Style of Writing

Perhaps the majority of people do not even realize how difficult it is for non-native speakers to correct and edit any language written by its native speakers.  Actually that is a part of my job. I wonder how all my friends manage to do it (as many of them do similar jobs to mine).

I am curious if there is any standard way, or methodology, of doing it. The way I do is to set a clear rule of writing, and ask my students and researchers to follow it.

This is a note on technical writing that we use in our lab. This note is constantly revised and improved -- any suggestion is welcome 🙂


Hashimoto Group – Style of Writing

  1. Avoid using a noun as an adjective. If you have to do so, please convince me why the meaning becomes clear in that way.
    • Typically, when you connect multiple nouns to describe anything, you are making up a new word with which readers have no clue.
    • School choice -> choice of schools, choice by school, choice in school?
    • Similarly, rephrase an adjective to “preposition + noun” if that expression clarifies its meaning
  1. Do not use this and that as pronouns. Always put some noun to clarify what they refer.
    • “This suggests that…” -> “This observation suggests that…”
  1. Do not use comparative and superlative adjectives without references. Always include phrases of references (e.g. more negative than the other groups, the largest in this group).
  1. Avoid using significant without statistics.
  1. Please, understand the difference between a main clause a subordinate clause.
    • Pay attentions to tense and tense matching.
  1. Please, understand the difference between a conjunctive and an adverb.
    • Hence, therefore, and however are adverbs, not conjunctives.
  1. Deliver only one message in one sentence.
    • Please, identify and fix all running sentences. Separate them into short sentences.
  1. Please do not use abbreviation without explanation. Equally importantly, once you set an abbreviation, use that abbreviation for the rest of the text.
    • This rule applies to expressions as simple as 2D, PDMS, etc.
  1. Put one space before a parenthesis.
  1. Put one space between a number and a unit. This rule applies to numbers in figures.
  1. Units do not become plural in their abbreviated form.
  1. Please use correct tenses.
    • Results/observations of experiments are in past tense.
    • Interpretations and inferences are in present tense.
    • Widely accepted facts (theorem and norm in the field) are in present tense.

If you think I am wrong (which might well happen), I am open for discussion on the basis of proper references in writing, grammars and styles. Please help me elaborate and improve the list. Happy writing.


自分の研究室で使ってるライティングのガイドラインをまとめてみました.「非ネイティブがネイティブの英語を直す」というのは少し特殊な作業で,なかなか難しいと思っています.

昨今では書き方のルールや文法などが軽視されているように思うのですが.ネイティブであれば文章を書けるというのは,非ネイティブの単なる思い込みで,それは日本人による日本語での作文力にも大きな差があることからも明らかです.個人的にはルールを覚えて練習するしか上達の方法はないと思っています.

美しい文章を書ける才能のある一握りの人は,この手のルールを定める必要はないのかもしれません.一方で,非ネイティブがネイティヴの英語を直すような場合や,「書き方を教える」ような場合は,ルールを定めてそれに従ってもらうしか,説得力のある方法はないのかもしれません.同じようなことをしている人,どのような方法でやっているでしょうか?

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