Tips for Writing a Letter to the Editor
- Be Brief: Most newspapers will not run letters to the editor longer than 250 words! The Globe and Mail for example has a 200 word maximum. For the purpose of this assignment, however, the LETTER TO THE EDITOR should NOT EXCEED 250 words. Keep letters short and to the point. State your position clearly. Stick to ONE SUBJECT.
- Don’t Get Personal: It’s okay to express anger or outrage, but keep it focused on specific policies or ideas. Personal attacks are a sure way to sink publication of your letter. They can also set up for libel or loss of credibility.
- Find a Local Angle: If you are writing about a statewide or national issue, explain how it connects to your local river or stream. Readers want to know how an issue affects their lives and their communities.
- Explain Yourself: Don’t assume readers are as familiar with an issue as you are. Give a short but informative background before tackling the main issue.
- Avoid Form Letters: Sample letters to the editor are just that – samples. Use them only as a guide in writing your own letter: don’t ever submit them verbatim to the newspaper. Also, avoid submitting the same letter to two competing newspapers.
- Know the Rules: Most newspapers have strict guidelines for what sorts of letters to the editor they will publish. Some require a typed letter; others may want it sent by e-mail. Almost all will want your real name (not a pseudonym), address and phone number so they can verify you are really the author. Many newspapers will only print a letter to the editor by any individual once per month. Check your newspaper’s guideline on its letters page or its website.
- Be Timely: Newspapers rarely publish letters that are unrelated to topics being covered in the news. Make sure your letter to the editor focuses on something that is happening now, or has happened within the last few weeks.
Tips For Writing Abstracts
Make the Abstract Easy to Read
- Avoid jargon
- Use active verbs rather than passive verbs
- Use short sentences but vary sentence structure so that the abstract doesn’t sound choppy
- Use complete sentences
- Unless the abstract is very short (100-125 words), divide it into several paragraphs
Be Concise; Give Information Only Once
Follow the Rules Laid Out by the Specific Scientific Meeting
(You will be asked to “submit” to the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco). Include:
- An introductory paragraph stating the purpose of your work and research question(s)
- A paragraph with basic information on the methods you used to address your research question(s)
- A paragraph describing your key results
- A concluding paragraph outlining what you have learned from your research and the significance of the findings
Tips on Persuasive Speech
The Motivated Sequence
- Attention: Gain the attention of the audience and focus them on the main ideas of the speech
- Need: Define your general problem and relate it to the needs of the audience. The audience must understand the need for change. Then illustrate the need by using examples, evidence, testimony, and statistics. Relate these to the needs, interests, and values of the audience.
- Satisfaction: Provide a solution to the problem. Do this by offering the following details:
- The solution states how your action will meet the need discussed earlier
- Your comprehensive plan
- Demonstrate how your solution will work
- Use strong evidence and supporting material
- Raise objections you might anticipate and overcome the objections
- Visualization: Increase the desire for you proposed solution by using vivid descriptions to paint pictures through the use of imagery. Show how the audience will benefit from your plan, how the future will look, how they will profit from a policy, or how an altered belief ill bring about a positive result.
- Action: Every persuasive speech should end with a call o action. You have created a desire, now tell the audience what you want them to do. Use a direct appeal to achieve the desired action. Conclude on a strong note that convinces the audience to act based on the soundness of your proposal.
Structure of a Speech to Convince
- Present a history of the problem. Discuss the events that preceded the problem and outline the importance of the topic.
Discuss the effects of the problem at the present time. Give illustrations, evidence, facts, proof, and examples to support your claims.
List the causes that brought about the effects. Use supporting evidence.
List possible solutions to solve your problem. Present alternatives and use supporting evidence.
Present your solution to the problem. Offer the evidence and the reasons for choosing the solution or promoting a particular belief or idea.
Show how the audience will benefit from your proposal. For example, they will get a better education; increase their profits; obtain better access for the disabled.
Conclude your speech with a final statement supporting your solution/proposal. What action would you like the audience to take?
Suggestions for Poster Presentations
Be sure to make the poster presentation easy for the reader to follow. Do not put too much written information on the poster, and avoid putting tables and/or figures that are difficult to interpret.
Use a program such as Microsoft Powerpoint® to create the poster. This will be easier and more visually appealing than combining separate pages produced by word processing software or attaching papers to poster board.
