Writing Wednesdays: Keep it simple!

Today’s Writing Wednesday tip is easy: Keep it simple!

Sometimes in academic writing, people feel the need to make complicated sentences with the most formal words they can think of. (This isn’t just non-native English speakers either!) These tangled, overly-complex sentences can be confusing for your reader, and can end up having the opposite effect that you want. Here are a few general pointers with academic writing:

1. Simplify!

It’s fine to start with basic [subject] [verb] [object] sentences. You can add in transitions in a later draft, and maybe even swap out a few overused or less effective words for better ones. Clear and simple sentences are easier for your reader to understand.

2. Don’t forget the reader

Speaking of your reader…don’t forget about them! Imagine a real, actual human reading your words – maybe it’s your best friend, or fellow classmate, or your instructor – but it’s important to write with someone in mind.

3. Ask

Not sure if it’s ok to use “I” in your paper? Still unclear about if your conclusion is “up to snuff” (translation: good enough)? Confused about citations? Ask. Trust me: Teachers love it when students ask questions. It shows you’re engaged with the assignment, and that you want to do well! Plus, there’s a 99% chance someone else has that question, too.

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