Academic English Writing Conventions

Cultural Differences in Academic Writing Styles

Writing across cultures isn’t simply a matter of translation. Just as different cultures express themselves with different verb conjugations or levels of formality, writing also varies between cultures. In the U.S., academic essays begin with a clear statement of the author’s topic and argument (known as the thesis statement), and they stay tightly focused on demonstrating the argument over the course of the paper. Elsewhere, students might save their main point for the end, include discussion of related topics, or focus entirely on what experts and scholars have written.

This chart summarizes the primary ways in which the style of academic writing in the U.S. is unique:

Academic Writing Conventions Table

For more information, see the links below:

American Style of Writing
Tips for Writing in North American Colleges

 Resources for vocabulary and grammar

Resources for Writing US Style Essays

Tips for Proofreading and Checking your Grammar
Every writer has weaknesses and multilingual writers may find particular parts of each language has different challenges. Whether you overuse transition words, forget commas, or struggle with a particular verb tense, it’s important to know what your weaknesses are and check for them before turning in your final draft. One technique is to create your own personal proofreading list and update it regularly. The Purdue Owl has an excellent example to help you start (https://www.bucks.edu/media/bcccmedialibrary/pdf/RevisionandProofreadingJuly08_000.pdf)
As you master a skill or as your professors offer feedback you can add and subtract to your list. For support with proofreading, you might try some of these resources: 

  • The Writing Workshop: Make an appointment to meet with a peer tutor to work on something specific in your proofreading list or something general such as whether your ideas are clear.    
  • Spell-check or grammar software: Keep in mind that a computer’s grammar functions  aren’t always right. Use this type of software to check for mistakes (typos or something you forgot), not errors (something you’re unsure of). 
  • Read your paper aloud. You might hear a mistake or fumble over a typo that you didn’t see while reading it silently.
  • Ask someone else to read it. When you’ve been looking at a document for a long time, you may start seeing what you think it should say rather than what it actually says, and you’ll miss mistakes.