Skills Earth Sciences


A scientific text is written in complete sentences, but it is not prose. Scientific language is a concise description of facts. Besides the use of a proper syntax, the use of lively, precise, clear, and simple words makes your text more comprehensible and readable. The following tips will help you with this:

Particularly in paragraphs in which you define or identify an important idea or theory, be consistent in how you refer to it. This consistency and repetition help the reader to understand your definition or description. Thus, avoid the use of synonyms for key words throughout your text. On the other hand, avoid the overuse of single expressions other than key words by using synonyms to represent equivalent meanings. To find appropriate synonyms, you can use a thesaurus.

Avoid informal or spoken language in scientific texts. Avoid contractions such as “don’t”, instead write “do not”. Also use formal alternatives for informal words. Examples of informal words and their formal alternatives are:

Informal (wrong) Formal (correct)
a lot of

do (verb)





look at






much, many

perform, carry out, conduct


such as





retain, preserve


… (leave out)

… (be precise)

Avoid wordy or empty words and phrases in your report or paper. Instead use concise alternatives:

Wordy Concise
In order to

As a matter of fact

At the present time

Due to the fact that

In spite of the fact that

Are dependent on


In fact

Now, currently

Because, since

Although, though

Depend on

Furthermore, avoid phrases that do not add meaning or information such as “It is interesting to note that”, “It can be remarked that” or “… are observed”. These will make your texts unnecessary long and difficult to read.

You can enhance the clarity of your writing by using concrete, specific words rather than abstract, general ones.

  • Avoid vague words and phrases for quantifications, such as “a lot, many, large amounts”. For example “The layers are different in thickness”. Instead, use concrete descriptions and quantify numerically whenever possible, for example “The thickness of the lower layer is 2 m, whereas the upper layer is only 0.3 m thick”.
  • Use specialist terms accurately, but avoid using technical terms that the readers will not understand. If you need to use such unfamiliar technical terms anyway, provide a definition.
  • Avoid ambiguous words and phrases.

Scientific writing strives to be as objective as possible. To accomplish this in your text:

  • Use words that express exaggerated certainty (“undoubtedly”, “obviously”) sparingly, and relativizing words (“sometimes”, “possibly”, “somewhat”) similarly with care. Using these too often will make your text look less trustworthy or convincing.
  • Avoid clichés (“this site is excellent for…” instead of “this site is the cream of the crop for”)
  • Avoid subjective words, such as “gigantic”, “beautiful”, “nice”, “fantastic”, or “enormous”. These imply a value judgement.
  • Do not present anything as a fact if you do not support it with evidence. Thus, be careful with words like “indicate” or “prove”. Instead, if you are giving interpretations or assumptions, use words like “suggest” or “may be related to”.