Learn English skills

Writing skills

Maybe you want to write a business report, a university assignment or send an e-mail to a friend or relative. Many people send SMS text messages every day. All of these things are writing, but they use different styles.

Business and academic writing is very formal, while sending personal e-mails and text messages are not. These different reasons for writing require different sets of vocabulary. You wouldn’t write ‘Hey Steve’ or ‘Hi Steve’ to start a business e-mail. Writing to a manager is very different to writing to your family.

One way to improve your writing skills is to read. If you’re going to write a university assignment, read some assignments that have been written by graduates and known authors in your chosen field of study. Doing that will show you how language is used, the rang of vocabulary and how different sections are linked together. Another advantage to reading is that it will help you to improve your spelling and punctuation. You are not going to use contractions and colloquial language in formal writing. When writing for university assignments, passive voice and first person pronouns are avoided.

If you want to write an e-mail to a friend, your writing can be similar to how you would talk to your friends. Personal letters and e-mails are informal and can include contractions and colloquial language.


The most important aspect of successful writing is planning. If you don’t plan your writing, you may produce something that is not easy to read. This is not because of the vocabulary, but the order the writing has been produced.

A good starting point is to create a mind map. An example of a mind map is shown below.

Mind maps can help you to structure your writing.

This mind map could be used as a starting point for a writing project about effective advertising. It shows key areas that can be included in the project and various factors that can have affect them. From this mind map it would be possible to group items together to be discussed in the same paragraph or section.

The use of a mind map also helps you to think about the vocabulary that you need as you visualise everything you need for effective advertising. Maybe you can expand this map to include other items.

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