Blogging in Style: Public Writing vs. Academic Writing
Every piece of writing – whether it is a parking ticket or a love letter — addresses a specific audience. The way you write should be tailored to that audience. Unlike a formal essay that only your professor will read, blog posts are directed toward a wider public. Here are some of the features you should include in every blog post, with an explanation of how they differ from their academic counterparts:
If your blog post is not fun to write, it will not be fun to read. Even if you find the weekly blog topic boring,
Compelling titles and introductions make your readers want to read your post right away. One study found that while 80% of people will read headline copy, only 20% will read the rest. Unlike scholarly titles (which are often long and use a colon and advanced vocabulary) blog titles should be short, catchy, and informative.
Like your title, the opening lines of your post should capture the reader’s attention. Academic writers and bloggers agree on this point! Some options for compelling opening lines are: a provocative question, a juicy quote, a surprising fact, a relevant anecdote (story), or a rich description of an artwork.
Blogging is much more casual than academic writing. There is little room for jokes or exclamation marks in academic papers, but they greatly enhance blog posts. You can use (but not abuse!) the personal voice: I, my, we, and you. In fact, directly addressing the reader with a “call to action” is a great way to conclude the post. For example, you can ask them to provide their views on a topic in the comment section.
In a traditional academic essay, only your professor will see your errors. But on a blog, such mistakes are visible to the whole world. In addition to checking for spelling and grammar, make sure to avoid repetition, to vary your sentence structure by using different kinds of punctuation (question marks, exclamation points, etc.), to read your post aloud to check its flow, and to keep sentences and paragraphs short.