Academic essay help: use short sentences and simple words

When writing an academic essay, it can sometimes be difficult to manage the complex ideas and structure required. Furthermore, it can be difficult to reach the required page length. One mistake many students make is attempting to mimic more pretentious forms of writing, mistakenly believing that doing so will get them a higher grade. However, by using shorter sentences and straightforward vocabulary, one can actually get a better grade and have an easier time writing their essay.

Here are a few tips related to this that can help you write your academic essays:

Using Simple Words

Of course, you should have a broad vocabulary—knowing the right word to use, and when to use it, is a great skill to have when it comes to writing, and communicating in general. The thing you should remember, however, is to always use the simplest word that works well in the context that you’re using it. The goal of academic writing isn’t to “sound fancy,” it’s to communicate your ideas, and nothing is gained by using needlessly complex vocabulary. When you’re discussing technical details or making a specific point that requires the use of a fancier word, by all means use it. It will have more meaning and impact then. But when laying out general ideas feel absolutely free to stick with everyday words and terminology. Your readers—and your instructors—will appreciate it.

Use Short Sentences

Again, complex concepts can, on occasion, require fancy sentence structure. For the most part, however, simpler, shorter sentences will serve you just as well (if not better) than fancier ones. Allow each sentence to communicate one, straightforward idea, and you’ll find you’re communicating far more clearly. Another issue with complex sentence structures is that they are easy to mess up. Your instructor will be far happier to see you using simple grammar correctly and effectively than he will be to see you botching more complex structures. Finally, shorter sentences will add length to your paper—this may seem counterintuitive, but it’s a fact. If you’re cramming several ideas into one long sentence, you could probably use four or five shorter sentences to get the same idea across. You’ll reach your page count more quickly, and write more clearly in the process. It’s a win-win.

Don’t let academic writing intimidate you into being obtuse. Remember, communication is key!

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