Writing up Results

Things you can do to make scientific writing easier to read:

  1. Proofread.  Correct spelling, use that and which correctly, make data a plural, avoid split infinitives (when possible; style manuals vary in their judgment on this topic).
  2. Label axes in plots.  Identify units and color scales.  Make axes large enough to be readable when plot is sized to final dimensions.
  3. Explain methodology in text and captions. 
  4. Punctuate equations.  An equation is part of the text.  At the end of a sentence, the equation should end with a period.  If a comma is needed, use it.
  5. Choose comprehensible color scales.   Use the same color scales for similar plots.  Show the color bars. 
  6. Make plots large enough to be legible, and size similar plots to be consistent.
  7. Define notation.
  8. Use conventional mathematical notation:
  9. Cite appropriate sources.  Provide full citation information following standard scientific conventions.
  10. Use text, figures, and tables together to tell your story.  Cross reference tables and figures in the text.
  11. Avoid passive voice.  Use active verbs and short sentences.


You can write up your results using what-you-see-is-what-you-get software such as Microsoft Word, or using typesetting software such as Latex. The advantage of Latex is that it will allow you to track reference information easily and will typeset equations efficiently (once you master the basics.) Word is often useful for shared documents for which you want to track changes made by multiple writers. For my notes on writing a manuscript with Latex, see here.

Turning in your write up

Please submit your write up to turnitin.com, following instructions posted here.