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.       

    Our top tips

    Formal style

    Write in full sentences. Do not use any contractions, such as don’t or wouldn’t. Also avoid using slang or colloquial language that sounds like speech. For more on academic style see this short video:  

    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. If you’d like to develop your English see our Academic English page and our tips on English Language.