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You’ll find your writing skills will improve as you get further through your studies, but at first having to do assignments and write using academic English can be a challenge.
As well as ensuring you understand your topic, plan your assignment and understand your learning material, ensuring your writing flows well, and uses good paragraphs and sentence structures is important.
Good writing reads well or has flow. This is when the ideas that are being presented move smoothly from one to the other, and make sense to the reader. If you aren’t sure if your writing flows well, one test is to read it aloud. Does it sound OK? Does it make sense? Does one idea connect well to the next?
To ensure your writing flows well you need to plan the structure of your assignment. Think about:
As you start writing follow the plan, but don’t be afraid to move things around so that your ideas follow on from each other in a logical way.
To help make your writing flow, use transition and linking words or phrases. These can:
Essay flow - Massey University Online Writing and Learning Link website (opens in new window)
Five ways to create flow in your writing - Walden University Writing Center website (opens in new window)
Transitions - The Writing Center, University of North Carolina website (opens in new window)
Good paragraphs are another important part of good academic writing. A good paragraph:
A paragraph also needs to be clear, logical and easy to understand. This means it needs to flow well. Each sentence should link to the sentence before, and lead on to the next sentence or idea.
The key to writing a good paragraph is to write a good topic sentence. Good topic sentences:
Paragraphs - The Writing Center, University of North Carolina website (opens in new window)
Paragraphs and paragraphing - Purdue Online Writing Lab website (opens in new window)
Correct sentences tend to follow certain basic conventions. The most basic sentence includes a subject (who or what is doing the action) and a verb (the action).
Sentence patterns – The Writing Center, University of North Carolina website (opens in new window)
Improving sentence clarity - Purdue Online Writing Lab website(opens in new window)
Correct punctuation is important because it helps ensure that your meaning is clear and your writing reads well.
The sentence below is an example of a sentence where the meaning changes depending on how it is punctuated. A group of students were asked to punctuate the words: A woman without her man is nothing.
When you are writing and aren’t sure if you have the punctuation right, try reading the sentence aloud to see how it sounds. This can help you work out if you have things in the right place.
Along with punctuation, grammar is an important part of ensuring your writing makes sense. Grammar refers to:
How to improve your punctuation - Mondofacto website (opens in new window)
Brief overview of punctuation - Purdue Online Writing Lab website (opens in new window)
Dodge the grammar traps - Quality Web Content website (opens in new window)
Grammar Handbook - The Center for Writing Studies website (opens in new window)