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Scientific Writing

Galen Gisler
Physics of Geological Processes
University of Oslo
Why learn scientific writing?

n It is a scientists duty to write papers and share his/her


knowledge.
You havent done the work unless youve written it up!

n You will have to write a master thesis.

n You will want to write scientific articles.

You will be judged by what you write and how well you write it.
Writing is learned by writing.

n Practice, practice, practice.

n Choose good role models.

n Study good examples.

n But there are also techniques and rules to learn.


Source:
Michael Alley
The Craft of Scientific Writing
Springer 1996, ISBN 0387-94766-3

http://www.writing.eng.vt.edu/
n Introduction to Scientific Writing

n Formatting Scientific Documents

n Structure

n Illustrations

n Word Choices

n Grammar
Scientific Writing:
An Introduction

Writing Guidelines for Students The Craft of Scientific Writing


http://writing.eng.vt.edu/ 3rd edition (Springer-Verlag, 1996)
This presentation discusses the importance of
scientific writing and introduces key principles

Importance of
Scientific Writing

[Report, 1986]
This presentation discusses the importance of
scientific writing and introduces key principles

Importance of
Key Principles
Scientific Writing

audience

occasion

purpose

[Report, 1986]
How well you communicate affects your
career

Survey (Richard M. Davis)


Successful engineers spent 25% of
work week writing

Survey (Wisconsin)
Professional engineers found writing
their most useful subject in college

Survey (Virginia Tech)


Recruiters claim that engineers need
more work on their writing
How well you communicate affects the
well-being of others

[Report, 1986]

Space Shuttle Challenger


(January 28, 1986)
How well you communicate affects the
well-being of others

Explosion was caused by failure of O-


rings in the solid rocket boosters

Engineers knew of O-ring problems well


before fatal launch

Engineers failed to communicate


seriousness of problem

[Report, 1986]

Space Shuttle Challenger


(January 28, 1986)
Scientists and engineers are called upon
to communicate in many different situations

Reports Conferences
Articles Lectures
Proposals Meetings
Web Pages Posters
Scientists and engineers are called upon
to communicate in many different situations

Reports Conferences
Articles Lectures
Proposals Meetings
Web Pages Posters

specific general
technical technical non-technical
audiences audiences audiences
This presentation discusses the importance of
scientific writing and introduces key principles

Importance of
Key Principles
Scientific Writing

audience

occasion

purpose

[Report,
1986]
Scientific writing differs from other kinds of writing

Subject Matter

[Franklin,
1952]
Scientific writing differs from other kinds of writing

Subject Matter Writing Constraints

audience

occasion

purpose
[Franklin,
1952]
Scientific writing differs from other kinds of writing

Subject Matter Writing Constraints

audience

occasion

purpose
[Franklin,
1952]

Purpose of Writing

To inform

To persuade
Scientific writing differs from other kinds of writing

Subject Matter Writing Constraints

audience

occasion

purpose
[Franklin,
1952]

Purpose of Writing Writing Style

To inform

To persuade

[Peterson, 1987]
You should begin the writing process by analyzing
your constraints

Audience

Occasion

Purpose
You should begin the writing process by analyzing
your constraints
Who they are
What they know
Audience Why they will read
How they will read

Occasion

Purpose
You should begin the writing process by analyzing
your constraints

Audience

Occasion

Purpose
You should begin the writing process by analyzing
your constraints

Audience

Occasion

To inform
Purpose To persuade
You should begin the writing process by analyzing
your constraints

Audience

Occasion

Purpose
You should begin the writing process by analyzing
your constraints

Audience

Format
Formality
Occasion Politics and ethics
Process and deadline

Purpose
Three aspects of writing affect the way that
readers assess your documents

Content

Style

Form
Style is the way you communicate the
content to the audience

[Peterson, 1987]
words
wordswords
Illustration wordswordswords
wordswordswordswords
wordswordswords
wordswordswords
wordswordswords
wordswordswords

Structure Language
style
Form embodies the format and mechanics of
the writing

mechanics
format
grammar
typography
usage
layout
punctuation

spelling
We can split the writing process into stages

Getting in the Mood


We can split the writing process into stages

Getting in the Mood Writing the First Draft


We can split the writing process into stages

Getting in the Mood Writing the First Draft

Revising, Revising, Revising


We can split the writing process into stages

Getting in the Mood Writing the First Draft

Revising, Revising, Revising Finishing


An excellent way to improve your writing is
to choose good models

AIP Cal-
Tech
Maria Goeppert Mayer Linus Pauling
Formatting
Scientific Documents
In scientific writing, formats vary considerably to
serve different situations

Formal
Reports
In scientific writing, formats vary considerably to
serve different situations

Formal Journal
Reports Articles
In scientific writing, formats vary considerably to
serve different situations

Formal Journal Presentation


Reports Articles Slides
Not all rules of format are constant

Reports
Sandia Laboratories

Figure 1

Table 1

equation 1
Not all rules of format are constant

Reports Textbooks
Sandia Laboratories Prentice-Hall

Figure 1 Fig. 1

Table 1 Table 1

equation 1 equation (1)


Not all rules of format are constant

Reports Textbooks Journals


Sandia Laboratories Prentice-Hall ASME

Figure 1 Fig. 1 fig. 1

Table 1 Table 1 table 1

equation 1 equation (1) Eq. 1


Format is the arrangement of type on the page

typography

layout
Each typestyle has its own personality and power

Serif Sans Serif


Each typestyle has its own personality and power

Serif Sans Serif

Times New Roman


abcdefghijklmnopqr
stuvwxyz1234567890

Garamond
abcdefghijklmnopqr
stuvwxyz1234567890

Courier
abcdefghijklmnopqr
stuvwxyz1234567890
Each typestyle has its own personality and power

Serif Sans Serif

Times New Roman Arial BCGRSZ


abcdefghijklmnopqr abcdefghijklmnopqr
stuvwxyz1234567890 stuwxyz1234567890

Garamond Helvetica BCGRSZ


abcdefghijklmnopqr abcdefghijklmnopqr
stuvwxyz1234567890 stuwxyz1234567890

Courier Comic Sans BCGRSZ


abcdefghijklmnopqr abcdefghijklmnopqr
stuvwxyz1234567890 stuwxyz1234567890
Avoid large blocks of capital letters

TYPE IS TO READ
Type is to read
Avoid large blocks of capital letters

TYPE IS TO READ
Type is to read
Avoid large blocks of capital letters

TYPE IS TO READ
Type is to read

WORDS SET IN ALL CAPS USE


MORE SPACE THAN TEXT SET IN
LOWERCASE.

Words set in all caps use more


space than words set in lowercase.
Avoid large blocks of capital letters

TYPE IS TO READ
Type is to read

WORDS SET IN ALL CAPS USE


MORE SPACE THAN TEXT SET IN
LOWERCASE.

