Writing Posts for Cognitive Voices

Photo by Sergey Zolkin

The Cognitive Voices publication features stories about how cognitive computing is disrupting business all over the globe.

If you wish to submit content, email darylp [at] us.ibm.com.

The basics

The Cognitive Voices publication covers stories relating to cognitive computing and AI. We generally publish stories about:

  • Partnerships between IBM and other businesses
  • Articles about innovative ways Watson is being used across the world
  • Features about apps that use cognitive computing technology
  • Messaging that markets our features and products to users and potential users

Here are some other basic guidelines:

  • Typically, articles should be between 500–800 words.
  • Permission marketing: think about how soon and frequently you can deliver value.
  • There’s an emotional nub to everything. Don’t believe me? Try starting filing your taxes for the year at 10pm the night before the deadline. Find that emotional core and expose it. That might be just be the ticket you need to hook folks in and pull them along on your own special journey.
  • Remember to tag your posts! Medium will show you possible.

Titles:

  • Title: Be punchy, brief and finally descriptive (ideally 4–7 words)
  • Sub: Tell us some more

Guidelines

When writing for the Medium blog, follow these simple rules:

Be casual, but smart

This isn’t a term paper, so there’s no need to be stuffy. Drop some knowledge while casually engaging your readers with conversational language.

  • You are a person writing to another person. Let the personality shine! Write directly using ‘you’ and ‘me’ and ‘us’
  • Write for the non-technical audience: how would you explain tech to someone like a mainstream journalist or a significant other outside the tech industry

Be specific

If you’re writing about data, put the numbers in context. If you’re writing about a project, give the reader plenty of information about the company’s stage, workflow, results, and values.

Get to the point

Get to the important stuff right away, and don’t bury the kicker. Blog posts should be scannable and easy to digest. Break up your paragraphs into short chunks of three or four sentences, and use subheads. Our users are busy, and we should always keep that in mind.

Flow

Here is a good rule of thumb to follow so your stories flow nicely:

  • What happened?
  • Why is the story important?
  • What technology is used?
  • What impact does it have on industry?
  • Where can you find more information? Add links to press releases, other articles or videos.

Use pictures

Include images in your blog posts when it makes sense. Include screenshots to illustrate your point. Send all your photos to the content team for posting when you submit your article. Show don’t tell wherever possible. This could be writing through illustrations. Or just including an illustration yourself.

Grammar and Mechanics

Adhering to certain rules of grammar and mechanics helps us keep our writing clear and consistent. This section will lay out our house style, which applies to all of our content unless otherwise noted in this guide.

Basics

Write for all readers. Some people will read every word you write. Others will just skim. Help everyone read better by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and sub-headers.

Focus your message. Create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content, in sentences, paragraphs, sections, and pages.

Be concise. Use short words and sentences. Avoid unnecessary modifiers.

Be specific. Avoid vague language. Cut the fluff.

Be consistent. Stick to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.

Guidelines

Abbreviations and acronyms

If there’s a chance your reader won’t recognize an abbreviation or acronym, spell it out the first time you mention it. Then use the short version for all other references. If the abbreviation isn’t clearly related to the full version, specify in parentheses.

• First use: Network Operations Center

• Second use: NOC

• First use: Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

• Second use: UTC

If the abbreviation or acronym is well known, like API or HTML, use it instead (and don’t worry about spelling it out).

Active voice

Use active voice. Avoid passive voice.

In active voice, the subject of the sentence does the action. In passive voice, the subject of the sentence has the action done to it.

• Yes: Marti logged into the account.

• No: The account was logged into by Marti.

Words like “was” and “by” may indicate that you’re writing in passive voice. Scan for these words and rework sentences where they appear.

One exception is when you want to specifically emphasize the action over the subject. In some cases, this is fine.

• Your account was flagged by our abuse team.

Contractions

They’re great! They give your writing an informal, friendly tone. In most cases, use them as you see fit. Avoid them if you’re writing content that will be translated for an international audience.

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