Accessible version | Skip to content | Change your text size

Table of contents

Previous pageNext page

Academic wording

Use full forms instead of contractions

Because scientific essays and reports are types of formal writing it is important not to use the informal short forms (contractions) you would use in your emails and letters to friends. For example, you should use:

  • do not instead of don't
  • cannot instead of can't
  • will not instead of won't.

Use nominalised phrasing

One important feature of formal scientific writing is the use of nominalisation, or the use of nouns rather than verbs. In the following pairs of sentences, the first sentence makes use of verbs and the second sentence relies on noun forms to a greater extent.


  1. Use of verbs: The gel was set in the oven and the excess water was removed. The lathanum oxide binding gel was then taken from the moulding and stored in MQ water.
  2. Use of nominalisation: After setting in the oven, removal of excess water, and disassembly from the moulding, the lathanum oxide gel was stored in MQ water.
  1. Use of verbs: In dialysis, nitrogenous wastes are removed from the body and electrolyte imbalances are corrected.
  2. Use of nominalisation: Dialysis involves the removal of nitrogenous wastes from the body and the correction of electrolyte imbalances.
  1. Use of verbs: When people catch too many fish, the coral pests increase and eventually overrun the coral colonies.
  2. Use of nominalisation: Overfishing results in increases in pest numbers and the overrunning of coral colonies.
word outputDownload a printable version of this page (.doc)
Problems? Questions? Comments? Please provide us feedback.