Words set in all caps use more


space than words set in lowercase.
Morton-Thiokols presentation to NASA suffered
because of all capital letters on the slides

PRIMARY CONCERNS -

FIELD JOINT - HIGHEST CONCERN

EROSION PENETRATION OF PRIMARY SEAL REQUIRES RELIABLE SECONDARY SEAL FOR


PRESSURE INTEGRITY
IGNITION TRANSIENT - (0-600 MS)
(0-170 MS) HIGH PROBABILITY OF RELIABLE SECONDARY SEAL
(170-330 MS) REDUCED PROBABILITY OF RELIABLE SECONDARY SEAL
(330-600 MS) HIGH PROBABILITY OF NO SECONDARY SEAL CAPABILITY

STEADY STATE - (600 MS - 2 MINUTES)


IF EROSION PENETRATES PRIMARY O-RING SEAL - HIGH PROBABILITY OF NO
SECONDARY SEAL CAPABILITY
BENCH TESTING SHOWED O-RING NOT CAPABLE OF MAINTAINING CONTACT
WITH METAL PARTS GAP OPERATING TO MEOP
BENCH TESTING SHOWED CAPABILITY TO MAINTAIN O-RING CONTACT DURING
INITIAL PHASE (0 - 170 MS) OF TRANSIENT

Morton-Thiokol Presentation to NASA


January 27, 1986
Morton-Thiokols presentation to NASA suffered
because of all capital letters on the slides

PRIMARY CONCERNS -

FIELD JOINT - HIGHEST CONCERN

EROSION PENETRATION OF PRIMARY SEAL REQUIRES RELIABLE SECONDARY SEAL FOR


PRESSURE INTEGRITY
IGNITION TRANSIENT - (0-600 MS)
(0-170 MS) HIGH PROBABILITY OF RELIABLE SECONDARY SEAL
(170-330 MS) REDUCED PROBABILITY OF RELIABLE SECONDARY SEAL
(330-600 MS) HIGH PROBABILITY OF NO SECONDARY SEAL CAPABILITY

STEADY STATE - (600 MS - 2 MINUTES)


IF EROSION PENETRATES PRIMARY O-RING SEAL - HIGH PROBABILITY OF NO
SECONDARY SEAL CAPABILITY
BENCH TESTING SHOWED O-RING NOT CAPABLE OF MAINTAINING CONTACT
WITH METAL PARTS GAP OPERATING TO MEOP
BENCH TESTING SHOWED CAPABILITY TO MAINTAIN O-RING CONTACT DURING
INITIAL PHASE (0 - 170 MS) OF TRANSIENT

Morton-Thiokol Presentation to NASA


January 27, 1986
Choose a type size that is easy to read

48 point posters

36 point
presentation slides

24 point
18 point
14 point
titles
12 point

10 point text
8 point

footnotes
In your layouts, use white space for association,
emphasis, and hierarchy

space for
headings
space
for
margins

space for
illustrations
Follow the format that is expected or required
for the situation
Structure:
the Strategy of Style

If a man can group his ideas, then he is a


writer.
Ending
Robert Louis Stevenson

Middle

Beginning
The organization of a scientific document can be
viewed as a beginning, middle, and ending

Ending

Middle

Title
Summary
Introduction Beginning
The organization of a scientific document can be
viewed as a beginning, middle, and ending

Ending

Middle Sections
Middle

Title
Summary
Introduction Beginning
The organization of a scientific document can be
viewed as a beginning, middle, and ending

Conclusions
Back Matter
Ending

Middle Sections
Middle

Title
Summary
Introduction Beginning
Beginnings prepare readers for
understanding the work

Title orients readers to


document

Summary tells readers what


happens in document

Introduction prepares readers


for the middle
A strong title orients readers to
your area of work

Effects of Humidity
on the Growth
of Avalanches
A strong title orients readers to
your area of work

Effects of Humidity Effects of Humidity


on the Growth on the Growth
of Electron Avalanches
of Avalanches in Electrical Gas Discharges
A strong title also separates your
work from everyone else's work

Studies on the
Electrodeposition
of Lead on Copper
A strong title also separates your
work from everyone else's work

Studies on the Effects of Rhodamine-B


Electrodeposition on the Electrodeposition
of Lead on Copper of Lead on Copper
Several names for summaries exist

Summary
Technical Informative
Abstract Abstract

Abstract
Descriptive Executive
Abstract Summary
Although several names exist for summaries,
there are essentially two approaches

This paper describes a new inertial navigation system for


mapping oil and gas wells. In this paper, we will compare Descriptive
the mapping accuracy and speed for this new system
against the accuracy and speed for conventional systems.

This paper describes a new inertial navigation system


that will increase the mapping accuracy of oil wells by a
factor of ten. The new system uses three-axis navigation
that protects sensors from high-spin rates. The system Informative
also processes its information by Kalman filtering (a
statistical sampling technique) in an on-site computer.
Test results show the three-dimensional location accuracy
is within 0.1 meters for every 100 meters of well depth, an
accuracy ten times greater than conventional systems.
A document's introduction prepares
readers for the discussion

Topic?

Introduction
A document's introduction prepares
readers for the discussion

Topic?
Importance?

Introduction
A document's introduction prepares
readers for the discussion

Topic?
Importance?
Background?

Introduction
A document's introduction prepares
readers for the discussion

Topic?
Importance?
Background?
Arrangement?

Introduction
The introduction defines the scope
and limitations of the work

scope

Proposed Study
on Effects of Alcohol
on Life Expectancy

Ten-year study
Three classes of drinkers:
non-drinkers
moderate drinkers
heavy drinkers
Men surveyed
The introduction defines the scope
and limitations of the work

scope

Proposed Study
on Effects of Alcohol
on Life Expectancy

Ten-year study
Three classes of drinkers:
non-drinkers
moderate drinkers
heavy drinkers
Men surveyed

limitations
The introduction defines the scope
and limitations of the work

Women may not Medical histories


experience the not considered
same effects scope

Proposed Study
on Effects of Alcohol
on Life Expectancy

Ten-year study
Three classes of drinkers:
non-drinkers
moderate drinkers
heavy drinkers
Men surveyed

Other effects,
such as exercise,
not considered

limitations
A strong introduction tells readers
why the research is important

This paper presents a design for a platinum catalytic


igniter in hydrogen-air mixtures. This igniter has
application in nuclear reactors. One danger at a nuclear
reactor is a loss-of-coolant accident. Such an accident can
produce large quantities of hydrogen gas when hot water
and steam react with zirconium fuel rods. In a serious
accident, the evolution of hydrogen may be so rapid that it
produces an explosive hydrogen-air mixture in the reactor importance
containment building. This mixture could breach the
containment walls and allow radiation to escape.
Our method to eliminate this danger is to intentionally
ignite the hydrogen-air mixture at concentrations below
those for which any serious damage might result.
In the middle of a report, you
present your work

Choose a logical Make sections


strategy and subsections

Heading
Subheading
Subheading
Heading
Subheading
Subheading
Subheading
Heading

[Sandia, 1985]
Common strategies exist
for the middles of scientific reports

Chronological

[Maizels, 2001]

Spatial

[Pratt & Whitney, 2000]


Common strategies exist
for the middles of scientific reports

Parallel
Parts
Corel Corporation

Flow

[Sandia, 1985]
Section headings should be descriptive and parallel

Parallel
Descriptive

Introduction Introduction
Background
Marx Generators Past Designs for Particle Beam Fusion
Line Pulse
Beam Generation New Design for Particle Beam Fusion
Transporting Beam Charging Marx Generators
Pellets Forming Line Pulse
Results Generating Particle Beam
Conclusions Transporting Particle Beam
Irradiating Deuterium-Tritium Pellets
Results of New Design
Conclusions and Recommendations
Section headings should be descriptive and parallel

Non-Parallel Parallel
Non-Descriptive Descriptive

Introduction Introduction
Background
Marx Generators Past Designs for Particle Beam Fusion
Line Pulse
Beam Generation New Design for Particle Beam Fusion
Transporting Beam Charging Marx Generators
Pellets Forming Line Pulse
Results Generating Particle Beam
Conclusions Transporting Particle Beam
Irradiating Deuterium-Tritium Pellets
Results of New Design
Conclusions and Recommendations
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Pellets
Irradiating Deuterium-Tritium Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Irradiating Deuterium-Tritium Pellets
When you divide a section into subsections, all
the pieces should be of the same pie

