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Academic Writing

What is Academic Writing?


Academic writing is a formal style of writing that is mainly used in colleges, universities, and scholarly sources. You will encounter academic writing in journal articles, books, and blogs on academic topics—and most of your college assignments will be written using an academic style of writing.

Academic writing follows a basic four step writing process and has distinct content, structure and style characteristics.

Characteristics of academic writing

  • Formal in style.
  • Structured and organized.
  • Researched using scholarly sources to support points (popular sources may also be used depending on the assignment requirements. Please check with you professor if you are unsure.)
  • Unbiased language.
  • Precise and focused language.
  • Correct and consistent grammar, punctuation, tenses.
  • Discipline-specific terms.

Academic writing is not

  • Personal.
  • Casual or informal.
  • Unstructured.
  • Written in slang.
  • Long-winded.

There are many programs and courses at Sheridan that incorporate non-academic writing styles or elements, such as creative writing, journalism, and digital advertising or marketing. When reading your assignment requirements, pay attention to the type of assignment, as well as it's purpose, length, and citation style expectations. Requirements may be found in your syllabus, course outline, or assignment document (or the assignment rubric, if shared). It is important to understand your assignment and consult with your professor if you are unsure.

College success: Writing tips video (4m,1s)