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Academic language: a Practical Guide

Academic language

Explore the nuances of Academic Language with our comprehensive guide.

Academic language: a Practical Guide

Explore the nuances of academic language with our comprehensive guide...

Ideal for students and academics, this resource delves into the formal, analytical, and objective nature of academic language.

What is academic language?

Every form of writing has its conventions. How we write in messages to our friends is different to how we write a job application; the language used in a soap opera is different to the language used on the news. And the language of academic writing has its own set of characteristics.

As a basic rule, academic language is more formal than the everyday language we tend to use for communication. But at the same time, academic writing isn't about impressing people with ‘big words’ or being overly formal. It needs to be clear, concise and objective so that you can communicate your ideas effectively.

The primary purpose of academic language is to analyse and explain knowledge or to arrive at conclusions with the help of theories or other scholars’ arguments. Therefore, academic language is typically analytical and relies on evidence to reach conclusions.

In academic work we will frequently need to analyse other researchers’ findings and views, formulate an argument of our own, and present our findings, all in a formal and somewhat dispassionate way. This is what is generally known as academic language.

Interactive tutorial

As well as this guide there's our interactive tutorial which covers some of the main points:

Academic writing style [interactive tutorial] | Academic writing style [Google Doc]

The Writing Centre

The Writing Centre at the University of York offers individualised sessions to enhance academic writing, critical thinking, and analysis skills for all students. 

These sessions cover various topics, including assignment planning, constructing arguments, source integration, and refining academic writing style.

Additionally, PhD students have access to specialised consultations. 

Book an appointment via our webpage:


For more advice on academic writing, take a look at our Practical Guide:

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