New Design for Particle Beam Fusion


Charging Marx Generators
Generating Particle Beam
Irradiating Deuterium-Tritium Pellets
Organization is hidden when headings occur in a long
list without secondary headings

Performance of
the Solar One Receiver
Introduction
Steady State Efficiency
Average Efficiency
Start-Up Time
Operation Time
Operation During Cloud Transients
Panel Mechanical Supports
Tube Leaks
Conclusion
Organization is hidden when headings occur in a long
list without secondary headings

Performance of Performance of
the Solar One Receiver the Solar One Receiver
Introduction Introduction
Steady State Efficiency Receivers Efficiency
Average Efficiency Steady State Efficiency
Start-Up Time Average Efficiency
Operation Time Receivers Operation Cycle
Operation During Cloud Transients Start-Up Time
Panel Mechanical Supports Operation Time
Tube Leaks Operation During Cloud Transients
Conclusion Receivers Mechanical Wear
Panel Mechanical Supports
Tube Leaks
Conclusion
Many journal articles follow a set organization
named IMRaD

Introduction
Materials and Methods

Discussion

Results
In a strong ending, you analyze results
and give a future perspective

Conclusions
Analysis of Results

Future Perspective
In a strong ending, you analyze results
and give a future perspective

Conclusions
Analysis of Results Analyze results from
overall perspective

Future Perspective
In a strong ending, you analyze results
and give a future perspective

Conclusions
Analysis of Results Analyze results from
overall perspective

Future Perspective

Several options:
Make recommendations
Discuss future work
Repeat limitations
Use appendices to supply background
for secondary audiences

Appendix A
Concern About the Greenhouse Effect

For almost a hundred years, experts have been


concerned with the increasing concentrations of
gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrogen
oxides in the earth's lower atmosphere. These gases
are natural by-products of combustion. Figure A-1
illustrates the correlation between global temperature
and carbon dioxide concentrations...
Use appendices to supply secondary or
tangential information to primary readers

Appendix B
Project Stormfury

In 1961, the United States Weather Bureau and the


Department of Defense (Navy) began a project to reduce
the strength of hurricanes. The project, called Project
Stormfury, uses cloud seeding, a process used to
produce rainfall and reduce hail in thunderstorms. In
Project Stormfury, silver iodide crystals, similar in
structure to ice, are dispersed by airplanes in the upper
reaches of cloud formations just outside the hurricane's
eye where the winds are highest. Initial results showed
that wind speeds decreased between 1530% after
seedings...
For secondary readers, use a glossary
to define unfamiliar terms

Glossary

burst point: the exact point in space where an


atomic bomb is detonated.
clear visibility: a viewing range of twenty miles.
fallout: the descent to the Earth's surface of
radioactive particles from a cloud contaminated
with the fission products of a nuclear explosion.
hypocenter: the point on the earth's surface directly
below the burst point; also called ground zero.
Failing to cite the contribution of others can be a
fatal flaw in your career

[Franklin,
1952]

James Watson surreptitiously looked


at Rosalind Franklins work
Failing to cite the contribution of others can be a
fatal flaw in your career

[Franklin,
[Luzzati, 1950]
1952]

James Watson surreptitiously looked Watson did not give enough


at Rosalind Franklins work credit to Franklin
Illustration:
The Meshing of Words
With Images

Keep it as simple as possible, yet no


simpler.
Albert Einstein

X-ray photograph of DNA [Rosalind


Franklin, 1952]
Two types of illustrations exist: tables and figures

Table 1. Reactor power levels in


Chernobyl accident [Wolfson, 1991].

Date Time Power Level


4/25 1:00 am 3200 MW

4/25 2:00 pm 1600 MW

4/25 11:10 pm 1600 MW

4/26 1:00 am 30 MW

4/26 1:19 am 200 MW

4/26 1:23 am 2,000,000 MW


Two types of illustrations exist: tables and figures

Table 1. Reactor power levels in


Chernobyl accident [Wolfson, 1991].
Pressurizer
Date Time Power Level
4/25 1:00 am 3200 MW Coolant
Loss Reactor
4/25 2:00 pm 1600 MW Vessel

Steam
4/25 11:10 pm 1600 MW Generator
Core
4/26 1:00 am 30 MW

4/26 1:19 am 200 MW

4/26 1:23 am 2,000,000 MW


Figure 1. Simplified diagram of
nuclear reactor [Wolfson, 1991].
Tables can present words as well as numbers

Table 2. Sequence of events in the Chernobyl accident [Wolfson, 1991].

Date Time Power Level Event

April 25 1:00 a.m. 3200 MW Operators begin power descent

April 25 2:00 p.m. 1600 MW Power descent delayed for 9 hours


Emergency core-cooling system disconnected

April 25 11:10 p.m. 1600 MW Operators switch off automatic control


Power descent resumed

April 26 1:00 a.m. 30 MW Power minimum reached

April 26 1:19 a.m. 200 MW Operators pull rods beyond allowable limits
Operators start two additional coolant pumps
Operators violate coolant flow limits

April 26 1:23 a.m. 2,000,000 MW Power surges by factor of 10,000 in 5 seconds


When presenting numerical data, you
choose between tables and graphs

Table 2. Blood glucose


levels [Carlson, 1982].

Time Normal Diabetic


(hour) (mg/dl*) (mg/dl)

midnight 100.3 175.8


2:00 93.6 165.7
4:00 88.2 159.4
6:00 100.5 72.1
8:00 138.6 271.0
10:00 102.4 224.6
noon 93.8 161.8
2:00 132.3 242.7
4:00 103.8 219.4
6:00 93.6 152.6
8:00 127.8 227.1
10:00 109.2 221.3

* decaliters/milligram
When presenting numerical data, you
choose between tables and graphs

Table 2. Blood glucose


300 Breakfast
levels [Carlson, 1982]. Lunch Dinner

250
Time Normal Diabetic
(hour) (mg/dl*) (mg/dl) Diabetic
200
Blood
midnight 100.3 175.8
2:00 93.6 165.7 Glucose
4:00 88.2 159.4 Level 150
6:00 100.5 72.1 (mg/dl)
8:00 138.6 271.0
10:00 102.4 224.6 100
noon 93.8 161.8
2:00 132.3 242.7
4:00 103.8 219.4 50 Normal
6:00 93.6 152.6
8:00 127.8 227.1 0
10:00 109.2 221.3

12:00 6:00 am 12:00 6:00 pm 12:00


* decaliters/milligram Hour

Figure 11. Blood glucose levels for normal


individual and diabetic
[Carlson, 1982].
Line graphs are common
in engineering and science

2000

1500

Temperature
(K) 1000

500 Experiment
Simulation
0

0 2 4 6

Distance From Burner (mm)

Figure 3. Computational and experimental temperatures for laminar


diffusion flames [Sandia, 1987].
Bar graphs compare wholes

30

Normal range
20
7-10
Cells%

10 112175
211366

Flight Duration (Days)

Figure 4. Response of T-cells in cosmonauts after short-term and


long-term flights [Konstantinova, 1991].
Gantt charts are a type of bar charts

Task 1979 1981 1983 1985 1987 1989

Construction

Test and Evaluation

Power Production

Figure 5. Schedule for the construction, evaluation, and production phases


of the Solar One Power Plant.
Pie graphs compare parts of a whole

Power React or
Medical and research wastes
(16%)
I ndustri al
Industrial wastes Medi cal
(28%) Gover nment
Government wastes
(2%)

