Style and Grammar

Proper style and correct grammar are essential to being taken seriously in engineering communication. Professional engineers need to write clearly and concisely, though a particular style might depend on the intended audience. Listed below are resources on style and grammar that can help you become more effective and efficient as writer.


Plain Language

It can be difficult to communicate complex or industry-specific content to a non-expert audience, which may lead to you not getting the results you expect. Use plain language to improve the effectiveness of your communication tasks.


Write Clearly and Concisely

Do you often have to verbally explain something you’ve written? You may not be writing clearly and concisely enough. Use this growing knowledge resource to learn how.


Punctuation

Commas account for the majority of punctuation errors. Learning the dos and don’ts of comma usage will help you correct many of your punctuation problems.


Word Choice

There are some grammar rules that seem impossible to remember. Should I use lie or lay? Affect or effect? Who or whom? While words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings (homophones) are the most commonly confused words (visit Spelling for more information), the following similar word pairs can be equally troublesome [1]–[5].


Sentence Structure

Sentence structure, a mechanical aspect of grammar, includes numerous elements, such as clauses, verbs, subjects, transitional words, nominals, and much more. By joining these elements into well-constructed sentences, your ideas will be more clear and coherent. In their 2008 study, Lunsford and Lunsford identified three of the most common sentence structure errors: sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and faulty construction [1]. The following guidelines can help you avoid these errors.


Spelling

The easiest way to check for spelling is to use your word processor’s native spell checker. While a spell-checker is a reliable tool, it won’t detect the most common spelling errors: words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings (homophones) and hyphenated words. Reviewing the basic rules for these types of errors may help you avoid them in the future.