Hints For Writing Theses or Project Reports
Prof. David C. Brown
Note: This mostly addresses thesis writing, but much of the
advice also applies just as well to undergraduate projects.
- Sketch out Table of Contents for Thesis/Project
Estimate Page counts for each section
Look at other theses/projects for ideas about organization
Use Intro/Body/Conclusion format
Discuss it with me
- Expand table of contents
For every heading list the points you want to make
- Write thesis/report
Pick production method (e.g., FrameMaker + laserprinter)
Consult Electronic Theses & Dissertations: Recommended Format,
or the MQP/IQP guidelines available from the Projects Office.
Remember to consult the Collected Information about Writing.
Write sections in any order you want
Use material developed earlier
Surveys, slides, summaries, evaluations and comparisons
It's easier to delete than add
Check for flow between sections
Use Intro/Body/Summary format for every chapter.
Think about what you are trying to say.
Then write it.
If that's hard, say it out loud first.
Use simple words.
Write short sentences.
Make one point per sentence.
Use only a few sentences per paragraph.
i.e., write short paragraphs
Write the main point first
The exceptions afterwards
Read what you have written out loud
If you can't decide where to pause or stress nobody else can
Try to keep the points in a logical order
They tell a story
They make an argument
Evidence --> Connection (warrants) --> Claim
Revise, revise, revise
Use a spelling checker (not me!)
Use citations in a standard form
e.g., [Brown 1988]
[Brown & Chandrasekaran 1986]
[Dixon et al 1987]
Use bold and italic consistently.
Be consistent about heading styles.
Number them, but no deeper than n.n.n (e.g., 1.2.3)
Try to use non-sexist language.
-- See also Some Notes on Gender Neutral Language.
-- See also Writing with Gender-Fair Language.
Put examples of system action in Appendices
Include appendix about where system is and how to run it
Give me chapters as they are done
Give me the previous draft each time you hand in a new draft
or mark where the changes are
include date and version number
Allow a week for proof reading
Don't forget the Reader/CoAdvisor!
Tue, 18 May 2004 14:24:54