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8.1: Style

  • Page ID
    133561
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    You may see the term “style”\(^{199}\) scattered throughout your writing courses. The term is little bit complex. Here are a few things you might be asked to look for as you revise for academic style:

    • Academic (formal) tone—no “you” or “one” because these pronouns are broad and vague (but “I/we” are fine)
    • Appropriate language
    • Clichés and colloquial language
    • Sentence variety (simple, compound, complex)
    • Author voice
    • Active vs. passive construction
      • I wrote the paper. YES!
      • The paper was written by me. NO!

    These are excellent suggestions, but certain phrases such as “appropriate” vs. “colloquial” language raise the question of what’s suitable for an academic audience.

    These expectations are often interpreted to mean that students should practice “standard American English.” All other non-standard dialects, such as Black English or certain types of Southern slang, are viewed as inappropriate because they’re “lesser than” the standard\(^{200}\). This is why revising or editing in the name of style is… complex.

    Writing for an academic audience does often mean students will sound more formal and less like everyday speech, but it’s a mistake to view the latter, non-standard forms of writing and speech as lesser than academic communication.


    \(^{199}\)This snippet is from “Style and Linguistic Diversity” in Write What Matters. Write What Matters by Liza Long; Amy Minervini; and Joel Gladd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

    \(^{200}\)Remember the chapter on White People Language? Yeah.


    This page titled 8.1: Style is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Sybil Priebe (Independent Published) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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