If the answer is "pick a method and be consistent", your question may be one of style.

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6
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8answers
2k views

Is it overkill to follow style-guides for technical writing?

I currently work for an engineering company as an electrical engineer. A good chunk of my time is spent writing testing reports or instruction documents. Currently my company doesn't have any sort of ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Choosing between your Mother Tongue and other language

Ok, I know I was warned, but what to do, I had this question since very long. I have decided where to write(platform like computer or notepad). I am in process of deciding my way of writing, but the ...
6
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6answers
313 views

How to display URLs in a textbook?

I am writing a textbook which contains some lists of recommended Web sites. Unlike the question How should be the format for literature references that are websites (URLs)?, these will not be ...
6
votes
4answers
396 views

Where to draw the line between being descriptive and getting on with the story?

I have loved writing since early in high school and it has helped me tremendously, not only in my emotional well being, but also in music. I have started writing on a lot of things, which I wanted to ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the most effective way to deal with flashbacks in a novel structure ?

In writing a novel, often flashbacks are difficult to manage: if too long and detailed, they can appear as second class (at worst, aborted) plots whose only task is to sustain the main plot line; if ...
6
votes
4answers
355 views

Italicize part of a word in fiction?

I am wondering if I can or should take a bit of stylistic license and italicize just part of a word: He took a sharp turn back into a side street, and collided hard with something that sent him ...
6
votes
4answers
4k views

Help with Impersonal Past Tense

'The Report is to be presented in the “impersonal past tense” e.g. Personal – I worked in the Design Department. Impersonal – The work was carried out in the Design Department.' ...
6
votes
4answers
399 views

Using capital letters for shouting

I respect that with the power of language, we don't necessarily need to capitalise anything, because a description of how a character is speaking is more powerful. Take my example: The hooded man ...
6
votes
2answers
614 views

How do I stop using 'which' to explain things

I've been recently writing a lot of graduate school papers and I've noticed that I consistently use the word which to explain concepts. I have a feeling that there is a better way to express my ideas ...
6
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6answers
1k views

Very long sentences: personal style or just bad writing?

I'm writing a story targeted towards children in which the protagonist is a young girl. I find that in writing her dialog and the narrative, I'm producing a lot of very long sentences, to the point ...
6
votes
4answers
152 views

How can I convey something without going into details?

I am considering writing a novel in which society has fallen into a perverse pit of debauchery. This is necessary to the novel, but it also presents some problems. I want the reader to know just how ...
6
votes
4answers
633 views

How to avoid specifying the gender in English when the original text does not specify it?

I'm translating a short story from Korean into English. One problem I frequently face is the 'antecedent pronoun agreement' when the original text leaves the 'gender' of the subject unspecified (and ...
6
votes
3answers
116 views

When and how often edit the style and content of a story?

An early story I did I edited again and again to make it better. But in the end, I got the feeling the result was worse than before. Recently I tried to write (short-stories) in one go and only check ...
6
votes
3answers
140 views

Variation in paragraph length

I've learned that variation in sentence length is good. How about paragraph length? I always end up with paragraphs like this: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam ...
6
votes
1answer
630 views

Is an overview clearer when outlined with bullet points, or when written in paragraphs?

I am writing a short piece for a technical audience. In essence I have three main points, each with sub-points. A few of the sub-points themselves have sub-points. I cannot help but find it clearer ...
6
votes
5answers
305 views

Can anyone think of books that contain two separate stories or two very different perspectives on the same story being told together? [closed]

I fear that the question sounds vague and confusing, but I can't conjure up the words I need to say exactly what I mean without going into detail. I thought it would be interesting to have two ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

What paragraph style should I use for an e-book?

I have often heard of the advice that "use a style that works best in your situation". In regard to paragraph styling for an ebook, there are a few options: A single space (between paragraphs) and ...
6
votes
5answers
251 views

Best Practices To Learn By Reading?

I've been browsing writers.se for a while and I've noticed a lot of folks state you have to READ to be able to write. I'm currently having trouble working time to read fiction into my daily routine. ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Should I prefer long or short sentences in scientific writing?

Currently, I am writing papers with rather short sentences: About half of them contain around 20 words, about 10% to 20% even less. I am doing this for three reasons: I find short sentences easier ...
6
votes
2answers
107 views

First person with co-authors?

I'm rewriting a technical book that will list two authors: the original author and me. Much of the text has been changed and there are some informal parts where reader is addressed in first person: "I ...
6
votes
2answers
154 views

What is this writing standard called, and where can I look up the exact details?

My English instructor said that he wants us to submit a heading and a header on our essays, taking the following form. The first page only should have our name, his name, the date, the subject (not ...
6
votes
3answers
853 views

How to use parentheses

Parentheses have many uses; I find myself reaching for them often. Increasingly though, I realise I can convey the same meaning without parentheses with little or only minor loss in succinctness. ...
6
votes
2answers
331 views

What exactly is wrong with 'It was a dark and stormy night'? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why is “It was a dark and stormy night..” not a good opening? The phrase in question is derided everywhere. Wikipedia calls it infamous and purple prose, the ...
6
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3answers
1k views

What is the proper format/style for using and properly citing code in an APA paper?

I'm working on a paper that covers concurrency in Java, however to properly explain many concepts I feel code samples are basically needed. However, I don't know how to properly cite code I've ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Referring to oneself in first vs. third person in online profiles

Suppose I am writing a post/blog, how should I mention myself? For example, Ray Wenderlich (Site Admin) Ray is an indie software developer currently focusing on iPhone and iPad development. ...
5
votes
3answers
182 views

How to leverage social proof?

