Tips on Technical Writing for Students (and Others)
There are few skills that are so easily learned and which pay such high returns
as competence in technical writing. It is not about poetry, and it is
not about pulling the wool
over some ones eyes. It is about being clear, helping someone to learn important material,
and sharing you own personal discoveries or
Some Resources on Technical Writing
The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.
This is book is marvelously brief, clear, and cheap.
Get a copy and read a bit of it every day. You'll be glad you did.
Line by Line by Claire Cook.
This book is more advanced than The Elements of Style,
and it takes you the rest of the distance. Twenty hours
invested in this book will bring many readers to the expository skill level of
the top ten percent of the writers in the typical technical niche.
Mathematical Writing by Don Knuth.
This book is more specialized, but still worth your attention.
Knuth is the world's most famous computer scientist, and
one of the best writers in all of mathematical science. Knuth created TEX (the ghost behind
LaTex) and he has probably done more than any other person to foster high quality
- Those interested in one-stop shopping may want to consider
Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences by Nicholas Higham.
This book addresses the preparation of talks as well as the writing of conference papers,
journal articles, theses, and books.
- If you prefer to laugh as you learn, look at Bill Walsh's two devilish books, The Elephants of Style and Lapsing into a Comma.
- It seemed at first glance that Lynne Truss's very successful book Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation might be a fine way to introduce people to the humor of punctuation. Unfortunately, the book is filled with blunders. Unless you are a professional nitpickers eager to toss rocks back at this glass house, skip Truss.
- Finally, for balance, check out Cornell's great site on the Critical Evaluation of Information Sources.