GEOG 583
Geospatial System Analysis and Design

Writing Hints


A Few Writing Hints

For a few fortunate of us, writing isn’t too difficult. Writing is second nature. But for most of us, writing is challenging. Since your early years in primary school, you have been writing. Writing clearly, however, so that your reader can follow along with your thoughts, is tough. Writing is about communicating your thoughts clearly and unambiguously to the reader, and this is not necessarily a transparent task. How you view the clarity of your thoughts through the written word is not necessarily what the reader is thinking. With any writing task, especially in a specialized discipline like GIS system design, there is an added complexity to writing. On the one hand, you have to understand the discipline in which you are working and then communicate that knowledge to the reader.

The goal of the writing assignments in this course is simple. Demonstrate to the instructor that you understand the specific design process for each lesson and how it is implemented. You likely spent many hours learning the material, refining the design, developing the wire-frame, and performing prototyping. You probably feel pretty good about reaching this stage of the process. But don’t stop yet. The hard part is to communicate what you did and what you discovered during the design process to the reader so that they understand it, too.

While you have a form of intimacy with the system design process, your reader doesn’t. Not even your instructor. When you write these assignments, you should keep in mind that you are not writing to someone with the same level of intimacy. Rather, you need to explain everything, justify why you did what you did, how you did it, and do so using clear and concise verbiage.

As part of your grade with every written assignment, I will assess your writing. The assessment will be according to clarity, organization, and format. What follows is an overview of some commonsense approaches to clear and concise writing for GIS system analysis and design.

Online Resources

There are quite a few online guides available on how to write about, design, and include figures and tables in your paper. These are some of the most approachable.

Penn State offers a rather comprehensive outline of topics related to writing in general.

Here is a special section on including figures and tables.

Purdue Online Writing Lab (using MLA format style).

Examples of how to cite figures in your paper (i.e., using a figure that you did not create).