9 Basic Ways to Improve Your Style in Academic Writing
Academic writing is a skill everyone needs to perfect. It can be slightly challenging to some but improving it can really pay off. According to a study from Stanford University, it takes 4-7 years to learn academic English while it can take around 3 years to learn social English. But whether you are still a student or with an impressive job, academic writing will help you advance higher in your field.
In order to stay competitive, your academic writing must be superb with a clear structure and powerful vocabulary as well as a systematic logical sequence. With these tips, you can start to reach a higher level of proficiency.
- Stick to a Format
Following a format is one of the best ways to make your academic writing seem more professional and well-structured. Your format options are diverse so your choice will depend on the kind of writing you are doing or the assigned format from your professors or supervisors.
There are three kinds of formats you need to be acquainted with. Each kind has its own style, way of referencing and citation, etc.
If your field is Education, Psychology, or Social Sciences then you will probably need to follow the standard APA (American Psychological Association) format. Next, if you are writing an academic essay or thesis in English, Liberal Arts, or Humanities field then you could be asked to stick to the MLA (Modern Language Association) format. Finally, Business, History, or Fine Arts usually require the Chicago/Turabian style.
It can seem liberating to do your own thing but there is nothing more polished than a well-organized and methodical piece of writing.
- Who Is Your Audience?
Before diving deep into your piece, ask yourself: who is the intended reader?
Understanding your reader’s level of knowledge is extremely beneficial to your writing. Answering this question is sure to save you a lot of setting up our ideas, unnecessary repetition, and breaking down of terminologies already familiar in your field.
Since usually academic writing is read by peers, professors, or experts in the same discipline, not a lot of detailed introductions or lengthy explanations are needed. That means that focusing on your main points and communicating them straight to the point is the soundest way to go.
- Forget Conversational, Stay Formal
Writing an academic piece is a great opportunity to expand your vocabulary, enhance your style, and showcase your knowledge. So further boost these elements by keeping your writing formal instead of social.
Formal writing is clear, simple, and to the point. That sounds effortless but it is actually more complicated than you think. According to the University of Essex’s booklet titled “How to improve your academic writing”, recently, there are multiple new informal modes of written communication, such as emailing and texting. These have contributed to a rise in the number of informal phrases that appear in more formal writing, such as the essay.
Do not make that mistake during your writing and stay clear of everyday lingo like ‘basically’, ‘totally’, ‘really’, etc.
Similarly, you might want to avoid abbreviations or contractions in your essay or thesis. They tend to diminish the impact of what you are saying and may lead to your arguments sounding too weak.
- Always Go For Third Person
In academic writing, it is not recommended to use the first person through ‘I’ or ‘my’ as it is rarely required for the writer to refer to themselves. Instead, go for an objective and assertive point of view by using the third person.
This trick ensures your points come across as facts and not personal opinions which strengthens your arguments. In addition, it makes your writing seem more professional rather than conversational or social.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. When starting your own personal story, you may use the appropriate narrative.
- Use Various Transitions and Punctuation
In order not to bore your reader, your writing must be dynamic and rhythmic. That means you need to mix up vocabulary, transitions, and punctuation. Not only that but also the way you structure your sentences can add a lot of interesting elements to your text.
For instance, transition words like ‘because’, ‘although’, ‘despite’, ‘however’ and more are incredible tools to connect your sentences logically. They create intricate relationships between clauses, sentences, and paragraphs.
Another great way to add tempo to your writing is to use punctuation to indicate pauses, emphasis, or citations. With 14 familiar punctuation marks, you can distinctly separate and stress your ideas and arguments with a masterful touch.
- Avoid Exaggerations and Metaphors
While you are writing formal English for your piece, you might find very little room for metaphors. That is because academic writing does not call for any figures of speech or literary techniques. Stay on topic with facts and evidence that support your points and discard any analogies or rhetorical questions.
Another extremely important piece of advice is to keep away from exaggerations and generalizations. It can be detrimental to your credibility if your reader feels like you are overstating your argument. Secure the trust of your audience by mentioning counter-arguments and exceptions to generalizations with concrete examples.
- Proofreading Is a Lifesaver
Academic writing is a skill that you develop with time, effort, and practice. So work on listening to audiobooks, reviewing papers, and most of all writing. The more you write and edit your own work, the more you will avoid the same mistakes.
You can also consult a friend, a peer, or a mentor to proofread your work and give you notes. Keep an open mind and listen to the issues that arise and how to prevent them from popping up again.
Some professional academic writing services such as CustomWritings can be extremely beneficial to your proofreading stage. It can save you so much trouble with grammar and spelling proofreading.
In order to make sure that your essay or paper is up to par, try reading it out loud to yourself or to a trusted fellow academic. This method helps you spot errors faster and more efficiently.