Essay Writing Tips for Students: 8 Things to Avoid in Your Papers

Academic writing allows students to share their ideas on a topic. But unlike other writing genres, students have to contend with several restrictions in terms of style and formatting.

Whether you order your essays from research paper writing service online or write them from scratch, you must follow writing rules to score high marks and avoid penalties. In this article, we discuss things you must avoid in your academic papers.

Writing Without References

Personal reflection essays do not require references since you are sharing your unique viewpoint. But in any other writing genre, you must cite the sources of information in your paper. 

Add every material used in the research to your reference list. And if you mention someone’s idea, provide an in-text citation. You can use citation tools to reference an academic source in your paper accurately.

When you buy an essay, you can specify the academic resources that should be referenced in your essay. Even if you don’t know any source, an expert will provide you with a comprehensive list.

Plagiarizing People’s Work

Plagiarism is the gravest offense in academic writing. Educators always punish students who copy other people’s work. In some instances, plagiarism can land in serious ethical and legal battles, thereby tarnishing your reputation.

However, some students don’t realize that plagiarism goes beyond just copying people’s work. When you represent an idea that is not yours without citing the source, you plagiarize.

Other forms of plagiarism include:

  • Paraphrasing — changing the words while conveying the same idea;
  • Self-plagiarism — copying your previous work without proper attribution;
  • Mosaic plagiarism — copying ideas from multiple authors and merging them into one paper;
  • Accidental plagiarism — mentioning an existing idea or citing the wrong source.

Online plagiarism detection tools can help you spot plagiarized portions of your text before it gets to the professor.

Using Informal Language

Students can only use formal language to share their thoughts and research findings in academic writing. All forms of colloquialism and slang should not enter your essay, regardless of their current usage. 

Also, get rid of rhetorical questions and elisions from your paper before submitting it. Here are some examples of things to avoid:

Incorrect: The car’s speed is crazy.

Correct: The car travels at a very fast speed.

Incorrect: Don’t ride a car without a helmet.

Correct: Do not ride a bike without a helmet.

Writing in the First Person

In academic writing, the first-person perspective is not acceptable. Unless the teacher asks you to share your thoughts in the conclusion, don’t use first-person pronouns like “I,” “We,” and “us” in your paper.

Also, don’t refer to the reader as “you” when writing an academic paper. Since you don’t know them, ascribing a characteristic would limit the purpose of your writing.

Incorrect: I think the car travels faster than the speed of light.

Correct: It is believed that the car travels faster than the speed of light.

Incorrect: You must open the door to enter the car.

Correct: Drivers/Users/Passengers are required to open the door to enter the car.

Making Assumptions Not Based on Evidence

Every claim you make in an academic paper must be based on verifiable facts because this genre does not accept conjecture and assumptions. As a result, your sentences and paragraphs must follow a logical path, from the topic sentence to the eventual conclusion. 

If the idea belongs to someone else, add an in-text citation at the end of the sentence or paragraph. Otherwise, you don’t need to cite the source, especially if the idea is yours.

Submitting Without Revising

Revision is the most important part of writing because it helps you iron out your paper’s rough edges. However, students always disregard this aspect of writing because they believe it is too much work — or they don’t think it is important. 

Unfortunately, most professors penalize students for grammatical errors in their papers. So, even if you write a well-researched paper but disregard the revision, you can still fail the assignment.

To avoid this problem, use tools like Grammarly and HemingwayApp to spot errors in your paper. These tools can also help you polish your delivery and tone to academic writing standards.

Moreover, your revision should involve checking the structure to ensure the paper flows well logically. You can also check transitional words and phrases and how they relate to individual paragraphs.

Straying From the Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is a part of the introductory paragraph that highlights the paper’s central idea. When you write a paper without a thesis statement, the reader will struggle to narrow down your essay’s primary focus.

If you include a thesis statement, always try to limit the scope of your paper within its confines. Diverging from the thesis statement makes your paper sound incoherent, even if the information is accurate.

So, whenever you receive an assignment, go through the topic description to understand the scope. From there, you can craft a thesis statement that encapsulates the central theme of your paper.

Using the Wrong Formatting Style

When a professor specifies a formatting style, stick to it throughout the paper. Otherwise, you won’t receive full marks for your efforts. If the professor doesn’t specify any formatting style, you can choose the one familiar to you.

Here are the standard formatting styles in academic writing:

  • APA (American Psychological Association) — used in the Sciences, as well as Psychology and Education;
  • MLA (Modern Language Association) — used in the Humanities;
  • Chicago (also known as the Turabian style)— used in business writing;
  • IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) — used in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering journals.


Essay writing involves a myriad of rules that every student must follow. Your ability to abide by them and deliver top-quality work determines your overall score on any assignment. Always look out for every form of plagiarism to avoid the ethics board. Review your work before submission to ensure the formatting and grammar are sound.

Cite every idea that doesn’t originally belong to you, and give full credits to the author in the reference list. Use writing tools to save time and improve the quality of your academic papers.

Nathaniel Villa
Nathaniel Villa