Good and Bad Writing
Why write well?
- Improves your own thinking and research.
- Communicate effectively to others.
How to become a good writer.
Things to do --- some marks of good writing.
- Good spelling, grammar, usage.
- Clear, precise sentences.
- Well-organized: chapters, paragraphs, sections are well-defined
and linked (good transitions).
- Keep reader in mind. Don't assume they are familiar with
all your references or all implicit assumptions.
- Motivation and context are clear.
- Define terms and notations before they are used.
- Use terms and notation consistently.
- Use a variety of ``notations'' (broadly defined), e.g., mathematical
formalism, diagrams, tables, code, etc.
- Repeating main points is fine: introduce/preview, state,
- Present key points in more than one way, e.g.,
informally, formally, by example.
- Proper attribution: make clear what is yours and what
is due to others.
Things not to do --- some marks of bad writing.
- Over-use passive voice.
- Leave out important details, e.g., experimental
setup, points in a logical argument.
- Irrelevant details, e.g., too much detail on a subtopic.
- Overly confident claims or conclusions.
- Trying to sound impressive, using too many buzz-words,
- Write a lab-report or diary, e.g., too much past tense,
too much detail on missteps or intermediate steps
in the research process.
- Repetitive style.
- Referring repeatedly to equations in other parts of the
text; sometimes its best to just repeat them.
C. J. Ribbens,