9.4 Equations - 9 Academic and scientific conventions

Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015

9.4 Equations
9 Academic and scientific conventions

Equations are common throughout scientific writing, and it is important to present them clearly.

Explorative Task

1) What do you notice about the way these equations are introduced, formatted and referenced?

2) Which phrases in the accompanying texts are used to refer to the equations directly?


The earth’s atmosphere is oxidising. Nearly all of the earth’s crust consists of oxides, which indicates that this is the preferred minimum energy state for most materials. Gold and silver are the only two metals that are found in their native, unoxidised state. The general oxidising reaction can be written as:

where M is the metal and O is the oxygen.


When an element or compound burns in dioxygen to give an oxide, it is oxidised (equation 1.42).

Conversely, if a metal oxide reacts with dihydrogen and is converted to the metal, then the oxide is reduced (equation 1.43).

In reaction 1.42, O2 is the oxidising agent and in reaction 1.43, H2 is the reducing agent.

1) An equation can be integrated into the sentence as in A. In this case, the equation is introduced with a colon, and the sentence continues after the equation (so does not begin with a capital letter).

An equation can also be preceded and followed by complete sentences, as in B.

2) The equation is indented.

3) The equation is referenced on the far right.


Rewrite the text with the correct formatting and punctuation.

If a soap film is stretched across a frame with a moveable wire, the force required to hold the wire in place is F = 2yl (6.1) where l is the length of the wire, y is the surface tension of the soap film/air interface and the factor 2 is introduced because the film has two surfaces.

Model Text 11, Appendix 4