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    Developing Academic Style

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    My instructor has let me know that my writing is too informal, and that I should work to develop a more formal, academic style. Where should I begin?

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    If you are not scoring as well on your writing as you would like--and especially if you are receiving comments regarding academic tone--you may want to work on rephrasing your ideas in a slightly more formal manner.

    <b>What is Style?</b>

    One important factor for successful writing is to assess the appropriate level of formality for each assignment. The "style" of our writing refers to the choices we make at the paragraph, sentence, and word level, much as it does when we use the word "style" to talk about the way we choose the clothes we wear. Each of us makes decisions in combining different pieces to reflect both our individual personality and the level of formality of the event we're attending. We might wear something quite different if going to a wedding versus a soccer game; similarly, we write differently in preparing a formal paper for a class versus writing a letter to a friend.

    Three words that could be used to describe writing style are formal, informal, and colloquial. Formal writing holds most tightly to traditional rules and has high expectations for sophisticated vocabulary choice and sentence structure. For example, many of us have been taught that in formal writing, it is best not to use contractions, to begin a sentence with the words "And" or "But," or use personal pronouns like "I" or "you."

    Informal writing may make more room for referring to ourselves as "I" within a paper and for ...