The Basics of High Quality Academic Writing

It is hopefully clear to any college student that none of their submitted essays should be written in the same way they would write a Facebook post entry. Academic writing is more demanding that even the average college essay writing standard, requiring flawless skills in clear expression through the written word, compounded by substance of information, and intelligently displayed analytical skills. The most considerable difference between casual and academic writing, however, is the writing style employed. Academic writing must conform to established writing formats, which are usually clearly indicated by the professor.

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Different colleges adopt different academic writing formats, including the following, which are common:


  • The Chicago Manual of Style or Chicago Style: This is one of the oldest, most traditional academic writing styles and may also be referred to as the ‘CMS’ or ‘CMOS’.


  •  The APA Style or publication manual of the American Psychological Association: This style was designed in order to streamline academic writing into an internationally recognized format for both students and tutors.


  • The MLA Style or publication manual of the Modern Language Association: This style focuses on streamlining the writing of reference materials, and continues to gain in popularity internationally.


  • The Elements of Style Guide: This style focuses on clarity of expression in writing.


  • The Manual of Style for Technical Publication: This style was developed by Microsoft for its own use, and has proven popular with those dealing in technical writing.


Having conformed to the required academic style, the next most important factor is research, the demands of which are currently more intense than ever before. While a student’s capability for research used to be limited by the amount of information available to him in various libraries and especially purchased publications, national and foreign, the Internet has opened up a literal frontier in the research world, allowing students anywhere to obtain free or purchased material from everywhere else on the planet. This phenomenon has actually caused a sharp hike in the standard of academic writing required at the college level, challenging students more than at any other time.


Students who are not able to conduct the extensive and intricate research required by academic writing, and then use it correctly in their work, will likely find their efforts undermined. The purpose of academic writing, first and foremost, is the purveyance of qualified, in-depth information. Therefore, while a standard of writing skill that is only average may bring a few frowns, it will not affect a student’s overall marks, if he has effectively achieved the goal of sharing the information that he initially set out to do, and supported each of his arguments with solid research material.


The best academic writing must aim to display not only a student’s writing and research abilities, but further, his ability and skill at drawing out interesting, and sound conclusions, based on their accumulation of data. The finalised document is naturally expected to have undergone a thorough editing process, inclusive of the vital spelling and grammatical checks.

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