Key to writing success is the ability to organize a discussion in a logical, well-thought-out manner, one that conveys the desired message with clear language and accurate syntax. For this reason, many authors find themselves referencing various resources for writing, style and usage. With so many options available, it is difficult to know which resources are best.
The truth is that most highly rated industry standard resources on technical and scientific writing approaches—or on grammar and usage—should suffice. The Agency-preferred style guide is:
- Style Manual: An Official Guide to the Form and Style of Federal Government Publications, 30th edition, Washington DC: United States Government Printing Office, 2016.
A downloadable pdf is available at: https://www.govinfo.gov/gpo-style-manual.
While NASA does not endorse any products, the author might include as desk references the GPO Style Manual partnered with the following, and a solid suite of resources for the researcher-writer are at hand:
- Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup, and William T. Fitzgerald. The Craft of Research. 4th edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
- The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essential Guide for Writers, Editors, and Publishers. 16th edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.
- Scientific Style and Format: The Council of Science Editors Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. 8th edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014.
An online subscription may be obtained for The Chicago Manual of Style and the CSE Scientific Style and Format at: https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org. Both resources provide detailed coverage for handling tables and figures.
Another great resource is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (https://ieee.org), access to which is available to NASA employees and on-site contractors. The IEEEXplore Digital Library (https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/Xplore/home.jsp) includes numerous guidance options on how to prepare and present information. Two wonderful, albeit older, short articles of great value on clear writing are:
- Michaelson, Herbert B. “Clarity in Technical Writing,” Proceedings of the I.R.E., 1949. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=1697943
- Rathjens, Dietrich. “The Seven Components of Clarity in Technical Writing,” IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication, Vol. PC23, No. 4, December 1985. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=6448848