Skip Nav

How to write a technical paper

Soumettre un problème

❶Also ask whether that point contributes to the goals of the section.

Know your message, and stay on message

Helpful Hints for Technical Paper Writing
Recherche sur notre site
Select type of work

If any of these is missing or unclear, the paper will not be compelling. When expressing this, it may be helpful to explain why no one else thought of your approach before, and also to keep in mind how you expect the behavior of readers to change once they appreciate your contributions.

Before you write your paper, you need to understand your audience. Who will read your paper? What are their backgrounds, motivations, interests, and beliefs? What are the key points you want a reader person to take away from your paper?

Once you know the thesis and audience, you can determine what points your document should make to achieve its purpose. For each point in your paper, you need to explain both what and why. For example, it is not enough to state how an algorithm works; you should explain why it works in that way, or why another way of solving the problem would be different. Similarly, it is not sufficient to present a figure and merely help the reader understand what the figure says. You must also ensure that reader understands the significance or implications of the figure and what parts of it are most important.

Your purpose is to communicate specific ideas, and everything about your paper should contribute to this goal. If any part of the paper does not do so, then delete or change that part.

You must be ruthless in cutting every irrelevant detail, however true it may be. Everything in your paper that does not support your main point distracts from it. Write for the readers, rather than writing for yourself. In particular, think about what matters to the intended audience, and focus on that.

It is not necessarily what you personally find most intriguing. A common mistake is to focus on what you spent the most time on. Do not write your paper as a chronological narrative of all the things that you tried, and do not devote space in the paper proportionately to the amount of time you spent on each task. Most work that you do will never show up in any paper; the purpose of infrastructure-building and exploration of blind alleys is to enable you to do the small amount of work that is worth writing about.

Another way of stating this is that the purpose of the paper is not to describe what you have done, but to inform readers of the successful outcome or significant results, and to convince readers of the validity of those conclusions. Likewise, do not dwell on details of the implementation or the experiments except insofar as they contribute to your main point.

However, it holds for technical papers as well — and remember that readers expect different things from the two types of writing! The audience is interested in what worked, and why, so start with that. If you discuss approaches that were not successful, do so briefly, and typically only after you have discussed the successful approach.

Furthermore, the discussion should focus on differences from the successful technique, and if at all possible should provide general rules or lessons learned that will yield insight and help others to avoid such blind alleys in the future.

Whenever you introduce a strawman or an inferior approach, say so upfront. A reader will and should assume that whatever you write in a paper is something you believe or advocate, unless very clearly marked otherwise. A paper should never first detail a technique, then without forewarning indicate that the technique is flawed and proceed to discuss another technique. Such surprises confuse and irritate readers. When there are multiple possible approaches to a problem, it is preferable to give the best or successful one first.

Oftentimes it is not even necessary to discuss the alternatives. If you do, they should generally come after, not before, the successful one. Your paper should give the most important details first, and the less important ones afterward.

Its main line of argument should flow coherently rather than being interrupted. It can be acceptable to state an imperfect solution first with a clear indication that it is imperfect if it is a simpler version of the full solution, and the full solution is a direct modification of the simpler one. Less commonly, it can be acceptable to state an imperfect solution first if it is an obvious solution that every reader will assume is adequate; but use care with this rationalization, since you are usually wrong that every reader will jump to the given conclusion.

A paper should communicate the main ideas of your research such as the techniques and results early and clearly. Then, the body of the paper can expand on these points; a reader who understands the structure and big ideas can better appreciate the details.

Another way of saying this is that you should give away the punchline. A technical paper is not a joke or a mystery novel. The reader should not encounter any surprises, only deeper explanations of ideas that have already been introduced. The same advice applies at the level of sections and paragraphs. It is a bad approach to start with a mass of details and only at the end tell the reader what the main point was or how the details related to one another.

Instead, state the point first and then support it. The reader is more likely to appreciate which evidence is important and why, and is less likely to become confused or frustrated. For each section of the paper, consider writing a mini-introduction that says what its organization is, what is in each subpart, and how the parts relate to one another. For the whole paper, this is probably a paragraph.

For a section or sub-section, it can be as short as a sentence. Some people like to write the abstract, and often also the introduction, last. Doing so makes them easier to write, because the rest of the paper is already complete and can just be described. However, I prefer to write these sections early in the process and then revise them as needed , because they frame the paper.

To write the body of the paper without knowing its broad outlines will take more time in the long run. Another way of putting this is that writing the paper first will make writing the abstract faster, and writing the abstract first will make writing the paper faster.

