Language: Being Precise

  • Michael Alley


In scientific writing, precision is the most important goal of language. If your writing does not communicate exactly what you did, then you have changed the work. One important aspect of precision is choosing the right word. Another important aspect of being precise is choosing the appropriate level of accuracy. Just as you wouldn’t assign the wrong number of significant digits to a numeral in a calculation, so shouldn’t you assign an inappropriate level of accuracy to details in your writing. The appropriate level of detail depends upon your work and your audience.


Diesel Engine Nitrogen Oxide Mixed Convection Specific Detail Thermal Storage 


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  1. Bennett, A., Literary Taste and How to Form It (London: George H. Doran Publishers, 1909).Google Scholar
  2. LaFavore, M., Radon, the Invisible Threat (Pennsylvania: Rodale Press, 1987).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Alley
    • 1
  1. 1.Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer EngineeringVirginia TechBlacksburgUSA

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