Writing Conventions Complete Guide With Example

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Posted on:
January 9, 2024
Updated on:
February 28, 2024
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If you’re a student or thinking about becoming one, you’ll likely have to write essays. Right now, you might not know much about writing conventions, but just putting your thoughts on paper and turning them in might not be as easy as it seems. It’s actually quite tricky, and that’s why it’s crucial to understand and follow the conventions of writing.

Do you know the writing conventions definition? Writing conventions basically mean making your writing easy to understand. It involves putting commas, hyphens, dashes, and periods in the right places. Your ideas should also be clear, not just following the rules. If you get these things right, your professor will likely give you good grades, which is good for your school and professional work. Following these rules can be tough, so you might consider getting help from an online essay writing service.

What are conventions in writing?

What does conventions mean in writing? The term ‘writing conventions’ seems unfamiliar to some, but most students are aware of it. Let’s define conventions in writing:

The set of technical rules and standards that help the readers to understand the text are called writing conventions. They give readers the familiar ground to understand the content or act as signposts. Conventions both clarify meaning and provide guidance on how to read the text. Teachers may be lenient in middle school, but that leniency is unlikely to last later on. For instance, it is essential to have a solid understanding of syntax, sentence structure, and language usage in general if you want to enroll at Harvard University. Practice is essential. Thus, students must turn in a large number of finished assignments covering all subject areas.

Students often have busy schedules with lots of homework and activities, so it’s no wonder they complain about learning different subjects. When it comes to tasks like writing, they feel even more stressed trying to find the right words. Following rules like spelling, punctuation, and grammar adds extra difficulty. That’s why it’s important to know when to ask for help.

Why are conventions important in writing?

The primary purpose of writing conventions is to assist the reader in understanding what they’re reading. It would be difficult for anyone to properly understand and enjoy the text if all of the spelling, punctuation, and grammar were incorrect!

Before moving on to more complex writing, students must first learn to master writing conventions, which are the cornerstone of any written work.

Many school assessments and tests are scored based on the use of writing norms; therefore, learning this ability is important. Students of all ages should familiarize themselves with writing conventions to excel academically. Even with an excellent structure and well-informed information, students will struggle academically if their writing has a lot of spelling and grammar errors.

Knowing how to use writing conventions isn’t just important in school; it’s a skill that will help students throughout their lives. When they grow up and apply for jobs, following resume writing rules and using good grammar, punctuation, and spelling will make a big difference.

Basic Conventions of Writing

The basic writing conventions include spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You need to learn all of them to make your essay an excellent piece. Have you ever read something that was hard to understand? Of course, it may be tough due to the topic’s complexity, but often, it’s just because the writing did not follow the conventions. Let’s discuss the types of conventions in writing and examples of writing conventions in detail:

Basic Conventions of Writing
Basic Conventions of Writing


Grammar is about knowing how to use words correctly and put them together to make sense. It might seem easy, like knowing when to add -ed or using gerunds, but speaking and writing are not the same. You need to be consistent with tenses, like understanding when to use Past Simple or Present Perfect, to make sure your audience understands the time and order of actions. The following are some helpful writing tips for conventions that you must know. 

  • There must be a verb and a noun in a complete sentence.
  • When composing a sentence, always write in the active voice. Active sentences follow this formula: Subject + Object + Verb
Alex (subject) bakes (verb/action) delicious cookies (object/receiver of the action).
  • Use conjunctions like but, and, so, or, for, nor, still to combine several concepts, clauses, or phrases. Let’s have a look at the examples of conventions in writing.
For example: Sarah loves to read mystery novels, while her best friend prefers science fiction stories.
  • For past actions that are related to or continue into the present, use the present perfect tense. 
For example:
I have played the guitar for five years.
I have performed in various music genres.
  • Make proper use of subject-verb agreement. As a general rule, a plural subject uses a plural verb, whereas a singular subject takes a singular verb.
  • Check for any dangling modifiers in the text. A dangling modifier takes place when the intended subject of the opening sentence is absent.

Incorrect: To excel in sports, a lot of practice is required.

Correct: To excel in sports, you are required to practice a lot.

  • Steer clear of sentence fragments and run ons. Check that numerous clauses are properly connected using punctuation.


Spelling is another formal writing convention that is very crucial. Imagine you’re reading a story about a mean character. The story is intense, and you’re really into it until you see the word ‘distain’ instead of ‘disdain.’ Suddenly, the strong impression crumbles. The character who seemed tough now looks like they can’t spell. That’s why spelling is really important in good writing.

Spelling mistakes have the ability to mislead readers and change the meaning of an article. You must make sure that all of your work is spelled correctly because incorrect spelling may sometimes be seen as unprofessional.

