5.4.1 Writing Mathematics

Calculator, notepad and pencil

Working through the units, your writing fulfills different purposes. These include responding to the activities, making your own notes (as mentioned in Unit 1) when encountering a concept that is new to you, writing your assignments, working out self-checks, and explaining mathematical ideas whenever needed. These forms of writing use different styles. For example, something which may be perfectly acceptable as a quick note to remind yourself of a key point may not be suitable as part of your assignment for your tutor, or to resolve a problem during a self-check or for others to see.

You will need to make sure that whatever you write is going to be clear to anyone who needs to read it and that includes yourself in several weeks when you may come back to study what you wrote today. Asking someone else to read your work or imagining that you are writing for someone who has little knowledge of the topic and requires a full explanation can guide you to make sure you include sufficient detail.

Cartoon of a woman reading

Mathematical writing requires additional skills in using notation and specialist vocabulary—remember, math is a language! This skill does take time to develop. Practice is the key, and while you are working through the next units and sections, don’t forget to observe how the mathematics is set out, since this can serve as a model for the style that you can use to explain your mathematical reasoning. You will also find it helpful to try and use this style whenever you do your own calculations—the more you do this the more like second nature writing your math correctly will become and the easier it will be!

5.4 Reading and Writing Mathematics

5.4.2 Importance of Proper Math Notation