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Humanities LibreTexts

3.2: Identifying Common Academic Purposes

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  • The purpose for a piece of writing identifies the reason you write a particular document. Basically, the purpose of a piece of writing answers the question “Why?” For example, why write a play? To entertain a packed theater. Why write instructions to the babysitter? To inform him or her of your schedule and rules. Why write a letter to your member of Congress? To persuade him or her to address your community’s needs.

    In academic settings, the reasons for writing will fulfill a main purpose: to summarize, to analyze, to synthesize, to evaluate, to inform, to entertain, or to persuade. You will encounter these purposes not only as you read for your classes but also as you read for work or pleasure. Because reading and writing work together, your writing skills will improve as you read.

    As you will see, the purpose for writing will guide you through each part of the paper, helping you make decisions about content and style. For now, identifying these purposes by reading paragraphs will prepare you to write individual paragraphs and to build longer assignments

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