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Use Exact Words!

As a writing coach and editor, I recommend two simple ways to for scholars to develop a more academic tone. One is to read constantly within one's discipline; doing so not only builds vocabulary, but it also can help scholars note the type of language and sentence structure used in scholarly writing.

A second way to develop a scholarly tone is to use precise words, especially for quantities and time frames. The sentences below illustrate how to be exact with words.

Original Sentence: Each interview will last for ABOUT two hours at a community site .

In this sentence, “about” is used to describe the length of time that interviews will last. However, this adverb has more than five definitions and can be used as a preposition.

Therefore, I delete this term and find an exact word that more accurately communicates time.

Edited Sentence: Each interview will last for APPROXIMATELY two hours conducted at a community site.

Approximately means "close in value or location" (Merriam-Webster). The word is more precise than “about” in regards to time and proximity. Additionally, it has only two definitions. Finally, it is more formal than "about."

Replacing vague and/or conversational words throughout a document will help writers to create a more scholarly tone.

Cultivating writers, one tip at a time!

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