Lutz Hendricks - UNC - Department of Economics

Tips for Writing a Paper

For some exceptionally well written papers, take a look at the work of Richard Rogerson.

Structure of the presentation

Separate the presentation of what you do from the discussion of why you do it. Brief comments mixed in with the model presentation are ok. Long discussions make it hard to follow what you actually do.

Separate the presentation of the model from the derivation of its implications. It is very confusing to read a paper that mixes assumptions with results. First present the model. Define equilibrium. Then derive properties of the equilibrium.

There is a standard structure for presenting a model:

  1. Demographics
  2. Endowments
  3. Preferences
  4. Technologies
  5. Market arrangements

Only once these have been stated is it acceptable to talk about equilibrium properties or agents’ problems. Next, describe the agents’ problems, and define an equilibrium.

Your introduction should answer the following questions (due to Lee Ohanian):

The process of writing

Nice wording comes last

A little trick: When you are unsure about notation, define latex commands for the mathematical symbols.

Avoid literals in your text.


Don’t write tables by hand. Let your code write them. It’s faster and it avoids mistakes.

It is fairly easy to write basic Latex tables using code. I have Matlab code for this purpose in my github repo.

  1. Tips on Writing Economics Papers by R. Carter Hill (a collection of links)
  2. A Guide to Writing in Economics by P. Dudenhefer. Written for undergraduate writing, but also useful for PhD students.
  3. Writing Tips For Economics Research Papers by P. Nikilov.