Common Problems in Technical Writing


Dan Simon

May 5, 2008


-          Your name, email address, and date should be on the first page of all reports and papers that you write.

-          Include sources for all material that is copied from the internet, including figures, otherwise it is plagiarism. See the EEC 417/517 Project Guidelines for more information about plagiarism.

-          Don't forget a literature review. All technical reports should include a literature review that discusses the history of your problem, what others have done to solve your problem, the pros and cons of various approaches, and how your approach compares to others.

-          Don't put references in the abstract. The abstract should be stand-alone.

-          All references need to be referred to in the text of the paper.

-          Don't put bulleted or numbered lists in a formal report or paper. You are writing a paper, not a PowerPoint presentation.

-          Discuss future work in the conclusion.

-          Figure and table captions should be as descriptive and complete as possible.

-          Study my report template for various points related to writing style.

-          The CSU Writing Center offers free reviews of reports for grammar, punctuation, and other technical writing issues. Your tuition is paying for this 'free' service, so you may as well use it. Your grade will be penalized if your writing is poor. However, you need to plan ahead. If you ask them to review your paper on four hours notice they probably will not have time.

-          For Embedded Systems students: It is not a 'PIC 16F877,' neither is it a 'PIC-16F877.' It is a 'PIC16F877.'

-          Avoid internet references except for data sheets and a few other exceptions. If you read something on the internet, do your best to find the same information in print so that you can reference printed material in your work. Wikipedia in particular is a valuable source, but it is never acceptable as a reference in a technical paper.

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Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Cleveland State University

Last Revised: June 7, 2015