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Writing Guide: Effective Writing

This guide covers: understanding the essay question; searching databases and organising research; the writing process: critical thinking and note-taking; referencing and citing in text, and using academic language.

Writing Effective Sentences

The Sentence Structure should include:

  • A clear verb which governs what is "happening" in that sentence
  • A subject that is clearly and obviously "doing" the verb
  • Enough information that it makes sense on its own.

This is the heart of a clause.  You can have more than one clause per sentence, if you wish, but you should be able to identify a main clause - this is the most important part of the sentence.  If you stripped away all other information, would you still have a good clause that gave the most important information?

Writing Effective Paragraphs

The Paragraph Structure should include:

  • A topic sentence (which introduces the topic of the paragraph and the argument which will follow)
  • Supporting sentences (evidence or examples)
  • A concluding sentence.

 Use only Academic Language. There should be:

  • No informal or colloquial language (for example slang) 
  • No contractions, abbreviations or acronyms (use complete words)               

 Use Academic Writing Style. Your writing should be:

·        Precise (every word should matter – omit superfluous language)

·        Impersonal (no personal pronouns, bias or emotive language)

·        Logical  (the order of the content should be logical)            

·        Rational (based on sound evidence or examples)

Edit your paragraph. Check the following:

·        Sentence structure / syntax (Does the sentence make sense? Is there a verb?)

·        Grammar (subject-verb agreement, singular/plural nouns, articles, prepositions)

·        Spelling (British not American)

Punctuation (Use capitals, full stops, commas, colons, semi-colons appropriately)  

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