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English 104:  Style and Word Choice
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English 104: Style and Word Choice


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Presentation delivered to the English 104 class at Victor Valley College.

Presentation delivered to the English 104 class at Victor Valley College.

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  • 1. Style and Word Choice
  • 2.  Style (i.e. your word choice) is an important factor that contributes to the persuasiveness of your argument  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
  • 3.  Connotations ◦ Words with different connotations can be used to give different portrayals of the same event ◦ Example: Same event described with different word choice Neutral Students from the Labor Action Committee carried out a hunger strike to call attention to the university’s low wages. Negative Agitators and radicals tried to use self-induced starvation to force the university to cave in to their demands. Positive 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)
  • 4.  Variety ◦ It’s best to include variety in your writing, so your writing doesn’t become repetitive and your reader doesn’t get bored ◦ Avoid:  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
  • 5.  Punctuation can be a key component of a writer’s style  Academic essays should adhere to conventional punctuation style ◦ Avoid creative punctuation ◦ Avoid unconventional punctuation such as those used in online communication:  Smiley face emoticons  Asterisks for emphasis (ex. “You *must* come!”)
  • 6.  Semicolon ◦ 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 ◦ Examples:  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.
  • 7.  Exclamation Point ◦ 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
  • 8.  Ellipsis ◦ 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.
  • 9.  For more information, the Purdue OWL is a good resource: ◦
  • 10. Crockett, Molly. “Beware Neuro-bunk.” TEDSalon. Unicorn Theatre, London, England, UK. 07 Nov. 2012. Conference Presentation. Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters. Everything’s an Argument with Readings. 6th ed. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2013. Print.