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Essay Writing

Academic Writing Style

It is important to note that knowing about the process of essay writing and how to structure an essay is important; however, knowing about the appropriate style and conventions to use in your writing is equally important. Academic writing is structured, formal and objective. Its language is often abstract and complex.

For example, compare the following two paragraphs: although the ideas expressed in the paragraphs are the same, one presents them in a much more formal, academic way.

Example 1 Example 2
Capital is a complex notion. There are many definitions of the word itself, and capital as applied in accounting can be viewed conceptually from a number of standpoints; that is, there is legal capital, financial capital and physical capital. The application of financial and physical concepts of capital is not straightforward as there are various permutations of these concepts applied in the business environment... Capital is a difficult thing to understand. We can explain it in different ways, and in accounting we can look at it from different angles. Accountants talk about legal capital, financial capital and physical capital. How we apply financial and physical concepts of capital isn't easy because people in business use it differently...

The use of many language and grammatical devices have contributed to the formality of the first example paragraph. Rollover the paragraph below to see the various features annotated.

In the second example paragraph, grammatical features such as the use of everyday language, personal language, contractions, the active voice and phrasal verbs contribute to the more informal and personal nature of this paragraph. Although there are distinct differences apparent in different types of writing in the various university disciplines (i.e. writing in the sciences as compared to writing in a humanities based discipline), the language features evident in the first example contribute to an appropriate academic style.

Click here for more detailed information on the words, structures and conventions of academic writing.

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