What Is Academic Writing?

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Academic writing is a style of writing governed by rules and practices such as a formal structure and order, citations for research to support ideas, and the use of correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. A formal tone is also necessary.

Academic writing differs from personal writing primarily because it explores and analyzes theories in depth and offers explanations for societal customs, problems and events. The structure of academic writing typically includes a beginning, a middle and an end and is often written in an essay style with a specified structure, such as explanatory, narrative, expository or argumentative. Academic writing also typically requires credible, scholarly research to support ideas and theories. Formal citations in a specified format, such as the Modern Language Association’s style, is used for in-text citations and a bibliography page.

Academic writing also may focus on abstract ideas, concepts and theories, such as analysis of a custom, tradition or behavior in human development. Academic writing requires the writer to write in a formal tone that eliminates any conversational phrases and to write to a specified audience. Often, a target audience is determined prior to writing to help ensure that the language is appealing and appropriate for the audience.