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"Starting Star" holds a pencil at the beginning of each writing space to give the visual cue of where to start.Kindergarten Story Paper is portrait orientation with 13 lines per page.Intellectually though, it’s a decent rule to live by, as getting stuck in a comfortable rut is a really bad idea (especially as an academic, as I discovered to my cost).
Coming from a half white/half Chinese mongrel background, I’ve never felt like a culturally imperialist oppressor before, but it suddenly seemed very unfair, speaking to an audience of highly intelligent, literate people, to be telling them that their form of written English did not conform to mine, and therefore needed correcting.
And parenthetically, it’s even more unreasonable when journals see fit to impose their dubious “house style”: for example, what right do they have to tell authors they can’t use the word “done” when describing an experiment? Probably, as unless we want to relegate English to a minority language, we need to have a form that is widely understood.
Red ink also exists, but of course is used primarily in accounting, for noting numbers that are “in the red” (or negative…) There are other colors, too, but they don’t stand out as clearly against the white, cream or ivory papers that are our standard background to write on.
I don’t think there’s a single answer as to why blue or black, back in the mists of time.
And if you’re writing a personal letter (sigh — which almost no one does any more…) it’s a way to distinguish it from something that’s mass-mailed.
Although advertisers have caught on to this, I’ve noticed, and are starting to use a mid-blue color for some mass-advertising junk mail stuff with addresses in italic, to make it look more like a personal letter to the casual viewer.
So now I’m climbing down from my soapbox (which Wikipedia pleasingly remarks is exemplified in the modern day by a blog) and treating you to my top tips for good science writing.
Of course, nothing beats someone teaching you this in person, so if Vivian Siegel isn’t available, get in touch! If you can’t read it out loud without sounding pompous or getting hypoxia, don’t write it. If you think you’ve written something insightful and elegant, you’ll probably have to delete it. The passive voice is actually OK; just don’t overuse it. The harder the concept, the more simple the words should be, but be aware you may have to write quite a lot till it’s all explained.
It’s always better to write too much and then cut back. Your writing should never come between you and your reader.
Don’t make the reader stop in their tracks because you’ve lost them half way through a ridiculously long sentence, or made a grammatical howler (see 1 and 5). “The”, “a” and prepositions are the trickiest places where usage changes between languages. Beware of vague introductory sentences – they often say the same thing as the next sentence, just in fluffier terms.