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How to Learn the Conventions of the Writing Required of You

If you are studying journalism at a reputable university, you will undoubtedly be exposed to varying writing standards and conventions. Although it is natural for first-year students to flounder at the beginning of their studies, you must not allow this to be a problem for you. By learning the conventions and standards of the journalism industry, you will benefit greatly, and ensure that your work is valued and respected by your peers and professional contacts.

To begin with, you must learn to write clearly and concisely. Journalists and academic writers are in high demand, and employers value writers who can pull together coherent and well-thought-out articles quickly. Good academic writing is usually concise, with ample use of vocabulary, and demonstrates the use of appropriate sources. Poor academic writing is often rambling and unfocused, and frequently littered with poor spelling and punctuation.

The Purpose Of English

English is a foreign language to many people, with few native speakers remaining. Although English is a commonly-used language in journalism and academia, its grammar and vocabulary can be difficult to master. This can often lead to over-use and mis-use of the language, resulting in poorly constructed sentences and paragraphs. Furthermore, many people who speak English as a second language may struggle with spelling and may use contractions incorrectly. For these reasons, it is important to learn the rules of grammar and usage, so that you can form well-written English sentences and paragraphs, and avoid any spelling errors or language awkwardnesses as much as possible.


Grammar is simply the rules of the English language. Learning grammar can help with spelling, preventing awkwardnesses and allowing you to express yourself more effectively in English. The most important rule of grammar is that there are no exceptions to the rules. This is known as the “Golden Rule” of Grammar, and it means that every word, phrase, and sentence must follow the rules or be deemed incorrect. For example, the word “the” is used before a noun to indicate that it is a “theater show” rather than a “theater show”; in this case, “theater show” would be the singular form of the noun “show.” The “Golden Rule” applies to all aspects of English usage, not just nouns and verbs.


Punctuation is simply the rules that govern how words are separated from each other. Many people believe that the way a writer uses punctuation in his or her work is an indication of how educated that writer is. Therefore, they may assume that you can tell how much a person knows just by looking at how he or she uses punctuation. This is incorrect. Although punctuation is important for creating cohesion within a piece of writing, it is not necessarily an indicator of a writer’s intelligence. An over-use of commas, for example, can sometimes signal a lack of creativity or originality; frequently used semicolons or colons can also indicate a poor understanding of the English language, or a weak grasp of grammar. A good rule of thumb is to look at how a writer uses punctuation as a guide to how much he or she knows about English grammar and usage, but not necessarily the other way around. A well-educated writer will frequently use correct punctuation, and a poorly-educated writer will frequently use incorrect punctuation. This can make a difference in the overall appeal and coherence of an article.

Source Citation

Academic papers that are written for an audience of fellow journalists or academics will often times have to adhere to certain conventions when it comes to citing sources. One of the most important rules is that the sources must be cited in the text of the paper. If you are using a published work as your source, it is usually best to paraphrase the content in your own words and then add the source at the end. This helps to document your own unique perspective on the topic, while also showing that you were aware that the content was already written by someone else. Never, ever cite an academic paper in full; whether you are using a previously-published paper as a source, or you are writing one yourself, it is essential that you provide references for every claim and assertion that you make. Simply citing the paper in full without providing any sort of context can lead to major problems. One of the first things that a new graduate may be asked about is the status of his or her sources. This can be difficult to answer without having access to the original sources. Without citing your sources, it is impossible to know exactly where you may have gotten your information; it is also a good idea to look at the information in conjunction with outside sources, to verify the accuracy of what you have found.


Accurate spelling is extremely important, especially in documents that are written for an audience of educated professionals. Good spelling is almost entirely reliant on good vocabulary and grammar, and it is vital that you understand how these elements combine to form well-written sentences. Many people believe that learning to spell is just as essential as learning to write, and they may feel that spelling is something that can be easily picked up while still in school. Although this may be true for certain individuals, most people who struggle with spelling have had little or no formal education in the English language. Learning to spell is difficult, and frequently requires extensive practice outside of the classroom. This cannot be over-estimated; even professional writers make a lot of spelling errors, and these errors can prevent a piece of writing from having the intended effect. Spelling errors are frequently a source of frustration for many individuals, and can even prevent them from enjoying literacy or learning as much as they could otherwise.


Most academic papers that are read and cited by other academics and journalists are structured in some way. This can be as simple as a series of numbered or titled sections, or it can be more complex; frequently, academic papers have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction can include a brief overview of the subject matter, a statement of the problem, or some of the research that has already been conducted into the topic. The body of the paper can include details about the methodology that was used, the research that was carried out, and the findings of the study. The conclusion can include a summary of the most important points, or it can propose future lines of research. It is usually a good idea to begin a paper with a short introduction, and then provide as much detail as possible about the subject matter. As with every other part of your academic paper, structure is important for making sense of the information that you have collected, and for demonstrating your understanding of the subject matter. The introduction and conclusion should both be concise and to the point. If you follow a traditional academic structure, your paper will likely appear more orderly to other readers, who may find it easier to navigate.


The overall style of a paper is relatively unimportant, as long as you are able to write concisely and accurately. What is important is that you adapt your language and terminology to that of your target audience. If you are writing for a general audience, you may want to use simpler language and less academic terminology, as these are less familiar to that audience. Although you should always be seeking to improve your writing style, you must not sacrifice accuracy in order to do so. Many people believe that the way a writer uses language is an indication of his or her intelligence, and it can certainly be helpful to learn how to write more effectively and accurately. When learning a new language, the most important thing is to learn how to speak it, as this will allow you to formulate sentences and effectively navigate complex ideas. Grammar and usage can also be improved by careful study, and this can make a difference in the overall appeal and coherence of your writing. Even stylistic choices, such as the use of contracted words or phrases, can be effective when used appropriately; for example, using “it’s” instead of “its” in a sentence can often shorten and clarify the meaning of the sentence, and it can be effective when used in place of “its”.

As with every other part of your academic paper, learning to write effectively and accurately is a process that will take you time to master. Do not be discouraged if your early attempts at writing are unimpressive; with careful practice, and the use of appropriate references and resources, you will soon find that your skills are greatly improved and that you can produce effective and well-written papers in no time at all.