> >

Sharpen your academic edge or just
get some advice with our tips and tools.


We all practice a casual style of writing when we text, email and use social media. Read a few helpful hints to ensure that shorthand doesn’t creep into your schoolwork.
With social media, smartphones, tablets and more, technology is helping you express yourself through writing. However, this type of writing is usually riddled with shorthand expressions (like “LOL”), abbreviations (like “brb”) and various emoticons.

Consider your medium and your reader. Are you texting your “BFF” about science homework, or are you explaining to Mr. Macri the difference between isosceles and scalene triangles on a test? What might his or her response be after reading what you’ve written? You always want to make a positive impression on your reader. Before you begin writing, take a step back and think about your audience.

4 tips to writing for the correct medium.  

1. Brush up on English grammar. Understanding the difference between formal and informal English is key to ensure that you are using them in the proper situations. For example, kid is informal for child, how come is informal for why and movie is informal for film. An informal writing style may make your audience feel more comfortable, but a formal style can make a good impression.

2. Handwrite in a journal daily. If you can remember your early cursive lessons, this may be a great opportunity to practice. Writing with a pen instead of a keyboard — and writing in cursive instead of print — will take you out of your comfort zone, helping you to avoid sudden shifts from formal to informal writing. Try one of our Personal Wirebound Notebooks or Composition Books to get started.

3. Practice shorthand less often. When communicating with friends and family, it’s easy to fall into the habit of using shorthand and ignoring proper punctuation. While acceptable in this situation, it’s also making it harder for you to break those habits when it comes to writing formally. Next time you text your friends, try spelling out each word and using punctuation. Don’t be bound by just 140 characters. Who knows — maybe it’ll catch on!

4. Avoid using slang when writing. Catch phrases and slang are indicative of informal writing. Words such as “cool,” “ginormous,” “cray cray” and “selfie” are never acceptable in formal writing (unless you’re writing a paper on examples of informal writing). If you’re writing a paper and are unsure if a word is considered slang, ask yourself 3 questions: Do I use it in everyday language? Is it in the dictionary? (NOTE: Some of these catch phrases and slang terms have actually made it into the dictionary!) Does the thesaurus suggest better words for it?
Back to Top | Back to Tips
> > > > >>>>