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How to Use Articles in Academic Writing

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Articles function as limiting adjectives that help us understand which person, place, thing, or concept is being discussed. Despite their simplistic rules, articles and commas are the most difficult to tackle for non-native English speakers. Article usage can be quite idiosyncratic in academic writing, and when writing manuscripts, one has to be particularly aware of the context of usage. In this post, we shall systematically categorize article usage in academic writing.

Native usage of articles develops over time as a result of extensive reading, observation, contextual understanding, and, of course, participation in conversation. However, in most cases, the proper article to be used can be determined by asking a few simple questions.


Hence, the first step is to determine whether the noun is a proper noun (definite article or no article) or common noun (indefinite articles). Next, in case of a common noun, it is important to determine whether the reference is generic or specific. Generic references would mean that a noun represents all examples without mentioning a specific category (e.g., policies vs. economic policies).Specific references would include introducing a common noun in a text (with an indefinite article or no articles) and using the definite article in consequent references. Article usage may then vary with the context.

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Use of the Definite Article

Proper noun.

1.  The United Nations, founded in 1945, is currently made up of 193 Member States.

2. Tumor resection with cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB) is still disputable in the field of oncology.

Contextual (specific) Reference

The method introduced in H1 yielded the same results as the other method used in H2 . (where the method has already been introduced; thus, it is a noun that has already been defined and can be referred to using the definite article)

Use of Indefinite Articles

If the noun that is being defined/modified is one of many (i.e., an example or a single member of a group), indefinite articles such as “a” or “an” should be used:

Human Genome Project was an exciting development towards personalized medicine.

Article Usage with Countable and Non-count Nouns

1. If a noun is being used as a representative of every instance or individual, its singular form can be used along with the definite article.

The smartphone has become an inalienable part of modern existence.

Alternatively, the plural form can also be used for a generic reference. However, the definite article must be omitted in this case.

Smartphones have become an inalienable part of modern existence.

2. In English, mass nouns are ones that cannot be counted and usually lack a plural in general usage.

Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. (Albert Einstein)
  • No article is used when a plural noun is introduced in the text (first mention). However, the definite article can be used to refer to that specific noun from the second mention onwards for clarity.
  • Articles are usually omitted in titles and headlines to save space and boost impact.


The Learning Centre (2016, August) Article Usage and Count and Non-count Nouns. Retrieved from http://www.vaniercollege.qc.ca/tlc/files/2016/08/Article-Usage-Count-Non-Count-Nouns.pdf

Articles . Retrieved from  https://www.grammarly.com/blog/articles/

The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Articles. Retrieved from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/articles/

David Appleyard. David Appleyard’s Guide to Article Usage in English. Retrieved from https://davidappleyard.com/english/index.html

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Students often write or create academic writing for their project, assignment or thesis for their school. Academic writing is one of the methods that we students are crucial in making mistakes. We don’t usually notice even a small flaw on our paper. This article titled, How to use articles in academic writing, explains how we must apply specific words on our writing. We must determine what we are aiming to do on our paper for us to know how to write it. Articles helps us what concept we are discussing in our paper that is why it has to be organized, systematic, brief and most especially free from mistakes. It was explained here that your article can be defined as proper noun or common noun. Definite article or proper noun presents a specific article. It uses proper nouns to present the articles. While Indefinite article uses common nouns. Under it are countable and non-count nouns. Countable nouns are used as a representative of every instance or individual, its singular form can be used along with the definite article. While non-count words are mass nouns are ones that cannot be counted and usually lack a plural in general usage. As you can see if we students almost write every day and don’t know anything about this topic then we will fail not just as writers but also as students because we failed to present our writing in a correct way. Always remember this topic and apply this to your everyday life either you’re a writer or not

Thanks for the nice explanation. In the text, you wrote “Alternatively, the plural form can also be used for a generic reference.”. The plural form is not a specific one in this context. I think it should be ‘a plural form’. Isn’t it?

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. We meant the plural form of the noun discussed in the previous example and hence used “the”. However, “a plural form” could also be used instead.

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Article Usage

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A Vs. An Vs. The: Knowing When to Use the Right Article

According to linguists, the earlier forms of English did not have articles to accompany nouns…

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How to Use Articles in Academic Writing

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Articles operate as limiting adjectives that help us recognize which person, place, thing, or idea is being discussed. Notwithstanding their apparent simple rules, articles are difficult to master for non-native English speakers. There are several reasons for this. Some languages do not have an explicit article system, e.g., Russian, Japanese, and Chinese. Or, even if the language has one, it is not equivalent to the English article system. Icelandic, for example, has thirteen definite articles which are all suffixes; German and Spanish use articles based on the number, gender, and case of the noun. For native speakers of English, article use evolves over time because of daily conversations in a variety of social contexts, reading, and observation.

Using the English article correctly is considered one of the most challenging aspects of the English language. In formal writing, article usage can be fairly idiosyncratic, and when writing manuscripts, one has to be especially aware of the context of usage. In this piece, we will methodically categorize article usage in formal writing .

In most cases, the correct article to be utilized can be decided by asking these simple questions:

academic writing about article

The initial step is to find out if the noun is a common noun or a proper noun. In the case of a common noun, it is vital to identify whether the reference is specific or generic. Generic references would indicate that a noun represents all examples without mentioning a particular category (e.g., policies vs . economic policies). Specific references would include introducing a common noun in a text for the first time and then using the definite article in subsequent references (e.g., … was packed in a cartridge vs . …the cartridge was pretreated). Article usage may then differ with the context.

Using Definite Articles

Proper Noun

  • The United Nations , established in 1945, is currently made up of 193 Member States.
  • We study the psychometric properties of the Fear Avoidance Beliefs Questionnaire .

Contextual (specific) Reference

The method introduced in H1 yielded the exact outcome as the alternative method used in H2 (where the method has already been introduced; thus, it is a noun that has already been described and can be referred to using the definite article).

Using Indefinite Articles

If the noun that is defined or modified is one of several (i.e., an example or a single member of a group), the indefinite articles “a” or “an” must be used.

The Human Genome Project was an exciting development towards personalized medicine.

Article Usage with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

  • If a noun is used as a representative of each instance or individual, its singular form can be utilized along with the definite article.
The Smartphone has become an inalienable part of modern existence.

The plural form can also be utilized for a generic reference. But, the definite article must be left out in this scenario.

Smartphones have become an inalienable part of modern existence.
  • In English, mass nouns cannot be counted and mostly lack a plural form.
Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it. (Albert Einstein)
  • No article is used when a plural noun is introduced in the text. But, the definite article can be utilized to refer to that particular noun from the second instance onwards for clarity.
  • Articles are generally omitted in titles and headlines for conciseness and directness.

Besides, if you are looking for an AI-driven writing tool to enhance your writing, then check out Trinka , the world’s first language enhancement tool that is custom-built for academic and technical writing. It has several exclusive features to make your manuscript ready for the global audience.

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What Is Academic Writing? | Dos and Don’ts for Students

Academic writing is a formal style of writing used in universities and scholarly publications. You’ll encounter it in journal articles and books on academic topics, and you’ll be expected to write your essays , research papers , and dissertation in academic style.

Academic writing follows the same writing process as other types of texts, but it has specific conventions in terms of content, structure and style.

Table of contents

Types of academic writing, academic writing is…, academic writing is not…, useful tools for academic writing, academic writing checklist.

Academics mostly write texts intended for publication, such as journal articles, reports, books, and chapters in edited collections. For students, the most common types of academic writing assignments are listed below.

Different fields of study have different priorities in terms of the writing they produce. For example, in scientific writing it’s crucial to clearly and accurately report methods and results; in the humanities, the focus is on constructing convincing arguments through the use of textual evidence. However, most academic writing shares certain key principles intended to help convey information as effectively as possible.

Whether your goal is to pass your degree, apply to graduate school , or build an academic career, effective writing is an essential skill.

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Formal and unbiased

Academic writing aims to convey information in an impartial way. The goal is to base arguments on the evidence under consideration, not the author’s preconceptions. All claims should be supported with relevant evidence, not just asserted.

To avoid bias, it’s important to represent the work of other researchers and the results of your own research fairly and accurately. This means clearly outlining your methodology  and being honest about the limitations of your research.

The formal style used in academic writing ensures that research is presented consistently across different texts, so that studies can be objectively assessed and compared with other research.

Because of this, it’s important to strike the right tone with your language choices. Avoid informal language , including slang, contractions , clichés, and conversational phrases:

  • Also , a lot of the findings are a little unreliable.
  • Moreover , many of the findings are somewhat unreliable.

Clear and precise

It’s important to use clear and precise language to ensure that your reader knows exactly what you mean. This means being as specific as possible and avoiding vague language :

  • People have been interested in this thing for a long time .
  • Researchers have been interested in this phenomenon for at least 10 years .

Avoid hedging your claims with words like “perhaps,” as this can give the impression that you lack confidence in your arguments. Reflect on your word choice to ensure it accurately and directly conveys your meaning:

  • This could perhaps suggest that…
  • This suggests that…

Specialist language or jargon is common and often necessary in academic writing, which generally targets an audience of other academics in related fields.

However, jargon should be used to make your writing more concise and accurate, not to make it more complicated. A specialist term should be used when:

  • It conveys information more precisely than a comparable non-specialist term.
  • Your reader is likely to be familiar with the term.
  • The term is commonly used by other researchers in your field.

The best way to familiarize yourself with the kind of jargon used in your field is to read papers by other researchers and pay attention to their language.

Focused and well structured

An academic text is not just a collection of ideas about a topic—it needs to have a clear purpose. Start with a relevant research question or thesis statement , and use it to develop a focused argument. Only include information that is relevant to your overall purpose.

A coherent structure is crucial to organize your ideas. Pay attention to structure at three levels: the structure of the whole text, paragraph structure, and sentence structure.

Well sourced

Academic writing uses sources to support its claims. Sources are other texts (or media objects like photographs or films) that the author analyzes or uses as evidence. Many of your sources will be written by other academics; academic writing is collaborative and builds on previous research.

It’s important to consider which sources are credible and appropriate to use in academic writing. For example, citing Wikipedia is typically discouraged. Don’t rely on websites for information; instead, use academic databases and your university library to find credible sources.

You must always cite your sources in academic writing. This means acknowledging whenever you quote or paraphrase someone else’s work by including a citation in the text and a reference list at the end.

There are many different citation styles with different rules. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago . Make sure to consistently follow whatever style your institution requires. If you don’t cite correctly, you may get in trouble for plagiarism . A good plagiarism checker can help you catch any issues before it’s too late.

You can easily create accurate citations in APA or MLA style using our Citation Generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Correct and consistent

As well as following the rules of grammar, punctuation, and citation, it’s important to consistently apply stylistic conventions regarding:

  • How to write numbers
  • Introducing abbreviations
  • Using verb tenses in different sections
  • Capitalization of terms and headings
  • Spelling and punctuation differences between UK and US English

In some cases there are several acceptable approaches that you can choose between—the most important thing is to apply the same rules consistently and to carefully proofread your text before you submit. If you don’t feel confident in your own proofreading abilities, you can get help from Scribbr’s professional proofreading services or Grammar Checker .

Academic writing generally tries to avoid being too personal. Information about the author may come in at some points—for example in the acknowledgements or in a personal reflection—but for the most part the text should focus on the research itself.

Always avoid addressing the reader directly with the second-person pronoun “you.” Use the impersonal pronoun “one” or an alternate phrasing instead for generalizations:

  • As a teacher, you must treat your students fairly.
  • As a teacher, one must treat one’s students fairly.
  • Teachers must treat their students fairly.

The use of the first-person pronoun “I” used to be similarly discouraged in academic writing, but it is increasingly accepted in many fields. If you’re unsure whether to use the first person, pay attention to conventions in your field or ask your instructor.

When you refer to yourself, it should be for good reason. You can position yourself and describe what you did during the research, but avoid arbitrarily inserting your personal thoughts and feelings:

  • In my opinion…
  • I think that…
  • I like/dislike…
  • I conducted interviews with…
  • I argue that…
  • I hope to achieve…


Many students think their writing isn’t academic unless it’s over-complicated and long-winded. This isn’t a good approach—instead, aim to be as concise and direct as possible.

If a term can be cut or replaced with a more straightforward one without affecting your meaning, it should be. Avoid redundant phrasings in your text, and try replacing phrasal verbs with their one-word equivalents where possible:

  • Interest in this phenomenon carried on in the year 2018 .
  • Interest in this phenomenon continued in 2018 .

