A short (?) list of short writing tips

When writing a report, paper, thesis, … there are typical small errors (imperfections? oversights? mistakes? Take your pick.) that people make. This page contains a list of small tips to help you avoid this.

This page is different from Eric's writing tips, which treat the text at the macro level, here I focus on the micro level. Read Eric's tips and follow them, any text you hand in to me also needs to obey these standards.

On to the small things:

  • The structure of the text is recursive, from document level up to subsection level: (1) annnounce what you are going to say first, (2) say it, and optionally (depending on the depth of the recursion and size of (2) ) (3) summarize what you said. In summary it's: (1) introduction, (2) body, (3) conclusion, all the way down.
  • When giving different examples in-line in the text, don't do this: Give a small example, then a very big example that takes a long time to write and explain so people almost forget that you were giving a list of different examples in the first place, then a small example. The problem, as you can observe, is that the list is unbalanced. The examples ideally have the same size. If not possible, have the big example as the last one in the list.
  • When comparing 2 or more elements in 2 or more dimensions, add a table so the reader can get an overview without having to build the mental map himself.
  • When adding a figure to the text, reference it from the text, and explain it: why is it there, what does it show, what is the interesting part of the figure.