RG Grainger
Written Work Guides
Guide to Drafting a Manuscript
Guide to being Lead Author of a Paper
Check-list for draft Reports, Papers and Theses
A Brief Guide to Style
Grainger Falls

Guide to Drafting a Manuscript

A scientific experiment is not complete until the results have been published. Therefore, to do science, one must also write science. Realising this, scientists should weigh the words in their manuscripts as carefully as they weigh the reagents in their laboratories.

Robert A. Day (1989)


I spend a lot of time reading draft manuscripts either as a coauthor, supervisor or to provide friendly advice. I usually enjoy doing this but please

  • give me some time to read your work (at least one day for every ten A4 sides),
  • present the manuscript in its final draft form, i.e. in a state in which you think it is ready to hand-in or submit (no missing figures, sections or references).

Before giving me a draft report or paper I expect you to have gone through this check-list to remove typographic errors. This way I can concentrate on the science.

The Challenge

At the time of handing-in you give me 1. I will return to you 20 if your manuscript has less than one error per page.

Hints: You usually can find more errors if you leave some time (a few days at least) before reviewing your manuscript. You might also try reading some of your work out loud. Often this can catch grammatical errors and clumsy English. And finally please have a look at A Brief Guide to Style for some notes on document formatting and style.

Earth Observation Data Group, Department of Physics, University of Oxford. Page last updated: @12:57 GMT 04-Jul-2022