The following important guidelines will assist you in correctly spelling English words:

  • There is a vowel in each word syllable.
  • In a word, the letter s never comes after the letter x. To make the /s/ sound, we utilize the letter c alternatively.
For instance: excellent, excitement, excess
  • In words, you’ll always find ‘u’ following ‘q’.
Examples: quick, quiet, quest
  • In words with ‘i’ and ‘e’ together, ‘i’ comes before ‘e,’ except when it sounds like /a/.
Examples: believe, chief, achieve, friend
  • The word’s spelling remains unchanged when the suffix ‘-ly’ is added.
For example, ‘quick’ becomes ‘quickly,’ and ‘slow’ becomes ‘slowly.
  • When you add a suffix that starts with ‘e’ (like -ed, -er, or -est) to words ending in ‘y,’ usually change the ‘y’ to ‘i.’

To avoid spelling mistakes, use tools like Grammarly or Language Tool to check for errors or proofread before submitting your work.


Punctuation is important in writing conventions. Commas show pauses, but using too many can confuse readers. Know the difference between hyphens and dashes for good grades in essays. The only issue here is that everyone has a personal writing style, but it won’t be acceptable for professors. Academic standards exist due to some reason. If you use ellipses a lot and say it’s your style, you might fail the assignment. You have to stick to academic writing conventions for success.

The following are the few basic punctuation rules that a writer must follow:

Punctuation marks 

A sentence’s punctuation must be parallel. If you break up the main clause with a comma, you must use the same kind of punctuation at the end of the sentence.

Incorrect: After a long day at work I decided to go for a run, however, it started raining heavily.

Correct: After a long day at work, I decided to go for a run; however, it started raining heavily.

Quotation marks 

Quotation marks (“) are used for direct quotations of spoken or written words and titles of books, articles, and chapters.

  “He’s always saying, ‘Don’t worry, be happy,'” she remarked.

The essay, titled “The Impact of Climate Change on Biodiversity,” explores the effects of global warming on various species.

Note: Using single quotation marks within double quotation marks is a common practice in American English. You may adjust accordingly if you follow a different style guide or are in a region where single quotation marks are not used this way.


An apostrophe (‘) denotes a letter removed from a word during contraction. Moreover, an apostrophe may indicate ownership. Here are some writing conventions examples of apostrophe usage for contractions and indicating ownership:


    • I haven’t (have not) seen that movie before.
    • She can’t (cannot) attend the meeting tomorrow.
    • It’s (it is) a beautiful day outside.


  • The cat’s (cat is) playful behavior always brings joy.
  • Sarah’s (Sarah is) decision to resign surprised everyone.
  • The students’ (students) excitement for the upcoming event is contagious.

Note: The apostrophe indicates possession by adding an ‘s’ for singular nouns (‘cat’s,’ ‘Sarah’s’) and after the ‘s’ for plural nouns (‘students’).


A comma (,) is used to separate items in a sequence and to join two or more concepts in a phrase.

  • The garden is filled with roses, tulips, and daisies.
  • I enjoy hiking, but I’m not a fan of camping.

Quotation mark 

A question mark (?) directly asks a question.

  • Will you be attending the party?
  • Is that my t-shirt?

Period (.) 

A period (.) denotes the end of a sentence.

  • Close the door.
  • I’m done.

Colon (:) 

A clause concludes with a colon (:). It also helps the reading of restatements, lists, and series.

  • My favorite hobbies include: reading, hiking, and painting.

Semicolon (;) 

The semicolon (;) is used to separate two independent clauses.

  • I enjoy cooking; it’s a creative outlet for me.


There are three major uses for capital letters:

  • Set the beginning of a sentence.
  • Emphasize important words in the title
  • Give formal titles and proper names.

It is very important to know how to use capital letters to make your text readable and clear. Here are some rules of capitalization:

Start your sentence with a capital letter. For example, 

  • Take a moment to relax. 
  • Enjoy the beauty of nature.

Put proper nouns and names in the capital. Places, objects, and people are described by proper nouns. For instance:

  • My sister, Emily, is coming over for dinner.
  • I have a dog named Max.

After a colon, you don’t need to capitalize.

There are three primary colors: red, blue, and yellow.

In this example, the words following the colon are not capitalized because they are part of the same sentence and do not represent a new independent clause.

Days, months, and holidays should all be capitalized, but not seasons.

  • I love celebrating Thanksgiving with my family.
  • I prefer spring over summer.

Capitalize only the first word of a quote; do not capitalize partial quotes.

  • Tom asked, “What time is the meeting?
  • According to Stacy, she was “too cool” to attend that party.

Capitalize the first word, all nouns, all verbs, all adjectives, and all proper nouns when composing a title.

  • The book “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” was fantastic to read.

The names of cities, countries, nationalities, and languages should all be capitalized.

