Style - Use Academic Writing Style
- Some rules for formal academic writing.
- Not all of them apply in all majors.
- For example, Engineering is usually stricter on using “I” than Education.
Do not use “I”
I will argue-> “This essay argues” I am going to show-> “This essay has showed” When I went to Okinawa-> “WHen the author went to Okinawa” I chose this topic because I-> “This topic was chosen because the author”
- “I” is OK in SOME majors’ academic writing IF YOU ARE RESEARCHING YOURSELF e.g. Education (“In my class”)
Do not use “you” or “we”
Unless you mean EVERYONE:
- “We did a survey” No - the reader is not included in group that did survey
- “We must protect the planet” OK, all human readers are included
- “After that, you should look at” No, don’t talk to the reader directly
- “When you study English, you also learn culture” Only OK if ALL readers are students of English
- It’s safer just to avoid “we” and “you” completely.
- Use passive (“A survey was done”, “must be protected”, “should be looked at”)
- Use third person (“The authors did a survey”, “People should protect”, “Future researchers should look at”
- Use “it is” (“It is necessary to protect”, “It is recommended to look at”
No digits under 10 without units
- Use words for 1-9 (“one two three”)
- Use numbers for 10+ (“10, 11, 12”)
- Start sentences with words (“Twelve” or “Around 12”)
- Numbers with units OK ($3, 8 hours, 5 years old)
- Don’t mix (8-10, not 8-ten)
- For more, read this
Do not use abbreviations
- ~~don’t, won’t, can’t, isn’t, he’s~
- do not, will not, cannot, is not, he is
Do not use anonymous sources
Many people think It is thought that It is said that
- Instead SAY WHO SAID IT
No opinion adjectives
- Just give the facts, not your attitude to them.
obviously surprisingly amazingly
- It is your READERS job to decide if the idea is clear or amazing.
- See this article
No rhetorical questions (“Do you know the red panda?”)
- A rhetorical question is one you answer yourself.
“Why is the panda extinct? Well, mostly because…”
- These are OK in lectures/presentations, not formal academic essays