Cambridge University Press, 1995. Norman Fenton
Queen Mary (University of London), 2003. This includes further pointers to good advice. Oxford University Press, 2012. You need a copy of this next to you while you are writing. John Woodwark
Information Geometers, 1992. This is now only available on-line.
Your dissertation should be written in English. If this is not your native language, it is important that you ask someone literate to proof read your dissertation. Your supervisor only has a limited amount of time, so it would be sensible to ask two or three literate friends to read your dissertation before giving it to your supervisor. That way, he or she will be able to concentrate on the technical content without being distracted by the style.
Incidentally, it is a good idea to make sure that one of your readers is not a specialist in your area of research. That way they can check that you have explained the technical concepts in an accessible way.
Chapter 27 of Day's book gives some useful advice on the use (and misuse) of English.
- Tense — You should normally use the present tense when referring to previously published work, and you should use the past tense when referring to your present results. The principal exception to this rule is when describing experiments undertaken by others in the past tense, even if the results that they established are described in the present tense. Results of calculations and statistical analyses should also be in the present tense.
So "There are six basic emotions [Ekman, 1972]. I have written a computer program that distinguishes them in photographs of human faces."
- Voice — The active voice is usually more precise and less wordy than the passive voice.
So "The system distinguished six emotions" rather than "It was found that the system could distinguish six emotions".
- Person — The general preference nowadays is to write in the first person, although there is still some debate.
- Number — When writing in the first person, use the singular or plural as appropriate. For a dissertation with one author, do not use the "editorial we" in place of "I". The use of "we" by a single author is outrageously pretentious.
- The Future Perfect Web site has some useful hints and tips on English usage.