1. Avoid overcomplicated sentences and unnecessary words. Don’t make it more difficult than necessary for the reader to understand your ideas. Write clearly and intelligently. Check your writing for words or phrases which are unnecessary. ‘Owing to the fact that’ can be replaced with ‘since’ or ‘because’; ‘at this point in time’ means the same as ‘now’; words like ‘basically’ and ‘that’ can often be omitted.
  2. Avoid writing too personally. Unless you’ve been asked to make a personal response, it’s better not to. Your personal feelings or experiences do not show your understanding or research. Facts are stronger.
  3. Avoid errors. An error-free text gives a much stronger impact on the reader. Mistakes slow your reader down and can also make your meaning unclear. Always leave yourself enough time to carefully proofread your text and don’t just rely on a spell checker.
  4. Avoid ambiguous references. Words like ‘it’, ‘they’, ‘this’ and ‘these’ have no meaning in themselves, but refer to something else in the text which gives them meaning. Check your writing for these words, making sure the reader would easily understand them. The person, object or idea these words refer to must be clearly mentioned just before you use them.
  5. Avoid informal language. Contractions are only used in informal writing, so write ‘cannot’ instead of ‘can’t’ and so on. Other informal words to avoid include ‘get’ (‘obtain’ or ‘become’ are more formal), ‘big’ (‘large’ is better), ‘nice’ (use a word that more specifically expresses your meaning) and ‘a lot’ (‘a great deal/many of’ or ‘the majority’ are more appropriate).