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Extended Point Form

Point form can be used in design reports. Here's how.

[ Google doc version ]

Engineering reports don't have to be written in paragraph form. This section summarizes how to use how to use point form constructively to preserve precision yet conserve space and help ensure you're making your point as crisply as possible. This section is in fact written in the style of Extended Point Form1).

  • When engineers read a report, they're not interested in colourful prose.
    • They're only interested in facts and arguments.
  • Point form can be very useful for this, if done properly.
  • It's not enough to just list a bunch of “stuff” with bullets.
    • You still have to organize your thoughts, and choose your words carefully.
  • There's a general form to EPF:
    1. Start with a short regular paragraph for the section, like is done above this list you're reading now.
    2. Next, add a nested bullet list.
      • Sub-bullets explain or expand on the bullet they're nested under.
        • For instance, this item explains the one immediately above, which in turn explains the one above that.
      • Notice the structure of the sentences in each bullet.
        • Bulleted sentences are short and typically declarative in nature.
        • Semicolons rarely appear because they're not needed.
          • The sentence that comes after a semicolon would get its own bullet, usually indented one further level from the sentence that comes before the semicolon.
    3. Finally (and optionally), you add a short closing paragraph of “normal” text to summarize and conclude the whole EPF list.
      • It's important that the closing paragraph be meaningful and summative.
      • It's often omitted if the very next “chunk” is another EPF list.
  • EPF is no excuse, however, for sloppy writing.
    • Indeed, it's actually even more important to craft each bullet point carefully.
    • It's equally important to make sure all the points are in the “right” order so that the argument or information you're presenting flows smoothly from top to bottom in the EPF list.

If you've done everything right, then the whole thing will seem hold together as a linear or sequential description clearly communicating a potentially complex topic.

This is my name for it. I've yet to find anyone else who does it quite this way, so as far as I know it's my own creation. If you know of this approach from other sources, please do email me about it.
teaching/extended_point_form.txt · Last modified: 2020.03.12 13:30 (external edit)