Top 13 Tips (Along with Guidelines) for Successful Academic Writing

Top 13 Tips (Along with Guidelines) for Successful Academic Writing

No matter how well-versed you are with grammar, punctuation and other areas that come into play for writing papers, making a mistake with the content hurts your overall academic writing. The purpose of academic writing is to make your work clear and understandable to whoever is reading and/or marking it.


Your readers are mostly busy and impatient. It is quite unlikely that the reader will ever read the whole article from start to finish. Instead, they skim.

TIP#1: Make your paper easy to skim.

TIP#2: Although your writing should not follow a journalistic style, its structure can be organized like newspaper article. Notice how newspaper start with the most important part, then fill in the background later for the readers who kept going and want more details.


Picking the right topic for your paper can save any writer time and can help set up the essay for potential success before beginning.

TIP#3: Choose a topic that interests you and the reader. If outside sources must be used, make sure there are enough credible sources available for the topic that you are going to choose.


When you have a topic, start brainstorming.

TIP#4: Write down all the possible answers to your question.

TIP#5: Write down all the information, opinions, and questions you have about your topic.


Your paper should refer to a variety of current, high quality, professional and academic sources support your own ideas. That means that source material will be introduced, analyzed, explained, and then cited.

You can conduct a research on the following formats:

  • Journals
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Publications
  • Primary sources
  • The Internet


In this part, you should draw the reader in and make them want to read the rest of the paper.

TIP#6: You can't write a good introduction until you know what the body of the paper says. Consider writing the introductory section(s) after you have completed the rest of the paper, rather than before. Be sure to include a hook at the beginning of the introduction.

TIP#7: Do not overuse facts without rendering an opinion or any analysis.

TIP#8: Repetition of similar ideas: Your audience will notice that you are not saying anything new or fresh.

TIP#9: Do not refer to a dictionary while defining terms.


Express your opinion through plain language avoiding:

  • Contractions
  • Idioms, colloquial expressions, and clichés
  • Emotional or strong language
  • Overly simplistic language


Generalizations - use of the words “always”, “all”, “every”, “everyone”, “many”, “never”, “nobody”, “none” can create inaccurate statements, and even factual errors.

TIP#10: When you make a general statement, make sure it’s true in EVERY case in order to avoid overgeneralization.


Your thesis statement should be clear and direct and should entice your audience to read further. Each subsequent paragraph in the body of your paper should support your thesis statement and prove your claim. It establishes the overall point of your essay, and it fulfills two main objectives:

  1. State your topic.
  2. Convey what you will prove about your topic (your opinion about that topic).

The thesis statement should:

  • be a declarative statement
  • be a complete sentence
  • use specific language, not vague generalities
  • be a single idea
  • reflect consideration of the audience


In the context of essays, signposting means using words to tell your reader about the content of your essay, rather than just telling them the content itself. This is done to help the reader understand as clearly as possible.


 The following are important aspects of all body paragraphs:

  • A clear topic sentence
  • Specific evidence or supporting detail
  • Transitions between sentences and paragraphs
  • Examples
  • Unity and cohesion
  • A concluding sentence that ties the evidence or details back to the main point and brings the paragraph to a close

TIP#11: Do not make the topic sentence too general or too specific.


A conclusion typically does one of two things—or, of course, it can do both:

  • summarizes the argument
  • explains the significance of the argument

TIP#12: In this part of your essay answer the so what question by giving your reader a clearer sense of why your argument matters.


The last thing you should do is PROOFREAD your paper. Even after spell checking the paper with your word processor, you should take the time to read it one last time before turning it in. Fix typographical errors, improve wording and make sure the numbers make sense.

TIP#13: Ask someone who is not of your specialization to proofread your paper identify whether your paper is easy to understand for all.

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