Making your writing more formal

There are lots of things you can do to make your writing more formal. Below are some tips on how you can best achieve this.

Do

  • Make your writing clear and to the point, avoiding generalisation and vagueness.
  • Try providing ‘signposts’ to help your reader find their way through your writing. Words and phrases such as 'in addition', 'nevertheless', 'on the other hand', 'by contrast', 'although' and 'alternatively' are always helpful.
  • Include a mix of sentence lengths and types in all writing, including some informative complex sentences. Try using semicolons in place of a full stop to link two sentences that share the same topic, but only if you feel confident about using them correctly. They also work well before connectives such as “but” to add a natural tone and emphasis, for example, “I like BBC Bitesize; but people can make their own choice”.
  • It is important to choose a style that fits in with the text-type or genre, the purpose and the audience of the task.

Avoid

  • Words and phrases typical of a friendly chat such as ‘cool’, 'you know' or 'like I said'.
  • Take care that the effect is right if you use connectives such as 'and', 'but', 'because' at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Keep exclamation marks to an absolute minimum!!!
  • Words like 'nice' and 'a lot' have a vague meaning. Try to think of more descriptive words, for example, 'delicious' or 'endless'.