Leeds University Library

Writing skills

The sections below feature detailed advice on various areas of academic writing.

Writing icon

Getting started

Ensure that you understand how you will be assessed and what you are being asked to do.

Time management

Planning your schedule before you begin an assignment will help you to ensure you have enough time to complete a high quality piece of work.

Finding information and note taking

Using appropriate, relevant information sources and taking effective notes from them will strengthen the quality of your work.

Starting to write: structuring and organising your work

Getting ideas together

Structuring your work

Critical thinking

This is an essential skill which should be applied to all aspects of university education.

Paraphrasing, referencing and avoiding plagiarism

Referencing your work accurately is a key part of academic writing and can help you avoid plagiarism. However, it is just one part of avoiding plagiarism; unintentional plagiarism often occurs as a result of poor academic writing, such as bad paraphrasing.

The following resources will help you understand what constitutes plagiarism, improve your referencing, and paraphrase effectively:

Drafting and fine tuning

Editing and drafting

Academic voice and vocabulary

Spelling, grammar and punctuation

Different types of academic writing

Academic writing continues to be the mechanism most tutors use to assess learning, but writing in higher education can take a number of different forms - you won't just be expected to write good essays.

Reflective writing

An increasing number of students across all disciplines are assessed on the quality of their reflective writing.


There are many ways to write a report. Different disciplines and different tutors will have different expectations.

Annotated bibliographies

Annotated bibliographies are usually compiled for the purposes of an extended research project and are intended to provide a comprehensive yet focused overview of the critical discussions on a topic. 


The Final Chapter is an essential online resource designed to support students working on their dissertations and final year projects.

It contains lots of useful information on topics such as planning and preparing for your project, doing a literature review and critical thinking. It also includes videos of staff and students from the University of Leeds sharing their top tips for success.

Writing for the web

As part of your study, you may be expected to create a website, write a blog, contribute to a wiki or do a variety of other forms of web-based writing.

Further reading: books on academic writing


COTTRELL, S. 2008. The Study Skills Handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

COTTRELL, S. 2005. Critical Thinking Skills. Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan.

REDMAN, P. 2006. Good Essay Writing: A social science guide. Milton Keynes, UK : The Open University

CREME, P and M. LEA. 2008. Writing at University: a guide for students. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

GREETHAM, B. 2008. How to write better essays. Basingstoke: Palgrave.


CLOUGH, P and C. NUTBROWN. 2008. A Student's Guide to Methodology. London: SAGE.

REARDON, D. 2006. Doing your undergraduate project. London: SAGE.

HART, C. 1998. Doing a Literature Review - releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London : SAGE.

WALLIMAN, N. 2004. Your Undergraduate Dissertation. London : SAGE.

Scientific writing

Scientific style and format: the CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers. Reston, VA: Council of Science Editors in cooperation with the Rockefeller University Press.

BRISCOE, M. H. 2006. Preparing scientific illustrations: a guide to better posters, presentations, and publications. New York; London: Springer.

TUFTE, E. R. 2001. The visual display of quantitative information. 2nd edn. Cheshire, Conn.: Graphics Press.

SILYN-ROBERTS, H. 2000. Writing for science and engineering: papers, presentations, and reports. Oxford; Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Chapter 2 is especially helpful, describing the key requirements of the various sections of a scientific document, and addressing common mistakes. 

KIRKMAN, J. 1992. Good Style: writing for science and technology. London; New York: E and FN Spon.