When working on a text, you should know the material and the rules of academic writing. And if the theme of the paper is constantly changing, then the writing conventions remain unchanged. You must follow grammar, syntactic and spelling rules to get a satisfactory mark. You may not be familiar with the concept of writing conventions. However, you know for sure that a text with a bunch of errors will not be accepted by the professor.
Knowledge of writing conventions is essential for working with academic papers. Therefore, we decided to explain the types and differences in these rules. Thus, you can not only improve your papers but also find errors in books or manuscripts. You must understand not only academic writing conventions but also genre ones. We are here to help you improve your writing skills. Let’s start learning!
Writing Conventions: What Is It and What Is It for?
We could add the classic definition of writing conventions, but we don’t want to complicate the text. If you remove unnecessary words, then writing conventions is a set of rules and recommendations that help improve the text. It consists of grammar, punctuation and word choice rules, as well as many others. Also, those conventions regulate the logic and consistency in the text, making it easy to understand.
It may seem to you that compliance with writing conventions is boring and difficult. However, it also helps you facilitate the process of proofreading and editing paper. Also, knowing the rules will improve your reputation with the teacher. After studying writing conventions, you will notice that your grades have improved and the process of writing takes less time.
At school, teachers do not find fault with petty mistakes, but teachers at college or university are much stricter. You should know the guidelines perfectly and be able to use them. This will help to make the text attractive and easy to read. All types of writing conventions can be divided into two categories: Mechanics and Usage.
Most students only know about this category, as it relates to the rules of writing. Mechanics governs punctuation, spelling, and capital letters. Having studied the Mechanics writing conventions, you can manage the text and its parts. This will make it easier to read and analyze your paper.
Mechanics writing conventions contain several groups:
Punctuation is a complicated part of Mechanics, whether you are a high school student or postgraduate. This regulates the use of punctuation so that the text is easy to read. Reading and repeating rules is not enough to learn punctuation writing conventions. You should use all punctuation marks in practice to understand the difference between a dash and a hyphen, between a period and an ellipsis. Sometimes students use the wrong punctuation marks, and this spoils the impression of the paper.
Here are the punctuation marks that are used in English:
- Period, also known as a point or full stop;
- Quotation marks;
- Question mark;
- Exclamation point;
- The braces, also known as curly brackets;
- The block, also known as square brackets;
- The parentheses.
We will not explain the norms of use for each punctuation mark. If you are confused and cannot decide which one to use, refer to the punctuation dictionary.
Spelling is a set of rules for the correct spelling of words. This determines how accurately the author conveys the meaning of the phrase or sentence. From elementary grades, teachers conduct spelling dictations and set homework for learning words. This is the right way to learn how to write words without error because you have been training since childhood. Although spelling mistakes are not an obstacle to understanding the text, it makes one doubt the author’s skills.
Even knowing spelling rules, you can make stupid mistakes by confusing or skipping a letter. That is why you not only need to learn rules, but also be careful and proofread the document. For the presence of spelling errors in the paper, the teacher will not greatly lower the grade. However, if you are applying for a decent job, one mistake in the CV can nullify all the effort.
Using a capital letter does not cause problems for students, however, you should be careful. If you are writing a paper on a notebook, turn on the automatic conversion of the first letter after the period to a capital one. If you create a list in which each element ends with a semicolon, the next one should begin with a small letter.
Here are the basic rules for using capital letter:
- The first word in the new sentence;
- Proper names, such as the names of people, the names of a country, city, state, mountain range, the name of a brand or company;
In some cases, the names must be written with a lowercase letter. It depends on their initial origin or appearance on the market.
Usage is another category of writing convention. It defines both writing and verbal ways of impression. This governs the selection and use of words in paper or spoken language. You must know the grammar, be able to choose the right words and phrases. Words in sentences should be correctly spaced and inclined in cases. You must keep track of the relevance of the words and their focus. Sometimes it’s better to skip the adjective so as not to spoil the text.
The main types of Usage Writing Conventions are vocabulary, grammar, and word choice. Let’s see how to improve writing and speaking skills.
Knowledge of vocabulary determines the ability to select relevant words and phrases. To develop vocabulary skills, we recommend that you complete the gap-filling tests. You should also read scientific articles and write out terms and unknown definitions. If you are not sure which word is best for a particular sentence, skip it or consult a professor.
Grammar errors may not be visible to readers. However, this is the most common error in downgrading. Note that grammar and mechanics are two different things. Mechanics govern writing conventions in papers, and grammar refers to both writing and speech. Do not use complex grammatical structures in the essay, because this is inappropriate. Also, control the number of sentences written in the passive voice.
Correct word selection is a critical component of academic success. You must be able to choose the right word from several synonyms. Also, make sure that the sentence sounds good and matches the rhythm of the whole text. Practice writing essays and short paragraphs.
Academic Writing Conventions
Academic writing conventions define the standards for different types of writing. This applies to research and term papers, essays, articles, and reviews. You must understand what elements should be present on paper, and what to look for. Each author must adhere to these standards so that his papers continue to be published. Let’s see what qualities an academic paper should have.
The text should be simple and clear for every reader. Avoid ambiguity or hiding the true meaning. Do not complicate the paper with terms and quotes, if this is not necessary. Whether you write on psychology or economics topics, the text must be comprehensible. Otherwise, you will lose part of the audience that cannot understand your ideas.
Design the paper in the style you want, specified by your professor. However, besides this, you should use formal vocabulary. This does not mean that you need to complicate the text. Your task is to add officiality and significance to the paper. For example, replace the word “watch” with “observe” and the word “get” with “receive”.
Avoid bias and stereotypical thinking. Do not show a personal attitude to the topic or question that you are researching. Avoid the expressions “in my opinion”, “I consider” or “It is hard to believe that”. Such expressions will impress unprofessional attitude and a lack of expertise in the subject. Give facts and statistics that demonstrate your words. Do not write in the first person, keep your distance from the reader.
Making References and Citing Sources
In the process of researching and selecting credible sources, make a note of what literature you used. This will save you time after writing paper. After the body of the text, add a list of references and sources for further reading. Your task is to provide the reader with the necessary information for deeper research. Cite each source to avoid plagiarism.
When working with academic papers, you should also know the genre conventions. Although each genre has its characteristics, several conventions relate to each:
- Presence of protagonist and antagonist. You must create the main character and hero who will confront him. This will create the central line of the essay on which the plot is based.
- Plot. Arrange events in a logical sequence to correctly explain a story. You can apply a frame effect or swap parts. However, the plot should be clear and not in doubt.
- Style of delivery. Depending on the genre, you must adhere to a certain style of delivery. For example, you should not use a large number of emotional scenes in an action movie or a detective story. Using the correct style of delivery, you tune the reader to the desired wave.
- Setting. Describe in what place and time events occur. Do not make readers think about the source data.
Tips for Using Writing Conventions
In addition to the main points, we have compiled a list of tips to help you get a high score. This way you will avoid common mistakes and inconsistencies in the text.
- Avoid too long and short sentences;
- learn citation rules based on paper style and type;
- avoid bias and stereotypical thinking;
- do not use complex terms;
- do not write in the first person;
- remember to edit and proofread the paper.
Writing conventions are designed to improve engagement and delivery of the paper. You must know these guidelines to create high-quality academic papers. With the help of our guide, you can learn the rules for creating text and preparing it for publication.
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