# Dos and Don'ts when Writing a Paper

# Dos and Don’ts when Writing a Paper

There are some dos and don'ts when writing a scientific paper that heavily improve the reading. In the sequel, I provide some hints I have learned as author and reviewer in the past. If following list lacks some important hints, contact me and I will add them here.

# Improving the Readability of a Scientific Paper

- Try to reduce following modal verbs:
- can, could, must, have to, should, would

- Cite papers, call rules, give hints, or move derivations to the appendix instead of using following sentences:
- "It can be easily shown that..."
- "After some computation..."
- "It is straightforward (to show that...)"

- As a rough guideline use
- more than 10 references for conferences papers,
- more than 30 references for journals papers,
- other references than only yours.

- In each sentence, present only one idea. Write condensed.
- Use LaTeX instead of Word. Use following LaTeX's packages:
- TikZ and PgfPlots for figures and Matlab plots.
- SIunitX for (SI) units
- MathTools for typesetting of equations

- Use captions that explain the figures/tables.
- Mathematical symbols are roman, if they are descriptive
- Superscript and subscript are italic, if they are variables or indices, else roman: $x_k, k \in \mathbb{Z}$ vs. $x^{\mathrm{MSE}}$, or $x^{\mathrm{T}}$ (transposed)
- Functions are roman, if they are descriptive, else italic: $f(x)$ vs. $\sin(x)$ (sine) or $\mathrm{E}(x)$ (expectation) or $x^{\mathrm{T}}$ (transposed)
- Units use roman fonts (see below).

- Labels of axes in function plots:
- Use words
*and*mathematical symbols - Use "Position $x/$m", "Time $t/$s", or "Gain $G/$dB" instead of "$x [m]$", "$t [s]$", "$G [dB]$". The value of a dimensional physical quantity $G$ can be expressed as $G = {G}[G]$ with the dimensionless numerical factor ${G}$ and the unit $[G]$. Observe that units are
*not*italic. See Emerson, W. H. (2008). On quantity calculus and units of measurement.*Metrologia*,*45*(2), 134 and the Guide for the Use of the International System of Units for more information. - Use a space between the value and the unit. I would recommend LaTeX's SIunitX package.

- Use words
- Use tables for a long list of simulation and measurement settings.
- Tables should be set as described by http://mirror.klaus-uwe.me/ctan/macros/latex/contrib/booktabs/booktabs.pdf:
- Never, ever use vertical rules.
- Never use double rules.
- Put the units in the column heading (not in the body of the table).

- At the end of the paper you don't need a second abstract. Draw conclusions instead.
- Use less than 5 abbreviations. Do not use them in the paper's title.
- Divide the introduction into Motivation, State of the Art, Contribution(s) and Outline.
- Simplify notations. Use sub-/superscripts instead of different symbols, but use as few as possible.
- Motivate your work by means of an application.
- The "delta-Dirac function" is either a distribution or an indicator function, but this should be specified.
- Do not use \jmath and \imath for $\sqrt{-1}$ in LaTeX.
- Use hyphens: especially compound modifiers.

Acknowledgements: Paul-Jürgen Wagner's comments helped me to improve and extend the list.

# Further Reading

- http://www.math.uiuc.edu/~west/grammar.html
- Guide for the Use of the International System of Units
*How to write & publish a scientific paper*by Day, Robert A., Westport, Conn. : Oryx Press, 1998