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Lund University

Writing and sources

A guide on writing and the use of sources intended for students at the department of Biologi and CEC.

Writing outside of academia

After leaving the university and entering your working life, you will most likely be faced with writing reports, decisions, statements, propositions, protocols, official letters, press releases and other types of documents produced by public authorities, municipalities and other parts of the public sector as well as organization and private businesses. The style required of this type of text is somewhat different from that of academic writing, but they also have some important aspects in common.

When writing for the public sector, an organization or a company, it is most often to make a statement or convey an important piece of information. To ensure that you get the message across, it is important that the text is clear and to the point. You can achieve this by carefully considering the purpose of the communication and through the use of plain language. Plain language (Klarspråk) is writing that strives to be easy to read and understand by using a clear structure and informative headings, but also by avoiding verbose and complex language. You should avoid jargon, since these texts are aimed at non-experts in contrast to academic writing targeted at an informed audience. In Sweden, as in many other countries, the law states that public agencies are required to use plain language as a means of promoting democratization and improve legal rights (Språklagen 2009:600).   

When writing reports, statements or propositions you will be expected to refer to laws and regulations, decisions and reports from public authorities and, sometimes, research. Just as in the case of academic writing, you need to support your arguments and claims by referring to other sources as evidence. The types of sources accepted as references are however much less restricted than in the case of academic texts. 

Useful books and webpages

Here are some suggestions of books and webpages that may help you in your writing.

Att skriva bättre i jobbet: en basbok om brukstexter by Ehrenberg-Sundin et al. (2017). This book contains advice on how to structure and write reports, decisions, protocols, press releases and other related text types. 

Myndigheternas skrivregler by the Language Council of Sweden (2014). The Language Council of Sweden (Språkrådet), a department under the official Swedish language authority the Institute of Language and Folklore (Institutet för språk och folkminnen), are responsible for the shared language conventions of the public administration in Sweden. The book is aimed at all those who write documents for public authorities, municipalities and other parts of the public sector. It offers hands on advice on how to write in order to comply with Swedish law, for example the use of plain language. 

Interinstitutional style guide by the Publications Office of the European Union. The style guide contains uniform stylistic rules and conventions which must be followed by all the institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union.