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BHCS The Unwritten Rules of Formal Writing

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Tom Allen

on 19 May 2014

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Transcript of BHCS The Unwritten Rules of Formal Writing

The Unwritten Rules of Formal Writing
Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid
What is Formal Writing?
Formal style is the preferred format for all academic writing, particularly essays and exam responses.

Comparatively, informal writing may resemble a conversation. Generally, it
is not suggested to write as you would speak.

When writing formal answers, it is important to do the following:
-Be objective
-Use complex words
-Avoid slang
-Construct fluent sentences
Informal
vs.
Formal

Informal
Formal
In a nutshell...
To state it briefly...
Last but not least...
A final and equally
important issue is...
By the way...
Incidentally...
On top of that...
Additionally...
Rule #1
I
suggest that
you
avoid using first
and second person

Words to Avoid:

"I"
and
"You"
Phrases such as "
I
think that..." can be deleted from a sentence. The reader
already knows that the statement is the
author's opinion.
You should conserve water.

One should conserve water.
I intend to argue that Lionel Messi is the best footballer in the world.

It has been argued that Lionel Messi is the
best player in the world.
"You..."
"I..."
Formal:
Informal:
Formal:
Informal:
Phrases such as "
You
may think..." should
also be omitted when writing formal
papers. "
One
may think..." would correct
the informality.
Rhetorical Questions?
No, thanks.

Rule #2
Rule #3
No Stage Directions,
Please

Rule #4
%
vs.
Percentage

Rule # 5
Numerals:
Eleven or 11?
Rule #6
Rule #7
Rule #8
Rule #9
Rule #10
FYI:
Use Abbreviations Sparingly

Redundancy is a
no-no

Don't
use
Contractions

Prepositions are not
suggested to end
sentences
with
.

Parenthetical Remarks
(
or phrases in brackets
)

Why to Avoid Rhetorical Questions
A rhetorical question is a question for which no answer is expected.
Such questions are inappropriate for more formal writing since they can easily be misinterpreted.
The point being made could be more strongly and clearly expressed as a statement.
How can this common mistake be corrected?
High Fructose Corn Syrup has been linked to the deadliest type of cancer, so why do we continue to consume it?
The question surrounding the continued consumption of High Fructose Corn Syrup still remains.
Does an electric vehicle provide a practical solution to the problem of air pollution?
It is questionable whether electric vehicles provide a practical solution for reducing air pollution.
Contractions create a friendly, informal tone which may not be suitable in formal writing.
The only acceptable contraction in formal writing is o'clock.
Contractions are suitable in spoken language, as they can speed up a conversation. However, speed of communication is not a concern in formal writing.
Why Contractions
Aren't
Recommended
Contraction
Conversion Chart
aren't
are not
can't
cannot
could've
could have
how'd
how did
what's
what is
Informal
Formal
Informal
Informal
Formal
Formal
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
__
When to use spelled out numbers
It is recommended
to drink
eight
glasses of water
each day.
Numbers 1-9
Example:
Fractions
One sixth
of the United States
population does not have health
insurance.
Example:
School Years
Example:
Mrs. Pumphrey is my year
eight
English teacher.
When to Use
Numbers
Numbers 10
and above
Example:
There are

approximately
27
oil spills every day in the waters of the world.
Numbers
that follow a chapter, example, or table
Chapter
4
discusses how to properly
format a title page.
Example:
Large
Numbers
Example:
She won
8.5 million
dollars
by playing the lottery.
When is it
appropriate to use the
percentage symbol
(%)
as opposed to
writing the word "
percentage
?"
Only use the percentage symbol (%) if it comes after a number.
A
n
s
w
e
r
:
Food waste in America has increased by 50% since 1974.
The percentage of food waste in America has increased since 1974.
Percentage Example:
% Example:
Informal:
Formal:
In this essay I will discuss
how the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific Garbage Vortex, negatively affects our environment.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific Garbage Vortex, negatively affects our environment in a number of ways.
Example:
Why to Avoid Redundancy
There are no word minimums or word limits but the way to think about it is:
Avoid writing the same information in different ways in order to fill up space.
How to Avoid
Redundancy
Once you have completed your essay/text review each paragraph to see if any sentences can be eliminated.
Omit any repetitive or overwritten sentences/phrases.
Abbreviate the Following:
Titles Before Names:
Titles After Names:
Names of Familiar
Institutions...........
Countries..............
Corporations........
Famous People....
Familiar Objects..
Mr., Mrs., Ms., Prof., Dr.
Jr., Sr., Ph.D., M.A., B.A.
UN, FBI, NASA
U.K., U.S.A.
BBC, IBM
JFK, MLK, FDR
TV, CD, MP3
Words with Numbers:
2:00 A.M., 1124 B.C.
Mathematical Units:
11 ft, 7 kg, 33 lb, 24 in.
Use abbreviations exclusively after explaining it for the first time.
When to Use
Abbreviations

Example:
The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA)
provides environmental education grant opportunities.

The
EPA
also offers grant opportunities for new businesses.
Exceptions to this rule include the following.....
Why to Avoid
Prepositions
Ending sentences with prepositions can
contribute to a conversational, informal tone.
How to Easily Fix the Problem
Once you have finished writing, proofread your text. Look for any sentences which end with a preposition.
The best and easiest solution is to reword the sentence.
The most
commonly used prepositions which are incorrectly placed at the end of sentences include:
at
for
in
about
of
with
to
from
Informal:
Formal:
The extinction of the Dodo bird is a repercussion humanity must live with.
Humanity must live with the repercussions of contributing to the extinction of the Dodo bird.

How to
Avoid Using Brackets

Brackets can be reduced by 50% by simply replacing them with commas.
Informal:
Formal:
The quarterback for the Saints
(Drew Bees)
broke
Dan Marino's single-season passing record.
The quarterback for the Saints
, Drew Bees,
broke
Dan Marino's single-season passing record.
When To Use Brackets
1) When referring to an equivalent entity:
Entertainment and Sports Programming Network
(ESPN)
British Broadcasting Corporation
(BBC)
2) When listing numbered information:
a)
1)
b)
2)
QUALITY, NOT QUANTITY
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