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21.22 American Writing Styles, Argument, and Structure

Your original language has its own structures, formats, and cultural assumptions that are likely natural to you but perhaps different from those of English. The following broad guidelines underlie basic American English and US academic writing.

  • Citing sources: Some languages and cultures do not consider citing sources of ideas to be of paramount importance. In US academic situations, however, failing to cite sources of ideas and text is referred to as plagiarism and can result in serious ramifications, including failing grades, damaged reputations, school expulsions, and job loss.
  • Introducing the topic early: Unlike some languages, American English typically presents the topic early in a paper.
  • Staying on topic: Although some languages view diversions from the topic as adding interest and depth, American English is focused and on topic.
  • Writing concisely: Some languages hold eloquent, flowing language in high esteem. Consequently, texts in these languages are often long and elaborate. American English, on the other hand, prefers concise, to-the-point wording.
  • Constructing arguments: US academic writing often involves argument building. To this end, writers use transitions to link ideas, evidence to support claims, and relatively formal writing to ensure clarity.