Formal and Objective Style in Academic Writing

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13860

Learning to use the right tone and style in academic writing gives your work the professional polish it needs. Learn the ins and outs of formal and objective writing!



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
High School (9-12)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Which group of sentences below is written in a more formal and objective style?

Oh, yeah, I’d hate to be stuck outside when it's 105 degrees. That would be awful. I don't like sweating, and it's just miserable to be so hot. I need my a/c!


When the temperature outside is exceedingly high, like 105 degrees, it can be unpleasant to spend time outdoors. It can affect air quality, making dangerous conditions for people with any respiratory concerns, and it poses risks from increased UV exposure and heat stroke.

You likely guessed that the second grouping of sentences above is more formal and objective.

  • Are you able to describe what makes writing formal or objective?


In writing, formal and objective describe the tone and style of the writing.

Formal means that it isn't too casual, and objective means that the writer removes his or her own persona and judgments from the information being presented.

Formal Writing

Formality in writing sounds stuffy and unpleasant, but it doesn't have to be!

Formal style just means that you use academic vocabulary and avoid writing as if you're submitting a blog entry or texting a friend.

Here are some tips to consider:

Use Compound and Complex Sentences

Varying your sentence type helps to keep the reader engaged and prevents writing that reads as choppy. Be careful, though...too many long, complex sentences can fatigue your reader!

Include Transitions

In formal academic writing, transitions are important words that signal to the reader new ideas are being introduced, details are being added, or the information is being summarized or concluded.

Avoid Shortcuts

Generally, avoid using contractions like "can't" or "won't" in formal writing and instead spell out the words completely. Always avoid using any kind of text lingo or internet slang as well.

Do Not Sound Conversational

Avoid slang, common everyday phrases that are overly casual or friendly, and conversational sayings like, "Next, I'll tell you why..."

Choose Academic Vocabulary

Use vocabulary that reflects the professional academic environment. This also means using appropriate and subject-specific vocabulary as needed when using terms relating to distinct concepts.

Maintain Third Person

Do not use first person pronouns like “I” or “me”.

Objectivity in Writing

It is important to note that objective does not mean neutral.

To be an objective writer does not mean you are obligated to see all views of your topic as equal. They generally will not be.

An objective writer is one who removes his or her own personal views, experience, and opinions so that they do not influence the research and conclusions. The conclusion you reach (and the points you make and defend) in your writing should be determined by the evidence and research you find.

When you seek out research that matches your preconceived idea about a topic, that is subjective and should be avoided.

Spot the Issue

The examples below are not appropriate for academic writing. Read each and decide if the issue is with formality or objectivity.

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  • Feeling confident with your ability to identify formal and objective academic writing?

Click through to the Got It? section when you're ready!

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