Power reactor wastes


(64%)

Figure 5. Volume of low-level nuclear wastes from various sources


[League, 1985].
Graphs come in many forms

Natural
85 mrem Sources

Medical
70 mrem
Sources

{
Average dose: 160 mrem Fallout: < 3mrem
Occupational: < 1mrem
Nuclear power: < 1mrem

Figure 6. Estimated annual dose of radiation in the United States


[GPU Nuclear, 1985].
When presenting images, you choose between
photographs, drawings, and diagrams
When presenting images, you choose between
photographs, drawings, and diagrams
When presenting images, you choose between
photographs, drawings, and diagrams

1 4
Combustor
2 3

Compressor Turbine
The main advantage of photographs is realism

60 seconds

59.5 seconds

59 seconds
Figure 2. Space Shuttle Challenger, from about 59 seconds to 60 seconds
into launch (January 28, 1986). On the right rocket, flame first becomes
visible and then impinges on tank.
One advantage of drawings is control of detail

Secondary
Flow

Primary
Flow

Secondary
Flow

Figure 5. Wind tunnel experiment at Virginia Tech for evaluating film-


cooling designs for the blades of gas turbine engines [Thole and
others, 2000].
One advantage of drawings is control of detail

Combustor Simulator

Turbine Vanes

Secondary
Flow

Primary
Flow

Secondary
Flow

Figure 5. Wind tunnel experiment at Virginia Tech for evaluating film-


cooling designs for the blades of gas turbine engines [Thole and
others, 2000].
One advantage of drawings is control of detail

Combustor Simulator

Turbine Vanes

Secondary
Flow

Dilution Jet
Primary
Flow

Secondary
Flow
Film-Cooling
Holes

Figure 5. Wind tunnel experiment at Virginia Tech for evaluating film-


cooling designs for the blades of gas turbine engines [Thole and
others, 2000].
The main advantage of a diagram is the ability to
show flow of a variable through a system

Figure 8. Schematic of test stand for evaluating


components of an air conditioner design.
Scientists and engineers often use illustrations
that are too complex for the text

The thermal storage system DSPH


stores heat in a huge, steel- RECEIVER

walled tank. Steam from TSH


TSU
the solar receiver passes
FLASH
through heat exchangers TANK FT
to heat the thermal oil, T
S
which is pumped into the S
TURBINE
tank. The tank then DEAR-
ATOR
G
provides energy to run a HOT
HP
steam generator to HTR
WELL

produce electricity. A
schematic of this system
is shown in Figure 5.
Figure 5. Schematic of thermal
storage system.
The precision of the illustrations
should reflect the precision of the text

The thermal storage system, shown in Figure 6, stores


heat in a huge, steel-walled tank. Steam from the solar
receiver heats a thermal oil, which is pumped into the tank.
The tank then provides energy to run a steam generator to
produce electricity.

650F 580F
575F 530F

Heat
solar
Exchanger Thermal Heat
Exchanger steam
receiver
Tank generator

435F 425F 425F 250F

Figure 6. Schematic of thermal storage system for the solar power


plant.
For clarity, you should introduce and
explain illustrations in the text

..., as shown in Figure 7.

Figure 7. Title of figure. Some formats allow you extra sentences to


explain unusual details.
Inconsistencies between text and
images disrupt fluidity

The testing hardware of the


rocket shown in Figure 8 has five
main components: camera,
digitizer, computer, I/O interface,
and mechanical interface.
Commands are generated by the
computer, then passed through
the I/O interface to the
mechanized interface where the
keyboard of the ICU is operated.
The display of the ICU is read
with a television camera and then
digitized. This information is
then manipulated by the
computer to direct the next
command.
Inconsistencies between text and
images disrupt fluidity

The testing hardware of the


CONTROL
rocket shown in Figure 8 has five TERMINAL
PRINTER
main components: camera, CAMERA
digitizer, computer, I/O interface,
and mechanical interface. DIGITIZER COMPUTER
Commands are generated by the
computer, then passed through
the I/O interface to the
mechanized interface where the
ELECTRO-
keyboard of the ICU is operated. ROCKET MECHANICAL
The display of the ICU is read INTERFACE
with a television camera and then
digitized. This information is Figure 8. Testing hardware.
then manipulated by the
computer to direct the next
command.
Illustration is the meshing of words with images

Our system for testing the launch controls of the rocket consists of
four main parts: computer, electro-mechanical interface, camera, and
digitizer. In this system (shown in Figure 9), the computer generates
test commands to the rocket through the electro-mechanical
interface. The test results are read with a television camera, and then
digitized. The computer receives the information from the digitizer,
and then directs the next test command.

1 Electro- 2

Computer Mechanical
Interface Rocket

4 3
Digitizer Camera

Figure 9. System to test launch


controls for rocket.
Precise

Language: Clear

the Way We Use Words Forthright


Familiar

Concise

Fluid
Short words are the best, and
short words when old are best of
all. word
Winston Churchill word
word word
word word
word word
word wordwordwordwordwordword
wordwordwordwordword
word word
word word
word word
wordwordwordwordword
Generalities that are not anchored
with specifics are soon forgotten

After recognizing
some problems with
the solar mirrors, we
took subsequent
corrective measures.
Generalities that are not anchored
with specifics are soon forgotten

After recognizing
some problems with
the solar mirrors, we
took subsequent
corrective measures.

Trash
Generalities that are not anchored
with specifics are soon forgotten

After finding that high


winds (and not hail) had
After recognizing cracked the ten solar
some problems with mirrors, we began
the solar mirrors, we stowing all mirrors in a
took subsequent horizontal position
corrective measures. during thunderstorms.

Trash
For precise language, you should
avoid over-specifying details

The number of particular hydrocarbon


combinations in our study is enormous.
For example, the number of possible
C20H42 is 366,319 and the number for
C40H82 is 62,491,178,805,831.
For precise language, you should
avoid over-specifying details

The number of particular hydrocarbon


combinations in our study is enormous.
For example, the number of possible
C20H42 is 366,319 and the number for
C40H82 is 62,491,178,805,831.

The number of hydrocarbon combinations


in our study is enormous. For example, the
number of possible C40H82 is more than 62 trillion.
For precision, you must choose the
appropriate level of detail

Operations at the plant stopped momentarily


because the thermal storage charging system
desuperheater attemperator valve was replaced.
For precision, you must choose the
appropriate level of detail

Operations at the plant stopped momentarily


because the thermal storage charging system
desuperheater attemperator valve was replaced.

Operations at the plant stopped for 1.5 hours


so that a valve in the thermal storage system
could be replaced.
Complex wording buries ideas

The goal of this study is to develop a commerciali-


zation strategy for solar energy systems by analyzing
factors impeding early commercial projects (i.e.,
SOLAR ONE) and by identifying the potential actions
that can facilitate the viability of the projects.
Complex wording buries ideas

R.I.P

The goal of this study is to develop a commerciali-


zation strategy for solar energy systems by analyzing
factors impeding early commercial projects (i.e.,
SOLAR ONE) and by identifying the potential actions
that can facilitate the viability of the projects.
Complex wording buries ideas

This study will consider why current solar energy


systems, such as Solar One, have not reached the
commercial stage and will find out what steps
we can take to make these systems commercial.

