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Transcript of Formal Writing
Avoid Second Person
except for when giving directions.
The do's and don'ts of formal writing
you, your, yours, yourself, yourselves, and the understood (or implied) you
Avoid using contractions, as they are abbreviated forms.
Definition: The substitution of an inoffensive term (such as "passed") for one considered offensively explicit ("died").
Avoid Shorthand and Abbreviation
Say what you mean in as few words as possible.
For example: writing
due to the fact
is verbose when the words
When reading "The Yellow Wallpaper," you can see the significance of the color symbolism.
Who is the "you" that you are speaking to? Your professor or the general reader? Be more specific.
Omit "you" and replace it with "the reader" or "one"....still, use this sparingly.
When reading "The Yellow Wallpaper," the reader can see the significance of the color symbolism.
The color symbolism in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is significant because...
Numbers greater > than ten are presented numerically. Numbers less than < 11 are written out as words.
don't = do not
can't = cannot
Using euphemisms can be unclear to the reader
My grandfather passed.
Passed what? He passed the salt? Did he pass someone on the interstate?
Avoid First Person
Do not write "I think", "I feel", "I believe". These expressions seem tentative, as if you are unsure.
Be firm and merely state your point.
For example, instead of writing I think the state of Nevada should return the billions of dollars South Carolina has spent on the Yucca Mountain Repository.
Revision: The state of Nevada should return the billions of dollars that South Carolina has spent on the Yucca Mountain Repository.
Avoid Informal Language
Do not use informal language such as slang or colloquial phrases (unless, of course, it is a direct quote).
ALWAYS raise the level of
diction, when possible.
Do not use shortened or abbreviated forms of words such as
til, TV, bio, etc., &, or @.
Easily recognizable acronyms such as
can be left as is.
If you use an acronym that is not well-known to the general population, you must write it out first and then put the acronym in parentheses. Thereafter, you may use only the acronym, as the reader is responsible for remembering its meaning.
when describing the proportion of abstract forms. Use
big, little, large,
for concrete forms. These adjectives denote physical size or mass.
Dr. Kitty's discovery of the psychedelic affects of cat nip were major!
Dr. Kitty will stare at me until I open a big can of cat food.
Do not refer to yourself, the assignment, or the writing.
Also, avoid using trite inspirational quotes to embellish your writing.
When possible, always use active voice, which is stronger than passive voice.
Passive voice is used when the object is more important than the subject.
Passive voice is typically used in journalism and science.
Passive voice: The woman was hit by a car. Active Voice: The car hit the woman.
Your task is to paint a picture with words, so always include specific details and examples to support each point you make.
Basically, don't make a claim without backing it up.
For example: Dr. Kitty is an evil cat. For example, he scratched me and then shredded the curtains
Avoid using idiomatic expressions, which are casual in nature.
They are familiar expressions whose meaning is not literal.
“He is driving me up the wall” is not literal. It is best to say, “His behavior is quite infuriating” or “He is acting selfish and childish.”
Texting and driving is an unsafe act. When driving, you should be very careful and don't text and drive.
In business, situations need to be handled professionally. When you have to let someone go, it's important to fill out the appropriate paper work.
I think that Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown" is about faith and forgiveness.
"Anyway, the baby calf was standing right underneath its mother, just kind of walking around, and the mother cow took a 'dump' on the baby calf's head."
(Stephen Chbosky-The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
Pres. Obama's speech was well organized.
You will understand at the end of this paper that cats are the superior pet due to the fact that they are intelligent.
In this paper I will explain to you how Poe was demonstrating the true effects of insanity in "The Tell-Tale Heart."
In this paper, I am going to discuss the symbolism and imagery within John Cheever's shorty story "The Swimmer."
MLA Guideline changes in the 7th edition:
Italics have replaced underlining.
On the Works Cited page, only use the URL address if it is not easily found in a search or is required by the teacher.
After the citation, indicate the type of source used. (Web, Print, etc)
MLA Format heading:
First Name, Last Name
Day, Month, Year
The title is centered, double spaced after the heading -not underlined, bolded, or italicized.
Diversify sentence structure. Use complex and compound sentences.
Modern Language Association
This is the style manual used by all teachers in the High School
(As per Board Policy).
The entire paper is written in size 12 Times New Roman font.
The entire paper is double spaced.
The Works Cited page is double spaced, and it is in alphabetical order.
Only works actually cited in the paper are included on the Works Cited page.
The words "Works Cited" appear at the top of the page in regular font.
First Name Last Name
Date, Month, Year
Your title is centered and double spaced after your heading
It should be as short as possible but still give the reader a general impression of what the paper is about