Check your language and grammar

You have the liberty to select the variant of English for your writing. If uncertain, opt for American English, as it’s prevalently used in scientific contexts.

For non-native English speakers, particularly those from German-speaking backgrounds, navigating (American) English can present typical pitfalls. The following tips, while aimed primarily at native German speakers, may also benefit those from different linguistic backgrounds.

Keep it simple

In contrast to German, which often features lengthy and complex sentences, aim for shorter and simpler sentences in English. If you find yourself linking many main clauses or employing numerous nested clauses, consider breaking them up.

One strategy for managing sentence length is to place each sentence on a new line in your LaTeX document. This approach aids in editing without altering the final text’s layout.

Adopting a more verbal style can greatly simplify your writing, as opposed to the nominal style that typically requires more extensive wording to convey the same message. Additionally, be mindful of sentences that may contain two distinct points; these are often more effectively communicated in separate sentences or paragraphs.

Favor the active voice for a more direct and engaging narrative. Use the first person plural “we” to describe actions taken in your research, even if it feels unusual for solo projects.

The implementation of out tool was done in Java.

We implemented our tool in Java.

Despite the strongest efforts, no solution was found.

Despite our strongest efforts, we could not find a solution.

Be Precise

Your text should be a collection of facts. These facts must be correct and precise. Therefore, it is crucial that your written words convey exactly what you intend to say.

Do not seek synonyms merely for the sake of variety

Often, synonyms do not carry the exact same meaning in specific contexts. Therefore, do not attempt to find synonyms for critical terms. Even for synonyms whose meaning is exactly the same, the variety does not aid the reader but could confuse them. Hence, it is acceptable to repeat the same term consistently.

Assume A is the superclass of B and C. … B overrides the method foo() of its parent class superclass. … Because A is the base class superclass of B, any instance of B can be used where an instance of type A is required.

Similarly, repeating the same sentence structure multiple times can aid in clarity:

A is the superclass of B. B is a subclass of A and the superclass of B1. C is a subclass of A and the superclass of C1 and C2.

Be objective and avoid unnecessary rhetorical devices

Rhetorical devices are a powerful linguistic tool to articulate your thoughts. However, they should not be overused.

Avoid Fillers

Transitions between phrases can be important, especially when they contribute to the same context. However, they can become irritating if overused.


The punctuation rules differ between German and English.

Periods and commas of abbreviations

Deciding on where to place periods and commas in abbreviations can be confusing. Below are examples of commonly used abbreviations and how to apply them correctly.

Examples using “e.g.” (commas before and after):

Some color combinations, e.g., red and green, are not accessible to color-blind individuals.

Rephrase using “i.e.” (commas before and after):

Our best solution contravenes Occam’s Razor, i.e., it is not the simplest one.

Referencing multiple authors with “et al.” (period only after “al”):

Whitten et al. [2] conducted a case study on PGP 5.0.

Indicating a list continuation with “etc.” (only one period):

Chapters, sections, subsections, etc., are vital for structuring your text.

Commas within sentences

In English, you use far less commas than in German. Still, you cannot just omit all of them. Here are a few thumb of rules for the most common scenarios.

Cambridge comma

The Cambidge comma is often used to prevent ambiguity in sentences with conjunctions, such as “and” or “or”. You are free to choose whether you want to use it.

The colors of traffic lights are red, yellow, and green. (with)

The colors of traffic lights are red, yellow and green. (without)

Shared subject

If two clauses share the subject, usually no comma is needed. On the other hand, if they have separate subjects (even if it is the same word), set a comma.

It is the fastest but not the cheapest solution.

It is the fastest solution, but it is not the cheapest one.

However, this does not hold for dependent clauses with “if”, “when”, “because”, etc.:

If the “if” is at the beginning of the sentence, use a comma after the if-clause.

Don’t use a comma if the “if” is in the middle.

Introductary phrases and interruperts

Set commas behind introductory phrases and around interrupters. You would also make a break when reading them out loud.

Hence, we decided to use our only option.

That and which

The words “that” and “which” have multiple meanings, hence the comma rules for them depend on their usage.

Non-defining clauses are surrounded by commas, defining clauses are not. You can simply distinguish them on whether they could be dropped without breaking the sentence. If the sentence breaks, it is defining, otherwise, it is non-defining but just an additional information. In scientific writing, it is common to begin defining clauses with “that” and non-defining clauses with “which”.

Defining clause:

This is the only solution that we could find.

Non-defining clause:

This is our best solution, which is also better than we expected.

Indirect questions:

We are not sure which solution to apply.

Prepositional clause:

We could not decide on which solution to chose.


We concluded (that) this is our best option.

See also

For more detailed information, have a look at guides such as in this grammarly blog.