Tips for writing better academic texts

A well-written text involves good education, academic qualification and cultural background, in addition to good reading habits. However, some specific patterns can be identified in academic texts.

An academic text is, before anything else, defined by its content, as it is the result of scientific research. Therefore, it should reflect the strictness, clarity and critical thinking of the research study conducted. As much as the content, style, language and layout are crucial aspects of any writing. Text style helps readers understand text content, as the quality of a piece of writing will depend on the style used. Writers should conduct careful research about the subject, including using books, journal articles and publications, such as theses, dissertations, monographs, assays and research reports.

Aesthetics is also quite important, i.e. text layout. Texts should be written in white, A4 sheets and printed on one side only. Choose black “Times New Roman”, “Arial” or “Verdana” as font. Avoid shading or other elements that divert the attention away from the content. It is also recommended to space lines 1.5 or 2 cm apart and the text should be justified.

Once you have done your research, choose your type of text, which elements should be present and the most adequate graphic style, as these might change. Be sure to follow the specific writing rules of your university.
In most cases, academic texts have a cover sheet – a page with title and subtitle, author name, university name and logotype, year, and place.

Preface (an explanation of the text), introduction (author rationale, goals, and plan), body of the text (divided in chapters and sections), notes, bibliographical references, glossary, abstract (a small text summarizing the main objectives of the article) and keywords (words referring to the main topics discussed in the article) should also be considered among other elements.

As for the text itself, it should be straightforward, well-grounded and should not include excessively formal sentences, as they can make reading more difficult than it should be. Usually, this genre intends to present hypotheses and theses to readers. Therefore, ideas must be laid in a logical sequence. Plagiarism is another important issue. When using the ideas of another author, mention the source or rewrite what was said with your own words, properly quoting books or articles consulted.

Also follow the rules for citing bibliographical references. Find all applicable rules at the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT) website. Additionally, you can find several websites, and writing and style manuals that can help enrich your text.

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