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"
- "This essay argues"
- "This essay has showed"
- Using your own experience as an example is OK
- Still, don't use "I" - use "The author was/went/saw"
- But even, then, only talk about facts, not opinions i.e. never use "The author believes/thinks"
- Sometimes "I" is OK
- NO: Science/Law/Engineering
- MAYBE: Education, some Letters.
Do not use "you" or "we"
Unless you mean EVERYONE:
|"We did a survey" ||bad, because "we" = your research team |
|"We must protect the planet" ||OK, because "we" = all humans|
|"After that, you should look at" ||bad, because "you" means the reader|
|"When you study English, you also learn culture" ||OK, because "you" means all students|
It's safer just to avoid "we" and "you" completely. Use passive, third person, "it is"
- "A survey was done"
- "The authors gave a survey"
- "It is necessary to protect the planet"
- "The planet must be protected"
- "When English is studied, culture is also learned"
- "Those who study English also learn culture"
Do not use digits under 10
- Use words for 1-9 ("one two three")
- Use numbers for 10+ ("10, 11, 12")
- If the number starts a sentence, use "Twelve" or "Around 12"
- Use numbers with counters ($3, 8 hours, 5 years old)
- Keep numbers consistent (8-10, not 8-ten)
- For more, read this: (link)
Do not use abbreviations (e.g. "don't" = do not)
- No short forms (don't, won't, can't, isn't, he's, etc.) in essays.
- Use long forms (do not, will not, cannot, is not, he is, etc.)
Do not use opinion language
If you think something is true, PROVE it using evidence. Do not use these about your own reasons and research:
Many people think
It is thought that
Just give the facts, not your attitude to them.
It is your READERS job to decide if the idea is clear or amazing. It is your job to describe it well enough that they can see that for themselves. Be very careful about words like these:
See this article: (link)
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