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Integrating informal language into academic writing

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Look at the following original source and the way a student has paraphrased and quoted information from this source. Notice that the student text has used synonymous words, synonymous word forms, and synonymous phrases.

Original source

Scanners, Digital Cameras and Photo CDs

Over the past decade, several products have emerged and matured that allow you to capture images you can work with on your computer. Using electronic image acquisition, you can create the entire layout (including all graphic elements) from the same computer - no more manual stripping required. If you're thinking of moving to a direct-to-plate system, you'll need a completely electronic workflow, including a method to capture images ( Scanners, Digital Cameras and Photo CDs 2000).

Student text

Usefulness of Scanners

In essence, scanners enable the capture of images in a variety of formats from documents to photographs, by converting these images to digitized computer files that can be stored on the computer's hard-drive or on floppy disk. With the aid of specific software, these images can then be manipulated and enhanced by the user for his or her own use. The deployment of this form of electronic acquisition means an 'entire layout (including all graphic elements)' can be created on the one computer. This means manual stripping is no longer required ( Scanners, Digital Cameras and Photo CDs 2000).

The student text has a different focus to the original text. Can you identify the purpose of each of these texts?


How has the student changed the language of the original source to achieve an "academic" style?



The original source focuses on 'several products', as mentioned in the heading and the first sentence. The focus of the student text is more specifically on 'scanners'.

Both texts have a common purpose to provide a general introduction to the products under discussion and explain why these are useful. As the original text is targeting potential buyers of digital hardware, its author uses a personal sales and marketing style. The purpose of the student's text is not to sell a product, but to inform the audience of the latest and predicted advances in scanner technology.


To achieve more of an academic style in the text, the student:

  • avoids overuse of personalized 'you' by substituting the words 'users' and 'his or her'.
  • uses a different grammatical structure (passive voice structure), which adds formality and is often used to avoid mentioning who the subject is, for example, 'files that can be stored' and 'enable the capture of images'.
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