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The Writing Guide

Planning, researching, writing, referencing and drafting your assignments

Academic writing style

 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)
  • Qualified (when the evidence is not precise, use hedging expressions)

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)  

Using academic language

As you read through your weekly readings and research for assignments... be on the look out for words, phrases and language that  builds coherence and unity to the work.

Glue words and hedging expressions

Hedging expressions help you suggest that something might be so, without stating it is an absolute certainty - they give you a bit of wiggle room. Transition words tie your sentences together and show how they related to each other (also known as "glue" words).


Can you identify transition signals (glue words) and hedging expressions in the paragraph below?

Try to identify all of the transition words and hedging expressions, then click on "reveal the words" to see how many you found.

Topic: Alcohol does more damage than any other recreational drug.

Despite its legal availability, the detrimental effect that the culturally embedded consumption of alcohol has on Australian society and the national health system make it more dangerous than its illicit counterparts. Consequently, a culture of social binge-drinking has developed in Australia (often from the early teenage years) resulting in high levels of alcohol abuse and dependence. Moreover, these high levels of abuse and dependence create equally high levels of alcohol-related violence and domestic violence: things that tear the very fabric of society. Additionally, the injuries that occur as a result of alcohol- related violence, combined with the high level of drink-driving accidents resulting in injury and death, place an enormous strain on the national health system. Furthermore, young teenagers often need their stomachs pumped following over-consumption of alcohol, and the continued abuse of alcohol results in cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure: conditions that place further strain on the health system. Unlike illicit drugs, whose availability is often limited (and whose consumption is covert), alcohol is widely and available and consumed, and therefore, abused. However, it can be argued that the danger lies not in alcohol itself, but in the culture that has grown up around it.

Reveal the words

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country

Creative Commons Licence
Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC BY-SA) 4.0 International License. Content from this Guide should be attributed to James Cook University Library. This does not apply to images, third party material (seek permission from the original owner) or any logos or insignia belonging to JCU or other bodies, which remain All Rights Reserved.