The Five Elements to Avoid in Academic Writing: A Guide to Clarity and Precision

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Originally posted on May 21, 2023 @ 5:13 pm

Academic writing is a crucial part of higher education and research. To produce high-quality writing, it is essential to follow certain rules and avoid common mistakes. In this regard, there are five elements that every academic writer should avoid. These elements include colloquial language, vague phrases, personal opinions, biased language, and plagiarism. Neglecting these elements could jeopardize the credibility and reliability of the entire work, leading to disastrous consequences. Therefore, we shall discuss these five elements in detail and highlight why it is vital to stay away from them when engaging in academic writing.

The Importance of Clear and Precise Writing

Academic writing is the cornerstone of any scholarly endeavor, providing a platform for the exchange of ideas and the advancement of knowledge. However, as with any form of written communication, clarity and precision are crucial to the success of academic writing. In this article, we will explore the five elements that are best avoided in academic writing to ensure that your work is clear, concise, and effective.

A Lack of Structure

One of the most common mistakes made in academic writing is a lack of structure. Without A clear and logical framework, your ideas can become muddled, and your readers may struggle to follow your argument. To avoid this, it is essential to begin by outlining your ideas and creating a roadmap for your writing. This will help you to stay on track and ensure that your work is organized and easy to follow.

Jargon and Technical Language

Another pitfall to avoid in academic writing is the use of jargon and technical language. While these terms may be familiar to experts in your field, they can be confusing or alienating to readers who are less familiar with the subject matter. To ensure that your writing is accessible and engaging, it is important to use clear and concise language that is easy for all readers to understand.

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Ambiguous Language

Ambiguity is another common issue in academic writing, often arising from imprecise or vague language. When writing, it is important to be as specific and direct as possible, avoiding language that can be interpreted in multiple ways. This will help to ensure that your argument is clear and that your readers understand your intended meaning.

Overuse of Passive Voice

The overuse of passive voice is another common mistake in academic writing. While passive voice can be useful in certain contexts, it can also make your writing appear weak or unconvincing. To avoid this, it is important to use active voice wherever possible, as this will help to make your writing more engaging and persuasive.

Overreliance on Quotations

Finally, it is important to avoid overreliance on quotations in academic writing. While quotes can be useful to support your argument, they should not be used as a substitute for your own ideas and analysis. To ensure that your writing is original and compelling, it is essential to rely primarily on your own insights and research.


One of the most important considerations when writing is your audience. Understanding your readers’ background, knowledge and interests will help you to tailor your writing to their needs. This will enable you to present your work in a way that is accessible, engaging, and relevant to your readers.


As mentioned earlier, structure is crucial to the success of academic writing. A clear and logical framework will help you to present your ideas in a way that is easy to follow and understand. This will enable your readers to grasp the main points of your argument quickly and effectively, making your work more persuasive and engaging.


Academic writing can be dense and complex, but it is essential to avoid wordiness or overly complex language. Short, simple sentences are often the most effective way to communicate complex ideas. This will help to ensure that your writing is clear and concise, and that your readers can understand your ideas quickly and easily.

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Clarity is another essential element of academic writing. To communicate your ideas effectively, it is crucial to be as clear and direct as possible. Avoid vague or ambiguous language and use precise terminology to ensure that your argument is clear and that your readers understand your intended meaning.


Evidence is another crucial factor in academic writing. To support your argument, it is essential to use credible sources and to provide evidence for your claims. This will help to make your work more persuasive and convincing, and will enable your readers to understand and appreciate your ideas more fully.

FAQs – Five Elements to Avoid in Academic Writing

What are the five elements that I should avoid in academic writing?

There are five elements that are best avoided in academic writing: 1) colloquial language, 2) slang and jargon, 3) personal opinions and biases, 4) contractions, and 5) vague or ambiguous language. These elements may make your writing unclear, unprofessional, and weaken your argument. It is essential to avoid these elements to ensure that your work presents a clear, concise, and evidence-based analysis that demonstrates academic integrity.

Why should I avoid using colloquial language in academic writing?

Colloquial language refers to informal language, such as slang and everyday speech, which is best avoided in academic writing. Using colloquial language can weaken the authority and professionalism of your writing, making it unclear, unintelligible, and informal, which in turn can compromise your arguments or analyses. To avoid this, try to use formal, precise language that reflects the academic and professional context in which you are writing.

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What is slang and jargon, and why should I avoid using them in academic writing?

Slang and jargon refer to specialized vocabulary, idiomatic expressions, and technical terms that are specific to a particular field or culture. Although it may be tempting to use jargon to impress readers, it can be challenging for readers outside your field to understand, and may make your writing seem inaccessible or obscure. Similarly, slang terms can be confusing, inappropriate, and informal in academic writing, making it essential to avoid using them.

Why should I avoid using personal opinions or biases in academic writing?

Academic writing is evidence-based, and it is essential to avoid personal opinions or biases that could interfere with the objectivity and credibility of your work. Avoid using personal pronouns such as “I,” “me,” or “my,” which suggest that your writing is subjective rather than objective. Instead, use evidence-based arguments and analysis that support your ideas or claims, which demonstrate your expertise and authority in the subject matter.

Why should I avoid using contractions in academic writing?

Contractions refer to shortened forms of two words, such as “they’re” instead of “they are.” Contractions are informal and suggest a casual tone, which is not suitable for academic writing. Instead, use the full form of the word to create a formal, professional tone that reflects the academic context of your writing.

Why should I avoid using vague or ambiguous language in academic writing?

vague or ambiguous language can be confusing and weaken the clarity and precision of your arguments or analysis. Use precise, concise language that accurately conveys your ideas or claims, avoiding ambiguous or vague terms that could be interpreted in different ways. Additionally, it is essential to use proper punctuation, grammar, and syntax to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and easily understandable.

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