Style (i.e. your word choice) is an important factor
that contributes to the persuasiveness of your
Academic, argumentative essays should employ
formal, appropriate language
◦ Establishes a tone of seriousness and credibility
◦ Avoid slang and colloquial terms
◦ Consider your use of jargon
If your intended readers include a general audience, they
may not understand jargon
◦ Words with different connotations can be used to give different
portrayals of the same event
◦ Example: Same event described with different word choice
Students from the Labor Action Committee carried out a hunger
strike to call attention to the university’s low wages.
Agitators and radicals tried to use self-induced starvation to force
the university to cave in to their demands.
Champions of human rights put their bodies on the line to protest
the university’s unfair policy of low wages.
(Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters 311)
◦ It’s best to include variety in your writing, so your writing
doesn’t become repetitive and your reader doesn’t get
Starting multiple sentences with the same word, esp. if the
sentences are in the same paragraph
Using many short, choppy sentences or sentence fragments
Using many overly-long, run-on sentences
Listing an extensive series of rhetorical questions
Punctuation can be a key component of a writer’s
Academic essays should adhere to conventional
◦ Avoid creative punctuation
◦ Avoid unconventional punctuation such as those used in
Smiley face emoticons
Asterisks for emphasis (ex. “You *must* come!”)
◦ Connects two independent clauses of similar idea
Independent clauses are complete sentences that contain a
subject and a verb
◦ Can often be substituted with a period
◦ Can be used when listing with internal commas
If you think two ideas are similar, then join them with a semicolon;
otherwise, replace the semicolon with a period.
I went to the grocery store and bought meats, such as chicken,
pork, and ham; as well as vegetables, such as broccoli, lettuce,
and carrots; and drinks, such as milk and coffee.
◦ Can be used to add emphasis
◦ Use sparingly
Too many exclamation marks can be irritating and create a
heated tone, as if the writer is shouting at the reader
An academic argument is not a shouting match; instead,
academic arguments should be presented in an even, formal
tone, discussing evidence in a logical manner
◦ Three periods (…)
◦ Indicates pause or hesitation
◦ Indicates omitted text when quoting
Example: “These scans […] can help prevent Alzheimer’s
disease, solve weight and addiction issues, overcome
marital conflicts, and treat […] a variety of mental illnesses
ranging from depression to anxiety to ADHD” (Crockett).
Ellipsis should be preceded and followed by a space, and can
be enclosed in brackets, although brackets are not required.
Do not use ellipses at the start or end of the quotation.
For more information, the Purdue OWL is a good
Crockett, Molly. “Beware Neuro-bunk.” TEDSalon.
Unicorn Theatre, London, England, UK. 07 Nov. 2012.
Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and
Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument with Readings.
ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.