Words to Avoid in Academic Writing: Basic Rules

Words to Avoid in Academic Writing: Basic Rules

In academic writing, selecting words carefully is essential to convey your message. However, it is not always easy. In fact, if you don’t know about the basic rules, you may choose words that may ruin the beauty of your text and let you get disappointed in front of readers. Moreover, selecting inappropriate and ambiguous words can also affect your grades.

So, it is vital to take some time and choose the best words to communicate your ideas, perception, and even different phenomena. That’s how you can create an assignment that is worth reading. Furthermore, these assignments can make a huge difference. Your supervisors, checkers, and others will get a positive impression from your projects. They will start thinking you have a mature writing style and topic knowledge.

Besides knowing what words you should use, it is also integral to understand what words you should avoid in academic writing. It is a more critical yet less discussed topic. Many students don’t know what words they must not use in academic writing, and they lose grades due to it. As a student or academic writer, you need to learn more about it. Otherwise, you won’t ever understand why your assignments aren’t getting the desired marks. 

Let’s learn together!

Words to Avoid in Academic Writing

There are several kinds of words that you must refrain from using in your assignments as they are not formal and can also create confusion. Moreover, some of them are inappropriate for various kinds of audiences. You must be extra cautious in word selection when working in the education sector. So, here are the types of words you must avoid in academic writing.

Vague Words

Vague words can be defined as words or terms that don’t have a specific definition. For example, stuff, nothing, everything, many, a lot of, and things are vague words. These words don’t convey a clear and concise message. For instance, what is a thing? It could be an apple, a pillow, jewelry, or anything else.

We use a lot of vague words in our daily communication. We don’t consider them ineffective or ambiguous as they help us deliver our messages. However, these words may not effectively convey what you want in academic writing.

Coming to the point! Why should these words be avoided in academic writing? Because these words make it difficult for readers to understand what you want to say. So, it can affect the flow of communication. Academic writing demands writers be clear and specific. It isn’t possible when you use vague words or terminologies.

Exaggerated Words

There is no room for exaggeration in academic writing. It means your work should always be free from any embellishments. Everything must be concise and up to a point. That’s why it is always suggested to avoid exaggerated words. Exaggerated words are those that over-emphasize the traits or characteristics of objects or emotions. They are often used in normal communication, which sometimes makes them more impressive and effective. The commonly used exaggerated words are unbelievable, fantastic, perfect, huge, incredible, etc. 

Although exaggerated words are often harmless, they can negatively impact your assignments. For example, when you use exaggerated words, you compromise on clarity. For instance, when you say, “there was a huge room.” The term “huge” isn’t straightforward and, in fact, an exaggeration. But, on the other hand, when you clearly state the room’s dimensions, you tell whatever the readers need to know.

Similarly, amazing, fantastic, incredible, and other exaggerated words don’t define anything. Moreover, they also portray some immaturity. That’s why avoiding exaggeration is essential to bring clarity to your text.

Informal Words

Informal words are those that we can only use in informal settings like in friends’ communities, emails, letters, and online chatting. These words cannot be used in formal communication, including business and academic writing. People use several informal words on a regular basis like dude, a couple of, doesn’t, isn’t, you, sort of, etc. These are all informal words.

In addition, when it comes to academic writing, pronouns and second-person point of view are also considered informal. Therefore it is better to avoid using pronouns in academic writing. For example, you cannot write, “you can observe that.” Instead, you should write, “it can be observed.”

Similarly, you cannot use “a lot of” or “a couple of” in this kind of writing. At their place, use words that clearly indicate a number. For example, instead of writing “a lot of books have been published on this topic,” write “more than 150 books have been published on this topic”. 

Contraction Words

Contraction words are the combination of multiple words that are linked with an apostrophe sign. The most famous contraction words are don’t, can’t, haven’t, didn’t, that’s won’t, etc. Although the contraction doesn’t change the meaning or look ugly in the text, it is not preferred due to informality. Academic writing is a very formal type of writing, so informality is not tolerated in it. 

Next time you write an assignment, you should avoid these words. Instead, use the complete forms of words like do not, cannot, will not, that is, etc. You can do this manually or with the help of a grammar check tool to do it with ease.


Slang words are too informal words that don’t have meanings in the dictionary and are known and accepted in only a few communities. Moreover, these words’ meanings may also change depending on the situation and culture. These words are also considered inappropriate and vulgar in serious types of communication.

In fact, out of all the mentioned types of words, slang is the most disliked in this form of writing. Therefore, you must not use them in your assignments until you write an assignment on slang words. Otherwise, you will have to bear the consequences. Famous examples of slang are nada, bestie, swag, bro, dude, etc

There is only one thing that is more dangerous than slang words for an academic assignment, plagiarism. However, plagiarism can be detected with the help of a plagiarism checker and removed by only changing a few words and sentences. On the other hand, if you have written slang words in your assignment, no tool can find all of them. Therefore, there are only two ways to get rid of them. First, proofreading. However, it is a time-taking process. Second, avoid them during the writing process.

Words Reflecting Your Opinion

In academic writing, you should avoid using words that show your bias. In most assignments, students have to observe different phenomena or things, collect a sample, test the readings and then draw conclusions based on the test results. They are not allowed to give their own opinion at any phase. Even at the conclusion, they have to tell what the data suggests. It is important for teachers, supervisors, and journals that you tell what reality is, based on data rather than your opinion of what reality is. That’s why it is better to avoid using words that reflect that you are giving your own opinion on the matter. 

To Conclude

When writing an assignment for a college or university, you are producing some kind of knowledge. Therefore, you must focus on effective ways of writing style, clarity, and precision. Your style refers to the tone of the writing. It must be appropriate for readers. Clarity demands you write the text in a way that is easy to understand and comprehend without confusion or ambiguity. And precision requires you to choose the words that can effectively communicate the message and let you fulfill the goals of the assignment creation. All these things can only come to your assignments when you avoid the types of words mentioned in this article.