R.I.P

The goal of this study is to develop a commerciali-


zation strategy for solar energy systems by analyzing
factors impeding early commercial projects (i.e.,
SOLAR ONE) and by identifying the potential actions
that can facilitate the viability of the projects.
Stacking adjectives before nouns swallows the ideas

Solar One is a 10 megawatt solar


thermal electric central receiver
Barstow power pilot plant.
Stacking adjectives before nouns swallows the ideas

Solar One is a 10 megawatt solar


thermal electric central receiver
Barstow power pilot plant.
Stacking adjectives before nouns swallows the ideas

Solar One is a 10 megawatt solar


thermal electric central receiver
Barstow power pilot plant.

Solar One is a solar-powered pilot


plant located near Barstow, California. Solar One
produces 10 megawatts of electricity by capturing
solar energy in a central receiver design.
Complex sentences misdirect readers

The goal of the work was to


confirm the nature of electrical
breakdown of nitrogen in uniform
fields at high pressures and
electrode gaps which approach
those obtained in engineering
practice, prior to the deter-
mination of the processes which
set the criterion for breakdown
in the above-mentioned gas in
uniform and non-uniform fields of
engineering significance.
Complex sentences misdirect readers

The goal of the work was to


confirm the nature of electrical
breakdown of nitrogen in uniform
fields at high pressures and
electrode gaps which approach
those obtained in engineering
practice, prior to the deter-
mination of the processes which
set the criterion for breakdown
in the above-mentioned gas in
uniform and non-uniform fields of
engineering significance.
Complex sentences misdirect readers

The goal of the work was to


confirm the nature of electrical
breakdown of nitrogen in uniform
fields at high pressures and At high pressures (760 torr)
electrode gaps which approach and typical electrode gap
those obtained in engineering distances (1 mm), the
practice, prior to the deter- electrical breakdown of
mination of the processes which nitrogen was studied in
set the criterion for breakdown uniform fields.
in the above-mentioned gas in
uniform and non-uniform fields of
engineering significance.
The more muddled the original, the more revisions
are needed to streamline it

At high pressures (760 torr)


and typical electrode gap
distances (1 mm), the
electrical breakdown of
nitrogen was studied in
uniform fields.
The more muddled the original, the more revisions
are needed to streamline it

In our study, we examined


the electrical breakdown of
At high pressures (760 torr) nitrogen in uniform fields.
and typical electrode gap For these experiments, the
distances (1 mm), the electrode gap distances
electrical breakdown of were typical (1 mm), while
nitrogen was studied in
uniform fields. the pressures were
relatively high (760 torr).
One measure for the complexity of the writing
is the Gunning Fog Index

In the index, the complexity Desired index values for


of the writing depends on scientific writing are 10-12:
(1) the lengths of sentences New York Times (11)
(2) the lengths of words Scientific American (12)

Fi = 0.4 ((Nw / Ns )+ Plw )


Nw = number of words in a typical paragraph
Ns = number of sentences in the paragraph
Plw = percentage of long words in the paragraph
An ambiguity is a group of words that can have
more than one meaning

We examined neat methanol


and ethanol and methanol
and ethanol with 10% water.
An ambiguity is a group of words that can have
more than one meaning

We examined neat methanol


and ethanol and methanol
and ethanol with 10% water.

We examined four fuels: neat


methanol, neat ethanol,
methanol with 10% water, and
ethanol with 10% water.
Ambiguities occur for many reasons

The proposed schedule is


discussed below for the next ?????????
four years.
Ambiguities occur for many reasons

The proposed schedule is


discussed below for the next ?????????
four years.

As light hydrocarbons evaporate the oil


vapor pressure falls. ???????
Ambiguities occur for many reasons

The proposed schedule is


discussed below for the next ?????????
four years.

As light hydrocarbons evaporate the oil


vapor pressure falls. ???????

Although engineers realized the design


flaws in the Titanic soon after its sinking
in 1912, the reasons for the severe ???
damage inflicted by the iceberg remained
a mystery until its discovery in 1985.
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately

facilitate

implement

individualized

operationability

utilization
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately about

facilitate

implement

individualized

operationability

utilization
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately about

facilitate cause; bring about

implement

individualized

operationability

utilization
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately about

facilitate cause; bring about

implement carry out

individualized

operationability

utilization
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately about

facilitate cause; bring about

implement carry out

individualized individual

operationability

utilization
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately about

facilitate cause; bring about

implement carry out

individualized individual

operationability can operate

utilization
Pretentious diction often causes
problems with tone

approximately about

facilitate cause; bring about

implement carry out

individualized individual

operationability can operate

utilization use
Weak verbs hide the energy of your work

A new process for eliminating nitrogen


oxides from diesel exhaust engines is
presented. Flow tube experiments to
test this process are discussed. The
percentage decrease in nitrogen oxide
emissions is revealed.
Weak verbs hide the energy of your work

A new process for eliminating nitrogen


oxides from diesel exhaust engines is
presented. Flow tube experiments to
test this process are discussed. The
percentage decrease in nitrogen oxide
emissions is revealed.

This paper presents a new process for


eliminating nitrogen oxides from the
exhaust of diesel engines. To test this
process, we performed experiments in
flow tubes. These experiments
revealed a 99 percent decrease in
nitrogen oxide emissions.
A formal definition has a specific form

noun noun naming class information to separate


term to which noun term
belongs
+ noun term from other
terms in class

noun noun
noun term noun term noun
term term
noun noun term
term term
A formal definition has a specific form

noun noun naming class information to separate


term to which noun term
belongs
+ noun term from other
terms in class

noun noun
noun term noun term noun
term term
noun noun term
term term

Bremsstrahlung: the radiation emitted by a charged


particle that is accelerated in the
Coulomb force field of a nucleus.
To tighten your writing, eliminate redundancies
and writing zeroes

Vibration measurements made in the


course of the Titan flight test program were
complicated by the presence of intense
high-frequency excitation of the vehicle
shell structure during the re-entry phase
of the flight.
To tighten your writing, eliminate redundancies
and writing zeroes

Vibration measurements made in the


course of the Titan flight test program were
complicated by the presence of intense
high-frequency excitation of the vehicle
shell structure during the re-entry phase
of the flight.

Vibration measurements made in the Titan


flight were complicated by intense high-
frequency excitation of the vehicle shell during
re-entry.
Examples anchor abstract generalities

By the late Middle Ages, cities throughout


Europe were building Gothic cathedrals. The
only way, however, that architects could test a
new design was to build the cathedral, a process
that took more than forty years. Unfortunately,
many cathedrals caved in during or after
construction. What took forty years to test in
the Middle Ages could have been done in
minutes on a supercomputer.
William Wilson
When sentence openers do not vary, the
Z
sentences do not seem to connect Z
Z

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. A cloud of hot rock
and gas surged northward from its collapsing slope. The cloud
devastated more than 500 square kilometers of forests and
lakes. The effects of Mount St. Helens were well documented
with geophysical instruments. The origin of the eruption is not
well understood. Volcanic explosions are driven by a rapid
expansion of steam. Some scientists believe the steam comes
from groundwater heated by the magma. Other scientists
believe the steam comes from water originally dissolved in the
magma. We need to understand the source of steam in volcanic
eruptions. We need to determine how much water the magma
contains.
Varying sentence openers allows for more kinds of
transitions between sentences

Sentence Sentence Sentence


Varying sentence openers allows for more kinds of
transitions between sentences

Sentence Sentence Sentence

Topic of Sentence Subject


Time of action Prepositional Phrase
Location of action Prepositional Phrase
Manner of action Adverb
Subordinate action Dependent Clause
Reason for action Infinitive
Phrase
Vary sentence openers to vary rhythm

subject-verb Mount St. Helens erupted


on May

prepositional phrase

adverb

dependent clause

infinitive phrase
Vary sentence openers to vary rhythm

subject-verb Mount St. Helens erupted


on May

prepositional phrase In minutes, the mountain


emitted

adverb

dependent clause

infinitive phrase
Vary sentence openers to vary rhythm

subject-verb Mount St. Helens erupted


on May

prepositional phrase In minutes, the mountain


emitted

adverb Recently, debate has arisen...

