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Academic style is partly a matter of personal taste - your own authorial voice, and the expectations of your reader (your supervisor). Academic style will vary slightly across subjects and cultures. However, some of the conventions of good style are more generally agreed on. 

  • Inappropriate style for UK academic writing may include colloquialisms or overly formal tone, emotive language or overly personal style. These aspects are finely judged, and you will find more guidance on developing academic style in the resource How do I write in an appropriate academic style?
  • Clumsy, repetitive or wordy expression is natural when drafting, as you work out your ideas and how to articulate them. It is rare that a first draft will be polished, tightly constructed prose, and it is important to ensure that you cut out unnecessary words to make your meaning prominent.
  • Ambiguous or unclear meaning can be difficult to spot in your own work, as you know what you mean, but make sure that complex ideas are unpacked enough, and words are used in a precise and unambiguous manner.


A helpful strategy to check your style is to read your work aloud, or even to use computer software that will read your text to you (Google 'text to speech software' to find examples). This helps to give you a distance from your own writing that will help you to see it from the reader’s perspective, and highlight any areas where your text sounds clumsy, wordy or repetitive. You could also look at the resource above, How do I write in an appropriate academic style?, check your notes and handouts from the lectures on editing and style which were delivered at the beginning of the year, and note any feedback on style from your supervisors. From these, you might create a checklist to use when reading over your work.