Use of Apostrophes in Academic Writing

Use of Apostrophes in Academic Writing
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Apostrophes serve different purposes. You can use them to create contractions or to indicate possession. Check out this article at College-Writers blog to learn more about apostrophes and to understand how to use them properly.

Even though apostrophes are common in everyday writing, they are relatively rare in academic papers. The reason is that academic writing involves using a formal tone, while apostrophes are mostly used in informal writing. Given that informal constructions are omitted in research reports, apostrophes also disappear from there. Here are some examples of apostrophes in English and tips on how to use or how to avoid them in academic writing.


A contraction is a shortened version of a phrase or word. In this case, missing characters get replaced by an apostrophe. The most common examples are “we’re” (“we are”), “we’ll” (“we will”), etc. Some contractions are unique, while others may have different meanings. For instance, “what’s” can be used instead of both “what is” and “what has.” Given that contractions are usually used in informal speech, they are avoided in academic writing.

Possessive Forms

An apostrophe with the letter “s” creates possessive forms, for example, “Jack’s book.” Some people claim that the use of possessive forms adds human characteristics to any object. No matter whether you agree with it or not, such forms are rare in academic writing. However, there are some exceptions. Here are possessive forms that are often used by convention:

  • The phrase “according to the manufacturer’s instructions;”
  • Eponyms (e.g. “Parkinson’s disease,” “student’s test,” etc.).

Non-Standard Plural Forms

Apostrophes are also used in plural forms when the letter “s” alone can cause confusion. Even though these plural forms are rare, they often appear in scientific papers, and in this case, you should use an apostrophe:

  • Individual lowercase letters: The samples contained 134 a’s and 965 e’s.
  • Plurals of words, when referring not to the meaning of the word but to the word itself: The number of no’s from the survey was the highest.
  • We recommend that you don’t use apostrophes when pluralizing numbers or referring to a decade: the 1980s, not the 1980’s.

These are the most common uses for apostrophes. If you need any help with your academic papers, contact Our experts will make sure that your papers are grammatically correct and meet all the academic standards.

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