Friday, March 17, 2017

Things to Avoid in Formal Writing

At one point in your life, you were required to submit a thesis, a report and a proposal, among others. What do these writing genres have in common? They are written in an objective and formal manner.

In the future, especially after acing your IELTS exam, you will need to produce another formal write-up, be it in the university or in the workplace. For example, in the university, your professor obliges you to submit a term paper as a final requirement for the program. Meanwhile, in the workplace, your immediate supervisor or boss asks for daily/monthly reports to monitor progress or proposals to tap clients. When you enroll in IELTS review center, instructors provide carefully thought topics and exercises to students to enhance their language skills. These activities usually include writing tasks (writing essays and letters, interpreting visual information), dialogues (discussing topics, engaging in conversations) and more.

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Business writing and academic writing require a formal language. They are usually written in a third-person perspective to suggest objectivity. However, some writers use words and phrases that render their outputs informal and subjective. Here are some things that you must avoid in formal writing.

 1.       First-person point of view (I/We) – The first-person point of view may impart subjectivity toward the issue being tackled. Although some scholarly works utilize this voice in discussing topics, it is still preferred to use the third-person point of view as it implies objectivity or neutrality. 

2.       Contractions/Abbreviations/Acronyms – Avoid using contractions at all costs, unless they are included in lifted texts. When it comes to abbreviations, they may be permissible if used with a complete name (e.g., Dr. June Salazar, Jonathan Baytan, M.D.). Refrain from using them to shorten terms (e.g., doctor – dr., attorney – atty.), except in denoting units of measure like kilometer  – km, feet – ft and inch – in, among others. Acronyms are a special case. Once an acronym is defined and established during the first mention, it may be used as such throughout the text.

3.       Slangs, jargons, vernaculars, etc. – Including these terms and expressions weakens your material’s appeal, especially when used inappropriately. If their usage is essential to your work, you may define each term or phrase first before incorporating it to the discussion. You may also include its definition in the footnote. IELTS review centers always remind students to be cautious in using technical or highfalutin words in their tasks. 

4.       Figures of speech and idiomatic expressions – A formal writing is direct, which means that some words or phrases do not need decoding. Using figures of speech and idiomatic expressions, as instructors in IELTS review center in Davao reiterate to their students, may not guarantee reader’s comprehension—they might confuse readers.

5.       Confusing outline/structure – Any writing genre, formal or informal, follows a structure (introduction, body and conclusion) and an outline (topical or sentence). An outline is particularly important during the writing stage. It helps writers dissect a specific topic. Preparing an outline before actually writing responses is helpful during the IELTS exam. Since you are under pressure (word count and time allotment), creating an outline helps you organize ideas, classifying them as mains and subs.

More than anything else, a good write-up is measured through its accuracy and intelligibility. Jargons may be necessary, but they may also be ineffective when used inappropriately, especially when used to impress. You would rather use simple words or statements to convey messages or express thoughts than use highfalutin terms and figures of speech that do not mean anything when carefully examined. In most cases, it is best to be direct and concise.

If you are not confident with your writing skills, mentors in IELTS review centers in Davao can assess your skills and provide you with practice tests and tips to enhance them.



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