There is a lot more paper than abstract, so it makes sense to start with that and to clarify the point of the paper early on. It is a very common error to dive into the technical approach or the implementation details without first appropriately framing the problem and providing motivation and background. Readers need to understand what the task is before they are convinced that they should pay attention to what you are saying about it.

You should first say what the problem or goal is, and — even when presenting an algorithm — first state what the output is and probably the key idea, before discussing steps. It just distracts from the important content. Some writers are overwhelmed by the emptiness of a blank page or editor buffer, and they have trouble getting started with their writing.

Here are some tricks to help you get started. Once you have begun, you will find it relatively easier to revise your notes or first draft. The key idea is to write something , and you can improve it later. Explain what the paper needs to say to another person.

After the conversation is over, write down what you just said, focusing on the main points rather than every word you spoke. Many people find it easier to speak than to write. Furthermore, getting feedback and giving clarifications will help you discover problems with your argument, explanation, or word choice.

You may not be ready to write full English paragraphs, but you can decide which sections your paper will have and give them descriptive titles. Once you have decided on the section structure, you can write a little outline of each section, which indicates the subsection titles. Now, expand that into a topic sentence for each paragraph.

At this point, since you know the exact topic of each paragraph, you will find the paragraph easy to write. Write down everything that you know, in no particular order and with no particular formatting. Afterward, organize what you wrote thematically, bringing related points together. Eventually, convert it into an outline and proceed as above. The phrases are quicker to write and less likely to derail your brainstorming; they are easier to organize; and you will feel less attached to them and more willing to delete them.

Rather than trying to write your entire document, choose some specific part, and write just that part. Then, move on to another part. Find other text that you have written on the topic and start from that.

This can remind you what was hard or interesting, or of points that you might otherwise forget to make. You will rarely want to re-use text verbatim, both because you can probably convey the point better now, and also because writing for different audiences or in different contexts requires a different argument or phrasing.

For example, a technical paper and a technical talk have similar aims but rather different forms. If you wrote something once, you can write it again probably better!

Early on, the point is to organize your ideas, not to create finished sentences. Make every word count. If a word does not support your point, cut it out, because excess verbiage and fluff only make it harder for the reader to appreciate your message. Use shorter and more direct phrases wherever possible. Make your writing crisp and to the point. Eliminate any text that does not support your point. Here is one way you might go about this; it is time-consuming but extremely effective.

If not, delete it. Next, within each section, examine each paragraph. Ask whether that paragraph has a single point. If not, rewrite the paragraph. Also ask whether that point contributes to the goals of the section. If not, then delete the paragraph.

Next, within each paragraph, examine each sentence. If it does not make a single, clear point that strengthens the paragraph, delete or rewrite it. Finally, within each sentence, examine each word, and delete or replace those that do not strengthen their point.

You will need to repeat this entire process multiple times, keeping a fresh perspective on the paper. Passive voice has no place in technical writing. It obscures who the actor was, what caused it, and when it happened. Use active voice and simple, clear, direct phrasing. First person is rarely appropriate in technical writing.

Never use first person to describe the operation of a program or system. It is only appropriate when discussing something that the author of the paper did manually. And recall that your paper should not be couched as a narrative. As a related point, do not anthropomorphize computers: Avoid puffery, self-congratulation, and value judgments: And if the point is not obvious to readers who are not intimately familiar with the subject matter the way you are, then you are offending readers by insulting their intelligence, and you are demonstrating your own inability to communicate the intuition.

Prefer singular to plural number. When describing an experiment or some other action that occurred in the past, use past tense. When describing the paper itself, use present tense. The reason for this is that the reader is experiencing the paper in real time; the paper is like a conversation between the authors and the reader. In a list with 3 or more elements list, put a serial comma between each of the items including the last two.

As a simple example of why, consider this 3-element grocery list written without the clarifying last comma: In English, compound adjectives are hyphenated but compound nouns are not. Some of the suggestions in this document are about good writing, and that might seem secondary to the research. But writing more clearly will help you think more clearly and often reveals flaws or ideas!

Furthermore, if your writing is not good, then either readers will not be able to comprehend your good ideas, or readers will be rightly suspicious of your technical work. If you do not or cannot write well, why should readers believe you were any more careful in the research itself? The writing reflects on you, so make it reflect well. Different people learn in different ways, so you should complement a textual or mathematical presentation with a graphical one.

Even for people whose primary learning modality is textual, another presentation of the ideas can clarify, fill gaps, or enable the reader to verify his or her understanding. Figures can also help to illustrate concepts, draw a skimming reader into the text or at least communicate a key idea to that reader , and make the paper more visually appealing.

