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Features of academic writing

Introduction
Try this exercise.
Academic writing in English is linear, which means it has one central
point or theme with every part contributing to the main line of argument,
without digressions or repetitions. Its objective is to inform rather than
entertain. As well as this it is in the standard written form of the
language.There are eight main features of academic writing that are
often discussed. Academic writing is to some extent: complex, formal,
objective, explicit, hedged, and responsible. It uses language precisely
and accurately.
Complexity
ritten language is relatively more complex than spo!en language.
ritten language has longer words, it is lexically more dense and it has
a more varied vocabulary. It uses more noun"based phrases than verb"
based phrases. ritten texts are shorter and the language has more
grammatical complexity, including more subordinate clauses and more
passives.
#omplexity
Formality
Academic writing is relatively formal. In general this means that in an
essay you should avoid collo$uial words and expressions.
%ormality
Precision
In academic writing, facts and figures are given precisely.
&recision
Objectivity
ritten language is in general objective rather than personal. It
therefore has fewer words that refer to the writer or the reader. This
means that the main emphasis should be on the information that you
want to give and the arguments you want to ma!e, rather than you. %or
that reason, academic writing tends to use nouns 'and adjectives(,
rather than verbs 'and adverbs(.
)bjectivity
Explicitness
Academic writing is explicit about the relationships int he text.
%urthermore, it is the responsibility of the writer in English to ma!e it
clear to the reader how the various parts of the text are related. These
connections can be made explicit by the use of different signalling
words.
Explicitness
Accuracy
Academic writing uses vocabulary accurately. *ost subjects have words
with narrow specific meanings. +inguistics distinguishes clearly between
,phonetics, and ,phonemics,- general English does not.
Accuracy
Hedging
In any !ind of academic writing you do, it is necessary to ma!e
decisions about your stance on a particular subject, or the strength of
the claims you are ma!ing. .ifferent subjects prefer to do this in
different ways.
A techni$ue common in certain !inds of academic writing is !nown by
linguists as a /hedge0.
1edging
esponsibility
In academic writing you must be responsible for, and must be able to
provide evidence and justification for, any claims you ma!e. 2ou are
also responsible for demonstrating an understanding of any source texts
you use.
3esponsibility
4
Academic writing has eight characteristics: complexity, formality, precision,
objectivity, explicitness, accuracy, hedging and responsibility. They should
all be ta!en into consideration when writing an academic text, but the one
that is predominant also dictates the style of that writing. 5o concession
should be made from these eight features and they should be !ept in mind
at all times by anyone attempting to be an academic writer.
!" Complexity in Academic #riting
#omplexity in academic writing comes from the fact that the standard
written form of the English language, which is compulsory to be used, is
different than the language we spea! daily. The vocabulary used by the
written language is more varied than the one used in conversations. It also
uses more complicated words that are not normally used when tal!ing with
someone face to face. The grammatical aspect of the written language is
also different because we don0t normally use in spea!ing so many
subordinate clauses and passives. The phrases in the written language are
noun"based and those in spea!ing language are verb"based. This also
ma!es academic writing different from face to face communication or other
types of writing.
$" Formality in Academic #riting
In close connection with complexity is formality. 6nder no circumstances
will academic writing ma!e use of collo$uial expression that we consider
natural in daily dialogues we have with friend or colleagues. The degree of
formality should thus be pretty high.
%" Precision or #ords in Academic #riting
Academic writing should be very precise. %actual information, figures or
charts, should all be provided and nothing written there should leave room
to interpretation.
&" Academic #riting Objectivity
Another important characteristic is objectivity. Academic writing is not
about the reader or the writer and it shouldn0t contain referrals to any of
these. It should focus on the main theme and offer information about it,
without the writer getting involved in a personal manner. This is why nouns
are more used than verbs or adverbs.
'" Academic #riting in Explicit Form
The author of an academic writing is responsible for ma!e it explicit and for
ma!ing clear how different parts of the text are connected between them
and why are they relevant for the central theme. There are certain words
that can be used in order to emphasis this connection and they are called
signaling words.
(" Accuracy of Academic #riting
An accurate use of vocabulary is a must in a text that wants to be
academic. Extra attention should be paid when using words with a specific
meaning and the writer should !now that there is a clear distinction
between phonetics and phonemics. This distinction is not so important
when it comes to the general use of English language.
)" Hedge
7ome academic writers choose to use a techni$ue called hedge. This has
to do with the way that writer decides to approach a certain subject and
with how strong the claims he ma!es are.
*" esponsibility in Academic #riting
+ast, but not least, academic writing should be treated with responsibility.
Everything stated should be accompanied by proofs and justifications and
no assumptions are allowed. 7ources should also be mentioned.
Formal and Informal Letters
By Alice Feathers, M.A. TESOL, Professional Editor and Writer
Good letter writing is a lost art in our society today. With the onslaught
of electronic mail, voice mail, and faxes, good letter writing has gone the
way of the dinosaurs. And yet, a well-written, personalized business
letter can do wonders for your business relationships.
Business correspondence does not have to be dry and tedious. In fact,
the most effective business letters often touch on very personal matters,
not just on money or the bottom line. In this day of information overload
it is still important to be short and to the point in most of your
correspondence. However, this does not preclude the fact that a
personal reference and warm tone can open doors that otherwise would
have remained closed.
Along these same lines, it is important to note that a well-prepared letter
can exert tremendous influence over its reader. Good writers are like
good speakers. They are able to build strong relationships using words.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to spend time developing your
business writing skills.
