Raise Your Writing Scores with These Simple Academic Writing Tips!
As a teacher who grades countless essays and short answer responses, I do not want to spend time marking up students’ papers with red ink for simple grammar errors that they should already have proofread away from their academic writing. Instead, I want to focus my feedback on students’ ideas and content!
With that in mind, I wrote up this list of academic writing tips.
Want a few easy things to help increase your writing scores and put your teachers in a good mood as they read and grade your paper? Then read on!
- Spell out words fully.
Incorrect: Btw, he lives in N. Am.
Correct: By the way, he lives in North America.
- If you want to abbreviate something that will appear more than once, first introduce how you will do so using parentheses.
Ex: I did my undergraduate degree at The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Many of my friends completed their Masters at UCLA as well.
Capitalize the first word of every new sentence.
Do not write in all capitals.
Do not capitalize words unnecessarily.
Always capitalize “I” when used as a pronoun. Ex: Did you know that I like donuts?
Eliminate contractions. They are considered informal and best left out of academic writing.
Ex: Instead of “don’t” use “do not.” Instead of “it’s” use “it is.”
Apostrophes are okay, when used to show possession.
Ex: The author’s books were widely read. (Only one author)
Ex: The authors’ books were widely read. (More than one author)
End sentences with proper punctuation. Avoid exclamation marks.
Do not add more commas than necessary.
Put punctuation inside quotation marks.
Incorrect: The author said, “Mathematics can be fun”.
Correct: The author said, “Mathematics can be fun.”
Spell numbers one through ten.
Write numbers 11 or higher as numeric digits (unless they appear at the beginning of as sentence).
7. Fragment Sentences:
Fragment sentences lack a noun, verb, or both. Or sometimes they are just dependent clauses.
Incorrect: Because there are many real-life applications.
Correct: Psychology is important because there are many real-life applications.
8. Run-on Sentences:
Run-ons are sentences that should be split into two or more separate sentences.
Incorrect: Joe loves fishing he goes twice a week.
Correct: Joe loves fishing. He goes twice a week.
Or: Joe loves fishing; he goes twice a week.
Or: Joe loves fishing and goes twice a week.
9. Tone of Voice:
Use a formal, academic tone.
As a rule, do not use “you” in formal writing. Instead use “one,” “many,” “people,” etc. to speak to a broader audience and maintain a more academic tone.
Avoid slang and abbreviations. (Do not “text” your essay).
Do not use smiley faces or other emoticons.
10. To, Two, and Too … Its and It’s … There, Their, and They’re
To: A preposition. He went to the store.
Two: A number. He bought two books.
Too: Means also. He went and bought books too.
Its: Shows possession. The dog ate its bone.
It’s: Contraction of it and is. Are you sure it’s here? Or: Are you sure it is here?
There: location and pronoun. Park over there. And: There are no parking spots.
Their: Shows possession. Hang their jackets on this hook.
They’re: Contraction of they and are. They’re here now. Or: They are here now.
Miscellaneous Academic Writing Tips:
Remember to use spellcheck to help you catch errors! Your grandparents didn’t have this tool, so don’t take it for granted. 😉 [Yes, I am breaking my own rules here. This is not a graded essay, yo].
Do not rely solely on spellcheck for your proofreading. It may not tell you that you misused a word. For example, if you used “there” instead of “their” it may not catch it.
Also, read your writing aloud to help you tell if it makes sense, then ask a friend to proofread your writing to help catch mistakes you may have missed.
If you are able to follow these Top 10 Academic Writing Tips, your writing will more clearly demonstrate your point of view, which allows your reader (and teacher, who is assigning your grade) to focus on the content of your writing, thus earning you more points for your efforts.
PS: Ask Ms. P a specific question or leave a comment below!