It is extremely helpful to give an example to clarify your ideas: A figure should stand on its own, containing all the information that is necessary to understand it. Good captions contain multiple sentences; the caption provides context and explanation.

For examples, see magazines such as Scientific American and American Scientist. They possess progressive knowledge in their fields of study to offer first-rate academic support to clients! Personalized academic papers We give clients strong guarantees: Client-oriented approach Every client is protected by policies. They assure protection and strong quality confidence and consistency of services while working closely with our writing experts.

The best essay writing service that delivers quality help and secure experience to customers worldwide. Ideal place that combines lowest prices and competitive free features.

I got an "A" for my research paper all thanks to this amazing service. Definitely my absolutely favorite service! This service is responsible for my recent academic successes and i will most definitely use it again. I had to turn to academic writing company, which turned out to be pretty good! Sign up to get our special offers, exclusive discounts and the best essay samples from our writers!

Great online custom writing paper services that can write papers for money on any topic may play a vital role in a life of modern students. One day in the future, you shall remember this moment. You induced a decision to use our legit term paper writing service — a life-changing event that made your academic life. Overall, you will be grateful and secretly happy about an enormous amount of time you gained with our cheap services.

In the nearby future, you will be looking back, thinking that asking us to write my papers according to available details, instructions was always the best decision ever made in your entire life. From experience, our best paper writing service will be behind serious fun you got during college years.

You did not waste your time on dull academic tasks. You were making the most of your college years, giving yourself and other people priceless memories to stay with forever. This is what we are doing at our company every single day — provide you with lifetime memories. We deliver many stunning results to customers, taking no credit for ready-made tasks - these school types important assignments are properties of people who ordered them!

Meeting deadlines is another major thing. Tired of ever growing piles of homework? Have no time for anything except assignments? Want to spend more quality time with your friends and loved ones but not sacrifice your grades? We promote ourselves as college paper writing service that has earned its popularity by delivering outstanding quality articles.

We do it because we are motivated and envision how a perfect custom writing service should look like. That is a key to delivering quality reports. It is the reason why one cannot find previous unsatisfied clients whatsoever.

It is typical hearing clients say: What we mean is achieving spectacular results with every single product. It is overall quality not amount of submitted and processed orders that we primarily focus attention on. We value reputation and brand awareness.

Start making your lives easier and more enjoyable is our primary duty and responsibility. We challenge those long established views that academic life should be hard, graduate students must literally experience hell to become successful. There is no such thing as academic issue; it is lack of will to conquer it! Say nothing, just fill in a highly thought-through order form page. Get us working on ideas, writing a reaction paper format instantaneously! We do need to get some background information from you to improve your original assignment, making it personalized and ready when it is due.

Essentially, this precise info enables us to assist to write my research paper please, and your task would look as if you spent vast amount of time researching, writing, processing and polishing it to perfection. You will just need to send it to professor once done. It does not matter what size and complexity you need your thesis — we are capable of writing research papers and any other task that you might come up with.

Positive, dedicated reviews are surely much appreciated.

Testimonials

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Helpful Hints for Technical Paper Writing Armando Fox Acknowledgments: Particularly influenced by Seth Hutchinson (MS thesis advisor), Eric Brewer (PhD.

Privacy FAQs

Helpful Hints for Technical Writing Examples of Good and Bad Technical Writing Effective technical writing demands that what is written be direct, accurate, clear.

About Our Ads

Tips for Writing Technical Papers Jennifer Widom, January Here are the notes from a presentation I gave at the Stanford InfoLab Friday lunch, 1/27/06, with a few (not many) revisions when I reprised the talk on 12/4/09, and no revisions for the 10/19/12 revival. The presentation covered: Paper Title;. Armando's Paper Writing and Presentations Page. Hints for Giving a Good SURF, REU, etc. Talk; Hints for Technical Paper Writing; Prof. John Ousterhout's Hints for Reviewing Papers; How and How Not to Write a Good Systems Paper, Helpful Hints for Technical Paper Writing. Vision vs. Implementation papers; Before you write;.

Cookie Info

Custom essay written in a few hours. Joseph Levine, Ph.D. Order essay writing services here and become the real master of your time. Standard-bearer as soon as enumerations - sonnet's till pregnant clefts syndicate unforensically ours exploitable sham till helpful hints for technical paper writing a reprogram. Quality academic help from professional paper & essay writing . A running example used throughout the paper is also helpful in illustrating how your algorithm works, and a single example permits you to amortize the time and space spent explaining the example (and the reader's time in appreciating it). you don't need to put that writing in the form of a technical paper right away. In fact, it's usually.