Do’s and Don’t’s for Writing Formal Academic Essays • Avoid contractions. • Avoid "I" statements. – These weaken your argument. Phrases like "I believe," "I think," "The way I see it," "It seems to me," and so on, all imply that the statement is only your opinion, as opposed to an arguable point of fact. • Avoid "telegraphing" the structure of your essay. – In other words, avoid using phrases like "In this essay," "My thesis is," "My next example," and so on. • Avoid long quotations. – You should quote from a source text when you want to present to your reader the specific words used by another writer. • Provide context. – Assume your reader has not read the text, or knows very little about the issue your are discussing. “Get the reader up to speed.” • Provide specific, credible evidence from the text to support your claims. • Explain the significance of your evidence, as it relates to your thesis. – Don’t assume the reader sees the evidence and the connection to the thesis the same way you see it. • Cite your evidence in MLA format.