Repetition is a part of academic writing—for example, summarizing earlier information in the conclusion—but it’s important to avoid unnecessary repetition. Make sure that none of your sentences are repeating a point you’ve already made in different words.

Emotive and grandiose

An academic text is not the same thing as a literary, journalistic, or marketing text. Though you’re still trying to be persuasive, a lot of techniques from these styles are not appropriate in an academic context. Specifically, you should avoid appeals to emotion and inflated claims.

Though you may be writing about a topic that’s sensitive or important to you, the point of academic writing is to clearly communicate ideas, information, and arguments, not to inspire an emotional response. Avoid using emotive or subjective language :

  • This horrible tragedy was obviously one of the worst catastrophes in construction history.
  • The injury and mortality rates of this accident were among the highest in construction history.

Students are sometimes tempted to make the case for their topic with exaggerated , unsupported claims and flowery language. Stick to specific, grounded arguments that you can support with evidence, and don’t overstate your point:

  • Charles Dickens is the greatest writer of the Victorian period, and his influence on all subsequent literature is enormous.
  • Charles Dickens is one of the best-known writers of the Victorian period and has had a significant influence on the development of the English novel.

There are a a lot of writing tools that will make your writing process faster and easier. We’ll highlight three of them below.

Paraphrasing tool

AI writing tools like ChatGPT and a paraphrasing tool can help you rewrite text so that your ideas are clearer, you don’t repeat yourself, and your writing has a consistent tone.

They can also help you write more clearly about sources without having to quote them directly. Be warned, though: it’s still crucial to give credit to all sources in the right way to prevent plagiarism .

Grammar checker

Writing tools that scan your text for punctuation, spelling, and grammar mistakes. When it detects a mistake the grammar checke r will give instant feedback and suggest corrections. Helping you write clearly and avoid common mistakes .

You can use a summarizer if you want to condense text into its most important and useful ideas. With a summarizer tool, you can make it easier to understand complicated sources. You can also use the tool to make your research question clearer and summarize your main argument.

Check for common mistakes

Use the best grammar checker available to check for common mistakes in your text.

Fix mistakes for free

Use the checklist below to assess whether you have followed the rules of effective academic writing.

  • Checklist: Academic writing

I avoid informal terms and contractions .

I avoid second-person pronouns (“you”).

I avoid emotive or exaggerated language.

I avoid redundant words and phrases.

I avoid unnecessary jargon and define terms where needed.

I present information as precisely and accurately as possible.

I use appropriate transitions to show the connections between my ideas.

My text is logically organized using paragraphs .

Each paragraph is focused on a single idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Every part of the text relates to my central thesis or research question .

I support my claims with evidence.

I use the appropriate verb tenses in each section.

I consistently use either UK or US English .

I format numbers consistently.

I cite my sources using a consistent citation style .

Your text follows the most important rules of academic style. Make sure it's perfect with the help of a Scribbr editor!

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Writing Article Summaries

  • Understanding Article Summaries 

Common Problems in Article Summaries

Read carefully and closely, structure of the summary, writing the summary.

  • Sample Outlines and Paragraphs

Understanding Article Summaries

An article summary is a short, focused paper about one scholarly article that is informed by a critical reading of that article. For argumentative articles, the summary identifies, explains, and analyses the thesis and supporting arguments; for empirical articles, the summary identifies, explains, and analyses the research questions, methods, findings, and implications of the study.

Although article summaries are often short and rarely account for a large portion of your grade, they are a strong indicator of your reading and writing skills. Professors ask you to write article summaries to help you to develop essential skills in critical reading, summarizing, and clear, organized writing. Furthermore, an article summary requires you to read a scholarly article quite closely, which provides a useful introduction to the conventions of writing in your discipline (e.g. Political Studies, Biology, or Anthropology).

The most common problem that students have when writing an article summary is that they misunderstand the goal of the assignment. In an article summary, your job is to write about the article, not about the actual topic of the article. For example, if you are summarizing Smith’s article about the causes of the Bubonic plague in Europe, your summary should be about Smith’s article: What does she want to find out about the plague? What evidence does she use? What is her argument? You are not writing a paper about the actual causes of Bubonic plague in Europe.

Further, as a part of critical reading, you will often consider your own position on a topic or an argument; it is tempting to include an assessment or opinion about the thesis or findings, but this is not the goal of an article summary. Rather, you must identify, explain, and analyse the main point and how it is supported.

