At LetPub we have edited a lot of STEM (scientific, technology, engineering, and medical) manuscripts from authors all around the world. Our in-house managing editors have many years of editorial experience and have trained many editors during the course of our careers. We are often asked to serve as a resource for all things grammar and writing related when it comes to STEM manuscripts, so here’s a run-down of some key scientific writing tips we have gathered over the years. This list is a great resource of “Greatest Hits” writing tips for authors looking for quick tips to help improve their writing.
Capitalization of Titles:
We are often asked about capitalization rules for titles. A good general rule to keep in mind is:
Capitalize the first letter of each major word in titles and subtitles. Do not capitalize articles (a, an, the) or the to in infinitives. Do not capitalize a 2-letter verb, such as Is or Be. For example:
Universal Screening for Tuberculosis Infection
Clichés are worn out expressions and should be avoided. Some examples: “first and foremost,” “crystal clear.”
The only time to use single quotes (‘ ’):
1) To enclose the names of plant cultivars.
2) In US usage, to enclose a quotation occurring within another quotation.
Student’s t test
“Student’s t test” is not hyphenated and the “t” should be italicized as follows: “t test”
A contraction consists of two words combined by omitting one or more letters (e.g., can’t, aren’t). An apostrophe shows where the omission has occurred. Contractions should be avoided in formal writing.
Express simple rates (1 or 2 units) with a slash and express complex rates (more than 2 units) with negative exponents. Using negative exponents for simple rates is not incorrect, but it involves unnecessary keystrokes. Some units are defined in the form of rates (e.g., A/m, a measure of magnetic field strength); such units should not be written with negative exponents.
5 A/m not 5 A•m−1 [because A/m is a single unit; see above]
Paragraphs and Transitions:
Each paragraph should be a cohesive group of sentences that present a thought or several closely related thoughts.
Make sure that every paragraph has a clear topic sentence and that the paragraph content supports the topic. Each paragraph should be long enough to stand alone but short enough to hold the reader’s attention and direct the reader to the next thought.
Transitions are words and phrases that signal a connection among ideas. Transitions build bridges between paragraphs (and sentences) and help the text flow.
To show addition: also, furthermore, in addition, moreover
To show contrast: however, yet, conversely, nevertheless, although
To show comparison: similarly, likewise
To show results: therefore, thus, as a result, consequently
To show time sequence: first, second, third, later, meanwhile, subsequently, while
To summarize: hence, in summary, finally
For more tips feel free to reach out & work with us on your next language editing project! You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org