Transcript of "Fourteen steps to a clearly written technical paper"
Technical Writing and Presentation GuidelinesWaqas NawazThursday, May 30, 2013Good Writing Leads To Good PublicationFourteen Steps to a Clearly WrittenTechnical Paper
2Outline■ Sections of a Technical Paper■ 14-steps for ClarityComplete First DraftOrder, Transitions, Paragraph with UnitySimple Sentences, Avoid Passive VerbsVerbs > Nouns , Reduce Abstract WordsVerb Tense, Pronoun, Grammatical MistakesPolishing & polishingConclusion section
3Sections of a Technical Paper■ Introduction Open up the subject Survey past work relevant to thispaper Describe the problem addressed inthis paper, and show how this workrelates to, or augments, previouswork Describe the assumptions made ingeneral terms, and state what resultshave been obtained■ Formulation of the problem Define the problem in detail Define all terminology and notation Develop the equations on whichyour results will be based■ Results Theoretical or Experimental Figures: Clear point of view andinterpretation■ Conclusion Summarize what has beenaccomplished in the paperOf course, the names of thesections may differ slightlyfrom those above
414-steps for Clarity (1/4)■ Complete first draft Except for the Introduction andConclusion always present the big picture first Don’t worry about wording■ Right Order Can the reader understand everypassage strictly from the material upto that point? move blocks of the paper around■ Transition At each stage the reader has aroadmap of where he or she is going■ Paragraph Unity Each paragraph should have onemain point• Topic sentence at the beginning■ Sentence Structure Work on the sentences to reducethe fog index The Fog Index F is defined as F =0.4(L + P), where L is the averagenumber of words per sentence and Pis the average number ofpolysyllables per 100 words of text A polysyllable is a word with threeor more syllables
5■ Fog Index: Example Fog Index = 35: “In order to eliminate the possibility of errors occurring in thetime charges relating to engineering jobs through transposition of numbers ortyping errors, each of the Division Planning Offices should set up a file of timecards showing all authorized project numbers and make a daily check of thecharges on all time sheets forwarded to the Accounting Department to be surethat only authorized numbers are used.” (1 sentence, 69 words, 13polysyllables) Fog Index = 11: “It is easy to transpose digits and make typing errors whenentering project numbers. We suggest each Division Planning Office set up afile of time cards showing all authorized project numbers. Then all chargesshould be checked each day before sending time sheets to the AccountingDepartment.” (3 sentences. 48 words, 5 polysyllables)14-steps for Clarity (2/4)
614-steps for Clarity (3/4)■ Avoid Passive Verbs Reader always needs to know whois doing what to whom, and apassive verb often obscures both theagent and the recipient of an actionExample• “The data were measured andthe results were correlated.”• “We measured the data andcorrelated the results”■ More verbs than nouns “The annual report produced adisappointed reaction from thesponsor.”“The annual report disappointedthe sponsor”■ Avoid Abstract Words Use specific words instead ofabstract words “We determined the conditionsfor performance improvement,” “We measured the noise variancenecessary to increase the bit errorprobability by 5 percent.”■ Verb Tense Check that your verb tense isconsistent throughout the paper “We shall present our results inSection III.” “We present our results inSection III,”
714-steps for Clarity (4/4)■ Pronoun mistakes Do not use “this” as a pronoun Avoid sentences such as “This is...”and “This gives...” Example• “By increasing the impedance, theradiation level is increased andthe electric field becomesstronger. This means that...”• “This result is...” OR “Thisdifficulty is due to...”■ Grammatical mistakes■ Polish & polish Check that the sentence rhythmand timing are pleasing The ideas flow clearly and simplySolution• Reduce the Fog Index• Ensure paragraph unity■ Conclusion Summarization for what has beenpresented in the paper
8References Fourteen Steps to a Clearly Written Technical Paper by R. T.Compton, Jr.