HOW TO MAKE FORMAL WRITING EASIER – 3 IDEAS

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What makes formal writing difficult? 3 things – formal language, organisation and logic. Here are 3 ideas on how to deal with them.

1. Templates (organisation)

Templates will make your life easier.

What is a template? It is a sample text of a particular type that has some essential elements already in place, such as layout and expressions, which can serve as a model or pattern.

Here’s a memo template from my ebook StanagExpert Writing 3 TOOLKIT

MEMORANDUM
SUBJECT: ...
 Paragraph 1
 The purpose of this memorandum is to...(introduce the topic)
 Let me start by... (first point)
 Paragraph 2  (second point)
 Next,...
 Moreover,...
 Another matter (that needs)...
 Paragraph 3 (third point)
 Finally,...
 Therefore,...
 Consequently,...
 Taking the above into consideration,... 

2. Formal style and language

The exam texts need to be written in the formal style. There are some differences between formal and informal elements of a text and it’s necessary to avoid mixing them in your writing.

FORMAL STYLE

  • no contractions
  • indirect
  • impersonal language
  • full sentences
  • complex sentences
  • full words and phrases
  • passive voice
  • objective
  • linking words and signposts

EXAMPLE

Although the solution has many advantages, it is also characterised by a few drawbacks.

INFORMAL STYLE

  • contractions
  • direct
  • personal, friendly
  • broken syntax
  • simple, short sentences
  • informal abbreviations, e.g ASAP
  • active voice
  • subjective
  • simple conjunctions and signposts

EXAMPLE

The solution has many advantages.
It is characterised by some drawbacks, too.

FORMAL SYNONYMS OF COMON WORDS

It’s also advisable to use varied vocabulary, replace common verbs (be) with their stronger, active synonyms, and common adjectives (good, bad) with their more sophisticated equivalents, where possible. A variety of grammatical forms is also encouraged.

StanagExpert Writing 3 TOOLKIT(e-book)

The above fragment comes from the StanagExpert Writing 3 TOOLKIT (e-book) which contains a table with 100+ formal equivalents of common words.

3. Linking words (logic)

Linking words connect ideas, sentences and clauses (parts of sentences). They show how parts of the text are related with each other.

Use linking words to make your writing logical, easy to follow and well-organised. They help the reader follow your way of thinking and understand what you mean. They make your writing clearer and easier to follow.

It’s required to use them in formal writing which is characterised by complex sentences. We make complex sentences by combing clauses with the use of linking words (although, despite).

Linking words have various functions. The function shows how ideas, clauses or sentences are connected with each other. 

StanagExpert Writing 3 TOOLKIT (e-book)

The StanagExpert Writing 3 TOOLKIT contains a list of 100 linking words + examples.

How to make your life easier?

Create templates for letters (e-mails), memos and reports. You can do it by analysing the model texts to figure out their structure and write down useful phrases.

Make sure to use formal synonyms of common words in your writing. Also, don’t mix the writing styles by, for example, including contractions or personal language in your formal texts.

Use linking words to make sure your text is logical, well-organised and easy to follow. Remember that linking words have their functions – they show, for instance, contrast, cause and effect or introduce examples.

You can also find all these and more in my e-book, StanagExpert Writing 3 TOOLKIT, available here:

One Response

  1. Dariya
    | Reply

    I totally agree on all three counts. That’s how I organized my guide to writing letters (level 2).

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