Using Tone and Style in an Academic Essay
Academic writing is held to the highest standards – this isn’t a secret to anyone, student or otherwise. The requirements in academic writing far exceed those of writing anywhere else in a student’s life. When students aren’t worrying about crafting a great thesis, finding relevant research or perfecting their essay outline, they are worrying about one last crucial thing: the writing itself. Many students don’t know what tone and style to use in an academic essay – some don’t even know what that means! The truth is, academic writing has it’s own particular tone and style. It’s important that students stick to the prescribed tone and style of an academic paper because it’s fundamental in creating a viable, believable and approved piece of academic writing.
First of all, academic writing shifts tone from previous, similar assignments by being far less personal. Don’t go interjecting your personal thoughts and experiences here. Unless an assignment asks you, directly, to talk about your personal responses or feelings, don’t factor them into the paper. Even the assignments that do allow for personal exploration should have such things kept in check. Don’t overindulge, though – make sure your experience or feelings relate back to the topic at hand. If you are not invited to make personal statement, do not do so! This reaches further than simply avoiding your personal opinions or retelling a favorite experience. It also means that you should not write your essay from your own perspective. The word ‘I’ should be avoided at all costs. At the same time, try never to refer to your audience directly using the pronoun ‘you.’ The reason for this is simple: the text is supposed to be a subjective, unbiased and opinion text. The moment you incorporate personally relevant pronouns like ‘I’ and ‘you,’ this unravels. You must always speak in a third person. Use phrases like ‘one,’ ‘oneself,’ ‘his or her,’ etc. Sometimes this may change with the assignment, but for the most part, it’s a good rule to stick to.
The other large issue in academic writing is that it functions on proper English. Many students end up bypassing this without meaning to. Using proper, academic English in a paper means no jargon, no slurs, no turns of phrase, and definitely no grammatical, spelling or other such errors. Such flaws in writing completely undermine the credibility of your paper, no matter how otherwise insightful and well developed it may be. Proofread and edit until you’re sick of it! Cut out unneeded clutter, clarify what could be unclear, correct errors and otherwise ensure that your text is as perfectly composed as it could possibly be. These few guidelines should aid you in most academic paper ventures – but also ensure that other guidelines are taken into account, such as specific style sheets (APA or MLA, for example).