Engineering Writing by Design: Creating Formal Documents of Lasting Value, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Engineering Writing by Design

Creating Formal Documents of Lasting Value, 1st Edition

By Edward J. Rothwell, Michael Cloud

CRC Press

199 pages | 12 B/W Illus.

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Engineers are smart people. Their work is important, which is why engineering material should be written as deliberately and carefully as it will be read.

Engineering Writing by Design: Creating Formal Documents of Lasting Value demonstrates how effective writing can be achieved through engineering-based thinking. Based on the authors’ combined experience as engineering educators, the book presents a novel approach to technical writing, positioning formal writing tasks as engineering design problems with requirements, constraints, protocols, standards, and customers (readers) to satisfy. Specially crafted for busy engineers and engineering students, this quick-reading, conversational text:

  • Describes how to avoid logical fallacies and use physical reasoning to catch mistakes in claims
  • Covers the essentials of technical grammar and style as well as the elements of mathematical exposition
  • Emphasizes the centrality of the target audience, and thus the need for clear and concise prose

Engineering Writing by Design: Creating Formal Documents of Lasting Value addresses the specific combination of thinking and writing skills needed to succeed in modern engineering. Its mantra is: to write like an engineer, you must think like an engineer. Featuring illustrative examples, chapter summaries and exercises, quick-reference tables, and recommendations for further reading, this book is packed with valuable tips and information practicing and aspiring engineers need to become effective writers.


"Teaching technical writing is challenging, as most engineering students feel that it isn’t important, because they are studying engineering not English. A book that teaches the logic behind technical writing combined with basic writing rules/tips is an asset."

—Raenita A. Fenner, Loyola University Maryland, Baltimore, USA

"This book places the value of good writing in an engineering context—both in terms of methodology (by using the design process) and in terms of the need for good writing in engineering. … I’m not aware of other engineering-based [writing] texts that go much past the mechanics of writing."

—Fred DePiero, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, USA

Table of Contents



To the Reader


Why Bother?

Think, Then Write, Like an Engineer

Quick Review of Some Design Concepts

Chapter Recap


Clearly Understand the Goal

What is the Goal?

How the Information Resides in Your Mind

Your Audience

Other Aspects of Situational Awareness

If Persuasion is Part of the Picture

Chapter Recap


Mindset for Technical Writing

See Rules as Helpful Tools

Think Clearly Before Starting to Write

Again, Keep Your Reader in View!

Getting Started With a Mind Map

Chapter Recap


Avoid the Worst Thinking Traps

Claims vs. Facts

Logical Fallacies

Additional Checks on Correctness

Other Ways to Be Careful

Chapter Recap


Some Points of Grammar and Style

Rules and Suggestions

Chapter Recap


Keep Your Reader in Mind

More Rules and Suggestions

Chapter Recap


Write Your Math Well

What’s Wrong with My Math?

Getting Started

Writing Math Well

The Value of Abstraction

Chapter Recap


Further Reading

Quick Reference


About the Authors

Edward J. Rothwell received his BS from Michigan Technological University, Houghton, USA; MS and EE from Stanford University, California, USA; and Ph.D from Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA; all in electrical engineering. He has been a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Michigan State University since 1985, and currently holds the rank of professor. Beforehand, he worked for Raytheon Co., Waltham, Massachusetts, USA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory, Lexington, USA. Dr. Rothwell previously coauthored a book on electromagnetics and has published numerous journal articles on related subjects. He is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Sigma Xi, and URSI Commission B, and is an IEEE fellow.

Michael J. Cloud received his BS, MS, and Ph.D in electrical engineering from Michigan State University, East Lansing, USA. Since 1987, he has been a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Lawrence Technological University, Southfield, Michigan, USA. He currently holds the rank of associate professor. Dr. Cloud has coauthored 11 other books, primarily in the field of engineering mathematics. He is a senior member of the IEEE.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
TECHNOLOGY & ENGINEERING / Engineering (General)