dependent clause

infinitive phrase
Vary sentence openers to vary rhythm

subject-verb Mount St. Helens erupted


on May

prepositional phrase In minutes, the mountain


emitted

adverb Recently, debate has arisen...

dependent clause Although the exact time of the


eruption surprised scientists,
evidence had been collected...

infinitive phrase
Vary sentence openers to vary rhythm

subject-verb Mount St. Helens erupted


on May

prepositional phrase In minutes, the mountain


emitted

adverb Recently, debate has arisen...

dependent clause Although the exact time of the


eruption surprised scientists,
evidence had been collected...

infinitive phrase To understand the


eruption, we have to...
Varying sentence openers enlivens the writing
and allows connections

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. Its slope


collapsing, the mountain emitted a cloud of hot rock and gas.
In minutes, the cloud devastated more than 500 square
kilometers of forests and lakes. Although the effects of the
eruption were well documented, the origin is not well
understood. Volcanic explosions are driven by a rapid
expansion of steam. Recently, debate has arisen over the
source for the steam. Is it groundwater heated by magma or
water originally dissolved in the magma itself? To understand
the source of steam in volcanic eruptions, we need to
determine how much water the magma contains.
Avoiding Common Errors
of Grammar

One of the most important skills a writer can


have is the ability to compose clear, complete
sentences. The sentence is the basic unit of
communication in all forms of English.
Funk, McMahan, and Day
Elements of Grammar
Not all mechanical errors bother readers in
the same way

run-on sentence
Errors that
its/its
disturb
spell checker ignored
Not all mechanical errors bother readers in
the same way

run-on sentence
Errors that
its/its
disturb
spell checker ignored

Errors that missing intro comma


distract faulty parallelism
unclear pronoun ref
Not all mechanical errors bother readers in
the same way

run-on sentence
Errors that
its/its
disturb
spell checker ignored

Errors that missing intro comma


distract faulty parallelism
unclear pronoun ref

Errors that few different from/than


even notice contraction
split infinitive
The most important aspect of grammar
is understanding what a sentence is

Sentence: A sentence is group of words with a subject


and a verb that expresses a complete
thought.
The most important aspect of grammar
is understanding what a sentence is

Sentence: A sentence is group of words with a subject


and a verb that expresses a complete
thought.

Fragment: A fragment being a group of words that


either is missing a subject or a verb or does
not express a complete thought.
The most important aspect of grammar
is understanding what a sentence is

Sentence: A sentence is group of words with a subject


and a verb that expresses a complete
thought.

Fragment: A fragment being a group of words that


either is missing a subject or a verb or does
not express a complete thought.

Run-on: A run-on is two or more independent


clauses that are not joined properly, for
instance, a common mistake is to have a
comma between the clauses.
Which are sentences (S), fragments (F),
or run-ons (RO)?

Rubidium has no major uses, however, it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel.

Although carbon dioxide occurs naturally, man has


dramatically increased its concentration this past
century.

Several systems can detect plastic explosives. For


example, thermal neutron activation systems,
nitrogen sniffer systems, and enhanced x-ray
systems.
Which are sentences (S), fragments (F),
or run-ons (RO)?

Rubidium has no major uses, however, it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel. RO

Although carbon dioxide occurs naturally, man has


dramatically increased its concentration this past
century.

Several systems can detect plastic explosives. For


example, thermal neutron activation systems,
nitrogen sniffer systems, and enhanced x-ray
systems.
Which are sentences (S), fragments (F),
or run-ons (RO)?

Rubidium has no major uses, however, it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel. RO

Although carbon dioxide occurs naturally, man has


dramatically increased its concentration this past S
century.

Several systems can detect plastic explosives. For


example, thermal neutron activation systems,
nitrogen sniffer systems, and enhanced x-ray
systems.
Which are sentences (S), fragments (F),
or run-ons (RO)?

Rubidium has no major uses, however, it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel. RO

Although carbon dioxide occurs naturally, man has


dramatically increased its concentration this past S
century.

Several systems can detect plastic explosives. For


example, thermal neutron activation systems,
S/F
nitrogen sniffer systems, and enhanced x-ray
systems.
Shown in yellow are corrections to the errors
from the previous slide

Although rubidium has no major uses, it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel.

Although carbon dioxide occurs naturally, man has


dramatically increased its concentration this past
century.

Several systems can detect plastic explosives.


Examples include thermal neutron activation
systems, nitrogen sniffer systems, and enhanced
x-ray systems.
Note that there are several ways
to correct each of these errors

Rubidium has no major uses; however, it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel.

Rubidium has no major uses, but it is more


common in the earth than zinc, copper, or nickel.

Rubidium has no major uses. This metal, however,


is more common in the earth than zinc, copper, or
nickel.
Making lists parallel is another important aspect of
grammar

Printed circuit board relays are limited to small coil


voltages, contact ratings, and lack multi-pole
configurations.
Making lists parallel is another important aspect of
grammar

Printed circuit board relays are limited to small coil


voltages, contact ratings, and lack multi-pole
configurations.

Printed circuit board relays are limited to small


coil voltages and contact ratings, and lack multi-
pole configurations.
Making lists parallel is another important aspect of
grammar

Animals that come in contact with oil can


develop rashes, sores, and may leave the
area.
Making lists parallel is another important aspect of
grammar

Animals that come in contact with oil can


develop rashes, sores, and may leave the
area.

Animals that come in contact with oil can


develop rashes, sores, and wandering
tendencies.
Making lists parallel is another important aspect of
grammar

Animals that come in contact with oil can


develop rashes, sores, and may leave the
area.

Animals that come in contact with oil can


develop rashes, sores, and wandering
tendencies.

Animals that come in contact with oil can


develop rashes and sores, and may leave
the area.
Placing a modifier in its appropriate place is also
important in grammar

These proteins indicate to the body what hormones


should be given off among other things.
Placing a modifier in its appropriate place is also
important in grammar

These proteins indicate to the body what hormones


should be given off among other things.

These proteins indicate, among other things, to the


body what hormones should be given off.
Placing a modifier in its appropriate place is also
important in grammar

These proteins indicate to the body what hormones


should be given off among other things.

These proteins indicate, among other things, to the


body what hormones should be given off.

In meeting the staff of the Parks Department, the


greatest problem was that of water leakage.
Placing a modifier in its appropriate place is also
important in grammar

These proteins indicate to the body what hormones


should be given off among other things.

These proteins indicate, among other things, to the


body what hormones should be given off.

In meeting the staff of the Parks Department, the


greatest problem was that of water leakage.

From the staff of the Parks Department, we learned


that the greatest problem was that of water leakage.
Unclear pronoun references cause ambiguities

Because the receiver presented the radiometer


with a high flux environment, it was mounted in
a silver-plated stainless steel container.

If you receive an e-mail titled "Win A Holiday,"


do not open it. It will erase everything on your
hard drive. Forward this e-mail out to as many
people as you can. This is a very malicious
virus and not many people know about it.
Unclear pronoun references cause ambiguities

Because the receiver presented the radiometer


with a high flux environment, it was mounted in it???
a silver-plated stainless steel container.

