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Dissertations & projects: Writing style

“Your dissertation should be written clearly and concisely in a style that is simple to understand and interesting to read.”

Bryan Greetham,  How to Write Your Undergraduate Dissertation

The style of writing for your dissertation or project is not dissimilar to the style you use for essays and reports in your discipline. However, there are some additional considerations to do with it being a longer document. For example, the tense that you write different sections in can change and there is a need to ensure that each part of the document links appropriately to what comes before and after.

Ignore style in your first draft

Although this is a page on writing style, remember that you don't actually need to worry about style when writing your first draft of each chapter. In fact we advise that you specifically do not even think about writing style at that stage. It is more important that you write it freely with energy and enthusiasm. Concerning yourself too much with style at this early stage can cause too much stress and stop you progressing at a rate that will keep you motivated.

It is during the editing process that you can make sure your writing style is appropriate.


Writing style for long documents

As with any piece of academic writing, your writing style should be formal, objective, concise and clear. See our 7 top tips for academic writing on our Academic Writing SkillsGuide for a quick overview.

When creating a piece of extended writing like a dissertation or final year project report, there are some specific issues that you need to consider that do not arise in shorter essays or reports. Some of these are to do with formatting the document (covered on our Formatting page) and some are to do with ensuring the different parts of the document work individually and together as a complete piece. Links to pages on tenses, voices and flow are found below: