Fourteen steps to a clearly written technical paper


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Good Writing Leads to Good Publication

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Fourteen steps to a clearly written technical paper

  1. 1. Technical Writing and Presentation GuidelinesWaqas NawazThursday, May 30, 2013Good Writing Leads To Good PublicationFourteen Steps to a Clearly WrittenTechnical Paper
  2. 2. 2Outline■ Sections of a Technical Paper■ 14-steps for ClarityComplete First DraftOrder, Transitions, Paragraph with UnitySimple Sentences, Avoid Passive VerbsVerbs > Nouns , Reduce Abstract WordsVerb Tense, Pronoun, Grammatical MistakesPolishing & polishingConclusion section
  3. 3. 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
  4. 4. 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. 5. 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)
  6. 6. 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 actionExample• “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,”
  7. 7. 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 simplySolution• Reduce the Fog Index• Ensure paragraph unity■ Conclusion Summarization for what has beenpresented in the paper
  8. 8. 8References[1] Fourteen Steps to a Clearly Written Technical Paper by R. T.Compton, Jr.
  9. 9. 9ThanksSuggestions…!