When giving feedback to students on their written work, tutors often comment on aspects of language and style. They may criticise the language for being too ‘chatty’, ‘colloquial’ or ‘informal’, and point out that the style is ‘not academic enough’. A different set of problems, on the other hand, may lead to suggestions that the writing is ‘verbose’, ‘obscure’ or ‘dense’.
In stating what academic language and style should not be like, these comments throw some light on what an academic audience expects: academic language and style should be formal, precise, clear and concise. We have also seen elsewhere that academic language is objective and cautious.
We will now examine four aspects of academic language and style: