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The Elements of Style CS790 Technical Writing for Computer Scientists Summer 2007 Sue

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									        CS790
   Technical Writing
for Computer Scientists
     Summer 2007
        Sue Moon
          KAIST
                    Course Overview
   Goals
     To help students improve their technical writing skills
     Not to master writing
   Approach
     Write short paragraphs and learn basic elements in writing
     Compose longer writings with better constructs
     Learn how to self-edit
                      Grading Policy
   Quiz
     1 per week (20%)
     Final quiz will have double weight
   Prof. Moon (40%)
     2 short essays
     1 1000-word essay
   Prof. Cha (40%)
     1 500-word essay
     1 1000-word essay
              Classroom Participation
   Messenger for students to submit writings in class?
     Thru MS Messener

   What to bring
     Notebook w/ e-dictionary
                        Syllabus
1.   Elements of style review; write a cold-call request.
2.   500-word essay on a common topic
3.   Write research statements to be used in CV
4.   How to write a paper; 1000-word essay on a common
     topic
5.   How to edit a paper; 1000-word essay on a common
     topic
          Homework Submission Guide
   When emailing, put [CS790] in the subject
     Your email might not be filtered to the right folder w/o it
   When submitting a hard copy
     Put in a box in front of Prof. Cha’s office
                    Today’s Class
 Write a cold-call request (1hr)
 Review “the Elements of Style”
 Additional tips in technical writing
 Review and revise a student’s writing in class.
          What Is a Cold-Call Request?
   A request you send to an unknown person

   You write a cold-call request:
     To ask for a paper or software not available online
     To ask for an opinion or information

     To ask for a review of a paper
     To invite to serve on a committee
     To invite for a talk
                           Considerations
   How much does the person know about you?
     Name, affiliation, area of research
   How much do you know about the person?
     Title, affiliation
   Why are you writing this request?
     Why did you decide to ask the person, not someone else?

   Why should the person reply to your request?
     How important is your request to the person?
     How prestigious is your offer?
Write a Cold-Call Request
     of Your Choice

        (1 Hour)
          I. Elementary Rules of Usage
1.   Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.
2.   In a series of three or more terms with a single
     conjunction, use a comma after each term except the
     last.
3.   Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.
4.   Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an
     independent clause.
5.   Do not join independent clauses with a comma.
6.   Do not break sentences in two.
          I. Elementary Rules of Usage
1.   Form the possessive singular of nouns by adding ‘s.
2.   In a series of three or more terms with a single
     conjunction, use a comma after each term except the
     last.
3.   Enclose parenthetic expressions between commas.
4.   Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an
     independent clause.
5.   Do not join independent clauses with a comma.
6.   Do not break sentences in two.
            I. Elementary Rules of Usage
2.   In a series of three or more terms with a single
     conjunction, use a comma after each term except the
     last.
      red, white, and blue
      He opened the letter, read it, and made a note of its contents.
            I. Elementary Rules of Usage
4.   Place a comma before a conjunction introducing an
     independent clause.
      The situation is perilous, but there is still one chance of escape.
      He has had several years’ experience and is thoroughly
       competent.
            I. Elementary Rules of Usage
5.   Do not join independent clauses with a comma.
     #1: Mary Shelley’s works are entertaining; they are full of
       engaging ideas.
     #2: Mary Shelley’s works are entertaining. They are full of
       engaging ideas.
     #3: Mary Shelley’s works are entertaining, for they are full of
       engaging ideas.

     #1 suggests the close relationship between the two sentences in
       a way #2 does not attempt.
     #1 briefer and thus more forcible than #3.
           I. Elementary Rules of Usage
7.    Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a
      list of particulars, an appositive, an amplification, or an
      illustrative quotation.
8.    Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption
      and to announce a long appositive or summary.
9.    The number of the subject determines the number of
      the verb.
10.   Use the proper case of pronoun.
11.   A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must
      refer to the grammatical subject.
           I. Elementary Rules of Usage
7.    Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a
      list of particulars, an appositive, an amplification, or an
      illustrative quotation.
8.    Use a dash to set off an abrupt break or interruption
      and to announce a long appositive or summary.
9.    The number of the subject determines the number of
      the verb.
10.   Use the proper case of pronoun.
11.   A participial phrase at the beginning of a sentence must
      refer to the grammatical subject.
            I. Elementary Rules of Usage
7.   Use a colon after an independent clause to introduce a
     list of particulars, an appositive, an amplification, or an
     illustrative quotation.
        Your dedicated whittler requires: a knife, a piece of wood, and
         a back porch.
                                   requires three props:

