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Academic writing

Define your purpose and reader

The first step to writing academically is to clearly define the purpose of the writing and the audience.

Most formal academic writing at university is set by, and written for, an academic tutor or assessor, and there should be clear criteria against which they will mark your work.

You will need to spend some time interpreting your question and deciding how to tackle your assignment. See our Interpreting your assignment tutorial (activity) for more details about how to do this.

If you are writing for yourself – for example making notes to record or make sense of something – then you can set your own criteria such as clarity, brevity, and relevance. See our Note taking and note making tutorial (activity) for further help.

Once you have a clear idea of what is required for your assignment, you can start planning your research and gathering evidence. See our Planning your assignment pages for advice on breaking down the different steps in this process.