Graduate Writing Resources

“One of the best ways to enhance your career and ensure your employability is by improving your writing skills. Well-written work portrays you and your employer in a positive light. It allows your colleagues, supervisors, current clients — and potential ones — know how good your ideas and proposals are. Writing well can pay off in raises and promotions, and bring new work to your company.”

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering is dedicated to helping you to improve your professional communication skills to aid your success after graduation. This page has templates and tutorials for many different kinds of written work and oral presentations.

Master's Thesis


Proposals should be written in an NSF or NIH format which would include only the technical proposal and the vita sections. The page limit for the proposal should be 10 pages for MS students and 15 for PhD students. The choice of which format to use would be based on the area of research. The faculty advisor would help the student choose. The following are the links to the NSF and NIH websites for their format information.


The Final Oral Examination (oral thesis defense) is conducted by the supervisory committee according to Graduate School regulations. A student will be passed only if the committee is satisfied that the thesis research and documentation are unquestionably of the quality that will bring distinction to the candidate and the department.

All students must understand that they are responsible for ensuring that the submitted thesis meets the requirements of the Graduate School for proper format. Ample help is available from the Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Editor in the form of a Handbook for Theses and Dissertations as well as seminars. Theses with improper format will be rejected. When students send a draft to their committee, they must also upload their thesis for Preliminary Review to the Graduate School.

Thesis Requirements

After successfully defending the thesis, the student must upload the final version of their thesis to the Graduate School. Detailed policies and procedures concerning the thesis are contained in A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations published by the Graduate School.

Qualifying Exam

Your supervisory committee can write any variety of questions to evaluates your readiness for research and provides you with an extensive learning opportunity. Potential types of questions could include any of the following (and more!)

  1. Assess technical literature in their area of research (i.e., evaluate a paper, provide a survey, summarize patent literature, etc.)
  2. Explain techniques (measurements, simulations, etc.) that they may need to use
  3. Critically analyze technical ideas (i.e., significance, pros and cons, strengths and weaknesses, etc.)
  4. Demonstrate mastery of material from their coursework related to their research
  5. Identify opportunities for new research directions

Because of this students needs to be prepared to answer questions not just through technical or mathematical responses, but also through proper writing and formatting.

Instructions for Students

  • Submit your answers using Microsoft Word or similar software
  • Be concise and clear in your responses. Your written answers and explanations should not exceed five pages.
    • This did not include any potential appendix or reference sections that you might add.
  • If you encounter any questions with potential ambiguities, you are encouraged to present your hypothesis or interpretation as part of your answer.


Writing Style

Because the student writing a thesis or dissertation is presenting the results of research primarily for other scholars within the academic community, the style should be formal rather than colloquial. The tone of the thesis or dissertation should be serious; in general, a conversational writing style is not appropriate. Despite a lack of particular knowledge about a field, an intelligent reader of a thesis or dissertation should be able to understand terminology and the discussion of research. Jargon must be avoided because it obscures rather than clarifies the topic.

For hyphenation and spelling, the current editions of Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary are standard sources. Punctuation, capitalization, and the rules of grammar can be found in any basic grammar book. For matters of English usage, the best source is R.W. Burchfield’s Fowler’s Modern English Usage (2004).

Content Description
Preliminary Pages – Formatting Title Page Fill in Graduate School Template
Copyright Page Fill in Graduate School Template
Statement of Dissertation Approval Fill in Graduate School Template with only the names. The “date approved” slots will be filled in after your defense.
Abstract 350 words or less.
Dedication Optional
Table of Contents Fill in Graduate School Template
Preface or Acknowledgements See Graduate School Template and Handbook for purpose and content of a preface.
Chapter Pages – Formatting Chapter 1 Proposal
Chapter 2 Recommended: First published journal article
Chapter 3 Recommended: Second published journal article
Chapter 4 Recommended: Third published journal article
Additional chapters Dependent on student’s research and additional publications, if any.
Final Chapter (Defense) Debriefing what your 3 journal articles were building to.

  • What does this research mean?
  • What place in science does it fill?
Reference Appendix See Graduate School Template
References IEEE Citation Guide

Speaking Resources

Getting Started

Any Speech, the BIG picture word.gifpdficon_small.gif
Slide Templates ppt PowerPoint File
Slide Templates ppt PowerPoint File
Technical Presentations ppt (instructions included)
From Attention to Interest pdficon_small.gif
Communicating Complex information pdficon_small.gif
Five Important Features of a Technical Presentation pdficon_small.gif

Analyzing Your Audience

Audience Analysis for Tech Speeches pdficon_small.gif

Visual Aids

Advantages of Visual Aids word.gifpdficon_small.gif
Lots-a Slide Templates ppt

Feedback and Evaluation

ECE 2000 – Intro Critique Form: Speech Critique form 1 word.gif

Handling Fear of Public Speaking

Fear of Public Speaking word.gifpdficon_small.gif

Writing Resources

Getting Started

Lab Reports

Technical Papers

IEEE Format and References pdf_icon.gif
IEEE Author Info (including templates)

Patents, Business Plans, Letters & Memos

Tutorial on Patents word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Patent Template word.gif
Business Plan Template word.gif
Letters and Memos Assignment word.gif pdf_icon.gif


General information (power point) ppt
Instructions for running the poster printer word.gif
Template 1 ppt
Template 2 ppt
Template Cyan ppt
Template Blue ppt
Template Red ppt
Example A ppt
Example B ppt
Example (3 columns) ppt
Example from BioEng ppt
Poster Power Point Presentation by Aly ppt

Senior Project/Thesis/Dissertation

Project Proposal word.gif
Thesis Template (.zip)
Graduate Student Survival 101


Abstractions word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Audience word.gif pdf_icon.gif / Assessing the Audience word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Context word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Conversation model word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Criteria word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Description word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Ethos word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Evaluation word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Shared Assumptions word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Transitions word.gif pdf_icon.gif

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Cubing word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Top 10 Tips word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Plagiarism word.gif
Ethics of Multiple Submissions pdf_icon.gif
Conclusion Handout pdf_icon.gif

Assessment Strategies

Peer Review Form word.gif and Instructions word.gif.
(Slightly more complex form word.gif)
Intro Peer Evaluation Form word.gif
Evaluation word.gif pdf_icon.gif
Conclusion Peer Evaluation Form pdf_icon.gif
Proof Reader’s Marks pdf_icon.gif

Teacher Workshops/Faculty Resources

ECE Write to Learn Activities word.gif
Write to Learn Rationale word.gif
PBJ Communication Day word.gif