I will have to show my supervisor a thesis draft soon. It is an early draft, just to see where I am standing. It obviously misses full chapters and some areas contain personal self-addressed notes like, "make a fancy diagram about process A". Should I go through the work of removing these notes, written in an obvious informal style, before handing in the draft?

On one hand, I would like my supervisor to know that I will include a diagram there, but should I at least formalize the notes like in, "process A diagram will be added"?

Edit: I will give a few more examples so that my question is clearer:

My question is more about having an informal approach to the notes than their existence. For example is it fine if I have notes like: "I should spiff this diagram, too ugly", or if I use as a placeholder for the subtitle "Fancy subtitle" instead of "< Subtitle placeholder >", or if instead of a figure that I know I am about to add, I have a placeholder image that says "here comes the really nice and cool image that shows the A-B relation" instead of saying "A-B relation figure placeholder"?

I also feel the need to mention that I would never use such informal writing style in the actual text, nevertheless in a final version.

  • I'm not really clear on how well you hope to get input on what sounds like a not-at-all near complete draft but if you have a good relationship with your mentor and they know your sense of humor, I certainly don't see the harm in it.
    – Broklynite
    Mar 29, 2016 at 22:22
  • I hope to get other people's experience in such situations and more specifically, if it ever got wrong, like... the professor would consider that the student didn't take the work serious because of this.
    – Andrei
    Mar 29, 2016 at 22:49
  • 1
    Some of my students have given me thesis drafts that contained notes of this sort. I didn't have any problem with that. Mar 30, 2016 at 0:23
  • Not an answer, just personal experience: My prof once came in the room when I just had printed my own first draft (not even that, actually) and asked if I had one. I said yes, and vaguely pointed at the pile of paper, which he grabbed and instantly left to read. When I got it back the next day, he really liked it. I think he actually enjoyed the occasional "blabla, add more fancy info here to fill paragraph". Isn't it what we all think while writing?
    – skymningen
    Mar 30, 2016 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


I would suggest that yes, you should feel comfortable doing that, particularly if this is an early draft. My rationale is simply that, with large documents like this one, the more feedback you can get, the better. The notes show that you've given thought to what should be where and recognize that it's not complete, and will demonstrate that you're thinking that sort of thing through. To that extent point, your own recommendation is spot on; add as many "diagram X should be here" notes as you can, simply to save him from having to add that comment himself.

That said, if your advisor is a very finicky person who wants the drafts to be picture-perfect (yes, those people definitely exist), then don't do this, as you'll just make him annoyed.

Post-edit addition: I would suggest this is entirely dependent on the temperament of your advisor. Personally, I love humor, so as long as you mentioned in your email that the comments are tongue-in-cheek, I would find that entertaining. If he's a stick-in-the-mud, he won't like it. Its really just dependent on his sense of humor.


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