A Guide for Writing a Scientific Manuscript
These pages contain tips and strategies for writing a manuscript. When you finish the current step, click on the
right arrow at the bottom of the page, and you will be directed to the page containing advice for the next
step in the progress. Or, click the left arrow to go back to the previous step.
I suggest 5 steps to write a manuscript: Create a topic statement, outline the manuscript, write a draft, link
sentences and paragraphs, and inspect word choices. While each step overlaps somewhat with others, focus on
the task at hand, because steps that follow are dependent on previous actions. For example, linking sentences is
not critical when writing the draft, because if you later reposition a sentence in your manuscript, you often use a
different transition. And do not agonize over word choices early in the process. They are easier to make in the
last several versions of the manuscript.
1 Create a topic statement
2 Outline your manuscript
3 Draft a Manuscript
4 Link sentences and paragraphs
5 Inspect word choices and usage
Short description of the individual steps
Create a topic statement
By first creating a topic statement, you give direction to your writing. Take this statement and insert it where
suggested into the outline template.
Outline your manuscript
Focus on the topic statement and logically organize the manuscript. For example, you craft the introduction to
generate a question or hypothesis that is answered by the topic statement. Similarly, the discussion should start
with this statement, next address results and ideas in order of importance (most important first), and then
summarize the results while offering future research directions.
Write a draft
Elaborate on your topic sentences, the lowest level of the outline. Reorganize your outline as necessary.
Link sentences and paragraphs
As you near completion, focus on transitions between sentences or paragraphs. You may need to move, rewrite,
or even eliminate sentences that are difficult to link. No matter how clever something sounds, remove it if detracts
from the overall story.
Replace all definitions with single words. Count the number of times you say 'furthermore' or other popular
transition words or phrases. If there are three or more cases in the manuscript, or two in short succession, use
your thesaurus to find a substitute. For short reports, limit obvious transitional words to a single case. Inspect key
words and assure that your intended meaning is accurately, if not precisely, expressed by this choice. If not,
select another word.
Go To Step 1
The outline is a flexible
component, serving as
both a guide and a
reference for your writing.