Leeds University Library

Academic writing

Academic writing
These pages deconstruct the process of writing academically and introduce methods you can use to improve your academic writing style. This is intended to be a general guide that we hope will help you develop confidence in your writing style. It is intended to complement advice given by your school, including the feedback you will receive on your assessed work. 

Characteristics of academic writing

There is often a misconception that academic writing needs to be complex, involving long sentences and complicated vocabulary. In fact, academic writing needs to be clear and concise in order to aid the reader's understanding. Each subject discipline will have certain writing conventions, vocabulary and types of discourse that you will become familiar with over the course of your degree. There is however some general characteristics of academic writing that are relevant across all disciplines.

Academic writing (is):

Planned and focused:
  • Answers the question that has been set
  • Demonstrates your understanding of the subject and how this relates to the question.
  • Written in a well ordered and coherent way
  • Ordered in a logical manner
  • Brings together related points and material.
Evidenced- uses other author's (academic/experts) work: 
  • Demonstrates your knowledge of the subject area
  • Opinions and arguments are supported by evidence
  • Referenced accurately.
Adopts a formal tone and style:
  • Written clearly and concisely
  • Uses appropriate language and tenses to ensure accuracy in meaning
  • Is balanced and objective.
The following pages will look at all these characteristics in detail.