How to Write in Academic Writing Style: Main Principles

Is it important to get your academic writing style correct?

academic writing styleWriting an email to a friend or an opinion piece for your student magazine is going to use very different styles of writing to the academic writing style that you need for your essays and papers. Academic writing styles are far more formal and considered and need to show that you are putting a huge amount of careful thought into what you are writing. So you should not be writing in the same way that you would discuss something with a friend. Academic assignment writing needs to be confident and objective and the style of writing that you use needs to reflect that.

How to improve your academic writing style

Bringing your writing to the right standard for your papers and essays is not that easy however the following simple writing tips and hints will help you to ensure that your style is right for most academic writing:

  • Write in the third person: this means that you will not use the word “I”. So you will not be saying “I feel that the research shows..” you will say “The research shows that..”
  • Ensure that your tenses are used correctly: if you are talking about the effect that something is having today ensure that it is reflected in the way that you write
  • Never use contractions such as can’t or won’t: use the full form, cannot, will not
  • Ensure that you don’t abbreviate words: a quote is a quotation and your phone is a telephone
  • Don’t use acronyms: the reader may not know what they mean: they need to be spelled out fully
  • Don’t use informal words: “The results were OK..” should be “The results are significant because..”
  • Select your words more carefully: You should use words such as obtained and many rather than “got” and “a lot”
  • Think about additional connotations of the words that you use: crusade has more forceful connotations than campaign for instance, get the right word for the right meaning
  • Don’t use words that people will not understand or that you would not use within normal speech: while you are looking to impress with your writing you will not do this by using obscure words dragged straight from the thesaurus
  • Be concise with what you write: if it can be said in a dozen words use them not pad it out to a hundred
  • Be precise: who is “they” or “people”, when was “recently”. Spell things out clearly so that the reader knows precisely who you are talking about or when something happened
  • Do not use a cliché within your writing: these make your writing look lazy
  • You are looking to be objective so avoid expressing your views too strongly as it may indicate bias:  so use “It appears that..”, “The evidence suggests that..”
  • Never use offensive or slang language at any point in your writing, this could easily undermine everything that you are writing
  • Never use anything that would be seen as being offensive or stereotypical towards anyone.

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