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Student writing in a note book

What is persuasive writing?

We all write differently according to the purpose of our writing. If compiling a shopping list, for example, you have nobody but yourself to persuade that you need bananas; just a few words will be enough.

If you are writing an email or a letter, on the other hand, you have to consider the person to whom you are writing and this requires you to fit the language used to the recipient of it.

There is no point in using technical jargon to a person who does not understand it. When you are writing to persuade, the stakes are higher because you are trying to bring the reader round to your way of seeing things. To do this you have to select your words and arrange your argument carefully. For writing to be effective, to be persuasive, it must be clear and well-organised or you run the risk of losing your reader along the way.

This is exactly the kind of writing that is required of you at university. As an Arts and Humanities student you will be writing essays, whereas, as a scientist, you will in addition be expected to produce lab reports. These may seem like different activities but, in fact, they all have in common the need for the writing to be both lucid and informed by evidence. It is this magic mix between style and content that produces persuasive writing.

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