Academic writing

Academic writing is a formal style of writing. It is well structured and precise. Unlike other forms of writing such as journalism it needs to be objective, which involves minimising emotion and dramatic emphasis in order to focus on the evidence.   

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

Clear, authoritative communication

A main benefit of writing in a formal academic style is that it helps you to develop your thinking. You have to write your ideas out fully, and you cannot rely on assumptions or emotional responses. See this video for ten rules for appropriate academic style:

Structure

Academic writing usually has a clear structure with an introduction, main points in a logical order, and a conclusion. Let your reader know how you are structuring your work by using ‘signposting’. See this list of signposting words:

Concise and precise

Your writing does not need to sound ‘fancy’ or complicated. The best academic writing is clear and avoids vagueness, so instead of ‘lots of people’, state how many and who they are, ‘300 university students’. For more on being precise and concise see this guide:

Evidence

Academic writing emphasises the evidence, not unsupported opinions. This is why you are often advised not to use the first person (‘I think…’). Your own voice will still come through in the evidence you choose and how you interpret and explain it. For more see our evidence top tips:

Well written

Academic writing is accurately written and uses good grammar and punctuation. Make sure you are familiar with some of the key principles.

See also

The Centre for Academic Development offers a range of modules, workshops, and academic language consultations that are designed to help students develop their academic writing. These courses can help you improve your processes of research and writing, understand particular academic writing conventions, and build your vocabulary.