Chemistry Style Help Sheet

Verb Tenses: * Try not to shift verb tenses within the same paragraph and section.

*Tenses should change from section to section:

The American Chemical Society (ACS) recommends that present tense be used to discuss your results and conclusions. (Note: Some technical writers and scholarly scientific journals recommend using the past tense for your results and discussion.)

Use of the First Person *The ACS recommends that you use first person where appropriate (but note that many journals still do not accept this practice. You should be ruled by the standards of your discipline). Do not use plural where singular is appropriate; that is, use “I” for one author and “we” for two or more authors. First person is acceptable where it helps keep your meaning clear:

Poor: In this author’s previous article . . .
Better: In my previous article . . .

Poor: The authors recently demonstrated . . .
Better: We recently demonstrated . . .

However, phrases like we believe, we feel, we concluded, and we can see are unnecessary, as are personal opinions.

Use of Active versus Passive Voice The active voice is usually more precise and less wordy than the passive voice; nevertheless, use of the passive voice is still fairly widespread in scientific literature:

The ACE recommends that you use active voice whenever possible. For example:

Poor: The fact that such processes are under strict stereoelectronic control is demonstrated by our work in this area.
Better: Our work in this area demonstrated that such processes are under strict stereoelectronic control.