I'm writing my term paper. I want to explain the test preparation procedure for my experiment. Is it ok to start each sentence with a verb. For example,

Step 1. Generate syllables with six consonants and three vowels.
Step 2. Make 9 disyllables.
Step 3......

What I meant was, I generated syllables, and then I made disyllables. Is it better to clarify the subject?


I think mentioning subject is better because you are not instructing the readers but telling them what you did. However, if you smartly write the heading/line to introduce steps, you may omit the subject. Furthermore, if you did things yourself, you may write it into the past tense.

For instance,

Here are the steps I followed...

Step 1: Generated syllables with six...
Step 2: Made 9 disyllables...

Starting bullets/steps with verbs are quite common when you instruct someone. For instance,

Here is how you reach the Empire State Building from the Central Park

Step 1: Head north-west on Doris C Freedman Pl/Grand Army Plaza towards East Dr
Step 2: Take the 1st left onto Central Park S
Step 3: Take the 1st right onto 5th Ave


There are two different genres here: an procedural one and a historical one.

Essentially, if you are writing a recount, generally found more often in literature and in social sciences, then you will include a subject in each of your clauses, and generally this is done in prose, rather than in list form.

First I generated syllables with six consonants and three vowels, after which I made nine disyllables. Then I...

This type of writing can also be found in experimental scientific papers, however it is almost always passivised:

Syllables were generated with using six consonants and three vowels. From these, nine disyllables were made. ...

In procedural writing, it is common for the imperative to be used with an ordered list, where the cues that are realised by words in the prior two examples, are instead realised as the numbers on the list:

  1. (=First) Generate syllables with...
  2. (=after which) Make 9 disyllables...
  3. (=Then) ...

I've seen it done ways, although my experience is in sociolinguistics and so I can't really say what's more appropriate for you.

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