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This content is taken from the University of Reading's online course, An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds Okay, let’s get started. I’m Jonathan Smith and you met me in the welcome video. In the next three Steps, I’m going to look at the features of the newspaper article, the IELTS exam essay and the academic essay. Taking each one in turn. These are the first two paragraphs of an article from the online version of a student newspaper, and they reflect many of the features of journalistic texts. So, firstly, the reader is addressed directly as “you”. This is because part of the purpose of the text is to persuade the reader to avoid wasting food. In this case the reader is the general public – we are all consumers of food.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds The style of writing is quite conversational - closer to informal spoken English – with rhetorical questions answered by the author… “Sound ridiculous? It’s more accurate than you think”. There is also quite a lot of very informal language; “pop-down to …” “toss it in the bin” … “just take a fiver from your wallet”. This type of language would be too informal in an academic essay. You should also notice that good journalism is evidence-based, so that claims are supported by statistics.

Skip to 1 minute and 33 seconds So in the first paragraph the writer claims that consumers waste a lot of food or money, perhaps without being aware how much they are wasting, and then in the second paragraph, provides statistics from a named source “A recent report from Tesco…” to support this claim. In much academic writing you are also expected to support points with reference to other sources. However, in academic writing you also have to give very precise information about the source which will enable the reader to verify that a reputable source has been used, and that the information from the source has been used accurately. You will see how this is done when we look at the third text.

Newspaper article

In the next three Steps, Jonathan is going to look at the newspaper article, IELTS exam essay and an academic essay in closer detail. As you watch through these videos think about the audience, content, and style and tone of the writing.

This first video focuses on the newspaper article taken from the University of Reading’s student newspaper, Spark.

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This video is from the free online course:

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading