Rules of Writing that Everyone Must Know
Many students may think that writing an essay is not as important as solving a mathematical equation. And would also give little importance to grammar classes that teach the rules of writing. However, in reality, writing is a skill that is useful across many fields. It is no doubt one of the most valuable skills yet often overlooked and undervalued.
No matter what your career choice may be, you will be required to communicate in writing. The science and technology sector, which essentially focuses on STEM, also involves some written work – such as writing research papers, working on technical reports, and documentation. At the same time, it is no secret that writing is an integral part of the academic world.
Finally, written communication is of paramount importance when it comes to submitting college applications. Your application will communicate who you are as a student and how you stand out among your peers. While your GPA scores and grades do give an idea about your capabilities, it is the way you articulate the application that offers a real sense of you to the selection panel.
For these reasons, developing writing skills must be a high priority for every student, regardless of their career or choice of study.
This article is for all those students who find it difficult to express themselves on paper or email. We have compiled 20 professional rules of writing and an outline of the basic structure of an essay that can help you with assignments.
Structure of Writing
A write-up is efficient when it has a good structure and maintains flow. Whether you want to work on an academic essay or research paper, structuring your content is necessary.
Structure in writing refers to the order of ideas and their seamless progression from one section to another. It is a crucial aspect of academic writing that ensures all the sections of the write-up are linked together, and the ideas progress in a logical and orderly manner.
The unstructured or unclear write-up does not link the sections of the write-up in an orderly manner and further lacks focus which can confuse readers. One of the reasons for unstructured writing may be a lack of preparation and not enough research. This kind of writing may result in a loss of marks.
Any write-up is primarily divided into three sections
• Introduction: This section gives an idea of what your write-up is all about.
• Body: This area is dedicated to the arguments and ideas that you want to depict.
• Conclusion: This is where you summarize everything and speak about the goal of your writing.
Create an outline with the help of the above sections. Write what you want to say in each area systematically so that the next phase of work becomes more manageable.
Gaining clarity on structure will help you sequence your write-up once you know what to convey and where you can start writing.
There are many styles of writing. A business article has a different style and format of writing compared to academic writing. However, any write-up must obey some basic writing rules and follow grammar which is essential to creating a good copy. Keep reading to know what those rules are.
20 Professional rules of writing
- Expression matters
Writing is a medium to express your ideas and thoughts coherently. A sincere expression will automatically create an impression on the reader’s mind. Never write anything with the sole aim of impressing your readers. Instead, express yourself with simple words.
- Context is essential
Context adds meaning to your writing. It tells the reader what is important, what is not and what assumptions to draw from the write-up. If the context is unclear, the whole purpose of your writing is defeated.
- Use simple sentences
Do not complicate your writing using complex and long sentences when short and straightforward sentences can do the job well.
Example: The only possible option in order to accelerate the growth of the retail industry is to prioritize the fact that the target market of this business requires competence, convenience, and cost-effectiveness.
Correct: The retail industry can grow faster if food trucks focus on convenience, competence, and cost-effectiveness.
- Go for active rather than passive
Limit the usage of passive voice. Active voice is more straightforward than passive voice as it emphasizes the subject rather than the object. Avoid passive voice, especially if you are writing an assignment.
Example: Hi, John! The video game I was said about by you has been found by me.
Correct: Hi, John! I have found the video game you told me about!
- Limit jargon usage
You may be aware of technical terms. You may want to sound like a professional writer who has years of experience in the industry. However, your readers may have zero knowledge of the same subject. So avoid jargon unless you are explaining them.
Example: You can use high blood pressure instead of using ‘hypertension.’
- Be specific
Do not beat around the bush to explain a simple point. If your target is to write 2000 words, then do not attempt to write 5000 words. Avoid long sentences.
- Beware of homonyms
Words that sound the same but have different meanings are called homonyms. The whole essence of the sentence is compromised when you use the wrong spelling,
Example: Both Sea and See sound identical but differ in their meaning.
- Remember 5 W’s
Try to answer the 5 W’s before composing any creative writing, unless the topic is too specific. The 5 W’s are – What, where, when, who and why. You will get an idea when you answer these questions.
- Do not overuse “to be” verbs
The “to be” verbs are essential in the English language. However, avoid overusing them. One of the tricks to reduce its usage is by making the person or thing act in the sentence.
- Avoid ambiguity
If the sentence you write lacks understanding, it can confuse readers. To avoid ambiguity, make sure the pronouns you use are apparent in the context.
Example: Jenny told Mary that she was a good student
Correct: Jenny described herself to Mary as a good student.
A quantifier is a word used before a noun to express the quantity of the object. The basic rule is to use ‘few’ when you are talking about something you can count and use ‘less’ when talking about something uncountable.
Example: She gave a little friends
Correct: She has few friends
- Target Audience
Business writing is not generic but specific. Determine your audience so that you know who to target with your content. A write-up developed for everyone will serve no one.
- Punctuation matters
This is one of the essential rules of professional writing. Punctuations such as period, comma, colon, and semicolon make the sentences clear. The absence of a comma can sometimes lead to total misunderstanding.
Example: Let’s eat Grandpa
Correct: Let’s eat, Grandpa
- Use tenses correctly
Tenses help to communicate ideas properly. So make sure you use them in the proper context.
Example: He dies in 1960
Correct: He died in 1960
- Subject-verb agreement
Both subject and verb must have to be in the same person and number.
The Grammar rule says the subject and the verb of a sentence must always agree.
Example: Chan goes to school every day
Correct: Chan goes to school every day (Chan is the subject)
- Order of Adjectives and adverbs
The first rule to be aware of the order of adjectives is that – adjectives come before the noun. The primary rules you should remember regarding adverbs are that they precede the adjective they modify and usually come after the verb they modify, especially if they are adverbs of manner and place.
- Adjective examples:
Example 1: I have bought a car red
Correct: I have bought a red car
- Adverb examples
Example 1: Tanya beautifully sings
Correct: Tanya sings beautifully
Example 2: She is an intelligent very girl.
Correct: She is a very intelligent girl.
These are the linking words used to link or connect phrases and sentences. They make writing more fluid and natural. Without connectors, the text tends to have short sentences.
Example: Alex arrived at the party. Mary left.
Correct: Alex arrived at the party after Mary left.
- Negation and double negation: This is one of the most complicated topics. Try to keep negation and double negation to a minimum. Also, try replacing double negation with an affirmative sentence wherever possible.
Example1: She is not impolite
Correct: She is polite
Example 2: The videographer did not give me any warning when he took my picture.
Correct: The videographer did not give me any warning when he took the picture.
- Read it aloud
Reading out the assignment will help you know how it sounds to the readers. You reword or rephrase sentences that do not work well with the context.
Take a break after writing. Come back and revise your write-up more than once. Trim your content wherever possible. Check for spelling mistakes or other grammatical errors.
These are some of the simple writing rules that you can employ to write your essay assignments. The importance of writing skills is not limited to students of humanities alone, but even the students of law, research, and mathematics should not ignore it. Though many recommend that writing skills must be developed early, there is no age bar for learning.
Improving your writing is no difficult task. The tips mentioned above serve as general guidelines that anyone of any age from any academic background can follow to avoid some common mistakes while writing. Most importantly, the best way to improve your writing is through practice. It is super important.
Read, write and practice regularly to sharpen your writing skills and deliver a perfect copy that makes an impression.