If you receive an e-mail titled "Win A Holiday,"


do not open it. It will erase everything on your
hard drive. Forward this e-mail out to as many
people as you can. This is a very malicious
virus and not many people know about it.
Unclear pronoun references cause ambiguities

Because the receiver presented the radiometer


with a high flux environment, it was mounted in it???
a silver-plated stainless steel container.

If you receive an e-mail titled "Win A Holiday,"


do not open it. It will erase everything on your
hard drive. Forward this e-mail out to as many
people as you can. This is a very malicious This???
virus and not many people know about it.
Unclear pronoun references cause ambiguities

Because the receiver presented the radiometer


with a high flux environment, it was mounted in it???
a silver-plated stainless steel container.

If you receive an e-mail titled "Win A Holiday,"


do not open it. It will erase everything on your
hard drive. Forward this e-mail out to as many this???
people as you can. This is a very malicious This???
virus and not many people know about it.
Avoiding Common Errors
of Punctuation

Punctuation marks are the traffic signs and

,
signals placed along the readers road. They tell
him when to slow down and when to stop, and
sometimes they warn him of the nature of the
road ahead. Traffic engineers do not always
agree on what signs should be used and where
they should be placed, and neither do writers or
editors.
Theodore M. Bernstein
The Careful Writer
Punctuation rules are designed to have
sentences be read one way

Colon: a colon introduces a formal list, long


quotation, equation, or definition.

Semi-Colon: a semi-colon either joins two


independent clauses (closely linked in
thought) or separates complex items in a list.

Dash: a dash acts as a parenthesis to separate


items that cannot be separated by commas.

Comma: a comma separates details in a sentence.


A colon introduces a formal list, long
quotation, equation, or definition

We studied five types of marsupials: opossums,


bandicoots, koalas, wombats, and kangaroos.

The laboratory growth of this crystal made


possible a new astronomical tool: a gamma-ray
detector with high-energy resolution.
A colon introduces a formal list, long
quotation, equation, or definition

We studied five types of marsupials: opossums,


bandicoots, koalas, wombats, and kangaroos.

The laboratory growth of this crystal made


possible a new astronomical tool: a gamma-ray
detector with high-energy resolution.

In formal writing, what is on the left side of the


colon should stand alone as a separate sentence.

Once the list ends, the sentence ends.


Although equations are separated by white space,
they should be treated as part of the sentence

To calculate the strain, , we used equation 1:


= , (1
E
where is the stress estimated by FEPC and E
is the modulus of elasticity of aluminum.
Em-dashes act as parentheses to separate
items that commas cannot

Because two isotopes of hydrogendeuterium and tritiumare


lightweight, can be produced easily, and require little energy, they
are prime candidates to begin the fusion process.

After one year, we measured mirror reflectivity at 96 percenta


high percentage, but not as high as originally expected.
Em-dashes act as parentheses to separate
items that commas cannot

Because two isotopes of hydrogendeuterium and tritiumare


lightweight, can be produced easily, and require little energy, they
are prime candidates to begin the fusion process.

After one year, we measured mirror reflectivity at 96 percenta


high percentage, but not as high as originally expected.

Because two isotopes of hydrogen (deuterium and tritium) are


lightweight, can be produced easily, and require little energy, they
are prime candidates to begin the fusion process.

After one year, we measured mirror reflectivity at 96 percent (a


high percentage, but not as high as originally expected).
Commas separate introductory phrases and
clauses

After cooling the exhaust gases continue to expand.


Commas separate introductory phrases and
clauses

After cooling the exhaust gases continue to expand.

After cooling, the exhaust gases continue to expand.


Commas separate parenthetical details

X-ray backscatter systems, which are relatively


inexpensive require the operators attention.
Commas separate parenthetical details

X-ray backscatter systems, which are relatively


inexpensive require the operators attention.

X-ray backscatter systems, which are relatively


inexpensive, require the operators attention.
Commas separate items in a list

Discharges of these hazardous substances occurred


through spills when loading vehicles, spills and over-
spills when filling the tanks, leaks from supply pipes
and corroded welds, rust holes and cracks in the
seams of the tanks themselves.
Commas separate items in a list

Discharges of these hazardous substances occurred


through spills when loading vehicles, spills and over-
spills when filling the tanks, leaks from supply pipes
and corroded welds, rust holes and cracks in the
seams of the tanks themselves.

Discharges of these hazardous substances occurred


through the following: spills when loading vehicles;
spills and over-spills when filling the tanks; leaks from
supply pipes; and corroded welds, rust holes, and
cracks in the seams of the tanks themselves.
Avoiding Common Errors
of Usage

Choose the right word, not its second cousin.


The difference between the right word and the
almost right word is the difference between word
lightning and lightning-bug.

Mark Twain word word

right word
word
word
word word
Not all usage rules are constant
with respect to time

1700s: an historical...
1900s: a historical...
Not all usage rules are constant
with respect to time

1700s: an historical...
1900s: a historical...

1900: X rays
1950: X-rays
1995: x-rays
Not all usage rules are constant
with respect to time

1700s: an historical...
1900s: a historical...

1900: X rays
1950: X-rays
1995: x-rays

C & E News (1985): the 1980s (plural)


C & E News (1995): the 1980s (plural)
Not all usage rules are constant with
respect to position

William Strunk and E. B. White,The Elements of Style:


Data: A plural, like phenomena and strata.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage:


In its current use, data occurs in two constructions:
as a plural noun (like earnings) taking a plural
verband as an abstract mass noun (like
information) taking a singular verb
Not all usage errors bother readers in
the same way

affect/effect
Errors that
its/its
disturb

verb disagreement
verb tense
Errors that comprise/compose
distract possessive

different from/than
Errors that few
compare with/to
even notice
Two common usage errors are possessives and
subject-verb disagreements

The criteria for assessing the environmental effects of


acid rain (are / is) given in the next section.

So far, the daily number of engineers applying (has /


have) remained constant.

The goggles protect a (persons / persons) eyes from


any damaging effects that a laser could cause.

In accordance with my (boss / bosss) schedule, the


first series of computers was replaced.
Two common usage errors are possessives and
subject-verb disagreements

The criteria for assessing the environmental effects of


acid rain (are / is) given in the next section. are

So far, the daily number of engineers applying (has /


have) remained constant.

The goggles protect a (persons / persons) eyes from


any damaging effects that a laser could cause.

In accordance with my (boss / bosss) schedule, the


first series of computers was replaced.
Two common usage errors are possessives and
subject-verb disagreements

The criteria for assessing the environmental effects of


acid rain (are / is) given in the next section. are

So far, the daily number of engineers applying (has /


has
have) remained constant.

The goggles protect a (persons / persons) eyes from


any damaging effects that a laser could cause.

In accordance with my (boss / bosss) schedule, the


first series of computers was replaced.
Two common usage errors are possessives and
subject-verb disagreements

The criteria for assessing the environmental effects of


acid rain (are / is) given in the next section. are

So far, the daily number of engineers applying (has /


has
have) remained constant.

The goggles protect a (persons / persons) eyes from persons


any damaging effects that a laser could cause.

In accordance with my (boss / bosss) schedule, the


first series of computers was replaced.
Two common usage errors are possessives and
subject-verb disagreements

The criteria for assessing the environmental effects of


acid rain (are / is) given in the next section. are

So far, the daily number of engineers applying (has /


has
have) remained constant.

The goggles protect a (persons / persons) eyes from persons


any damaging effects that a laser could cause.

