Formal Writing

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					Formal Writing
    Formal or expository writing differs from informal
    or conversational writing.

    Academic writing seeks some form of both
    objectivity and shared meaning.

    There are some customary “rules of the road,”
    which are found in resources on composition, usage,
    and style.
Most Frequent Temptations
• Proper case and        • Word splurge
  person of pronouns     • Thesis statement
• Verb number            • Paragraph length
• Demonstrative “This”   • Inconsistent verb
• Use of first and         tenses within a
  second persons           paragraph
• Confusion of APA and   • Revision
  Turabian Styles
Proper case and person of
pronouns


• The student submitted their paper.
• The student submitted his paper.
     • student is singular; therefore, the modifying
       pronoun should be singular.
Proper case and person of
pronouns


• Everyone submitted their own paper.
• Everyone submitted his or her own paper.
     • everyone is singular; therefore, the modifying
       pronoun should be singular.
     • other words that are singular include: each,
       someone, nobody, anybody.
Proper case and person of pronouns


• There is in general conversation and in
  conversational writing today an attempt to avoid
  “his/her” constructions by simply using “their,”
  whether or not the modified word is plural. Such
  usage is not acceptable in formal writing.
Proper case and person of pronouns

• The use of “he” to embrace both genders used to be a
  conventional tool to avoid the awkwardness of using both
  “he and she,” “his or her.”
• Sensitivity to sexist language today precludes the use of
  such conventions.
• One way to avoid the awkwardness is to use the plural:
   – The writer must address his or her readers’ concerns.
   – Writers must address their readers’ concerns.
• See the APA and Turabian style guides for other
  possibilities
Verb number
 • The number of the subject determines
   the number of the verb.

 •   Her list of Piaget’s stages of development, including the
     sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal
     operational stages, were incomplete.
 •   Her list of Piaget’s stages of development, including the
     sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal
     operational stages, was incomplete.
The demonstrative pronoun
“This” typically requires a noun.
• This is incorrect.
• These were incorrect.
• This what? These what?
  – This statement is incorrect.
  – These items were incorrect.
That and which

• The book that I want is on the table.
• The book, which I want, is on the table.
• The use of “ which” typically requires a
  comma. The use of “that” does not typically
  require a comma.
Academic writing typically uses the
third person, except in direct quotations.

• Use of the first person “I” is traditionally seen as a
  violation of the quest for objectivity. There are, however,
  exceptions, e.g., qualitative research reports. In any
  event, the first person should not be overused.

• Use of the second person (“you”) is invariably awkward in
  academic writing.
Word Splurge

• Why use ten words when three words will do?
• Treat words like money. Do not spend more than
  is absolutely necessary.
• Succinct.
• Barzun, Jacques. Simple and Direct: A Rhetoric
      for Writers. Rev. ed. New York: Harper, 1984.
Thesis Statement
• Guess what I am thinking.
• In order not to play this game, include a direct
  statement of purpose:
   – The purpose of this paper is….
   – This paper seeks to….
   – To that end, this paper will….
• Write the purpose sentence first. Garbage in,
  garbage out.
• The thesis or purpose statement generally comes
  somewhere on the first page.
Conclusion
• Help the reader by demonstrating to her or
  him that you have done what you said you
  would do in your purpose statement.
• Make it memorable.
• Offer some response to the “So what?”
  question.
To assist the reader:
• Hey! Grab his or her attention in the first
  paragraph.
• Include a direct purpose statement somewhere
  on the first page. As a rule of thumb, aim to put the
  purpose statement at the end of the first
  paragraph or somewhere in the second
  paragraph.
• Summarize and/or conclude your paper in a way
  that helps the reader evaluate whether or not you
  did what you said you would do.
Paragraph Length

• A paragraph must have at least two sentences.
• A paragraph must have at least two sentences.
  The above example did not constitute a
  paragraph. This example does illustrate a
  paragraph.
• When a paragraph exceeds five or six sentences,
  think about subdividing it.
Verb tenses within a paragraph

• Generally, verb tenses within a paragraph are
  consistent. Because the writer did not keep verb
  tenses consistent, the reader was confused.
  Switching verb tenses often signals
  communication of a new idea. Such
  communication will often be facilitated by
  beginning a new paragraph.
Revision
• Good writing entails several drafts and numerous
  revisions.
• “Three before me.” When you are satisfied with
  your paper, have run spell and grammar checks,
  have checked formatting and MLA style, give it to
  at least three other persons to read and edit.
• My grandmother should understand your paper.
  On the one hand, do not insult her intelligence. On
  the other hand, do not lead her to doubt your
  intelligence.

				
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posted:9/19/2012
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