Academic writing should be free of grammar and spelling errors, but it also needs to use language that is appropriate in the academic setting. Follow the rules below to use appropriate language in your assignments.

  1. Avoid Casual or Offensive Language

    Avoid using these types of words:
    • Slang—newly invented words or words with new definitions
    • Jargon—specialized or technical language
    • Colloquial words—words of casual conversation
    • Offensive words or phrases—swear words, judgmental names, racist or judgemental remarks
  2. Avoid gender discrimination

    You can usually use one of the methods below to achieve this goal.
    • Method #1: Eliminate personal pronouns.
      • Correct: An employee must use vacation time for a personal holiday.
      • Incorrect: An employee must use his or her vacation time for a personal holiday.
    • Method #2: Make nouns and personal pronouns plural.
      • Correct: An employee must use their vacation time for personal holidays.
    • Method #3: Use a second person point of view.
      • Correct: If you plan to attend, you should send in your reservation.
      • Incorrect: Anyone who plans to attend should send in his or her reservation.
  3. Avoid splitting infinitives
    Avoid splitting infinitives (prepositional phrases that begin with the word to, e.g., to work, to read, to speak). Try NOT to put words between to and the verb.

    • Correct: We want to speak confidently and clearly.
    • Incorrect: We want to confidently and clearly speak.
  4. Avoid double negatives

    • Correct: We have no openings. OR We do not have any openings.
    • Incorrect: We do not have no openings.
    • Correct: Neither Randi nor Troy are able to come to the phone right now.
    • Incorrect: Neither Randi nor Troy are unable to come to the phone right now.
  5. Avoid generalizations
    Avoid generalizations that imply all members of a group are alike.

    • Correct: Some managers do not support the well-being of employees in the company.
    • Incorrect: Managers do not support the well-being of employees in the company.
  6. Do not define people by labels
    Do not define people by labels. Instead, use Person-First Language. By mentioning the person first and the condition second, you are acknowledging that the person is more than just their disability. 

    • Correct: The patient with schizophrenia got upset during dinner.
    • Incorrect: The schizophrenic patient got upset during dinner.