Friday, January 22, 2010

Rules for writing any paper

My postdoctoral advisor, John Wilkins, hammered into me Rules for Writing a PRL.
I recommend not just reading these rules, but reading them again and again, and moreover, putting it them into practice.

I think these rules are actually relevant to writing any paper.

The key point is to finish and polish the figures and the captions first. They should be self-explanatory and usually illustrate most of the key results of the paper.


  1. That site is a great resource - the guidelines for refereeing a paper are also helpful (and for me, excellently timed). Thanks!

  2. This is a great approach! I just have a small comment re: "8. The general rule of writing is: tell'em what you are going to tell'em; then tell'em; finally tell'em what you told them." I don't like reading Letters that repeat what they have said in the conclusion paragraphs; I prefer the ones that draw connections to other interesting subjects and/or clarify certain interesting features of the work. That always sounds to me like a good coda to a nice piece of music.

  3. Teaching the rules of essay writing style need not be straight-jackets, but may serve to teach developing writers how to improve their writing craft. Check out these 15 tricks of the trade at