Good writing is more than a mere academic formality; architects and interior architects must write clearly in diverse professional settings. Such writing includes, but is not limited to: drawing notations, project proposals and descriptions, critical texts, website material, site documentation, and program development. The following guidelines are provided to help MUSoA architecture / interior architecture students write clearly and concisely.
Use spell check! Professional architects and university students alike rely on word processing programs to assist with spelling and grammar. Most assignments completed for courses in architecture (including design studios) are typed texts that have been composed or finished in a word processing software. As such, students should use the “spell check” and “grammar check” functions vigilantly on all software, including MSWord, Illustrator, Photoshop, PowerPoint, AutoCAD, and Rhino, etc. Spelling and/or grammar errors are UNACCEPTABLE in writing assignments or on presentation drawings. Be particularly mindful of spelling and grammar errors in emails to professors or other professionals. In addition to following the guidelines presented here in the Writing Standards, students should strictly follow the specific instructions for individual assignments laid out by their instructors.
HOW TO WRITE WELL: STYLE AND GRAMMER
Please follow the following guidelines when / as applicable.
1. Avoid value-laden generalizations: Don’t tell me an architect or a building is important, marvelous, beautiful, remarkable…Show me why using specific examples; demonstrate your ideas with descriptive detail rather than hyperbole. When you resort to effusive praise it usually means that you have not understood why.
2. Always write actively, never passively. It distinguishes subjects and actions, keeps the energy positive, and makes your sentences flow better. For example, instead of “red was used for the exterior” try “Tschumi chose red for the exterior.” Make it clear that the architect (or client, or contractor) ACTS in a specific way.
3. Always identify people by both first and last name the first time you mention them, then refer to that same person by LAST NAME ONLY each subsequent time. For example, the first time you mention Frank Gehry, identify him as “FRANK GEHRY.” Then, every time after that, identify him simply as “GEHRY.” Do not use the figureʼs first name alone (ie. Frank or Frankie). This is way too casual.
4. Avoid mistaking plural for possessive nouns (and vice verse). For example, “Buildings” means more than one building; “buildingʼs” means something belonging to the building.
5. Be accurate when using punctuation in quotations. “Put that comma in the right place,” and “the exclamation mark as well!” “Have you thought about the question mark?” “Put those periods where they belong.” A valuable exception is when you include a quoted phrase within your own exclamatory or questioning sentence. For example, can we all believe that Kahn “asked the brick what it wanted to be”?
6. Avoid complexifying simple words or phrases. Use “to use” instead of “to utilize.”
7.Say things as directly as you can. You’ll sound much smarter.
8. Never confuse “then” for “than.” For example: a) First the foundations were laid then the walls were constructed. b) The number of people in the room was greater than that allowed by the Fire Marshal. Also, a “critic” writes a “critique,” and never the other way around.
9. Never write “I feel that…”, “In my opinion…” or “I disagree.” Your papers are written (and read) as critical interpretations. If you donʼt quote or paraphrase it (that is, if you don’t attribute it to another writer) it is assumed to be YOUR opinion.
10. When you DO convey the thoughts of another writer (or architect, or whoever) always either quote or paraphrase that person. The former requires quotation marks, while the latter does not. In both cases, you MUST identify the person in your text and you MUST include a citation, such as a footnote or endnote. Two examples: Louis Kahn said that bricks wanted to:
be made into walls.12 (paraphrase) “I asked the brick what it wanted to be,” Kahn once claimed, “and it said, a wall.”12 (quotation)
In both cases, a footnote follows the sentence. Always include a source for a quote or paraphrase. Failing to do so may result in charges of plagiarism and disciplinary measures. See the Marywood University handbook for policies concerning plagiarism.
11. Don’t repeat yourself excessively; that is, don’t use the same word more than once in a paragraph. Also, be careful not to repeat words too much in the paper as a whole.