One of the simplest arrangements for a poster in landscape orientation with individual poster elements in portrait orientation. When using Microsoft Powerpoint, under page setup command, change the dimensions of a slide to the desired poster size (e.g., 32” x 40″). Then you can begin to add information to the slide. When printed, the slide will become a poster with the dimensions you have designated.
A poster presentation should follow the same format as an oral presentation. There is normally:
- a Title describing the title of the project, the people involved in the work and their affiliation.
- a Summary of the project stating what you have set out to do, how you have done it, the key findings and the main results.
- an Introduction that should include clear statements about the problem that you are trying to solve, the characteristics that you are trying to discover or the proofs that you are trying to establish. These should then lead to declarations of project aims and objectives.
- a Methodology section that explains the analytical approach used in your study. You should also state and justify any assumptions, so that your results could be viewed in the proper context.
- a Results section that you use to illustrate the main results of the work via tables and/or figures. a Conclusion section, listing the main findings of your investigation, and
- a Further Work section that should contain your recommendations and thoughts about how the work could be progressed, other tests that could be applied, etc.
Given that you have limited space in a poster, you now have to decide between what is important and what is not necessary. Your decision should be based on at least 2 factors, namely:
- What are you trying to achieve by presenting the poster? Is it to tell people what you have done? Is it to tell people of a new discovery? Is it to create awareness of a problem?
- Who will be attending the presentation? Are they technical people? What is the level of their knowledge of your subject area?
The answers to these questions define the type of content to include and set the tone of the presentation.
Once you decide what is necessary to include in the poster, move on to the next steps of actually creating the poster. Some other things to consider when creating a poster are:
- Keep the material simple
- make full use of the space, but do not cramp the poster full of information as the result can often appear messy.
- be concise and do not waffle. Use only pertinent information to convey your message.
- be selective when showing results. Present only those that illustrate the main findings of the project.
- Use colours sparingly and with taste
- colours should be used only to emphasise, differentiate and to add interest. Do not use colours just to impress!
- try to avoid using large swathes of bright garish colours like bright green, pink, orange or lilac.
- choose background and foreground colour combinations that have high contrast and complement each other.
- Do not use more than 2 font types
- too many font types distracts, especially when they appear on the same sentence.
- Titles and headings should appear larger than other text, but not too large. The text should also be legible from a distance, say from 1.5m to 2m.
- Do not use all UPPER CASE type in your posters. It can make the material difficult to read.
- Do not use a different font type to highlight important points
- otherwise the fluency and flow of your sentence can appear disrupted. For example, use underlined text, the bold face or italics or combinations to emphasise words and phrases.
- if you use bold italicised print for emphasis, then underlining is not necessary – overkill!
- should be kept to a minimum.
- present only the necessary and important equations.
- should be large enough.
- should be accompanied by nomenclature to explain the significance of each variable
- A picture is worth a thousand words … (but only if it is used appropriately)
- choose graph types that are appropriate to the information that you want to display.
- annotations should be large enough, and the lines of line-graphs should be thick enough so that they may be viewed from a distance.
- instead of using lines of different thickness, use contrasting coloured lines or different line styles to distinguish between different lines in multi-line graphs.
- multi-line plots or plots with more than one variable should have a legend relating the plotted variable to the colour or style of the line.
- Diagrams and drawings
- should be labelled
- drawings and labels should be large and clear enough so that they are still legible from a distance
- do not try to cramp labelling to fit into components of a drawing or diagram. Use ‘arrows’ and ‘callouts’
- should only be used if they add interest to the display and complement the subject matter. Otherwise, all they do is to distract attention from the focus of the presentation.
- Check your spelling
- there is nothing more amusing or annoying than spelling mistakes on public display, especially if they are on the title.
- spelling mistakes give the impression that you have not put in the effort; careless; not bothered; not worthy of high assessment scores.
- Maintain a consistent style
- inconsistent styles give the impression of disharmony and can interrupt the fluency and flow of your messages.
- graphs should be of the same size and scale especially if they are to be compared.
- captions for graphs, drawings and tables should either be positioned at the top or at the bottom of the figure.
- Review, review and review
- make draft versions of your poster sections and check them for mistakes, legibility and inconsistency in style.
- try different layout arrangements.
- ask your partner, friends, colleagues or supervisor for their ‘honest’ opinions.
- be critical
Selections taken from: Dept. of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Newcastle