Even though speaking and writing are both means of conveying information to people, there are some differences between them. One reason for this is that most academic writing demands more formality and regularity than informal speaking does. It is always important to evaluate your writing for formality.

Things to Consider:

  1. Who is the audience? (professor vs. peer)
  2. How does the audience expect to receive the message?
  3. How formal is the project you are working on? (research paper vs. blog entry)

When do I write formally?

  • When writing academically
  • Any time a professor expects it to be a formal assignment (research papers, case studies, etc.)
When Writing Formally...
  1. Avoid using colloquial words and expressions (gonna, wanna, etc.)
  2. Avoid contractions. Substitute "it is" for "it's"
  3. Write in third person. Do not use "I" or "you"

When do I write informally?

  • When writing for personal use
  • When writing dialogue and conversations
  • When writing in a blog
  • In an outline for a paper
  • If a professor specifies that it is an informal assignment

When Writing Informally...

  1. Colloquialisms are okay
  2. Contractions are okay
  3. First, second, or third person can be utilized

It is always important to read over your work aloud after completing it to smooth it out and check for mistakes. Always keep your message clear to your reader, remember your audience, and maintain one tone throughout your paper. Remember that each professor grades differently, so it is crucial to be clear with them about what they want and allow in a paper.

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