What is Academic Style?

Learning Skills Centre Jo G Holmesglen Staff • 28 August 2019
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No, it’s not who’s wearing the coolest sneakers to class.

Rather, it’s the standard of writing you may be asked to achieve in your course.

So what is Academic Style?

It’s the writing used for business, legal, academic and professional purposes.

It’s more formal than spoken English.(Informal English is used with friends, relatives, in social media and blogs like this one.)

What are some features of academic writing?

  • Don’t use contractions.  “do not” instead of “don’t” .... “have not” instead of “haven’t”
  • Don’t use slang.  “kids” is too informal… instead write ”children”
  • Don’t use the first person. This just means you should not use personal words like “I,” “me” and “we”. Why? It's too personal. A professional distance should be kept from your writing. Facts and research should speak for you. Instead of “I believe the research shows…” say “The results of the research suggest…”
  • Remove feelings and stick to facts.  Emotional language is generally not used in academic writing. Use words that do not show your feelings. For instance, instead of saying something is “bad” or “horrible” you can say it’s “inadequate” or “poor.”

Here’s a sample of some often used informal words & possible replacements.

    Don’t say                                                                       Say

      get                                                                            collect, obtain

      give                                                                          provide

      let                                                                             allow, permit

      look                                                                          appear, seem

      make                                                                        produce, construct

      need                                                                         require

      put                                                                            place, locate

      say                                                                            discuss, explain, suggest

      very, really                                                                do not use. Find a stronger word.

      lots                                                                            a great number

      big                                                                             substantial, large

      good                                                                          positive, beneficial, advantageous

       bad                                                                           negative, detrimental, harmful

      people                                                                       patients, clients, students…be specific

Not sure if the words you're using are too informal? You can ask a question in community & we’ll let you know. Otherwise bring a sample of your writing to a Learning Skills Teacher & we’ll provide some feedback.