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5 Ways to improve your writing skills
Good writing skills are highly demanded and valued by employers. No matter if you recently completed your grade 12, already completed a higher education qualification, or are newly registered to further your studies, everyone needs good writing skills.
Our HR Department regularly receives curricula vitae spoiled with spelling and grammar mistakes, which immediately creates a bad first impression of the applicant. Similarly, our lecturers often receive assignments strewed with incomprehensible sentences and, even worse, information that was copied and pasted from the internet. Which negatively influences students’ grades.
Good spelling and grammar are essential because they enhance your credibility and reduce the chances of miscommunication and interpretation, which is critical in a business and academic environment.
Whether a receptionist, human resource practitioner, business owner or devoted researcher, you need good writing skills to produce well-written essays and reports to showcase and present your arguments and be taken seriously. While some people may be naturally talented (like our Head of Academics) at writing, others may need extra practice and guidance to improve their skills. Fortunately, you can install many useful online writing tools on your computer and follow quick guidelines to improve your writing style.
Here is a list of our most valuable tips and resources to improve your academic writing skills:
#1 Install online editing and proofreading resource
When it comes to good writing skills, an online writing tool can take the fear out of writing. Online writing applications can dramatically improve your grammar and punctuation. For example, Grammarly is a cloud-based application that reviews your spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, engagement and delivery mistakes. It has a free version allows you to test its functionality with limited support. The beauty of this application is that it integrates seamlessly with most of your writing software and social media platforms. Grammarly helps you proofread and edit your emails, social media posts, and even text messages. Grammarly also allows you to customise your profile to suit your writing needs.
#2 Read and write as much as possible
The more you read, the more you will appreciate good language and foster good command of the language. A well-read individual will be exposed to various writing styles, new words and diverse topics. A person who reads a lot will find it easier to compose well-written texts compared to someone who does not enjoy reading.
Practising your reading and writing abilities is the best way to improve your reading and writing abilities. Reading journal articles inspires you, gives you new ideas and improves your sentence structure, language and tone. It will help you formulate arguments and summarise ideas and reach a conclusion. Journal articles are well structured because they have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion with recommendations.
It would help if you viewed each assignment you complete as a new attempt to improve your academic writing skills. Learn from your previous efforts and improve your writing skills by writing short paragraphs with appropriate headings, limiting jargon, avoiding vague and long sentences, and ending each section with a conclusion.
#3 Compose a sound argument
A good argument is presented in a clear, logical way. You do this by giving facts transparently and convincingly. Do not make unsolicited claims or assumptions that the reader can dispute. Support your arguments by including possible counter-arguments. When answering an assignment question, ensure you understand what the question requires you to do. Look for action words such as describe, evaluate, discuss, compare, etc. These words give you an indication of what kind of evidence you must include in your answer.
To present a well-argued essay, you must apply good referencing skills. You cannot offer a sound argument without including the opinions of experts in the field. Use in-text citations to give the author/s credit for their ideas and thoughts, and remember to include a reference list at the end of your essay.
#4 Edit, re-edit, and re-edit, ask for opinions!
The best writers get people to edit their work. Do not take their criticism personally. Instead, see it as part of your learning process!
Feedback is intended to improve your writing skills. You may read over your own mistakes as a writer because you know what you want to write. Once you finish your writing, leave it for a day or two before you read and edit it again. When you reread it, try to consider a fresh perspective. Be critical of your works, and question every sentence. Interrogate what the sentence is trying to convey. Don’t include an unnecessary sentence. Each sentence must add to the discussion and have a definite purpose.
#5 Write for your defined audience
Assume that your audience comprises intelligent people familiar with the discipline but may not be subject matter experts. No matter who you are writing for, get your point across without stating the obvious. Don’t waste time defining things that your audience is aware of already. In academic writing, you may need to explain specific terms and definitions to your audience. Still, if you are writing to your Chief Executive Officer (CEO), there is no need to define company jargon.
Practise your reading and writing skills every chance you get. Consistently and consciously focus on improving your writing abilities, and soon you will be capable of producing well-written, well-researched, well-structured and well-argued reports.