b. Appropriate Language

Why Is It Important to Use Appropriate Academic Language?

The words writers choose reflect the formality or informality of the rhetorical situation. Academic writing often calls for the use of formal diction, in contrast to the less formal language of everyday conversation.

The use of conversational language and informal tone – writing as we speak – in academic papers is often too casual and may weaken the credibility of the writer. On the other hand, the use of language that is pompous or stuffy can make the writing sound overly complex. Utilizing language appropriate to the academic context can help to create balanced communication between writer and reader.


How to Revise Informal or Overly-Formal Language

  • Replace slang or colloquial (conversational) terms with precise, conventional language.
  • Replace informal conversational language with academically focused language; using third-person point of view and appropriate terminology can often help with this process.
  • Simplify language that may come across as pompous or stuffy.


  • Informal: When he talked about the BP Oil Spill, the president dropped names to impress his audience. (casual, conversational language)
  • Pompous: Communicating with the municipal group concerning the petrol company’s unfortunate escape of emollient, the president alludes to erudite scientific scholars and research communities so as to institute a sense of trust amongst his supporters. (pompous, stuffy language)
  • Formal: In his speech regarding the BP Oil Spill, the president referenced knowledgeable scientists and research groups in order to establish credibility with his audience. (appropriate academic language)



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