Your key to success in writing an article summary is your understanding of the article; therefore, it is essential to read carefully and closely. The Academic Skills Centre offers helpful instruction on the steps for critical reading: pre-reading, active and analytical reading, and reflection.

Argumentative Articles

As you read an argumentative article, consider the following questions:

  • What is the topic?
  • What is the research question? In other words, what is the author trying to find out about that topic?
  • How does the author position his/her article in relation to other studies of the topic?
  • What is the thesis or position? What are the supporting arguments?
  • How are supporting arguments developed? What kind of evidence is used?
  • What is the significance of the author’s thesis? What does it help you to understand about the topic?

Empirical Articles

As you read an empirical article, consider the following questions:

  • What is the research question?
  • What are the predictions and the rationale for these predictions?
  • What methods were used (participants, sampling, materials, procedure)? What were the variables and controls?
  • What were the main results?
  • Are the findings supported by previous research?
  • What are the limitations of the study?
  • What are the implications or applications of the findings?

Create a Reverse Outline

Creating a reverse outline is one way to ensure that you fully understand the article. Pre-read the article (read the abstract, introduction, and/or conclusion). Summarize the main question(s) and thesis or findings. Skim subheadings and topic sentences to understand the organization; make notes in the margins about each section. Read each paragraph within a section; make short notes about the main idea or purpose of each paragraph. This strategy will help you to see how parts of the article connect to the main idea or the whole of the article.

A summary is written in paragraph form and generally does not include subheadings. An introduction is important to clearly identify the article, the topic, the question or purpose of the article, and its thesis or findings. The body paragraphs for a summary of an argumentative article will explain how arguments and evidence support the thesis. Alternatively, the body paragraphs of an empirical article summary may explain the methods and findings, making connections to predictions. The conclusion explains the significance of the argument or implications of the findings. This structure ensures that your summary is focused and clear.

Professors will often give you a list of required topics to include in your summary and/or explain how they want you to organize your summary. Make sure you read the assignment sheet with care and adapt the sample outlines below accordingly.

One significant challenge in writing an article summary is deciding what information or examples from the article to include. Remember, article summaries are much shorter than the article itself. You do not have the space to explain every point the author makes. Instead, you will need to explain the author’s main points and find a few excellent examples that illustrate these points.

You should also keep in mind that article summaries need to be written in your own words. Scholarly writing can use complex terminology to explain complicated ideas, which makes it difficult to understand and to summarize correctly. In the face of difficult text, many students tend to use direct quotations, saving them the time and energy required to understand and reword it. However, a summary requires you to summarize, which means “to state briefly or succinctly” (Oxford English Dictionary) the main ideas presented in a text. The brevity must come from you, in your own words, which demonstrates that you understand the article.

Sample Outlines and Paragraph

Sample outline for an argumentative article summary.

  • General topic of article
  • Author’s research question or approach to the topic
  • Author’s thesis
  • Explain some key points and how they support the thesis
  • Provide a key example or two that the author uses as evidence to support these points
  • Review how the main points work together to support the thesis?
  • How does the author explain the significance or implications of his/her article?

Sample Outline for an Empirical Article Summary

  • General topic of study
  • Author’s research question
  • Variables and hypotheses
  • Participants
  • Experiment design
  • Materials used
  • Key results
  • Did the results support the hypotheses?
  • Implications or applications of the study
  • Major limitations of the study

Sample Paragraph

The paragraph below is an example of an introductory paragraph from a summary of an empirical article:

Tavernier and Willoughby’s (2014) study explored the relationships between university students’ sleep and their intrapersonal, interpersonal, and educational development. While the authors cited many scholars who have explored these relationships, they pointed out that most of these studies focused on unidirectional correlations over a short period of time. In contrast, Tavernier and Willoughby tested whether there was a bidirectional or unidirectional association between participants’ sleep quality and duration and several psychosocial factors including intrapersonal adjustment, friendship quality, and academic achievement. Further they conducted a longitudinal study over a period of three years in order to determine whether there were changes in the strength or direction of these associations over time. They predicted that sleep quality would correlate with measures of intrapersonal adjustment, friendship quality, and academic achievement; they further hypothesized that this correlation would be bidirectional: sleep quality would predict psychosocial measures and at the same time, psychosocial measures would predict sleep quality.

