The notion of style in physics textbooks



In what sense can a work of nonfiction be said to have a style? Is there such a thing as “textbook” style? The language of science textbooks has often been characterized as difficult and formal, yet those terms have never been carefully defined outside of readability demands. This article makes a first attempt at generating workable criteria for assessing the stylistic character of textbooks. This is done using passages from current physics textbooks, which are analyzed for prose structure, word choice, and literary characteristics.