Comm+D has assembled a large list of resources you can use while working on your various projects. Although you can download many of these PDF files to get detailed information about general topics that Comm+D often discusses in our tutoring sessions, you can also feel free to make an appointment with a Comm+D TA or mentor if you need specialized advice or help in understanding these resources or their topics.
These pages provide important "best practices" information to help everybody improve their communication project!
- Dialectical Note-Taking [PDF]
- Gender Fair Language [PDF]
- Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing [video]
- Revising Prose [PDF]
Clarity is a major goal in daily communication. Everyone wants to produce "clear" writing and speech that their readers and listeners can understand! Use the tips in these pages to learn how to eliminate the confusion and clutter in your language.
The links in this section point to the citation style rules for the most popular guides: The American Psychological Association guide (APA), Modern Language Association guide (MLA), Chicago Style Guide, and the University of Pittsburgh's style guidelines for the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
- Abstracts [PDF] Describes and explains the elements of a formal abstract. An abstract is a stand-alone statement that briefly conveys the essential information of a paper, article, document or book; presents the objective, methods, results, and conclusions of a research project; and has a brief, non-repetitive style.
- Cover Letters [PDF] Describes the job cover letter. A cover letter allows you to tailor your application to each specific position.
- Critical Analysis Essays [PDF] Designed to help students write critical analysis essays. A critical analysis essay analyzes, interprets, and evaluates a text, answering the questions how? why? and how well?
- Graduate School Application Essays [PDF] Offers some points to consider in writing an essay for application to graduate school. Graduate programs often require a piece of writing — variously called a statement of purpose or personal essay — that is a written expression of your qualities as an applicant. This essay is an essential part of your application.
- Lab Reports [PDF] Describes a generally applicable format for the lab report for engineering and science courses, leaving you to adapt this format to your particular situation. That is, you can vary the format according to what is most appropriate for the lab work you’re doing. Always check with your professor or TA about the specific format required in your course.
- Memos [PDF] Describes a common form of inter- or intra-departmental communication in business and academia, a type of short report called a memorandum (pl. memorandums or memoranda), usually called a memo. Memos are written by everyone from junior executives and engineers to CEOs; therefore, it is essential to master this basic communication form.
- Presentations [PDF] Contains some basic tips about giving a presentation. Your academic success and career advancement may depend upon your ability to communicate with a variety of audiences. You can use these instructions as a guideline to help you both organize the material and structure your presentation to meet your audience’s informational needs.
- Resumes [PDF] Provides information you can use to create a resume for a job or other application: a brief summary of your abilities, education, experience, and skills. The main task of a resume is to convince prospective employers or admissions officers to contact you. Use this guide if you’re writing your first resume or want to analyze your current resume’s effectiveness.
Students in Rensselaer's Electrical Engineering and Software Design and Documentation courses may find the following links below useful when working on their course projects.
- Laboratory Introduction to Embedded Control Design (LITEC) Report-Writing Tips [PDF]
- Electrical Lab Reports [PDF]
- Software Design and Documentation
Multilingual students may find the links below helpful in getting more information on how to communicate more effectively in the English language. Several of these links give tips on how to use articles (such as a, an, the) correctly, since many other languages don’t contain this kind of word.
These links will connect you with sources on such topics as principles of visual design, tools for picking fonts and creating color palettes, and data visualization. There are also links for free images and tips on web design.
Use the following links for information on important design principles and resources. There are also more sources for fonts and free images.
- Information on how to organize visual items to make the most important materials stand out (visual hierarchy): from the Interaction Design Foundation and Canva
- Advice on data visualization design
- Data visualization design advice focusing on charts
- Tools for picking fonts from Canva, Google, and DaFont
- Tools for creating color palettes from Paletton, Adobe, and Venngage (color-blind friendly palettes
- Sources for Open Source images: photos from Unsplash and Pixabay; icons from FlatIcon
Before you start to design your next poster, look at samples of effective and ineffective poster design, read over some of the tips for presenting your information on a poster, and try out some poster templates, too!
Make your PowerPoint presentation stand out from all the others! These links share advice from professionals for creating the most effective slides and giving your best possible oral presentation.
The Prewriting Workshop teaches students how to focus on the task at hand before they even put pen to paper. The goal is to make sure they fully understand their assignment, the type of writing they are being asked to do, and how to begin the writing process itself.
The Finding, Using, and Citing Your Sources Workshop offers guidance on citation methods and how to gather those citations in the first place. It covers what it means for something to be a good source, reasons to use different citation methods, and tools for building a useful bibliography.
The workshop on Sentences: Strategies and Styles covers sentence-level polishing. This workshop is designed to help writers untangle their subjects and verbs, cut unnecessary words, and smooth the transitions between sentences for clear, concise prose.
This Slide Design and Presentation Crafting workshop covers the basic design principles that are important to use in posters (including research posters) and slides for oral presentations. Good visual design in posters and slides is essential for the effective communication of project objectives to diverse audiences.
This presentation on Public Speaking provides tips and tools to create and deliver a top-notch presentation, including strategies for non-native English speakers and for those presenting in online environments like WebEx and Zoom.
This workshop on Persuasive Essays covers general strategies for persuasive writing and is meant as an introduction to writing in the humanities and social sciences for students who may be more accustomed to scientific and technical writing. Topics include structure, voice, audience, framing, and stating a thesis.
The Conclusion Writing Workshop is designed to help you wrap up your thoughts at the end of your writing. It covers how to provide closure of your topic while leaving your readers with something to continue to ponder or to accomplish with their newly-gained knowledge.
"As usual, an amazing meeting that really helped me with my work. Super effective usage of our time. I'm looking forward to my next visit!"
"Excellent experience as always."
"Experience was great and I got some amazing insight for what direction to take my paper in. Glad I went!"
The session was very helpful and allowed me to get some ideas on how to improve my draft.
This was my first time ever coming to Comm+D and I was very pleased with the feedback I received on my presentation.
I will definitely be coming back! This is a great resource that more people should take advantage of.
It was extremely helpful. I loved getting honest and constructive feedback on my writing.
People from Comm+D are helpful because they will go through each sentence to analyze sentence clarity and grammatical errors. They are knowledgeable in various styles of essay as well so students can have a great chance hit all the requirements from their assignments.
Great experience as always. Really helped me discuss and figure out some of the areas I was having difficulty expressing. Looking forward to implementing the new writing strategies that I have learned.
My session was extremely helpful and I greatly appreciated the advice!
I hadn’t been to the center before this and didn’t know what to expect but it was EXTREMELY helpful and helped me get my application essays done well!
The Chinese mentor program is one of the most outstanding and friendly programs not only for mentors but also for anyone who is willing to learn Chinese.