10 Tips to Make Your Writing Sound Formal

10 tips to make your writing sound formal
10 tips to make your writing sound formal

10 Tips to Make Your Writing sound Formal

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1. Proper use of “such as”
To have a formal writing, try not to use “like.” It’s apparently the most regularly used point of speech today for several communities, but bypass it in formal writing. Compare:

Animals, like bears and tigers, are interesting.
Animals, such as bears and tigers, are


Seen the difference yet?

2. Avoid Slangs
formalwriting1Clichés and trite figures of speech are fine in conversation, but they have no place in formal writing. Saying a statement like “go back to square one” or that “it’s all in a day’s work” or “it’s all Greek to me” may seem like attaching interest to your work, but your professor/manager won’t be fascinated. Stereotypes aren’t always obvious and can crop up when you least expect them, such as “that model is a far cry from the one we examined last week” or “that deal was too good to be true.” It’s most satisfying to just speak definitely and clearly so your reader knows exactly what you suggest.

Common Formality Mistakes

This model wouldn’t be comprehensive without a look at some traditional practices that people use to make their reporting more formal that don’t work. Here are a few habits we end up having to correct time and time again.

3. Don’t use passive voice.

Passive voice is verbose, but being formal has absolutely nothing to do with wordiness.

4. Avoid informal intensifiers

Ordinary intensifiers like really and so. Instead use more advanced ones such as extremely, highly, entirely etc.

5. Limit the use of phrasal verbs.

As far as possible avoid using them, but if that is not possible to restrict their use. It is normally possible to express the same idea using conventional verb forms.

6. Avoid discourse markers

Certain discussion markers are viewed as being informal. Avoid using them. For example, write unexpectedly instead of by the way.

7. Don’t cut your sentences with third person.

Some professors still expect their students use the third person to make their writing sound more formal, but (and always verify with your professor first) style guides such as APA (and us) recommend you use first or second person to check passive voice and complex language.

Take: For example, “the researcher used qualitative technique to the study. Who is the researcher? You or someone else? This is ambiguous. It’s better to say, “I will take a qualitative procedure to the study,” and this doesn’t sound any less formal.

8. Use the active voice.

The active voice is used when the subject of your sentence executes an action to a direct object. In essence, (noun performing an action) + (action/verb) + (object receiving the action). The passive voice is used when the subject is the thing receiving the action and the thing doing the action appears as an indirect object near the end of the sentence. The equation for passive voice is (noun taking action) + (action/verb) + (optional indirect object).

9. Use Correct Grammar

Do use accurate grammar rather than conversational syntax. Spell your words completely, and make certain you use comprehensive sentences. Check each paragraph for a clear statement of the central idea and present confirmation to support that idea, documented if you got it from someone else, or defined if it is from your experience.

Clear, concise, precise.

10. Avoid Contractions

Another powerful rule for formal writing is avoiding colloquialisms. A contraction is generally formed from of two words that have been combined to form a shortened version and with an apostrophe attached to indicate the shortening of the term. Examples of contractions are “aren’t” for “are not,” “it’s” for “it is,” and “haven’t” for “have not.” Contractions are perceived as informal language, and thus writers are informed to avoid these.

Happy Writing!

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