There are basically two types of business letters: formal business letters
and informal business letters. Often times, there is a fine line between
the two.
Formal business letters.
Formal business letters do not have to be all business. They may
include one or two personal sentences or touch on a personal subject.
However, they would still fall under the umbrella of the formal business
letter. According to Letitia Baldridge's New Complete Guide to
Executive Manners, there are several rules of etiquette that you should
follow whenever you write a formal business letter.
Use company letterhead when appropriate. Make sure that you
only use company letterhead for business, not for personal
matters.
Use the proper salutation to open your letter. If you have just
met someone who is more or less your peer, then the proper
salutation would be "Dear Jane". If you have just met an executive
level person and do not feel comfortable using their first name,
use both names to show that you do not want to be too stiff or
formal (i.e., "Dear Jane Doe"). If you are a young executive who
has just been introduced to a senior executive, do not use their
first name in correspondence since it may come across as too
aggressive and lacking in respect. Instead use the more formal
introduction, "Dear Ms. Doe."
Use a complimentary closing. For any formal business
correspondence, using either "Sincerely" or "Sincerely yours" to
close your letter is an appropriate way to close your letter.
Always sign your letter. Many letters include a typed signature
block followed by a handwritten signature. The primary reason for
this is that many people's handwriting is illegible. However, it is a
serious error in judgment to only include the typed signature.
Make sure you include your written signature underneath the
typed signature block.
Informal business letters.
Informal letters are exchanged by business executives on a regular
basis these days. They are most commonly used to please the recipient
in some manner. Examples of informal letters include congratulatory
letters, complimentary letters, requests for favors, thank you letters, and
letters of encouragement.
Letitia Baldridge outlines the basic characteristics of an effective
informal business letter in her book the New Complete Guide to
Executive Manners. According to Baldridge, a good informal business
letter:
Should be brief.
Is thoughtful, honest, simple and prompt.
Includes an informal and personal statement immediately
following the opening salutation.
Has a trace of humor as well as a trace of praise in it in regard to
the recipient of the letter.
Refrains from foul or offensive language.
States the purpose of the letter in the first paragraph.
Includes everything that you feel it is important for the recipient to
know.
Does not include any exaggerations.
Is interesting in style.
Is carefully edited.
Overall, both formal and informal letters are professional letters of the
heart meant to build bridges and grow relationships. By practicing your
letter writing skills, you will find what is most effective for you. In the
meantime, consider taking classes in business writing to improve your
ability to communicate effectively with others. By doing so, you will not
only enhance your business relationships, but you will also improve your
bottom line.
When it comes to writing in English, there are two main styles of writing
formal and informal. Consider these two examples:
Example 1: This is to inform you that your book has been reected by our
publishing company as it was not up to the re!uired standard. "n case you
would like us to reconsider it, we would suggest that you go o#er it and
make some necessary changes.
Example 2: $ou know that book " wrote% Well, the publishing company reected
it. They thought it was awful. &ut hey, " did the best " could, and " think
it was great. "'m not gonna redo it the way they said " should.
The difference between the two is ob#ious. The first one is formal, and the
second is informal. &ut what is it that makes them formal and informal%
"t is the style of writing, or the way we use words to say what we want to
say. (ifferent situations call for different ways of putting words together.
The way we write in academic and scientific settings differs greatly from
the way we write to a friend or close one. The tone, #ocabulary, and syntax,
all change as the occasion changes. This difference in the styles of writing
is the difference between formality and informality, or the difference
between formal and informal writing.
)ere*s a list of some of the main differences between informal and formal
writing:

"nformal: +ay use collo!uial words,expressions -kids, guy, awesome, a lot,
etc...
/ormal: 0#oid using collo!uial words,expressions -substitute
withchildren, man/boy, wonderful, many, etc..
"nformal: +ay use contractions -cant, wont, shouldnt, etc...
/ormal: 0#oid contractions -write out full words cannot, will not,should
not, etc...
"nformal: +ay use first, second, or third person.
/ormal: Write in third person -except in business letters where first person
may be used..
"nformal: +ay use clich1s -loads of, conspicuous by absence, etc..
/ormal: 0#oid clich1s -use many, was absent, etc..
"nformal: +ay address readers using second person pronouns -you, your, etc.
/ormal: 0#oid addressing readers using second person pronouns
-use one,ones, the reader, the readers, etc..
"nformal: +ay use abbre#iated words -photo, TV, etc.
/ormal: 0#oid using abbre#iated words -use full #ersions
likephotograph, television, etc..
"nformal: +ay use imperati#e #oice -e.g. emember!..
/ormal: 0#oid imperati#e #oice -use "lease refer to#!..
"nformal: +ay use acti#e #oice -e.g. $e have noticed that!...
/ormal: 2se passi#e #oice -e.g. %t has been noticed that3..
"nformal: +ay use short and simple sentences.
/ormal: 4onger and more complex sentences are preferred -short simple
sentences reflects poorly on the writer.
"nformal: (ifficulty of subect may be acknowledged and empathy shown to the
reader.
/ormal: 5tate your points confidently and offer your argument firm support.
These are ust some of the differences between formal and informal writing.
The main thing to remember is that both are correct, it is ust a matter of
tone and setting. /ormal English is used mainly in academic writing and
business communications, whereas "nformal English is casual and is
appropriate when communicating with friends and other close ones. Choose the
style of writing keeping in mind what you are writing and to whom. &ut
whiche#er style you write in formal or informal be sure to keep it
consistent, do not mix the two.