Grammar and Structure
The formal style of writing means following all the grammatical rules and laws. Thus, there should be no grammatical or structural problems in your writing. In this regard, the coherence and consistency of the text are one of the most important grammatical issues in English.
The following is an example:
Wrong: The writing of F. Scott Fitzgerald shows off his keen observational skills like when he describes Gatsby’s parties or Daisy’s behavior toward her daughter. These scenes are full of life and sadness.
Correct: In the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, you can analyze the author’s observational skills. For example, the descriptions of Gatsby’s parties and Daisy’s behavior toward her daughter are full of life and sadness.
Also, you are supposed to use more complex sentence structures in formal writing.
Wrong: Nick is Gatsby’s neighbor. He narrates the story. He proves himself to be a reliable narrator for the novel. His retelling of Gatsby’s story can be taken as authentic.
Correct: The story is narrated by Nick, Gatsby’s neighbor. He proves himself to be a reliable narrator through the novel, and his retelling of Gatsby’s story can be taken as authentic.
In addition, you could notice that an active voice is less common in formal writing.
The use of pronouns affects the distance between the author and the reader. In the formal writing style, the author does not intend to attract attention to herself. Besides, first-person pronouns such as “I”, “We” or “Us” are rarely used. Do not address the reader by “You” and write from the third-person point of view. Also, use a passive voice in your writing.
Wrong: We conducted research and got extensive information on our topic.
Correct: Through the research, extensive information on the subject matter was provided.
Conjunctions and Contractions
In formal writing, conjunctions, such as and, but, or are not used to start sentences. Although this is not technically incorrect, it does make your article look informal.
Wrong: Gatsby always thinks about Daisy and the future with her. But she doesn’t love him back in the same way.
Correct: Gatsby adores Daisy and wants to spend his life with her, but she doesn’t love him back in the same way.
Some of the informal words are very common and it might be difficult to avoid using them, such as to sum up, so, and anyway. You should try and use their formal equivalents. For example:
- To sum up à In conclusion
- So à Thus
- Anyway à Notwithstanding
Also, avoid using the contractions as much as possible.
Wrong: The results provided can’t be used for studies we’re going to conduct.
Correct: The results cannot be used for future studies.
Punctuation marks, such as exclamation mark (!), (&), and dash (-) should be avoided in formal writing since they make the text very informal.Wrong: Gatsby is in denial through the major part of the novel — it’s amazing how little he understands Daisy!
Correct: Gatsby is being denied through the major part of the novel, and the storyline of his relationships with Daisy represents how poorly the man understands his beloved one.