        But even so, there was a directness and dispatch about
         animal burial: there was no stopover in the undertaker’s foul
         parlor, no wreath or spray.
         Join two independent clauses with a colon if the second
         interprets or amplifies the first.
            I. Elementary Rules of Usage
9.   The number of the subject determines the number of
     the verb.
                                            have
         One of the ablest scientists who (has/have) attacked this
         problem
        None of us (is/are) perfect.
                       is
                are
         None (is/are) so fallible as those who are sure they’re right.
             I. Elementary Rules of Usage
10.   Use the proper case of pronoun.
         Sandy writes better than I.
         Polly loves cake more than me.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
12.   Choose a suitable design and hold to it.
13.   Make the paragraph the unit of composition.
14.   Use the active voice.
15.   Put statements in positive form.
16.   Use definite, specific, concrete language.
17.   Omit needless words.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
14.   Use the active voice.
         My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.
         I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.
         At dawn the crowing of a rooster could be heard.
         The cock’s crow came with dawn.
         It was not long before she was very sorry that she had said
          that what she said.
         She soon repented her words.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
15.   Put statements in positive form.
         He was not very often on time.
          He usually came late.
         She did not think that studying Latin was a sensible way to
          use one’s time.
         She thought the study of Latin a waste of time.
         Applicants can make a good impression by being neat and
          punctual.
         Applicants will make a good impression if they are neat and
          punctual
         Plath may be ranked among those modern poets who died
          young.
         Plath was one of those modern poets who died young.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
12.   Choose a suitable design and hold to it.
13.   Make the paragraph the unit of composition.
14.   Use the active voice.
15.   Put statements in positive form.
16.   Use definite, specific, concrete language.
17.   Omit needless words.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
17.   Omit needless words.
         owing to the fact that      since (because)
         the fact that he had not succeeded       his failure
         the fact that I had arrived      my arrival
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
18.   Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
19.   Express coordinate ideas in similar form.
20.   Keep related words together.
21.   In summaries, keep to one tense.
22.   Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
18.   Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
19.   Express coordinate ideas in similar form.
20.   Keep related words together.
21.   In summaries, keep to one tense.
22.   Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.
 II. Elementary Principles of Composition
20.   Keep related words together.
         You can call your mother in London and tell her all about
          George’s taking you out to dinner just for two dollars.
         For just two dollars you can call your mother in London and
          tell her all about George’s taking you out to dinner.
IV. Words and Expressions Commonly Misued

   Like
    Not to be used for the conjunction as. Like governs nouns and
      pronouns; before phrases and clauses the equivalent word is
      as.
     We spent the evening as in the old days.
     Chloe smells good, as a baby should.
   Split infinitive
     to diligently inquire    to inquire diligently
     to further investigate     to investigate further
               V. An Approach to Style
1.  Place yourself in the background.
2. Write in a way that comes naturally.
3. Work from a suitable design.
4. Write with nouns and verbs.
5. Revise and rewrite.
6. Do not overwrite.
7. Do not overstate.
8. Avoid the use of qualifiers (very, little, some).
9. Do not affect a breezy manner.
10. Use orthodox spelling.
              V. An Approach to Style
11. Do not explain too much.
12. Do not construct awkward adverbs.
13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking.
14. Avoid fancy words.
15. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good.
16. Be clear.
17. Do not inject opinion.
18. Use figures of speech sparingly.
19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity.
20. Avoid foreign languages.
21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat.
              Tips on Technical Writing
   Do not use contractions
     don’t        do not
   Numbers
     Two instead of 2 at the beginning of a sentence
     190 instead of one hundred ninety
     x > 1 is plural; x <=1 is singular.
     2 turtle doves, 3 French hens, 4 calling birds, 5 golden rings, …
 Do not use /; use or.
 Limit use of quotation marks, italics, and capital letters.
    Common Mistakes in Technical Writing
   Use multiple terms for one idea
      relay nodes, relaying nodes, relays
   Use undefined terms
      shortest-path subgraph
      effective links
   Put things out of order
      Use a term before defining it
   Mix past, present, and future tenses
      Stick to the present tense
   Mix upper and lower cases
      Proper nouns vs emphatic words
            Homework #1 (Due 6/28)
   Revise today’s version and submit (v2)

								
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