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Thesis Statement - The Dos and Don'ts to Academic Writing


In no particular order...
  • Avoid Passive voice with non-referential “it”: it has been found, etc. 
  • Avoid overusing the passive voice - active voice is preferred. 
  • Avoid overusing pronouns 
  • Avoid overusing capitalization (e.g., to emphasize or when abbreviations are used, etc.) 
  • Avoid overusing There is/are - In most cases, avoiding it will produce a better sentence - subject first, then a verb. There is/are in a topic sentence. Also, avoid the verb to be in a topic sentence. 
  • Avoid repeating same verbs: to be and to have are oftentimes overused. 
  • Avoid overusing the semicolon.
  • Avoid comma splice, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences. 
  • Include a transition (see below) that begins a topic sentence (body paragraph). 
  • Avoid bold text except for headings; avoid bold text to emphasize words.
  • Avoid words and phrases like obviously…, clearly…, without a doubt, etc.
  • Avoid absolutes: always, never, everyone, etc. 
  • Avoid phrases like, "It is important...", "it is necessary...", etc. Avoid "important" altogether.
  • Avoid rhetorical questions 
  • Use the serial (Oxford) comma
  • Use dynamic (action) verbs
  • Be consistent with keywords or specific words that have certain meanings in education: activity, materials, techniques, methods, approaches, strategies, etc.
  • Offer a combination of sentence types: simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences 
  • Create a cohesive text which includes a transition, using any combination of the following: Rheme and theme to connect (bridge) ideas from one sentence to the next. Sentence connectors Introductory phrases Subordinating conjunction that begins a sentence (followed by a comma) 
  • Follow the MEAL plan for developing each body paragraph
  • Citations serve as evidence. Evidence precedes analysis sentence(s). Main idea (topic sentence) begins each body paragraph. Final sentence serves as either a linking sentence or a summarizing sentence. Linking sentence links current main idea of the paragraph to the next main idea (topic sentence) of the following paragraph. 
  • Italicize foreign (non-English) words and when naming a term (e.g., “The word foreign is hard to spell.).
  • When abbreviating, write out the term the first time it's being used, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. Thereafter, simply abbreviate.
  • Approximately five to eight sentences per paragraph.