  • Although I was raised in the US, I speak Mandarin, Spanish, and French.

Capitalize proper names of historical events, periods, and eras.

  • My grandpa served in the military in World War I.
  • A common cut throughout the Middle Ages was the bowl cut.


Writing a text into paragraphs is known as paragraphing. 

Paragraphing is like connecting puzzle pieces. Instead of scattering ideas everywhere, we group related sentences together. This helps to create a clear and organized flow of thoughts in our writing.

Think of it as taking a breath while reading. Paragraphs act as natural pauses, giving readers time to understand one idea before moving on to the next. It’s a way to make our writing effective and easy to follow.

Breaking our writing into paragraphs also helps readers grasp the main points faster. It’s like dividing a big meal into smaller, manageable bites, making it easier to digest and enjoy.

Additionally, it adds visual appeal, which helps in reading long passages of text. A well-structured essay requires careful planning and an understanding of the three components of a paragraph: the topic sentence, development and support, and the conclusion.

  • Topic sentence: The main idea of a paragraph is introduced by topic sentences or paragraph leaders. They inform the readers by stating the topic clearly.
  • Development & support: The paragraph’s development and support sentences serve as its main body. Specific information regarding the topic sentence is provided in development sentences. Supporting sentences offer proof and additional details that help support the main concept.
  • Conclusion: The conclusion summarizes the idea in a way that allows readers to go on to the next paragraph.

When you’re writing, start a new paragraph for each new idea. This helps people see and understand each thought clearly. It’s like putting each idea in its own box so nothing gets mixed up.

Also, keep paragraphs short, like three sentences. Long ones can be confusing and make readers feel a bit lost. Short paragraphs are like bite-sized pieces of information, easy to understand and remember.

Writing Conventions for Every Writing Category

Besides the basic writing conventions, it’s important to know which rules fit the type of writing you’re doing. This helps make sure your writing is clear and easy to understand. Different types of writing might need different conventions in writing to get the message across effectively.

Writing Conventions for Every Writing Category
Writing Conventions for Every Writing Category

Conventions of narrative writing

Storytelling through writing is like magic—it can make you feel things and leave a lasting impression. When we talk about narrative writing, we mean telling a story, like a short tale or a book. It’s not just about what happens; it’s about the characters, what they say, and how it makes you feel.

In this kind of writing, we use words that paint a vivid picture, making you imagine and feel what the characters are going through. It’s like taking a journey with them through the power of words.

Letter writing conventions 

When you write a letter, there are some important conventions of letter writing to follow. Imagine it like a recipe for a good letter. Here’s what you need:

  • A heading: Like the title of your letter, where you put your info so the reader knows who you are.
  • A date: When you wrote the letter so everyone knows when it’s from.
  • Addressee information: Details about the person you’re sending the letter to, like their name and address.
  • A greeting: A friendly word like “Dear” and the person’s name to start your letter nicely.
  • The main part: The actual words you want to say in the letter.
  • A closing: A nice phrase before you sign off, like “Sincerely” or “Best Regards.”

Just like following a recipe helps you make a yummy dish, following these writing conventions helps you write a great letter!

Formal writing conventions 

When you’re writing formal documents, you must be aware of formal writing conventions. The following are formal writing conventions:

  • Be clear: Use the right words and grammar. Avoid using shortcuts or informal words.
  • Stay neutral: Instead of saying “I” or “you,” try using a more neutral way of talking, like talking about things in general.
  • Speak in full: Instead of short forms or abbreviations, use complete words. It makes everything clearer and more formal.

Instructional writing conventions 

Instructional writing is like giving helpful advice in a special way. It’s when we write to teach others, like giving a recipe or explaining how something works.

When you write instructions, think about who you’re talking to and if there might be any problems they could face. This way, you can be ready to help them from the start. It’s like being a guide to make things easy for others to understand.

Conventions of Persuasive Writing

It is a very compelling way to deliver your message effectively. You need a strong opinion and sometimes use emotional words or ask questions to get people thinking. Moreover, it is very important to understand your audience in persuasive writing. It helps you make your argument according to the needs of readers. It’s like trying to be really good at explaining why you think something is right.

Final Words

Learning how to follow writing conventions and the importance of writing conventions might seem a bit tough, but it’s like learning the secret code for making your writing awesome.

When you have a proper understanding of the writing conventions checklist, it’s like having superpowers for your words. You can make your writing really clear and to the point by avoiding errors in writing conventions. So people get what you’re saying without any confusion. It’s like having a special toolkit to make your writing stand out!

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Elowen Rose
I am Elowen Rose, an expert essay writer. I ensure that each student receives valuable insights for crafting A-grade essays. I work closely with students to make writing easier and more enjoyable for them.

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