9 Ways to Make Your Essay Sound More Academic

About the writer:

Julia Crosswell is a Cambridge Immerse 2014 alumni, currently studying a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English and Writing and a Bachelor of Communication majoring in Digital Media at the University of Queensland.

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In order to write a good academic essay, you must use appropriate language and. It can be hard to ensure your essay follows proper conventions so we have compiled a list of things to do and things to avoid to make your essay sound more academic.

1) Avoid Contractions

A contraction is a combination of words that have been shortened by either fusing the two words together or the omission of syllables from the two words. For example, the words aren’t, don’t and can’t are all contractions. Contractions are the enemy of a formal academic essay. Use them in your everyday conversation, but leave them out of your essay.

2) Avoid Clichés

Clichés are overused phrases or expressions such as “back to square one”, or “too good to be true”. There are hundreds of clichés and you should avoid them at all costs. Clichés are not always obvious, so you have to be thorough in your proofreading to ensure that no clichés have made their way into your essay. In essence, avoid using flowery language and make sure that your reader knows what you mean by writing plainly and clearly.

3) Avoid Colloquialisms and Informal Words

Your essay should steer clear of any colloquialisms or informal words. Be sure to avoid words that you use in everyday conversation such as, totally, basically, super and heaps. You should also never use slang or abbreviations in you essay.

4) Use Academic Vocabulary

Ensure that you are using academic vocabulary in your essay in order to strengthen your argument. Avoid words such as think, use and lots. Read our article on “15 Words and Phrases That Will Take Your Essay to the Next Level” for an extensive list of words and phrases to use to make your essay sound more academic.

5) Make Your Thesis or Argument Obvious

When writing an essay, one of the most important things is to ensure that your argument is clear, obvious and is clearly stated in plain language. Use strong wording in your thesis or argument to persuade your reader.

6) Ensure You Are Using the Right Point of View

The point of view in your essay depends on both the type of essay you are writing, and the requirements of the task. Always ensure that you are writing from the correct point of view. Essays will either be written in third person or first person. You should never write an essay in second person.

7) Use Topic Sentences and Transitions

Each paragraph of your essay should begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence introduces the main concept or idea of a paragraph. Similar to topic sentences, transition sentences make your essay flow from one idea to another within a paragraph. Having these smooth transitions make your essay clearer and easier to read.

8) Ensure Your Document is Properly Formatted

The way that your document should be formatted depends on the kind of essay you are writing. Be sure to check with your teacher about the formatting requirements for your essay. As a standard formatting guide, you should always use a 12-point serif typeface and have a line spacing of 2.0.

9) Make Sure You Are Using the Proper Referencing Guide

There are a number of referencing styles available. The referencing style you should use will depend on the type of essay you are writing, or the preference of the person marking it. Be sure that you are using the correct referencing style as this will contribute to your essay looking and sounding more academic.

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