5.3 Developing Your Writing
As you get further along in your writing, you will start to think about its quality and whether there is anything you can do to improve this. Firstly, think about your readers' needs and aim to make your writing as clear as possible:
- avoid excessively long sentences
- do not use a difficult word where a simple one will do
- use punctuation correctly to aid the sense of your writing
- use paragraphs to break your text into logically self-contained units
To guide your readers, you also need to have a system of "signposts" - things that explicitly or implicitly tell the reader what to expect. Signposts that you can use in your thesis are:
- a detailed List of Contents
- a well written abstract
- an introductory chapter/section for the thesis as a whole and an introductory paragraph for each individual chapter/section
- a consistent system of headings and sub-headings
Referencing and Avoiding Plagiarism
You will need to reference your thesis fully and accurately both to acknowledge your debts to others and allow your readers to distinguish your ideas from those of others that you have drawn on.
Drafting and Re-Drafting
In re-drafting your work you need to make sure that each new draft represents a step forward rather than simply revising something that was fine anyway or revising something to no good effect.
Instead of re-drafting as you go, why not look to make drafting a process with formal stages with different aspects to be addressed at each stage:
- first re-draft – check you have covered everything in your plan
- second re-draft – see if there's anything you can make clearer
- third re-draft – check the details and accuracy
Getting feedback from your supervisor as your writing progresses should already be a part of your work plan and your strategy for managing your writing. Your supervisor will comment on the content of your work, but if you would find it helpful to also be given feedback on your writing style and what you could do to develop your writing, let your supervisor know that this is something you would appreciate their comments on.
How should I format my thesis?
The University has specific format requirements that you must follow in presenting your thesis. The formatting advice below is applicable to both the first and final submissions of your thesis:
Paper Size and Printing
Theses must be presented on A4 paper. Good quality printing should be used throughout. Pages should be printed single-sided.
Text should normally use a 12 point font with double-spaced lines.
There is no regulation as to what font should be used, but an easy to read font such as Times New Roman or Ariel is recommended.
There should be a margin of at least 3.5cm on the left side of each page (both typescript and diagrams) to allow for binding. Other margins should be at least 2.5cm.
Explanatory notes should stand at the foot of the relevant pages.