Apr 22 2022

What is Formal Academic Writing: 104 Words to Use and Avoid

Stefani Holloway photo Stefani Holloway Content strategist and writer
Writing Advice

For an author to tell his readers a story, picking the right word and phrases to include in his manuscript is pivotal. Similarly, using formal and professional words, sentences and tone while writing your academic writing assignments is equally important.

To have an academic tone, express your ideas clearly and make it easier for your readers to understand the concepts behind your arguments and points, a carefully segregated and strong word choice is ideal for success.

Original: SourceIn this article, we’ll share a list of words you should use and ones you should avoid at all costs.

51 Formal Academic Writing Words to Use

While it is necessary to make sense of your writing, it is also advised to identify what sounds best for your assignment and be able to communicate arguments, ideas and opinions with your target audience, cohesively and concisely.

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Let’s now understand the five categories of words and phrases that are appropriate and advisable to use in your formal academic writing assessments:

1. For the introduction

The most important and trickiest part of your academic writing is the introduction – the first portion of your essay that your readers will read, so it needs to have a catchy hook to grab the attention of your readers and summarise your topic and thesis statement in layman’s terms, all in one paragraph.

To not seem casual in your writing, as well as score high grades on your formal paper, the usage of appropriate words for your introduction paragraph is crucial. Here are some words you can consider:

  • Considering;
  • In view of;
  • In light of;
  • Owing to;
  • Firstly;
  • Primarily;
  • On the second hand;
  • Referring to the views of X;
  • According to X.

2. To add more information and clarity

The structure, clarity, and flow of your paper are very important. You would want your readers to understand each paragraph, connect the entire paper, and draw up an analysis without any difficulties.

Knowing how to write and add new information to your academic paper with smooth transitions from each paragraph to the other, is a skill that is paramount amongst students who are crafting their formal assignments.

  • Furthermore;
  • In addition to;
  • Moreover;
  • Additionally;
  • On top of that;
  • In order to;
  • To this end;
  • In contemplation of;
  • In other words;
  • To put it another way;
  • To clarify;
  • To simplify;
  • Similarly;
  • Likewise;
  • Comparably;
  • In parallel to.

3. To compare and contrast

Most of the time, formal academic writing assignments have differences of opinions to prove an argument, so it's very important to show all sides of an opinion with relevant research and sources.

To show your knowledge of the particular subject, you have to demonstrate your ideas with facts, research and examples. Here are a few ways you can introduce compare and contrast arguments:

  • Alternatively;
  • On the contrary;
  • Whereas;
  • On the other hand;
  • Besides;
  • By contrast;
  • As compared to;
  • Nonetheless;
  • Despite this;
  • In spite of;
  • Notably;
  • Importantly.

4. To give examples

Every high-scored academic paper has to include examples. This makes your argument stronger, more plausible and can help simplify an explanation or bring clarity to an argument for your reader.

The term ‘for example’’ is the most commonly used phrase that is used to illustrate examples, but it's always good practice to avoid repeating the same words for a quality read.

  • For instance;
  • To demonstrate;
  • As evidence;
  • To illustrate;
  • To exemplify.

5. To summarise your essay

Lastly, concluding words are pivotal for using in your academic paper to summarise all your arguments, points, and ideas. Each portion of this paragraph requires an appropriate term to clarify the meaning and purpose of the argument.

There are terms to introduce your conclusion, emphasize the relevant argument, and shed attention to important points. That’s why the final paragraph with your core argument that ties up your entire academic paper together should be explained through the following terms:

  • To summarise;
  • In conclusion;
  • To sum up;
  • To conclude;
  • In closing;
  • Therefore;
  • Hence;
  • For this reason;
  • Above all.

53 Formal Academic Writing Words to Avoid

Apart from knowing which words to use, it’s also important to know the words you must avoid to submit a stellar paper.

Here are the seven categories of words and expressions you should avoid at all costs to gain higher scores on your writing assignments.

