5. What is Good Writing?

Open Handbook

What is Good Writing?

Academic writing takes many forms. However, all good academic writing shares several basic characteristics:

  • Good academic writing always contains a strong thesis statement—an idea, stated as an assertion, that is the work’s central focus.

  • Good academic writing is organized: each paragraph builds upon the one before it, creating a strong sense of purpose. The paragraphs themselves are unified, generally pursuing a single idea that helps support the thesis. Each paragraph should use a strong topic sentence that clearly indicates the subject of the paragraph.

  • Good academic writing has elegant and logical transitions between paragraphs and ideas.

  • Good academic writing shows an awareness of the needs of its particular audience by contextualizing the ideas, texts, authors, debates, theories, or histories that are discussed within it.

  • Good academic writing is relevant, useful, and interesting to its intended audience.

  • Good academic writing skillfully uses appropriate evidence to support claims and it properly credits outside sources with citations.

  • Good academic writing is clear and concise.