Academic Tone and Diction
A Write Place edition
Slash the Slashes,
Replace slashes with “and,” or “or.”To participate in the class museum trip, students must have permission fromparents/guardiansparents or guardians.Instead of etc., say “and so on” or offer the rest of the list.She went to Target to buy pencils, paper, paper clipsetcand so on.She went to Target to buy pencils, paper, paper clips,etc. pens, highlighters, and other office supplies.
Don’t Use Contractions
Contractions present a conversational tone.Example of whatnotto do: Idon’tknow whathe/she’simplying here.Example to follow: Ido notknow whathe orshe isimplying here.
When To Abbreviate
AppropriateSpecific organizationsor institutionsExample:USA = United States of AmericaFBI= Federal Bureau of InvestigationsNOTE:The first time an unfamiliar acronym is used, spell it out and put the acronym after. For all succeeding references, use the acronym.Example:The Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a measles warning this afternoon.
InappropriateConversationally acceptable terms of communicationExample:w/o = withoutw/Jon = with Jonasap= as soon as possibleyr. old = year oldb/c = because
Throw Clichés and Regionalisms Out the Window
Be creative with your metaphors and analogies, avoid the clichéd phrases such as….Fast as lightning,a stitch in time,against the grain,beating like a drum,there is no “I” in team,standing the test of time,a cold winter’s night,once upon a time,a needle in a haystack,in no time,walking a fine line,walking on thin ice,dancing with the devil,hell on earth,when pigs fly,crystal clear,clear as a bell,clear as day,plain as day,in plain sight,hind sight is 20/20,making a mountain out a mole hill,a penny saved is a penny earned,cute as a button,taking it one day at a time,easy does it,time is of the essence,talk is cheap,you get what you pay for…
Clichés, Regionalisms (cont.)
“at all” (Do you want any coffeeat all.)Y’allYoubetchaHot dish“go with” (Mom went to the drugstore. I wentwith.)Borrow someone money. (Iborrowedloaned Sally $20.)
Hyperboles AreThe Worst
Using extremes compromises the author’s credibility. Instead, let theresearchspeak for you.ExamplesThe parking at St. Cloud State ismuchworsethan any other university!On average, St. Cloud State University studentsspend an additional10 minutes more per day searching for a parking slot than students at any other MNSCU institution.
Integrate Quotations Effectively and Seamlessly
Always say who said the quoted words to separate your voice from the author’s.ExampleTo be successful in a challenging class, begin written assignments as soon as possible. “Remember that there is no virtue in delay.” Rushing at the last minute causes sloppy work.To be successful in a challenging class, begin written assignments as soon as possible. KeithHjortshojadvises, “Remember that there is no virtue in delay.” Rushing at the last minute causes sloppy work.Vary your signal verb. Avoid “states.” Try not to overuse “says.”ExampleKeithHjortshojstates (or says), “Remember that there is no virtue in delay.”KeithHjortshojadvises, “Remember that there is no virtue in delay.”KeithHjortshojwrites, “Remember that there is no virtue in delay.”Only use quotations when the wording is unique or when you would like to emphasize the words of a well-known authority to give your argument credibility. Nonetheless, use quotations sparingly and paraphrase instead.
Only use quotations when the wording is unique or when you would like to emphasize the words of a well-known authority to give your argument credibility. Nonetheless, use quotations sparingly and paraphrase instead.Even within her own Communist Party, language was often co-opted by the masculine, as terms like “‘proletarian’ and ‘manly’ were used interchangeably” (Obermueller48). In her book,Better Red: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olsen and Meridel Le Sueur, Constance Coiner explains that Le Sueur and Olsen “problematizethe patriarchal nature of the Left and themasculinistassumptions of proletarian literature” (7). Le Sueur complicates the patriarchal norm not only by portraying women as interesting and textured characters, but also by repeatedly employing the metaphors of maternity, birth, growth, and death in writing about the value of the working person’s experience, and as ErinObermuellerexplains, in doing so “she also historicizes and politicizes the body” (49).Consider using aquotation sandwich.Introduce your quotation in your own words. Insert quotation. Then comment on quotation and transition into next part.
Consider using aquotation sandwich.Introduce your quotation in your own words. Insert quotation. Then comment on quotation and transition into next part.ExampleIn his “I Have a Dream” speech, Martin Luther King Jr. makes a strong case for hope, saying“With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discord of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood” (359).Barack Obama’s themes of collaboration and inclusiveness recall King’s words.
The Giant Dangling Modifier
Wrong.In Sandra Lee’s book,How to Navigate Rough Academic Waters, she says . . . “Correct.In her book,How to Navigate Rough Academic Waters,Sandra Lee says . . . “Sandra Lee’s book,How to Navigate Rough Academic Waters,says . . . “
Words/Phrases to Avoid
BasicallyStatesAwesomeYouTotally, very, extremely (useless intensifiers)Put him or her down (try denigrate, humiliate, insult, belittle, disparage)Anything with “the fact.”Due to the fact = becauseIn spite of the fact = despiteBecause of the fact = because
Words/Phrases to Avoid
Empty or Redundant words and phrasesAt all times = alwaysAt the present time = now, currently, todayAt that point in time = thenAt this point in time = nowIn order to = toIn the event that = ifFor the purpose of = forRed in color = redLiterally = avoid this word. Most things are literal
Other Academic Language and Tone Advice
Use synonyms for the author to avoid sounding repetitious.The author asserts . . . “Jones asserts . . . “The article (or essay or book) asserts . . . “Don’t use stuffy, overblown, or jargon-filled language unnecessarily. Quality academic writing is clear and information is easily understood by the target audience.“Pursuant to the recent memorandum issues August 9, 1987, because of financial exigencies, it is incumbent upon us all to endeavor to make maximal utilization of telephonic communication in lieu of personal visitation” (Williams 85).“As the memo of August 9 said, to save the company money, use the telephone as much as you can instead of making personal visits” (Williams 85).
Other Advice (cont.)
Avoid pompous language (use sparingly)Endeavor = tryUtilization = useTermination = endCognizant of = aware ofDesirous of = wants or desiresTranspires = happensEnvisage = think, regard, imagine, seeEventuate = happenDeem = think
Don’t belabor the obvious.States the obvious.Imagine a mental picture of someone engaged in the intellectual activity of trying to learn what the rules are for how to play the game of chess.Concise.Imagine someone trying to learn the rules of chess.
Revise the following:Because of the fact that cats are independent creatures, they lead extremely private lives at all times.A student should turn in his/her research paper, annotated bibliography, etc. w/o delay.She didn’t get rid of all of her English books and notes because she didn’t want to burn her bridges totally.At all times, one should be cognizant of the subtle transitions of color and temperature in the passing of the seasons as fodder for one’s poetry.In my mind, I am of the opinion, that standing in the cold without outerwear can lower your body temperature, hence causingbody shaking.