what are conventions in writing

11+ Writing Conventions: Checklist for Students and Writers

Putting ideas on paper does not seem that complicated. However, the expression of thoughts has to be done in a certain way which might seem a bit difficult. Therefore, rules and conventions are used to improve your essay’s readability. 

If you are new to writing conventions, go through this blog carefully to learn about common English writing standards and why understanding them is necessary. Especially if you are a student or a young writer, you will likely come across this term in your essay assignments. 

What Are Conventions in Writing?

Writing conventions are linguistic rules that make a write-up easier for readers to comprehend. These conventions are the components that can assist you in making your work understandable and clear.

Conventions in writing provide the framework on which readers can perceive the message. Unfortunately, writing conventions may not be strictly enforced by teachers in middle school, although this changes as students upgrade. 

Importance of Writing Conventions  

Imagine reading a text with no proper punctuation, incorrect grammar and spelling. Oh, what a nightmare! All these conventions help the readers understand the text better and establish proper communication. Writing conventions include advantages like:

  • Ensuring that readers grasp a text’s intended meaning
  • Completing assignments in a learning environment especially higher education. 
  • Strengthening college and job applications, and carrying out professional writing-related tasks

11 Most Common Conventions in Writing

Conventions in writing are guidelines that authors abide by to make their writing meaningful and understandable. These regulations are frequently covered in class but also included in test preparation courses. Even professional writers can benefit from brushing up on these writing conventions. 

1. Spelling 

A text filled with spelling errors makes English writing difficult to understand. To write efficiently, you must be able to spell correctly. Words are spelled according to their dictionary definitions to make it easier for readers to understand.

In cases where there are differences in spelling between British and American English, a writer should choose one version of English and stick to it throughout the entire text for consistency. 

conventions of writing definition: common spelling mistakes

2. Grammar (Important Writing Conventions)

Grammar refers to the study of how to construct sentences and paragraphs that make sense, including sentence structure, subject-verb agreement, tenses, and other elements. Most people learn the fundamentals of English grammar in middle and high school.

Still, they continue to be important writing standards to convey the intended meaning of your written works. As a writer, you must have clarity on different parts of speech –

what are conventions in writing: grammar

Here are some common grammar rules to follow:

  • Always write complete sentences
  • Suitable subject/verb and pronoun/antecedent agreement
  • Avoid passive voice and make use of active voice
  • Avoid writing long sentences
  • Understand parts of speech and use them in the right manner
  • Use the right article to describe a noun

3. Punctuation 

Correct grammar requires understanding all punctuation symbols, including periods, commas, question marks, semicolons, quotation marks, and exclamation points. Moreover, you should know where parentheses, dashes, and ellipses belong and how to apply them correctly. Given that it is essential to the meaning of sentences, this is one of the fundamental writing conventions.

Ex: Thank you for your donation. It helped someone. Get a job! 

This above sentence is an example of using wrong punctuation marks in inappropriate places. 

definition of conventions in writing: punctuation mistakes writers make

4. Capitalization

Capitalization indicates that a new phrase begins when a word has a proper name or title. It is easier to memorize long words when they are shortened with capital letters and condensed into short forms. Common capitalization rules are:

  • Capitalize the first word at the beginning of every new sentence
  • Capitalize acronyms
  • Capitalize proper nouns
  • Capitalize days, months and holidays 
  • Capitalize periods and major world events 

5. Subject Verb Agreement:

Young writers often make subject-verb agreement errors. Here’s a simple SubjectVerb Agreement Rule to follow: If the subject is singular, the verb must be singular too. If the subject is plural, the verb must also be plural. Check out this detailed infographic on 7 rules of subject-verb agreement:


6. Paragraphs

Your professors expect you to develop thoughtful, multifaceted arguments using effective paragraphs. In academic writing, paragraphs are essential for creating structure, as they separate points and demonstrate how they connect to form the argument.

Paragraphs help you convey sequences of ideas and how they relate to one another. A clear structure for your paragraphs helps guide the reader through your writing.

7. Cohesion and Coherence

When a text is coherent, the ideas are logically arranged and make sense to the reader. Cohesion binds the elements of a text together (e.g., words, phrases, clauses, and sentences).

A text reads smoothly when it conveys a well-organised argument or analysis. Therefore, make sure you focus first on your ideas and crafting an ambitious analysis. Try to get your thoughts down on paper first and then refine your analysis by revising for coherence and cohesion.

Conventions in Writing for Specific Genres

8. Formal Writing Conventions 

Academic writing comes along with its own set of guidelines for formal text. While teachers and writing style standards establish these, some common rules are given below:

  • Avoid slang
  • Avoid nicknames
  • Don’t use contractions
  • Follow the style guide for the particular setting

9. Letter Writing Conventions 

Read some letters to understand the standard writing style of a letter. Some of the basic writing conventions are,

  • Letters will have an address, date and greeting in the top left-hand corner. 
  • Letters are written in paragraphs. 
  • They usually end with a sign-off like “Yours Sincerely” or “Yours Truly.”

10. Script Writing Conventions 

Script writing involves certain conventions that make it different from other forms of writing. It consists of a plot, dialogues, sequence of actions, conflict and climax. Scriptwriters usually follow this formatting style 

11. Persuasive Writing Conventions 

The objective of persuasive texts is to persuade the reader to agree with the author’s point of view. Having a clear point of view in the introduction and conclusion is the best approach in this case. The writing will also include emotive language and rhetorical questions, along with facts and data. It is common in personal essays, journalism, and self-help.

12. Narrative Writing Conventions

A narrative is a book or short story with dialogue and characters. You will write this in a pattern that includes an introduction, climax, resolution, and ending. You can learn more about how to write a short story here.

Writing Conventions Checklist 

The best strategy to become a skilled writer is to plan and get started early. While elementary students need to be aware of some fundamental writing guidelines, it’s essential to have a firm understanding of these writing patterns for higher education.

A final convention checklist is crucial for determining whether your work is of great quality or needs work. This checklist should include the following items:

  • Are your sentences whole and meaningful?
  • Is there any run-on sentence(s)?
  • Are the punctuation marks used correctly?
  • Is there any subject-verb agreement?
  • Are you using the verb tense consistently throughout?
  • Are capitalization and paragraphs in the right place? 
  • Are the suitable articles placed rightly before nouns? Etc. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Definition of Conventions in writing: Writing conventions are language rules that make your text readable.
  • Common conventions in writing that writers must follow are spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization. 
  • Writing conventions for specific genres such as script writing, narrative writing, persuasive writing and letter writing.
  • Go through a final checklist of conventions in writing. 

FAQs on Writing Conventions

What is writing conventions examples?

Writing conventions are accepted guidelines used to make writing more understandable and clear. Capitalization, punctuation, and spelling are a few basic examples.

What are conventions in academic writing?

Academic writing is a formal style of writing. Some basic rules include avoiding slang, appropriate use of headings, spelling out acronyms properly, abstaining from using contractions and so on. 

What are the five conventions?

The five components that make up the conventions trait are spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar/usage, and paragraphing. 

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