How to correctly use abbreviations and acronyms/initialism

First, let us define the terms abbreviation, acronym and initialism. According to macquariedictionary.com.au, abbreviation is ‘a shortened or contracted form of a word or phrase, used as a symbol for the whole’, acronym is ‘a word formed from the initial letters of a sequence of words, as radar (from radio detection and ranging) or ANZAC (from Australian and New Zealand Army Corps)’ and initialism is ‘an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of a sequence of words, as ACTU (from Australian Council of Trade Unions) or LPG (from liquefied petroleum gas)’. Given these definitions, we can conclude that acronyms and initialisms are forms of abbreviation. And the difference between an acronym and an initialism is that we pronounce the letters in an acronym as a word, …

Read more »


How to Write Distinction Essays Every Time: Step 5. Write the First Draft of the Essay

This article is part of the series ‘How to Write Distinction Essays Every Time: The Six Steps to Academic Essay Writing’. Writing the first draft has never been so easy! Now that you have completed your research in an organised way and have written a final draft of your essay plan, writing the first draft of your essay will be easier than it ever has been. All of the following decisions about your essay have already been made: Your answer to the essay question The main points you will discuss to back up your argument The order in which to discuss your main points How long to spend discussing each main point The information that each paragraph will contain (i.e. …

Read more »


Dash it all! Or, how I learned to work with en dashes and em dashes.

Em dashes are used to separate parts of a sentence, especially when there is an abrupt change from one clause to another, or if special emphasis is required when adding information to an existing clause. See the following sentence for an example: Greek infantry, based on the hoplite—the heavily armed and armoured infantryman organized into tight phalanxes—replaced the horseman as the decisive force on the battlefield. (Lerner 1986, p. 202) In the above sentence, the em dashes are unspaced, which is the style favoured in North American usage. In this example, the dashes are used to set off the separate clause, ‘breaking’ it out of the main sentence. Parentheses (brackets) could also have been used, but would give less importance to …

Read more »


How to Analyse an Essay Question

When writing an essay, it is crucial that you actually answer the essay question. To do so effectively, you must first analyse the essay question thoroughly so that you fully understand it. This includes working out which kind of essay you are expected to write. There are two main types of essays: explanatory essays and argumentative essays. An explanatory (or informative) essay, as its name implies, is an essay that explains or presents a certain topic in a descriptive way, conveying the information in detail. This type of essay is intended to educate readers and perhaps enable them to see the topic from a different perspective, but it is not intended to change their opinion. In an argumentative essay, the writer’s …

Read more »


Hyphens, En Dashes and Em Dashes

When and Where to Use Hyphens A hyphen is a small dash and is the most frequently used of the three punctuation marks. It is mostly used to join words together. A simple example is joining two or more words that describe a noun when they appear before the noun, such as in the following examples: ‘John drove down a one-way street.’ ‘This is a well-written essay.’ ‘The researchers conducted a trial-by-trial analysis.’ The joined words in the above examples are called ‘compound modifiers’, ‘compound adjectives’ or ‘phrasal adjectives’, and the hyphen is used to prevent confusion or ambiguity. For example, without hyphens, the following sentence could be interpreted in two ways (he could be either a working man who …

Read more »


How to Write Critical Review

When you are required to write a critical review, you will need to do two main things: summarise and evaluate a text. The critical review can be of a book, a chapter or a journal article. You are usually asked to read the selected text in detail and also other related texts in order to present a rational and practical evaluation of the selected text. Being critical does not simply mean criticising in a negative way. Instead, it requires you to question the text, and to present your judgement or evaluation of it reasonably. Although critical reviews might have different evaluation criteria depending on your discipline, they usually have a similar structure. To write the review correctly, you should check …

Read more »