Effective Technical Writing in the Information Age

Discipline-Specific Advice on Equations, Figures, and Tables


The material in this chapter is intended as a broad and fundamental look at how to manage equations, figures, and tables in your writing. Style manuals within your field will offer much more detailed advice, possibly devoting a chapter or more to the subject. For instance, an excellent book by Dr. David Schultz, chief editor for Monthly Weather Review, offers about 30 pages of advice on equations, figures, and tables. Schutz’s chapter covers specialized forms such as the Cartesian grid, thermodynamic diagrams, and the use of GEMPAK software in meteorology, while also discussing nuances of legibility during rescaling, the use of nonlinear axes, shading and color, and line graphs vs. scatterplots.  Schultz's book is titled Eloquent Science: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker & Atmospheric Scientist.

If you intend to be taken seriously as a published writer within your field, shelling out the cash for handbooks within your field will pay handsome dividends. For some additional recommended titles of style manuals and handbooks—where you will find discipline-specific advice that goes well beyond equations, figures, and tables—see the page "Some Recommended Print Resources" in chapter 5 of this manual.