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MissSilvy

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I

I am now almost at the end of my undergraduate degree and looking back over my old work and old calculations from semesters prior made me realize that I have absolutely no consistent conventions when doing physics calculations. Usually this is fine but sometimes it impedes progress on the work and almost always it makes the work very hard to follow later, even if the rough work is rewritten to a final form.

Half the calculations would be scribbled on another page entirely and in random places (top left then lower right then margin) and even those that are all on the same page and in order are a little hard to follow. New equations look exactly the same as the parts of the calculation I am working on, mathematical definitions and calculations are written randomly, and rearranged equations look to be just as unique as the original equations above them because I have no consistent symbol or formatting to denote it was just a different form of the above.

[Someone recently pointed me to a page that gives tips for mathematical handwriting to make distinguishing letters and Greek symbols easier, which helped enormously. I am looking for similar tips for equations.]

My question is what are some of the conventions that the rest of PF uses when doing pen-and-paper calculations? Specifically:

*believe*this post is allowed here, but if it belongs elsewhere I apologize.I am now almost at the end of my undergraduate degree and looking back over my old work and old calculations from semesters prior made me realize that I have absolutely no consistent conventions when doing physics calculations. Usually this is fine but sometimes it impedes progress on the work and almost always it makes the work very hard to follow later, even if the rough work is rewritten to a final form.

Half the calculations would be scribbled on another page entirely and in random places (top left then lower right then margin) and even those that are all on the same page and in order are a little hard to follow. New equations look exactly the same as the parts of the calculation I am working on, mathematical definitions and calculations are written randomly, and rearranged equations look to be just as unique as the original equations above them because I have no consistent symbol or formatting to denote it was just a different form of the above.

[Someone recently pointed me to a page that gives tips for mathematical handwriting to make distinguishing letters and Greek symbols easier, which helped enormously. I am looking for similar tips for equations.]

My question is what are some of the conventions that the rest of PF uses when doing pen-and-paper calculations? Specifically:

- Do you just start at the top of the page and start a new line for every operation?
- Is there any way you denote when an equation need to be broken up into two lines because it cannot fit in the width of the paper?
- Are certain steps of a calculation 'indented' to denote a relationship between the header equation and the ones inside it? Which ones?
- How are equations that are not derived denoted to distinguish them from the ones you are calculating (such as when calculating the speed of sound and the ideal gas law is called in the context of the calculation) ?
- Do you distinguish between new step in a calculation and a merely rearranged form of a previous step?
- How do you denote when two equations are combined ( for example, one substituted into the other to yield a third equation)?

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