It is important to understand what kind of text is expected. Students who are new to the demands of university writing may find it difficult to grasp what kind of text they are expected to submit. Similarly, students transferring from one discipline or faculty to another may experience new demands.
A few general formats for writing at university are described in brief below. Links then direct the reader to relevant pages in the AWELU section on Genres and Text Types, where further information is provided.
A note of caution: As writing practices vary considerably between departments and disciplines, the information here is of a general kind. For detailed instructions, students need to consult their teachers and supervisors.
Instructional video from the free online MOOC "Writing in English at University" which was developed at Lund University in 2016.
Basic essay format
A standard format for expository and argumentative essays is the so-called three-part essay consisting of Introduction, Body and Conclusion. If brief in format, this kind of essay is sometimes referred to as the 'five-paragraph-essay' as it may typically consist of one paragraph of Introduction, three paragraphs of Body, and one paragraph of Conclusion. More often than not, however, university writing involves longer essays and more complex structures.
For further information about the three-part essay format, see the following AWELU pages:
IMRaD (IMRD) text structure
In many fields, the standard text structure for research articles (RAs) is often referred to as IMRD or IMRaD, which stands for Introduction, Method, Results and Discussion. Read more about this kind of text in the AWELU section on Genres and Text Types:
Students may be given assignments that consist of specific questions to be addressed in essay format. This kind of assignment is common in take-home exams, for instance.
For more information about this kind of writing and advice on how to write, see the following page in the section on Genres and Text Types:
A response paper is a short essay which responds to (reacts to) something, usually one or several texts that the writer has read.
For more information about the structure of a response paper and advice on how to write such an essay, see the following page in the section on Genres and Text Types:
Other text types
For information and advice on other kinds of scholarly writing, see the AWELU section on Genres and Text Types: