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Stylish Academic Writing

Handbook / Manual

By: Helen Sword

240 pages, 2 b/w photos, 3 b/w illustrations

Harvard University Press

Hardback | Apr 2012 | #198439 | ISBN-13: 9780674064485
Availability: Usually dispatched within 48 hours
NHBS Price: £16.95 $22/€19 approx

About this book

Elegant data and ideas deserve elegant expression, argues Helen Sword in this lively guide to academic writing. For scholars frustrated with disciplinary conventions, and for specialists who want to write for a larger audience but are unsure where to begin, here are imaginative, practical, witty pointers that show how to make articles and books a pleasure to read-and to write.

Dispelling the myth that you cannot get published without writing wordy, impersonal prose, Sword shows how much journal editors and readers welcome work that avoids excessive jargon and abstraction. Sword's analysis of more than a thousand peer-reviewed articles across a wide range of fields documents a startling gap between how academics typically describe good writing and the turgid prose they regularly produce.

"Stylish Academic Writing" showcases a range of scholars from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences who write with vividness and panache. Individual chapters take up specific elements of style, such as titles and headings, chapter openings, and structure, and close with examples of transferable techniques that any writer can master.

'Stylish Academic Writing' challenges academics to make their work more consequential by communicating more clearly--and provides helpful hints and models for doing so. This is a well-crafted and valuable contribution that combines substance with style.
- Arne L. Kalleberg, Editor, Social Forces

"As an academic--staff or student--wouldn't you like people to enjoy reading your work? In 'Stylish Academic Writing', Helen Sword offers dozens of suggestions as to how you might improve your work, get your argument across in a more appealing manner, and attract more readers. We can all learn something useful from this book, and it won't involve a lot of effort."
- Malcolm Tight, Editor, Studies in Higher Education

"Occasionally the tedium of reading an unending supply of poorly written manuscripts is upended by a cogent, well-written, piece. Helen Sword details why this is so prevalent and offers sage advice to beginning--and even senior--researchers on how to avoid dulling academic prose. I take her advice to heart. I hope to change my numerous bad habits and I dearly wish those submitting manuscripts would read this book."
- Rick K. Wilson, Editor, "The American Journal of Political Science"



Part I: Style and Substance
1. Rules of Engagement
2. On Being Disciplined
3. A Guide to the Style Guides

Part II: The Elements of Stylishness
4. Voice and Echo
5. Smart Sentencing
6. Tempting Titles
7. Hooks and Sinkers
8. The Story Net
9. Show and Tell
10. Jargonitis
11. Structural Designs
12. Points of Reference
13. The Big Picture
14. The Creative Touch

Afterword: Becoming a Stylish Writer

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Helen Sword is Associate Professor in the Centre for Academic Development at the University of Auckland.

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