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Department-by-Department Reference Guide

Writing in Electrical and Computer Engineering

A Sampling of Advice from Faculty

1.  What kinds of writing assignments can I expect in Electrical and Computer Engineering classes?

     Assignments for writing projects in this department vary widely, as indicated by the following list from faculty:

  • Technical project reports
  • Proposals
  • Memos
  • Papers that follow the IEEE style sheet for journal articles and conference papers
  • Technical writing per the text Technical Writing by William S. Pfeiffer
  • Research/term papers
  • Executive summary
  • Cover letters
  • College of Engineering Lab Notebook assignments

2.  What what are the valued qualities of an outstanding paper in Electrical and Computer Engineering classes?      

  • Clarity
  • Conciseness
  • Completeness
  • Correct use of the English language
  • Appropriate use of figures, tables, and supporting text

Tips: For aspects of English usage that puzzle you, refer to a handbook such as the one currently used in Marquette’s First-Year English program.

     If you are not a native speaker of English, you can find a list of valuable books and Web resources, including quizzes and idiom lists, under Tips for ESL Writers on this Web site.

3.  What kinds of evidence do Elecrical and Computer Engineering faculty recognize as valid in the work they assign?

    Technical justification and/or experimental results


4.  What citation conventions do you require students to use?

     IEEE—that is, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. See the IEEE section of this Web site. Three external Web sites offer general guidelines and sample references:

5.  Special do’s and don’ts for papers in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department:

  • Do clearly state conclusions (Did it work? Show us the answer.)
  • Do follow standard conventions for proper use of significant figures
  • Don’t include pages of data sheets as part of an appendix
  • Do follow standard conventions for proper use of appendices
  • Do use the spell/grammar check, but be aware of its limitations. (Spell checks are more reliable than grammar checks.) One efficient way to proceed is to turn off the grammar check (so that it doesn’t distract you) until you have finished a draft. Then have the program check your entire document.

Note: Pay special attention to the discussions of Academic Honesty and Plagiarism on this site. It is important to supply full and complete references for all material you take from sources. Especially good advice on this matter can be found at the Purdue University Online Writing Lab under Paraphrase and Avoiding Plagiarism. If you are new to studying in the U.S., it would be a good idea to check out the section of Purdue's Avoiding Plagiarism site called "Contractions of American Academic Writing"—you will find it easily by scrolling down slightly from the top of the page.

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Page Last Modified: October 18, 2018

  For suggestions and corrections, please email
Dr. Rebecca Nowacek, Associate Professor of English
Director of the Ott Memorial Writing Center, 240 Raynor Library (414.288.5542)
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P.O. Box 1881 · Milwaukee, Wis. USA · 53201-1881