5.4.4 Tips for Writing Mathematics

You may want to take a few minutes now, looking back over your own solutions you’ve written from activities you have worked on in Units 1–5. You may also find that it helps to read your work out loud.

Does it make sense and is each step explained? Did you use equal signs correctly? Did you skip any steps? Are there any improvements that you can make to your own work? If there are, you might like to identify and highlight these in the summary box below (or add them to the list) as a reminder for your future work.

Another reason for explaining your work carefully is that it could possibly help an instructor (in a future math class) to understand your thoughts and you may be awarded some partial credit for your ideas even if your final answer is incorrect.

Tips for Writing Mathematics

  • Describe each step, explaining your work in words carefully, and checking that each sentence follows on logically from the previous one.
  • Start each new sentence on a new line, and line up the equals signs underneath each other.  This helps you use equals signs correctly as well!
  • Use link words like “hence,” “so,” and “therefore” to help your writing flow.
  • Use notation correctly. Equals signs should only be used if two expressions are equal. They should not be used to link your solution together.
  • Check your writing by reading it aloud. When you translate the symbols, it should still make sense.
  • Use well-labeled graphs, charts, and tables to summarize data and results clearly.  We will look at this again in Unit 11.
  • Remember to include the units of measurement in both your working and with your answers.
  • Include a concluding sentence which answers the question exactly.

If you’re interested in more help and practice in writing mathematics, here is a website about language, notation, and formulas [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] that will be useful. Note: There may be some topics that you haven’t studied yet, but the layout of the mathematics is what you want to pay attention to!

5.4.3 Understanding a Solution

5.5 Extensions and Further Exploration