1. Informal

Every academic writing needs to be written in a formal language with the usage of appropriate words. Informal language in your assignments would make your paper seem casual and immature. Usually, these forms of writing also need to be a lot more formal than our everyday speech.

The following words below are considered to be too informal to be included in your academic papers:

  • A lot of;
  • A couple of;
  • Kind of;
  • Sort of;
  • You, your, me, my, us, we (second-person pronouns);
  • Starting sentences with ‘also’, ‘because’, ‘and’, ‘so’.

2. Vague

Using vague words and sentences should be best avoided. To get across clearly and precisely, use specific terms so that the presentation of the academic writing leaves no doubts in anybody’s mind.

Here are some vague words to avoid using in your essays, dissertations or projects:

  • About;
  • Around;
  • Big, mall, short, tall;
  • There;
  • A long time, a while ago, at that time;
  • Things, stuff, objects.

3. Cliches

Oft-repeated and overused expressions can prove to be quite ineffectual in formal writing. Cliches rob an assignment or project of its original worth and erode its credibility.

Take a look at some of the frequently used and bland cliches that would only bring unoriginality to your paper:

  • Cream of the top;
  • In today’s society;
  • In this day and age;
  • At the end of the day;
  • A level playing field;
  • At this moment in time;
  • When all is said and done;
  • Throughout history;
  • Last but not the least;
  • Agree to disagree.

4. Abbreviations

Shortened forms of words and phrases should be abjured in writing academic papers. This then brings down the entire gravity and professionalism of your essay.

Imagine crafting a perfect academic assignment, only to get a low grade due to unnecessary and easily avoidable abbreviations:

  • Isn’t, wouldn't, couldn't, they’re, won’t, can’t, weren't;
  • ASAP, BRB, Apps, IT, comp., TV;
  • Mgmt. dept., info., grad, PVT;
  • ASAP, TBA, ATM.

5. Complex words

Try to use simple and layman's terms instead of resorting to peppering the assignment with complex words.

Using technical and complex terms will make it difficult for your readers to comprehend your ideas and content. This will in turn result in you receiving negative feedback for your work.

Here are a few complex words for your reference:

  • Humongous instead of large;
  • Equitable instead of fair;
  • Adjacent to instead of next to;
  • Accomplished instead of carrying out or do;
  • With reference to instead of about;
  • In a timely manner instead of on-time;
  • Effect modifications instead of making changes;
  • Promulgate instead of issue or publish.

6. Exaggeration

Formal academic writing is direct and not ornamental. Hence, exaggerations are best avoided. They may also be lacking in accuracy which could make your assignment lose its authenticity – this then leads to lower grades.

Keep in mind to remove your focus from including exaggerated expressions in your formal writing, such as:

  • Always, never, forever;
  • Extremely, really, very, must, surely;
  • Perfect, best, worst;
  • Literally, completely, absolutely, entirely;
  • Obviously, of course, undoubtedly.

7. Slang

It's always advisable to use formal words in a conversational tone for your academic assignments. Slangs are best avoided in this aspect because using casual and colloquial expressions can bring down your writing scores drastically.

The following slang and colloquialisms should be best avoided to score a perfect grade on your formal academic assessments:

  • Awesome;
  • Fabulous;
  • Nailed it;
  • Cool;
  • Ripped off;
  • Off the hook;
  • Check it out;
  • Pro;
  • Dude;
  • Gross;
  • Nasty;
  • Low-key;
  • Woke;
  • Frenemy.

Key takeaway

Now, as you start to pen your thoughts and ideas to paper for your formal academic paper, you not only know what words and sentences to avoid that’ll make your efforts go down the drain but you also know the appropriate, formal, and academic words to use in your writing assessments for scoring high grades.

As word choice is important, writing a flawless academic paper using the list above as your reference, will do wonders for your vocabulary, writing style, knowledge, and sentence structure.

If you need help with your academic essays, Writers Per Hour would be glad to help. Our expert writers exactly know the right words to use so you’re able to submit professionally-written papers that are sure to impress.

last edit at Apr 27 2022