VI. Can you quote or reference articles/ reviews in the computer magazines?
The following list contains more specific questions that apply to either software or hardware:

I. Requirements:

a. Operating systems

b. Processor/speed

c. Memory, Disk space, Video & Audio

II. Installation (do not overemphasize details):

a. Was it difficult?

b. Copy or write protected?

c. Does it allow drive and directory selection?

d. Does it automatically configure system? Can you control it?

III. Information about your system:

a. Hardware?

b. Operating system? Version?

c. Memory?, Video display?

IV. Documentation:

a. What is supplied? Manuals (paperback, electronic)

Tutorial? Templates? Table of Contents? Index?

b. Is it clear, concise and helpful?

c. Is there a troubleshooting section?
V. Product Support:

a. How is the vendor’s tech support?

b. Does it cost anything?

c. Is it a toll call?

d. Does the vendor provide free Internet support?

VI. About the product:

a. What comes with the product?

b. What is the cost (list & street)? Any special deals for user group members?

c. Version number and release date?

d. How difficult is the learning curve?

e. Would you buy/use the product?

f. Do you recommend it?

g. What don’t you like about it?

h. What improvements or changes would you like to see?

i. Can the software be downloaded from the vendor’s Web site; is there a free trial

period before buying?

j. What warranty is there on hardware?

VII. What are the Name, Address, Phone number (including 800#), and WEB address (e-mail & URL) of the vendor?

The following list of questions applies to books:

a. What is the subject matter?

b. Does the book meet its stated purpose?

c. Is it timely? If it is a revised edition, what is new in the

current edition?

d. Is the title an accurate reflection of the content?

e. What level of reader capability is required? Who will find it useful?

f. Is it easy to read and technically accurate?

g. Is it well illustrated and are the illustrations easy to view?

h. Are there any major omissions and why are they important?

i. How are the key points highlighted?

j. Does the book have to be read in chronological order?

k. Are there any accompanying extras (like CDs)?

l. What do you like and dislike about the book?

m. Is the author well known in this field? Does he/she have a web site for


n. Finally, do you recommend it?
After you have answered these questions, you should have enough information to write your review. Please be precise but do not make it so technical that only a few people can understand. Please advise the Orange Bytes Editor if you need graphics, pictures, or illustrations to get your point across.
Guidelines for Submittal
Important! Please limit the length of your submittals, but length should be secondary to content sufficiency. However, we request you limit general articles and software reviews to 1300 words, SIG reports to 700 words, book reviews to 600 words, low cost CD ROM titles to 600 words and more sophisticated CD-ROMs to 1000 words. As far as the minimum is concerned, we would just like to see you do justice to any general article or to any product that’s reviewed. An expensive software package ($500-1000) deserves at least 1,300 words. Exceptional cases may require more and a two-article review may be appropriate. Check with the Editor. An inexpensive program ($50 or less) might have 400-500 words. As a reference guideline, 950-1000 words (as defined by MS Word) fill one page of the Orange Bytes.
Reviews must be completed within 2 months so that the Reviews Editor can, in a timely manner, send a copy to the vendor. If you change your mind about doing the review, please call the review coordinator ASAP to make arrangements for returning the product for

reassignment. We hope you enjoy writing your review.

You should e-mail articles directly to the Reviews Editor ( and CC: a copy to the Orange Bytes Editor ( as a backup. Because the editors receive a large amount of SPAM that is tedious to sift through, the From field of your email

should contain your real name and the subject line should start with NOCCC review. As an alternate, give the file on a disk with a printout directly to the club President, Publications Chairman, or Reviews Editor on the next meeting day.

Articles or reviews can be in .txt or .rtf format. All documents should use 10-point Times Roman font and have flush left margins with double-carriage-returns (skip a line) between paragraphs. If you use .rtf format (in Microsoft Word or other word processor), bold your title, paragraph headings, and wherever else appropriate. Italics also may be used when appropriate. Please DO NOT use any other formatting. Heading formats, centering, indents, special bullets, 1.5 line spacing, etc. all cause the editor extra work to strip out and make fit in the columns of the Orange Bytes.
Don’t use CAPS for emphasis; that’s like shouting at someone! Also please spell check your article, and try to follow the ordinary rules of grammar. Don’t use columns, tabs, indents, justification, hyphenation or other such formatting codes. (If columns or tables are absolutely needed, provide us with a print copy or appropriate electronic file to guide us.)

We look forward to seeing your submittal in print and on the NOCCC Web site.

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