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  • Textbook
  • May 2004

Writing for Computer Science


  • Concise guide to designing an article with practical guidelines for writing style

  • Tips for the presentation of mathematics and best practice for graphs, figures, and tables

  • Includes guides for the presentation of algorithms, hypotheses, experiments and web presentation material

  • Invaluable reference, supplying a comprehensive overview on how to undertake and present research

  • Includes supplementary material:

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Table of contents (14 chapters)

  1. Front Matter

    Pages i-xi
  2. Introduction

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 1-6
  3. Good style

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 7-28
  4. Style specifics

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 29-58
  5. Punctuation

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 59-67
  6. Mathematics

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 69-81
  7. Graphs, figures, and tables

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 83-113
  8. Algorithms

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 115-128
  9. Editing

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 129-135
  10. Writing up

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 137-156
  11. Doing research

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 157-183
  12. Experimentation

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 185-204
  13. Refereeing

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 205-214
  14. Ethics

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 215-224
  15. Giving presentations

    • Justin Zobel
    Pages 225-248
  16. Back Matter

    Pages 249-270

About this book

Writing for Computer Science is an introduction to doing and describing - search. For the most part the book is a discussion of good writing style and effective research strategies. Some of the material is accepted wisdom, some is controversial, and some is my opinions. Although the book is brief, it is designed to be comprehensive: some readers may be interested in exploring topics further, but for most readers this book should be suf?cient. The ?rst edition of this book was almost entirely about writing. This e- tion, partly in response to reader feedback and partly in response to issues that arose in my ownexperiences as an advisor, researcher, and referee, is also about research methods. Indeed, the two topics—writing about and doing research— are not clearly separated. It is a small step from asking how do I write? to askingwhatisitthatIwriteabout? As previously, the guidance on writing focuses on research, but much of the material is applicable to general technical and professional communication. Likewise, the guidance on the practice of research has broader lessons. A pr- titioner trying a new algorithm or explaining to colleagues why one solution is preferable to another should be con?dent that the arguments are built on robust foundations. And, while this edition has a stronger emphasis on research than did the ?rst, nothing has been deleted; there is additional material on research, but the guidance on writing has not been taken away.


  • Design
  • Edition
  • Experiment
  • Performance
  • Quotation
  • Style
  • Text
  • algorithms
  • coding
  • editing
  • organization
  • visualization


From the reviews of the second edition:

"Zobel emphasizes that clarity … . my review would read as follows: buy this book. … The contents of the book are valuable, both as a reference … . has tailored his book quite specifically to computer science researchers. He presents valuable examples drawn from computer science papers … . This book is best suited to individual use. However, it could also serve as a supplementary text for a course on research methods. …" (Max Hailperin, Computing Reviews, February, 2005)

"I decided to recommend Zobel’s work to my advanced students and Ph.D. candidates. … An extra goody are the twenty exercises. They constitute a good start into raising many of the issues treated in the book. Many chapters give check-lists or lists of good practice. … His own way of writing demonstrates that there are helpful rules no writer should disobey. … Good writing, even in computing science, remains a process of experience and dialectics. Zobel’s book proves the point." (Frieder Nake, Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1106 (8), 2007)

Authors and Affiliations

  • School of Computer Science and Information Technology, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia

    Justin Zobel

Bibliographic Information