The Writer’s Diet: resources to help write better assignments

How does your academic writing rate? Is your writing, clear and concise or verbose, descriptive and long?
Would you like help to write better?
We have found some great resources to help you!

  • Learning Support – ALLaN (Academic Literacy, Learning, and Numeracy) – The ALLaN team provide support with understanding the assignment questions, structure, and English language use (and many other study skills) through individual appointments, assignment feedback, online discussion board, quick question call back service and study guides.
  • The WritDiet Test – submit a 100 to 1000 word writing sample to find out how fit your writing is. This test analyses text for the use of verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives and adverbs, and “it, this, that, there”. You’ll find out if your writing is lean, fit & trim, needs toning, flabby or heart attack material.
Cover page of the Writer's Diet
Image used with permission from ProQuest Ebook Central
  • The many amazing books on assignment writing in the Library – do a Primo Search for Books, journals, DVDs & more on “assignment writing” , “academic writing”, or “writing skills” to find what we’ve got on this essential topic

Some general advice on writing at university

Adapted from The Writers’ Diet (Helen Sword, 2015)

  • Aim for clear, concise and carefully crafted writing, not vague and abstract
  • Add metaphors, concrete images, or even a sentence beginning with those helpful words, “For example…”
  • Use strong, specific, robust action verbs and limit “be-verbs’
  • Utilize nouns to show, not tell, and use real life examples
  • Minimise abstract noun use
  • Limit and vary prepositions
  • Employ adjectives and verbs to contribute new information to a clause
  • Avoid generalisations “it, this, that, and there”, are frequently overused

Not sure what the above is about?

Sounds like you need to brush up on your grammar skills!
The ALLaN team can help with this too.
And of course, the internet has heaps of resources on this too: you might like to try some of these websites:

  • How to improve your grammar (wikihow) – includes the grammar basics (parts of speech, proper word order, verb tense and punctuation) and how to avoid common mistakes
  • Grammar Revolution: a website to help learn grammar with sentence diagramming, exercises, lessons and YouTube videos
  • Grammar Girl: an informal guide to grammar usage

How did this blog rate in the Writer’s Diet Test?

Fit and Trim!