What is an “American” style of writing? Students naturally use their own cultural backgrounds and expectations when composing in English. Some professors will expect you to use an American style of writing. Others will encourage you to write with a style you are comfortable. Talk with your professor about the style of writing they expect from you.

Below are some ideas to show you what the American style of writing is like:

  • Directness — HOW do you discuss your topic? WHAT is your main point? The Western style of writing is usually very direct, while other cultures may be more indirect in writing. The problem or issue is stated at the beginning of the paper and then specific examples or evidence for this idea is written to support the issue.
  • Audience — WHO will be the audience of your paper? Professors may ask you to pretend that your classmates are your audience, or that those in your field are your audience. This will affect your language and how much you explain certain aspects of your paper.
  • Clear Examples — CAN you show/prove your main point? After you have stated a problem or opinion, it is important to give examples to PROVE or SUPPORT your point.
  • Citing Sources — WHERE did your ideas come from? Be certain to give reference in your papers to any ideas or direct quotes taken from someone else's writing. You may be asked to write in APA or MLA style. There are specific guidelines for referencing other author's works.
  • Writing in Different Fields — Are you writing for an English class? Psychology? Science? Business, etc.? In general, most English professors will be EXPLICIT with what they expect in your writing. As you enter your major classes, you may find that the style of writing is slightly different than an English class. Pay attention to articles and journals in your field and talk to your professors about what writing in your field looks like!
  • Modes of Writing — How formal or informal should your language be? These are “typical” modes of American writing. See examples of an essay, journal, descriptive, and compare and contrast examples.

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