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Journal article

Writing a journal article.

academic writing about article

Writing a journal article is the traditional way to share academic research with an audience in your research field. Academic journal articles are peer-reviewed and formally written, with writing conventions and rules that differ across journals and disciplines. Although these rules are important to follow, don't lose sight of your main goal: to communicate your research effectively with your audience.

3 tips for writing an article View

Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing Essay

Writing is a skill with many different genres. In the case of writing an article for the Times Newspaper and academic writing, they both differ in their objectives and in the audience they cater to. Newspaper articles cater to a very heterogeneous audience, and hence it is best written in an informal matter. On the other hand, academic writing is aimed at students, scholars and researchers, and hence it is to be written in a formal manner adhering to certain norms and standards.

Thus, while writing for the newspapers means writing for the majority, academic writing is for the learned and scientific minority. The very nature of academic writing requires the writer to explore deeper underlying principles, theories and concepts, whereas the very nature of newspaper article writing requires that the reader is practically oriented or socially oriented (MU, 2008). Apart from these differences, there are also some others that differentiate academic writing from newspaper writing.

The most obvious differences are: Academic writing should never be personal writing and should stick to topics within the framework of the subject. There are no such boundaries in the case of newspaper articles. One can write about any topic for newspapers as long as it is interesting. Again, in writing newspaper articles, it is possible to include personal judgments and evaluations, which may be measured by your feelings and thoughts. This is not allowed in academic writing, where the focus is on facts backed by data.

Newspaper articles are limited by the number of words but do not have the need to stick to a particular structure, punctuation or grammar. It is typically informal, and hence it is perfectly acceptable to deploy colloquialisms, casual expressions, and abbreviations, like “that’s cool”, “by the way…” etc. To write for newspapers, it is not necessary to have a college or university education (Waters and Devlin, 2008). One must be able to write and express in a natural manner. While newspaper articles are generally written in a casual tone with lots of colourful dialogues, descriptions and quotations, academic writing is written more formally on a scientific template that allows it to include vast literature review, experimental data, and observations by researchers and findings based on scientific measures.

Academic writing needs a kind of structure such as a beginning, middle, and end or introduction, body and conclusion (MU, 2008). This simple structure is typical of an essay format, as well as other assignment writing tasks, which may not have a clearly articulated structure (MU, 2008). Academic writing in English is linear, which means it has one central point or theme and every part contributes to the mainline of argument without digressions or repetitions (Gillett, 2008). Its objective is to inform rather than entertain. As well as this, it is in the standard written form of the language. There are six main features of academic writing: complex, formal, objective, explicit, hedged, and responsible (Gillett, 2008).

The differences between writing articles for newspapers and academic writing may be studied under these six heads. In academic writing, it is important to use written language. Such language is characterized by longer words, greater vocabulary and more grammatical complexity compared to spoken language. In the case of newspaper article writing, spoken language may be used, which is fairly simple and easily comprehensible. Academic writing is relatively formal and does not allow the use of colloquial words and expressions. Moreover, the style of writing is more objective in academic writing, the main emphasis being on the information that is being presented and the arguments.

Newspaper writing needs to be entertaining, and hence informal style is best. In academic writing, it is the responsibility of the writer to make clear to the reader the various relationships in the text (Gillett, 2008). Abstract forms and their component parts must be described and their links to other abstract forms, as well as where they are positioned in relation to a general, overall system. This is not so in newspaper writing, where the writer can adopt a casual structure in the article. In academic writing, it is necessary to make decisions about one’s stance on a particular subject or the strength of the claims one is making.

On the other hand, in newspapers, it is possible to write personal opinions and general feelings that are not backed by data, and also, it is possible to write open-ended articles that do not take any particular stance on an issue. In academic writing, it is absolutely necessary to provide evidence and justification for any claims that are made. Citing the work of other authors is central to academic writing because it indicates that the writer has read the literature, understood the ideas, and has integrated these issues and varying perspectives into the assignment task (Waters and Devlin, 2008). Newspaper writing makes no such demands.

Thus, academic writing is considered more valid and reliable, though difficult to read and understand.


Gillett, Andy (2008). Using English for Academic Purposes: Features of Academic writing. Web.

MU (Massey University) (2008). Some Differences between Academic Writing and Other Writing Contexts. Web.

