Common mechanical errors:
Two sentences are joined with a comma instead of conjunctions (and, but, or, etc.)
The amplifier was used to increase the intensity of the sound signals, noise in the room became unbearable.
The amplifier was used to increase the intensity of the sound signals; noise in the room became unbearable.
The amplifier was used to increase the intensity of the sound signals, but noise in the room became unbearable.
Two sentences are joined without punctuation
Please come to my office I need to talk to you.
Please come to my office. I need to talk to you.
Punctuations are placed after, not before, in-text citations
Indoor air pollution is strongly correlated to cardiovascular diseases. (Smith, 2009)
Indoor air pollution is strongly correlated to cardiovascular diseases (Smith, 2009).
Keep modifiers close to the words that they modify
The device consists of a screw that is inside a barrel that is driven by an electric motor drive.
The device consists of a barrel with an enclosed screw that is driven by an electric motor drive.
Use similar forms of words/ terms for similar ideas (e.g. in a list)
The sensor responds to various stimuli, including sound, heat, and vibrating objects that may cause disturbances.
The sensor responds to various stimuli, including sound, heat, and vibrations.
Verbs must agree with their subjects
The radiometer, along with the receiver, were placed on the lab bench.
The radiometer, along with the receiver, was placed on the lab bench.
Pronouns must agree with their antecedent nouns
Everyone on the research team had to receive their training certificates.
Everyone on the research team had to receive his or her training certificates.
All members had to receive their training certificates.
Commonly misused words
Some words are mistakenly used interchangeably
Comprise: to embrace or include
Compose: made up of, constituted of
Affect: verb (except in psychology)
Effect: noun (except when used to mean “bring about")
Continuous: without interruption
Its: possessive (“of it")
It's: contraction (“it is")
Principal: most important (adj.), most important person (n)
Use hyphens when two or more words modify another word, and work together as a unit.
Acetic-acid water system
A 20-percent increase
A two- or three-week incubation period
Do not hyphenate most prefixes added to common nouns.
precooled not pre-cooled
nonpolar not non-polar
When to spell out numbers
Spell out numbers less than 10 and at the beginning of sentences.
Forty-seven percent of the sample evaporated.
The experiment evaporated 47% of the sample.
The experiment included eight samples.
Using units of measurement
Spell out the unit of measurement when no quantity is included
Several milligrams, not several mg
Do not use plurals for abbreviated units of measurement
60 mg, not 60 mgs
In ranges and series, retain only the first unit of measurement
10-12 mg, between 24 and 50 ml
When a sentence starts with a specific quantity, spell it out along with its unit of measurement
Twenty-five milligrams of acetone were added.
Thirty-seven percent of the sample was dissolved
Use the percent symbol with a numeral form, without a space
When to capitalize
Numbered items (figures, tables, etc.) should be capitalized when referred to in the text. Write the numbers in numeral form.
As shown in Figure 1
See Table 2
As given in Equation (3)
Non-numbered items are not capitalized.
As shown in the figures
When referring to formulas, equations, and other items with someone's name, capitalize only the name of the author (not the noun).
Newton's first law