How can one use social proof as an argument without sounding like "just because everybody is doing it so should you"?. My problem is trying to demonstrate with social proof that trendy ...
5
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3answers
2k views

Is emphasizing a point by underlining still appropriate?

Instinctively I find underlining for emphasis distracting and much prefer bold or italic. From my research it seems underlining is a carryover from typewriters that were incapable of italicizing or ...
5
votes
5answers
175 views

How To Write Concisely

I am a high school student, and am concerned with my recent compositional tendencies. This past year, I took AP English Language and Composition. It was a rather difficult class, as writing is not my ...
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5answers
1k views

Do empty pages need a number?

I would like to start each chapter on the right side of the book, as there are few chapters with a different point of view. I know numbering has to continue on the white page which might appear in ...
5
votes
4answers
442 views

Does writing in a certain mood change how a writer writes?

I'm not sure if this is right for this part of Stackexchange, but since there is no psychology section, here we go: I'm currently writing the same short story several times with the intention of ...
5
votes
4answers
419 views

In present-tense narrative, does “I spend the NEXT few hours…” make sense?

I was directed to the writers stackexchange from the English/grammar forums. I'm writing a novel in present-tense. If all the actions are in the present-tense, e.g. as the character is experiencing ...
5
votes
3answers
292 views

What's the best way to punctuate a list with an comma-containing item?

Examples: She looked tough: pieced nose, broad eyebrows, tousled hair, almost spiky. I tried picturing him: his tiny body swinging above the ground, his eyes bloodshot, almost popping ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Pros ans cons of writing a plot based on the present and past tense (character's point of view)?

I'm not sure if I should write my first book in the present or past tense. The book is about a doctor in a clinic who is analysing his patients. e.g. I said, VS I say. I thought for a while ...
5
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3answers
136 views

How do I cover a lengthy time period with only a few interesting details?

I'm writing a book about my three weeks of travel in Belize (is that even enough time for a book?), and I'm wondering how I can cover the first day and build a foundation without being boring. There ...
5
votes
3answers
219 views

Best way to convey an immediate change of scenery

Okay, bear with me. Think of it like this: My character is stuck in an situation whereby every time he sleeps, he wakes up at a different time (as in the past/future, not 8:00am), in a different ...
5
votes
4answers
369 views

Rules and resources for scientific writing

The writing style in scientific papers in the natural sciences, e.g. chemistry and biology, seems very different from many other kinds of writing. There are usually severe restrictions on the length ...
5
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4answers
727 views

How to indicate that a single letter was removed from a quotation

Suppose a source text says: 1 Timothy 2:4 says that God desires all people to be saved. Now suppose I want to quote it like this: It is possible for God to "desire all people to be saved." ...
5
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1answer
223 views

What's the ideal usage for italics for names?

I write articles on a website about anime, manga, cosplay, etc. I want to know whether I should italicise the names of anime or not. In some articles, I have to put the name of a certain anime too ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

How to make a letter interesting?

I have a question regarding the art of letter writing. I believe in the old-fashioned way of maintaining pen friendships (not necessarily a relationship, but could be) through hand-written letters, ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

Overusing “the” and “I”

I'm not a native English speaker, and I find that my English writing contains too many definite article "the" when writing scientific reports, and too many "I" when writing in informal settings (like ...
5
votes
1answer
162 views

Punctuation-Quote or Quote-Punctuation?

I'm writing a document using the Chicago Manual of Syle. I have not access to the full guide, only to what's provided on-line. Now I wondering as to whether, in the main text itself, I should use the ...
5
votes
1answer
69 views

Format keyboard keys in documents

I'm writing a guide to give step-by-step instructions to complete some tasks on the computer. At some points, I need to indicate pressing keys on the keyboard; how may I format the letter/symbol to ...
5
votes
1answer
6k views

What is the correct way to write a fractional number in a formal letter?

If I'm talking about a length of time in a cover letter, let's say 5.5 years, what would be the correct way to write this? five-and-a-half years 5-1/2 years 5.5 years
5
votes
4answers
479 views

What makes a good action scene?

Action, in any storytelling medium, is the relationship between build up and pay off. While cinema may emphasize the payoff (pyrotechnics play well to theater-going crowds) it seems that the written ...
5
votes
1answer
119 views

What are some appropriate uses of readability tests?

Do you use readability metrics (such as Gunning fog or Flesch-Kincaid) as you're working on a piece? If so, how do you use them, and what benefit do you get from using them?
5
votes
2answers
89 views

Could anyone point me in the direction of some resources on conversational writing

Im looking to improve my writing , i would love to know if anyone has any tips on developing an engaging conversational writing style.
5
votes
1answer
178 views

How to cite the C# Language Specification Version 5.0

I'm currently working on my thesis and need to cite a specific section of the C# Language Specification Version 5.0. The specification is available here, but I can't find the authors and the ...
5
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1answer
1k views

How to quote from a foreign journal that has not been translated?

I need to quote from a journal written in Arabic. What should I do? Write it first in Arabic then followed by translation and indicating that it is my own translation (translated by author)? Can I ...
5
votes
3answers
79 views

Deaf speechmarks? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How does one present spoken dialogue as a secondary language to signed speech? I want to write a novel and I was thinking of including a deaf character. I want to know ...
5
votes
2answers
237 views

How can you build an interactive tone into articles?

I was wondering about tone in articles lately. My articles don't tend to be interactive. It feels like most of them are just flowing one way. How does actually tone contribute to the quality of an ...