Are you struggling with your essay writing style?  It can be hard to write in the formal tone necessary for effective essay construction.  Here are three quick hints that will help you start to write in an academic tone instantly!

Essay writing tricks: Hedging

One top essay writing tip is to use hedging.  In your writing, ‘to hedge’ means that you protect yourself from criticism by using language that doesn’t commit you firmly to a particular point of view.

This means you use words and expressions like “It may be”, “Mitchell’s work appears to say”, “It could be concluded that”.  Academic writers use careful words so that they don’t make claims that are definite when the evidence is uncertain.  This may be particularly useful when you want to criticise another writer’s work.  You don’t want your assertion that their work is wrong to sound like a personal attack, so writing something like “Mitchell’s work seems to ignore the changing economic circumstances” is not as combative as “Mitchell’s work completely ignores the changing economic circumstances”.

You may like to work on your vocabulary of hedging words to help with effective essay writing.

Essay choice: Academic words

Use words that make you sound like an academic.  This doesn’t mean that you have to choose particularly long words simply to make yourself sound more important, but you do need to use formal language.  Avoiding slang, bad language and colloquialisms will help you grasp a more erudite tone immediately.  Keep your tone balanced and calm even if you are writing about a subject that stirs up emotion (like politics) or even upsets you (such as the history of slavery or the Holocaust).  You need to keep your tone dispassionate.

Essay writing tip: ‘you’

Don’t write to the reader as ‘you’.  This makes the essay sound too personal in tone. Phrases like “To help you understand this material…”, “You will see from this table that…” should be rewritten for an academic essay.  Try “This material can be understood by…” and “The table shows that…”.

Try out these essay writing tips in your next essay.  Have you noticed an instant improvement in the tone of your essays?  Let us know your thoughts.  Post a comment below.