Are there any (books, articles or other online) resources that give practical guidance on writing non-fiction to a general audience at a level less technical than a pure scientific paper? I am specifically interested in advice relating to the hard sciences and mathematics, though I imagine most of the techniques of good writing will be universal.

I have tried to analyse the work of various science journalists, popular science writers and textbook authors whose writing style I admire, and found that the things I enjoy in their writing are conciseness, a clear sense of enthusiasm (without going into purple prose) and a semi-informal style that sounds natural, as if spoken. I am a mediocre writer myself but can tell when something is well or badly written, so with specific practical tips and style guidance I hope to improve.

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The best possible sources are the writers you admire. The best possible way to improve as a writer is to read with attention. Good writers read differently, constantly paying attention to the technique of the writers they admire.

Writing is a complex activity. You can't write by following a set of tips. You have to develop your ear, and the foundation of that is attentive reading. The next step after that is attentive writing, and the critique of your peers. The point of critique is again to develop your ear, in this case to develop your ear for your own writing so that you more easily hear when you go astray.

All kinds of tips and pseudo rules fall out of the critique process. They are ways of expressing what a person thinks is not working. Rules like "cut the adverbs" arise when people read peice that use adverbs badly. It becomes elevated to a general rule to never use adverbs, which is absurd. Learn to use them well.

You can't expect to become a good writer by trying to mechanically follow each of these tips or rules. Read with attention. Write with attention. Seek feedback. Train your ear.

Edit: On this subject of training your ear, one of my favorite books on writing is Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer.

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