This “blog” is a collection of notes mostly for myself. They might be useful for you too.

Report Writing Tips

v1.0.0, 2020.02.01

These are mostly notes I took from the thesis guide of the Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control at ETH Zurich.

Were to start?

  1. Understand the assignment. It is the responsibility of assignee and supervisor to agree on the assignment → project agreement.

  2. Research study (literatur search). Goals:

    • Fully understand the given problem

    • Identify potential solutions that have not been investigated yet.

      Keep track of relevant sources and the infos they contain.
  3. Goal of the report/thesis should be clear → work can start.

    During work the focus of the project may change.

    Solving problem → better understanging → new questions → new ansers

  4. At project half-time, work towards thesis statement with supervisor. Statement should:

    • Reflect the main idea of your report.

    • Summarize what you want to show in your report.

      Remaining time is used to investigate the unresolved issues that are implied by the thesis statement.

  5. Before starting to write the report, create an outline of the content. This will keep the text together. Important information is seperated from unimportant. The contents of every chapter and section are connected with a common thread.

Common Grammatical Mistakes

  1. Transationwords such as therefor, however, as a result, etc. at the beginning of a sentence are always folled by a comma.

  2. A compound word is a combination of two or more words that function as a single unit of meaning. Check whether the meaning of the sentence is ambiguous without the hyphenation.

    We must use compound words when we create single adjectives with past participles such as well-known, so-called, model-based, etc.

    Furthermore, compounds that are created with the with -ly adverbs are never hyphenated.

    Closed compounds are written as single words, e.g. footpath, railway, smalltalk, etc. They are used when the first part of the word acts only as a modifier of the second part. Examples:

    e-book

    everlasting

    ever-recurring

    full-length

    object-oriented

    online

    on-screen

    nonlinear

    northeast

    offline

    one-half

    self-learning

    self-sustaining

    test bench

    three-way path

    web page

  3. Avoid neglecting words in series of smiliar things, but rather write out the complete expression multiple times. Likewise, avoid supsended hyphens.

  4. The expression yield to does not exist. Either use leads to sth. or yields sth. Similarly, the expression allow to cannot exist without a noun.

  5. Use a comma in a series of items, even before the last item, which is usually preceeded by and or or. In addition, use a comma after certain introductory words or terms, such as namly, that is, i.e., e.g., and for instance, when these are folled by a series of items.

  6. Place a comma to separate sentences with independent clauses that are joined by connectors such as and, or, but, etc. If the subject is neglected in the second clause, a comma is usually not required.

  7. The abbreviations “i.e.” and e.g. have different comma rules.

    “E.g.” should generally be followed by a list of examples. Therefore, “e.g.” usually requires a subsequent comma to delimit the beginning of that list.

    “I.e.” is typicaly only followed by a clause describing a singular entity, and so does not require a subsequent comma. Do not use them at the beginning of a sentence.

  8. Technical reports are always written in present tense. The past and future form should only be used occasionally when the action is related to a specific point in the past or future.

  9. Avoid passive voice

    ☒ It is useful to…​

    ☒ One can think of…​

    ☑ The result in Figure XY indicates…​

    ☒ In Figure XY it can be seen…​

    ☑ Figure XY shows…​