In accordance with my (boss / bosss) schedule, the


first series of computers was replaced. bosss
To decide upon the verb tense in a document, you
first plant a reference flag for t=0

Past Tense: Present Tense: Future Tense:


Events that have Timeless details or details Events that will occur
already occurred at time of reading after project

t=0
t
To decide upon the verb tense in a document, you
first plant a reference flag for t=0

Past Tense: Present Tense: Future Tense:


Events that have Timeless details or details Events that will occur
already occurred at time of reading after project

t=0
t
The pressure was...
For the experiment, we
assumed
As was shown back in
Figure 1...
To decide upon the verb tense in a document, you
first plant a reference flag for t=0

Past Tense: Present Tense: Future Tense:


Events that have Timeless details or details Events that will occur
already occurred at time of reading after project

t=0
t
The pressure was... Air is 79 percent nitrogen.
For the experiment, we Figure 1 shows
assumed The computer code in
As was shown back in Appendix B includes...
Figure 1...
To decide upon the verb tense in a document, you
first plant a reference flag for t=0

Past Tense: Present Tense: Future Tense:


Events that have Timeless details or details Events that will occur
already occurred at time of reading after project

t=0
t
The pressure was... Air is 79 percent nitrogen. Future work will focus
For the experiment, we Figure 1 shows on....
assumed The computer code in
As was shown back in Appendix B includes...
Figure 1...
The verb tenses of sentences that refer to the
document depend upon position

Introduction
This report presents a design for
connecting light emitting diodes to the
HC11 microcontroller.
The verb tenses of sentences that refer to the
document depend upon position

Introduction
This report presents a design for
connecting light emitting diodes to the
HC11 microcontroller.

Results and Discussion


...Figure 1 shows the circuit that connects the
light emitting diodes to the HC11
microcontroller.
The verb tenses of sentences that refer to the
document depend upon position

Introduction
This report presents a design for
connecting light emitting diodes to the
HC11 microcontroller.

Results and Discussion


...Figure 1 shows the circuit that connects the
light emitting diodes to the HC11
microcontroller.

Conclusions
This report has presented a design for
connecting light emitting diodes to the HC11
microcontroller. As was shown in Figure 1,
the circuit...
Use numerals when referring to measurements

When to use numerals


Specific measurements 3 volts, 2 seconds, 1 m/s
Percentages 15 percent
Monetary figures $3000
Large numerals 5 million
Use numerals when referring to measurements

When to use numerals


Specific measurements 3 volts, 2 seconds, 1 m/s
Percentages 15 percent
Monetary figures $3000
Large numerals 5 million

When to write out numbers


Counting (one or two words) twenty-three gages
Informal measurements two hours
First word of sentence Thirty-three...
Certain words are commonly misused

We produced a small (amount, number) of autos


this year, even (fewer, less) than last year.

A companys success depends on (its / it's)


employees.

The new material is (composed / comprised) of


plastic and iodine.

It appears (as if, like) the Department of Energy will


choose the third option.
Certain words are commonly misused

We produced a small (amount, number) of autos number


this year, even (fewer, less) than last year. fewer

A companys success depends on (its / it's)


employees.

The new material is (composed / comprised) of


plastic and iodine.

It appears (as if, like) the Department of Energy will


choose the third option.
Certain words are commonly misused

We produced a small (amount, number) of autos number


this year, even (fewer, less) than last year. fewer

A companys success depends on (its / it's) its


employees.

The new material is (composed / comprised) of


plastic and iodine.

It appears (as if, like) the Department of Energy will


choose the third option.
Certain words are commonly misused

We produced a small (amount, number) of autos number


this year, even (fewer, less) than last year. fewer

A companys success depends on (its / it's) its


employees.

The new material is (composed / comprised) of


composed
plastic and iodine.

It appears (as if, like) the Department of Energy will


choose the third option.
Certain words are commonly misused

We produced a small (amount, number) of autos number


this year, even (fewer, less) than last year. fewer

A companys success depends on (its / it's) its


employees.

The new material is (composed / comprised) of


composed
plastic and iodine.

It appears (as if, like) the Department of Energy will


choose the third option. as if
Certain words are commonly misused

Reduced weight was the (principal / principle) reason for


choosing aluminum.

The talk centered (around / on) the (principal / principle)


of virtual work.

(Regrettably / Regretfully), the launch was delayed


because of thunderstorms.

You need not proceed any (farther / further) on your test.

The serum had serious side (affects / effects).


Certain words are commonly misused

Reduced weight was the (principal / principle) reason for principal


choosing aluminum.

The talk centered (around / on) the (principal / principle)


of virtual work.

(Regrettably / Regretfully), the launch was delayed


because of thunderstorms.

You need not proceed any (farther / further) on your test.

The serum had serious side (affects / effects).


Certain words are commonly misused

Reduced weight was the (principal / principle) reason for principal


choosing aluminum.

The talk centered (around / on) the (principal / principle) on


of virtual work. principle

(Regrettably / Regretfully), the launch was delayed


because of thunderstorms.

You need not proceed any (farther / further) on your test.

The serum had serious side (affects / effects).


Certain words are commonly misused

Reduced weight was the (principal / principle) reason for principal


choosing aluminum.

The talk centered (around / on) the (principal / principle) on


of virtual work. principle

(Regrettably / Regretfully), the launch was delayed Regrettably


because of thunderstorms.

You need not proceed any (farther / further) on your test.

The serum had serious side (affects / effects).


Certain words are commonly misused

Reduced weight was the (principal / principle) reason for principal


choosing aluminum.

The talk centered (around / on) the (principal / principle) on


of virtual work. principle

(Regrettably / Regretfully), the launch was delayed Regrettably


because of thunderstorms.

You need not proceed any (farther / further) on your test. further

The serum had serious side (affects / effects).


Certain words are commonly misused

Reduced weight was the (principal / principle) reason for principal


choosing aluminum.

The talk centered (around / on) the (principal / principle) on


of virtual work. principle

(Regrettably / Regretfully), the launch was delayed Regrettably


because of thunderstorms.

You need not proceed any (farther / further) on your test. further

The serum had serious side (affects / effects). effects


Non-words and nonsensical groupings
of words also cause problems

Whichever design you choose is (alright / all right) with


me.

(Irregardless / Regardless) of the shipping delay, the


work will stop because of the strike.

Applying that set of constraints is a (most unique /


unique / very unique) way to approach the problem.

The serum had (alot / a lot) of side effects.


Non-words and nonsensical groupings
of words also cause problems

Whichever design you choose is (alright / all right) with all right
me.

(Irregardless / Regardless) of the shipping delay, the


work will stop because of the strike.

Applying that set of constraints is a (most unique /


unique / very unique) way to approach the problem.

The serum had (alot / a lot) of side effects.


Non-words and nonsensical groupings
of words also cause problems

Whichever design you choose is (alright / all right) with all right
me.

(Irregardless / Regardless) of the shipping delay, the


Regardless
work will stop because of the strike.

Applying that set of constraints is a (most unique /


unique / very unique) way to approach the problem.

The serum had (alot / a lot) of side effects.


Non-words and nonsensical groupings
of words also cause problems

Whichever design you choose is (alright / all right) with all right
me.

(Irregardless / Regardless) of the shipping delay, the


Regardless
work will stop because of the strike.

Applying that set of constraints is a (most unique /


unique
unique / very unique) way to approach the problem.

The serum had (alot / a lot) of side effects.


Non-words and nonsensical groupings
of words also cause problems

Whichever design you choose is (alright / all right) with all right
me.

(Irregardless / Regardless) of the shipping delay, the


Regardless
work will stop because of the strike.

Applying that set of constraints is a (most unique /


unique
unique / very unique) way to approach the problem.

The serum had (alot / a lot) of side effects. a lot