For students

  • Read Strunk & White - "The Elements of Style"! Proper use of language constructs, punctuation, spelling etc, is imperative to get your point across clearly and unambiguously. If  you can't explain what you mean, then the reader must assume that you mean what you explain. <www.bartleby.com—141 <http://www.bartleby.com/141/>
  • The most common grammatical error is missing articles (the, a, an). These are easy to fix, and many supervisors only correct the first few chapters 
  • Another common error: "xyz .Xyz", instead of "xyz. Xyz".
  • Do not use pictures, in particular screenshots, if they do not convey more information than the equivalent amount of text.
  • If you have result graphs, explain your interpretation of the data. Do not leave this to the reader.  However, when drawing conclusions, you don't just re-state the data you've seen in the graphs. A conclusion should represent the logical end of a causal or argumentation chain, not a re-hash of a graph.
  • "Make it easy for the reader!" Just because you are writing a scientific report or thesis,this doesn't mean that you have to use 5-dollar words. The purpose of writing your thesis is to make the reader understand what you have written, not to obscure it.
  • Remember that each item in a bullet list is a full sentence.
  • Don't use colons (:) in section titles.
  • Don't name chapters "Chapter One", "First Chapter", etc. Use a descriptive name for the chapter.
  • Make sure your formatting is consistent. Inconsistent formatting at best conveys a slight creative bias, and at worst a sloppy thesis attempt. "Make it look nice."
  • Remember to remove the italicized formatting of the body text. Italics are used for emphasis, not general text.
  • Protocol descriptions, etc., are primarily basis for judging language and expression clarity skills.
  • Stay on target! Don't elaborate on things that are of no reference to the point you are trying to make.
  • Don't assume that the thesis will be printed in colour. This means that you should not make the understanding of graphs and diagrams dependent on colour. 
  • Wikipedia is not a reference. At least use the references that Wikipedia is using, not the second-hand reference Wikipedia itself. Using Wikipedia and other on-line sources for understanding concepts is fine, in particular for technology overviews.
  • If you use WWW URIs in your reference list, make sure to include the following: a) The last date you accessed the URI, and b) The author or owner of the copyright.
  • If your supervisor has used the proofing tools in Word or Adobe Acrobat, make sure that you show how you've addressed the comments in the text.
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