How To Make Your Writing More Academic

Academic writing is all about expressing complex ideas in a simple way that even those without specialist knowledge can understand. In order to achieve this you have to avoid all kinds of ambiguity. Your writing should be clear and concise. You have to make judicious use of discourse markers and linking words. This does not mean that you have to start every sentence with a discourse marker. Use it only when it is necessary to achieve the transition from one idea to another idea. Here are some tips for making your writing more academic.

Avoid obscure words

Use standard vocabulary. If your writing is full of words that your readers are not familiar with, you will not achieve the intended effect. Worse still, you will put off the reader.

Avoid complicated sentences

Make sure that your sentences have 15 – 20 words at the most. Anything longer than this should be avoided. A ridiculously long sentence is difficult to understand. By the time, the reader finishes reading the sentence they will have forgotten what they read at the beginning. So, avoid lengthy sentences.

Use formal language

Academic writing should use formal vocabulary and sentence patterns. When your style of writing is informal, readers may misinterpret your ideas.  

Avoid using phrasal verbs in formal letters and essays.

Use formal discourse markers and linking words. For example, write incidentally instead of by the way.

Avoid colloquial expressions, phrases and idioms.

Do not leave out words. Write ‘I hope to hear from you soon’ instead of ‘Hope to hear from you soon’.

Use formal vocabulary in essays and formal letters. For example write ‘inform’ instead of ‘let you know’.

Neatly divide ideas into paragraphs.

Your writing should be structured. Discuss one main point in each paragraph. Make good use of discourse markers or transitional adverbs to ensure that ideas flow smoothly between sentences and paragraphs.

Use precise vocabulary

Use precise vocabulary that is appropriate for the context. If you use precise words your ideas cannot be challenged or misinterpreted.

Avoid contractions

Avoid contracted verb forms in your essays and formal letters. Contractions are perfectly all right in informal letters. Do not use abbreviated forms. For example, write information instead of info.

Limit the use of personal pronouns

In formal letters, avoid using the first person singular pronoun I. Instead of writing ‘I will send all the details to your email’, write ‘all the details will be sent to your email’. By using the passive voice, we can avoid using I and we. For example, write ‘a lot can be done to reverse climate change’ instead of ‘we can do a lot to reverse climate change’.

Avoid rhetorical questions

Avoid rhetorical questions in your essays. Traffic jams have become a major problem in many cities. But will increasing the price of fuel help? This is an example of a rhetoric question. Avoid it.

Use in addition or also instead of furthermore or moreover. The expressions moreover and furthermore give the impression that what you are going to say next is more important than what you have already said.  Use them sparingly.

Manjusha Nambiar

Hi, I'm Manjusha. This is my blog where I give IELTS preparation tips.