Writing Techniques Style Improvements How to Avoid Informal Language in Formal Writing

How to Avoid Informal Language in Formal Writing

How to Avoid Informal Language in Formal Writing

The way you write an academic paper should differ from what you would write in a social media post. This is because your audience for both avenues is different and each group has different expectations. For example, the audience for your academic paper would be teachers, lecturers, or even your peers, and they will expect to see well thought out ideas.

Formal writing helps you to achieve this by making your language neutral and professional. Informal language is better suited for casual situations like texting a friend, emailing, or making a post on Facebook, rather than using it in academic writing.

There are a few things to consider when using formal language in your academic pieces. For example, formal language avoids slang, shortened words or phrases, and personal pronouns like “I” or “We.”

Here are some tips that you can use when incorporating formal language into your writing.

Passive Voice

For the most part, it is best to avoid passive voice in your writing. However, there’s a bit more leeway in academic writing. Therefore, you should probably limit, rather than avoid, your use of passive voice. When writing academically, passive voice is used to explain an objective process, the findings of a study, or similar material, while the active voice is used to describe actions.


Spell out words instead of using contractions. For example, replace “you’re” with “you are” and “can’t” with “cannot.” Contractions are more suitable for casual conversations like a Slack message to your work colleagues.

Personal pronouns

You should avoid the use of personal pronouns like “I,” “we,” and “you.” Instead, write in the third person or opt for an adverbial clause.

Use of formal words

Replace slang and colloquial words with more formal alternatives. For example, instead of “looked at,” say “examine.” Formal writing should also be clear and concise so you should steer clear of filler words like “a lot” and “very.”

Get specific

Use qualifying statements with specific information such as statistics, rather than making broad generalizations. It helps to provide your readers with evidence to support your claims so that you can sound more confident in your writing and to improve the credibility of your information.