Waters, Theodore and Devlin, Joseph (2008). Writing for Newspapers . Web.

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IvyPanda. (2023, October 31). Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing. https://ivypanda.com/essays/academic-vs-newspaper-article-writing/

"Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing." IvyPanda , 31 Oct. 2023, ivypanda.com/essays/academic-vs-newspaper-article-writing/.

IvyPanda . (2023) 'Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing'. 31 October.

IvyPanda . 2023. "Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing." October 31, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/academic-vs-newspaper-article-writing/.

1. IvyPanda . "Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing." October 31, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/academic-vs-newspaper-article-writing/.

IvyPanda . "Academic vs. Newspaper Article Writing." October 31, 2023. https://ivypanda.com/essays/academic-vs-newspaper-article-writing/.

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Academic writing styles

Writing, just like speaking, is simply a way to communicate with other people.

To communicate effectively it is important that we understand our audience and how they like to receive information. Although we might be communicating in just one language, English let us say, we use that language very differently depending on whom we are talking to. As a general rule we do not speak the same way to our grandparents as we do to our friends nor do we speak to strangers in the same way as we speak to our families. Talking formally to our boss is a very different business to talking to young children. Language is hugely adaptable and follows particular rules in particular environments.

In the academic environment of a university a written piece of work does not simply need to communicate information but it has to communicate it in a certain way if it is to be taken seriously and understood clearly by your tutors. Here are just a few tips to help you get started.

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Here, you will find some useful videos recorded during various workshops held throughout the year:

Academic Writing:

Verbs and Adverbs:

Prepositions and Conjunctions:

Checklist Guide

  • As a general rule most academic pieces of work attempt to give the impression of being objective and unemotional. For this reason when you write an essay you ought to avoid writing in the first person . So, instead of saying "I think that this argument makes sense" you should say something like "This argument has been seen by many as making sense". Writing in an impersonal style helps to reinforce the view that these are not just your personal opinions but the result of evidence based research.
  • Always organise your written work into paragraphs . A paragraph is a small subsection of the essay. If you look at the introduction above you will see that it falls into two paragraphs. Each paragraph ought to be making one clear point and provide some evidence to back it up.
  • Avoid using slang words, colloquialisms or text speak. Imagine that you are being interviewed for a job and that you are trying to appear professional. The last thing your tutors want to see is a lot of "lol's" and abbreviations such as "ppl" "omw" or "btw". Always write out words in full. Abbreviations can be used if the academic community acknowledges them as appropriate – abbreviations such as the BBC or the NMC are good examples of this.
  • Avoid contractions. Although we often speak and write using short cuts the academic community prefers words to appear in full. A contraction is where, for instance, two words are combined into one using an apostrophe (') So, for example, it is perfectly normal for us to say and even write in a text or letter "It's great to be on holiday, I hope that it doesn't rain" in an academic essay you ought to write: "It is great to be on holiday, I hope that it does not rain"
  • Make sure that when you use somebody's own words exactly that you indicate that this is a quotation, and not your own words by placing the words between quotation marks . By using quotations marks you are making it perfectly clear that you are using another person's words – this will help avoid any misunderstandings about plagiarism. So, for example, we could say:

As Professor Smith has argued "This evidence is entirely convincing"

By using quotation marks we have indicated that these are Professor Smith's actual words. Of course we could avoid the need for quotation marks by paraphrasing and using our own words like this:

Professor Smith has made it clear that he finds the evidence convincing.

  • Always start a sentence with a capital letter.
  • Always end a sentence with a full stop.
  • Always refer to authors by their family names never their first names.

Are you a Postgraduate? Watch some useful videos taken from our Postgraduate Skills for Study sessions

Final comments.

Ultimately writing an academic essay has the same goal as any other form of writing, effective communication to a specific audience. Strange as it may seem, the best advice is not to try too hard to sound academic , writing confidence will come with practice. Always keep focused on writing as clearly as you can – many students make the mistake of trying so hard to sound academic that their work comes across as confusing and unnatural.

Further Information

There are a number of really useful sources available that will give you much more detailed information about essay writing. Here are a few of them:

Writing for essays and exams

My English Teacher blog

For further information on English language support at the university please contact Robert Tsukada Bright or Simon Dye

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Information and Library Services Directorate

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