Whether you’re a student, teacher, or businessperson, academic writing skills are necessary in today’s world. Essays, reports, presentations and research papers are just some examples of documents written in the academic style. Academic writing, when used appropriately, presents a polished and professional image.
What Is Academic Writing?
Academic writing refers to a particular style of expression. Characteristics of academic writing include:
- A formal tone
- Use of the third-person rather than first-person perspective
- Clear focus on the issue or topic rather than the author’s opinion
- Precise word choice
Writers employing the formal academic style avoid jargon, slang, and abbreviations.
Academic writing is formal writing. Many novice writers have trouble telling informal writing apart from formal writing. They resort to informal writing, since it’s easier and more familiar. Characteristics of informal writing include the use of colloquialisms and jargon, writing in the first person or making “I” statements, making direct personal statements, and imprecise word choices. In comparison, the most formal writing of all can be found in legal documents.
Informal writing is fine for diary entries, blogs, personal writing, letters or emails to friends. However, writers working on papers for school, college application essays, scientific papers, research papers, conference presentations, and business proposals generally employ a more formal style akin to donning a suit or dress to attend a wedding.
Here are examples of informal and formal writing.
Informal writing: I think he’s a loser.
Formal writing: Macbeth’s horrific choices cause him to lose everything he holds dear: children, wife, friends, crown and king.
In this example, the first statement is informal. The writer speaks in the first person, using the word “I”, and states an opinion. The author employs the slang term “loser”, which is inappropriate in a formal context. He also uses the contraction “he’s.” If this were in the middle of a paragraph, it may be easier to understand to whom the author is referring. Taken as a simple statement, however, it’s impossible to know whether the writer thinks his best friend, his dog, or a rock star is a loser!
The second example uses an academic, formal style typical of what professors might expect at the college level. Written in the third-person, the sentence omits references to the writer and focuses on the issue. Strong, specific adjectives like “horrific” convey the author’s view clearly without resorting to slang. The use of the colon—sometimes discouraged by professors as an antiquated punctuation mark, but still used in formal documents—creates a strong, formal feel when properly used here to introduce a list.
Academic Writing Skills
Writers seeking to improve their academic writing skills should focus their efforts on three key areas:
1. Strong writing: Thinking precedes writing. Good writers spend time distilling information from their sources and reviewing major points before creating their work. Writing detailed outlines helps many authors organize their thoughts. Strong academic writing begins with solid planning.
2. Excellent grammar: Learn the major and minor points of grammar. Spend time practicing writing and seek detailed feedback from teachers, professors or writers you respect. English grammar can be detailed and complex, but strong writers command the major points after many years of study and practice. Using a good writing reference, such as YourDictionary, can provide advice on the more troublesome points of grammar. Proper punctuation use and good proofreading skills improve academic writing as well.
3. Consistent stylistic approach: Whether your school or employer requires use of the MLA, APA or Chicago Manual of Style, choose one style and stick to it. Each of these style sheets provide guidance on how to write out numbers, references, citations, and more. All are available at your local bookseller in hard copy or online. The MLA is commonly used in English classes, while APA is for psychology and science. Chicago Manual of Style is often the choice in the workplace.
Academic writing skills encompass strong composition, excellent grammar, and a consistent stylistic approach.
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Academic Writing Skills
By YourDictionaryWhether you’re a student, teacher, or businessperson, academic writing skills are necessary in today’s world. Essays, reports, presentations and research papers are just some examples of documents written in the academic style. Academic writing, when used appropriately, presents a polished and professional image.
Writing skills are very fundamental skills for all kinds of purposes, but especially when writing essays. It is very difficult to write a good essay without the proper writing skills. Although everyone claims he or she can write a good essay, many people lack the needed skills that make an essay a polished piece of writing. The difference between professional writers and the everyday person is that the professional writer has writing skills that makes his or her essays stand out.
Writing skills are very essential when writing any kind of an essay. Many students do not possess the good writing skills that are very important. Students should admit to themselves that this is among their greatest weaknesses and seek help from professionals who are very competent in their essay writing skills. Good writing skills involve the ability to write an essay that is free from grammatical errors, with a good content as well as style and structure. A good writer must understand and progress through the writing process, which includes prewriting, writing, revision, and proofreading.
Part of the writing process is in knowing who the intended audience is and the purpose of the writing. In many cases, students fail to understand their audience or how to relate to that audience. If the student knows in advance that the writing is to target a specific audience, then the student needs to know what interest that audience and what kinds of opinions that audience is likely to have on certain subjects. Students start writing their essays without first identifying their audience which is very wrong.
Another fallacy that students often commit is failing to create an outline that will assist them in organizing their thoughts, thus ensuring that no points are left out when writing the essay. An outline helps to ensure that the essay has a clear flow and that every point is well explained. Besides the outline, students must take seriously the use of good grammar as well as utilization of appropriate stylistic techniques. Essays written by professionals are always reader friendly because the professionals make use of headings, subheadings, and listing whenever possible. These strategies help the reader to follow the writer’s train of thought. Moreover, readers find it easier to read a page that has been broken down to small paragraphs than a page with long paragraphs. An essay that is easily scanned is quite attractive to the reader.
These are some of the writing skills that many students do not possess. Although professional writers utilize these strategies, students can learn them as well. However, they must spend time and diligence in understanding what makes good writing, and then they must practice.
How to Write a Reflective Essay on Writing Skills
An individual who wishes to become an accomplished writer must learn to reflect on his writing. An effective strategy is to develop a writing portfolio.
This is a collection of writing the person does over a period of time. Part of that portfolio is writing reflective essays. For example, if the individual writes a story, he can then write a reflective essay on that story. He can critique himself on his plot structure and character development. He can discuss what he was trying to accomplish and how well he succeeded. If the individual is critiquing his general writing skills, then he might choose a piece he wrote at the beginning of the school year and compare it to a piece he wrote at the end of the school year. He might note improvements he has made in vocabulary development, sentence structure, organization of ideas, and development of a thesis. In summary, the purpose of a reflective essay on writing is to examine one’s own writing to identify strengths and weaknesses and to establish goals for improvement.
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