Academic writing

Academic writing is the style of writing at universities. In the beginning, it can be challenging to know the differences between academic and non-academic writing. However, as soon as you’re familiar with the main principles of academic writing, it becomes easier. You’ll also recognize some central aspects you’re already used to from high school.

During the first year of your studies, you‘ll learn how to write in your field, but here‘s a checklist with some general aspects of a good paper. Feel free to download the list here and to add specific bullet points relevant for you. 

Academic writing checklist

  • I know what I’m going to write about before I start 
  • I make an outline of my paper to get an overview over its structure 
  • I make sure my introduction clearly states what I will be writing about 
  • I use formal language, for instance by avoiding symbols and metaphors 
  • I write in precise and understandable language and define terms and phrases when needed 
  • I present information in a non-biased way 
  • I avoid writing about my feelings or opinions about the topic 
  • Instead, I support my claims with evidence and arguments 
  • I structure my paper logically by using paragraphs 
  • I make sure each paragraph focuses on a single idea and has a clear topic sentence 
  • I cite all my sources, using the appropriate format. The Citation Compass helps you to cite the sources you use in your text correctly.  
  • I give myself time to check my work after I finish 
  • I read my text out loud to hear how it sounds 
  • I reach out for additional support if I need, for example to the Writing center or Study lab at my university 

Do you want to learn more about academic writing?  

Most universities offer courses in academic writing. You can also check out these resources if you want a head start: 

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