writing tips

5 TIPS FOR BETTER ACADEMIC WRITING

If you think about it, we spend a lot of our days writing. Whether it’s filling in your details on an online form, creating the perfect Instagram caption or just joking around in a WhatsApp group with your friends, there is a LOT of time spent putting words to paper, phone and screen…

With all this writing happening every day, when it comes to your academic essays there can be some serious whiplash in trying to adjust your style to get you that oh-so-important pass. Check out our tips below to make essays a breeze.

1. Decide What You Want to Say Before You Start

When you get a new essay topic it’s very easy to rush off to the library, grab some reference books and get writing as soon as possible; that deadline isn’t getting any further away. But what happens when you are five pages deep, ready to sum up your final point, and there is none? You’ve written a mountain of words without clearly saying anything and now begins the task of going back through your whole essay, moving, removing and re-writing entire sections to make your point.

It helps to plan ahead and figure out exactly what you are going to say before you start writing. Make sure you have read and understand all of the source material and resources that will support and benefit your arguments. Pick out paragraphs and sources that you can use to back up what you are saying too.

What sometimes works well is starting at the end, figure out exactly what you want your final point to be and then work backwards, figuring out the points that will support your final argument until you reach a point where you can start your essay. Creating a road map and figuring out exactly what goes where will make for an easier and clearer essay writing experience.

Remember, you are making an argument for a particular point of view – your point of view. Find sources that back you up and know exactly where you can call them in to help make your points.

2. Make Sure To Cite Multiple Sources in Your Writing

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we have a world’s worth of information at our fingertips. A simple Google search can tell you everything you need to know about a particular topic; but you need to remember; Never believe everything you read online. There are plenty of academic resources online, but nothing will ever beat a book from the library. Always make sure to check out multiple authors and perspectives too – you might end up changing your mind on the topic before you’ve even started.

Google and Wikipedia should be avoided as sources, unless it’s to check quick, verifiable facts or spelling.

3. Avoid Slang and Shortening Words

Short words and slang are great for getting your point across quickly with your friends or making a point on social media, but is a big no-no when writing academically. You should even try to avoid apostrophes where possible; “It’s” becomes “it is”, “doesn’t” becomes “does not” etc. This makes your essay easier to read and no confusion can come up due to a misused or misinterpreted contraction.

You should always write as if your essay will one day appear in a book in your library that another student will use as reference material years from now.

4. Use Short, Easy-To-Read Sentences

Writing academically is about sounding smart, making it clear that you know what you’re talking about and using the most prodigious, prescient words at your disposal; furthermore it should elaborate on the erudite nature of your debate without exposing any preposterousness. – How’s that for a mouthful?
When writing academically it is very easy to fall down the hole of trying to make your words as smart as possible. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t break out the thesaurus every now and then, but using short, clear language is often the best way to get your point across.

If ever you are worried that you’ve fallen into this trap, read your sentences or paragraph out loud, find where you start to run out of breath and add a full stop or two in make things more manageable.

5. Constantly Edit Your Writing

When you have a word count hovering over your essay like a judge, deciding whether your essay is even worth considering, it is very easy to try and cram as many words in as possible. More is better, right?
Everybody has that one friend who only has one story to their name that they have to tell everyone, every time you go out. It’s like that. Make sure you aren’t repeating yourself from point to point. Check that what you said in paragraph A doesn’t contradict paragraph B. Have your study buddy, your best friend and your mom read through your essay and let you know if anything seems off. It is very easy to make mistakes when you work in a bubble, so getting outside perspective always helps.
Don’t be afraid to shave a few unnecessary words off of a paragraph if it leads to better structure to your argument.

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