Topics from Chapter Two of `A Guide to Writing as an Engineer'
David Beer and David McMurray
© 1997 John Wiley & Sons
- Focus on why you are writing
- Do I want to
- Focus on your readers
- Why will my audience want to spend time reading this document?
- Does my document provide the right level of detail to keep my
audience's interest without losing them or boring them?
- What is their current attitude likely to be -- positive, neutral or
- Will my document give them the information they want?
- Satisfy document specification
- Knowing precisely what is expected of you before you begin
to write will prevent wasted time and give your document a better
chance at success.
- Get to the point
- Provide accurate information -- distinguish between fact and opinion.
- A fact is a dependable statement about external reality that can be
verified by others.
- An opinion expresses a feeling or impressin that may not be readily
verified by others. The danger comes when opinions are stated as
- Present your material logically.
- Express yourself clearly
- Avoid ambiguity and vagueness.
- Achieve coherence and directness.
- Use efficient wording
- Avoid wordiness and redundancy.
- Avoid turning verbs into nouns
- Make your ideas accessible
- Use hierarchical headings (which can be numbered within reason)
- Moderate paragraph length (12-15 lines is a good aveage).
- Use lists for some information
- Three kinds: numbered, checklists and bulleted lists.
- Punctuate your lists carefully.
- Use parallel constructions for all entries in a list.
- Format your pages carefully
- Margins -- at least an inch on all sides.
- Typeface -- 10 or 12 point; avoid changing size and fonts; avoid ALL
CAPS and more than a few words in italics or underlined.
- White space. Good guideline are:
- Provide adequate and consistent margins.
- Leave a space between paragraphs.
- Leave spaces before and after every heading and subheading.
- Leave one or two spaces between text and graphics or lists.
- Leave a space before and after each displayed equation in the text.
- Indent subheading or text where appropriate.
- Consider use of a ragged (unjustified) right margin.
- Manage your time efficiently
- Make writing an organic part of your daily schedule.
- Prepare an outline and a timeline-for-completion for any document
over two pages.
- Share the load with collabortive writing.
Your comments and
suggestions are appreciated.
[Writing Home Page]
Edited by: email@example.com [March 1997]