Academic Writing Dos & Don’ts

Do you need some help in writing your college papers? Use this tip sheet to learn about academic writing in Canada.

DO use a formal writing style for academic papers such as essays, reports, presentations and research papers.

  • Formal writing does not reflect personal thoughts and emotions.
  • Save your personal feelings for texts, blogs, reflection papers, online posts, etc.

DON’T use contractions or shortened forms of words in formal writing. 

Examples:

Informal Writing                                               Formal Writing

instead of                      don’t                               use                       do not

instead of                     it’ll                                   use                            it will

DO write your papers in Third Person.

  • Remember, your academic paper isn’t personal. Don’t use first or second person pronouns such as I, me, you,
Pronouns 
Singular  Plural 
First Person I, me, my, mine we, us, our, ours
Second Person you, your, yours you, your, yours
Third Person he, she, it, him, her, his, hers, its they, them, their, theirs

DON’T use the same words, expressions and ideas over and over again- avoid repetition.

  • You can use an online thesaurus to help you.

DON’T repeat the same vocabulary and ideas:

Example:

When planning a camping trip in the mountains, it is important to bring the necessary supplies. The necessary supplies needed on a camping trip in the mountains include appropriate clothing and footwear, food and water, a tent and a sleeping bag.  

DO use new words and ideas:

When planning a camping trip in the mountains, it is important to bring the necessary supplies. The items needed for an overnight excursion in rocky terrain include appropriate clothing and footwear, food and water, a tent and a sleeping bag.

DO write your paper in full sentences.

DON’T forget to cite your sources.

  • Use Hanson College’s other writing resources to help you learn how to paraphrase, use APA citations, and avoid plagiarism.

DO proofread your paper before handing it in.

  • Do a spellcheck and edit your paper from start to finish to check for grammar mistakes.
  • Once you are done editing, ask a friend to proofread your paper for you.

Still have questions? DO book a session with a Peer Mentor for one-on-one assistance.