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Homework Assignment royalty-free images

30,968 homework assignment stock photos, 3d objects, vectors, and illustrations are available royalty-free., homework text button on keyboard, education concept background.

Homework text button on keyboard, education concept background Stock Photo

Homework assignment. Concept of e-learning, online education, home schooling, web courses, tutorials. 3d realistic vector illustration.

assignment writing pics

Little cute boy finish schoolwork giving high five to Asian tutor. Loving mother praising her 7s son for good result, well done assignment. Help, symbol of success, teamwork and homeschooling

Little cute boy finish schoolwork giving high five to Asian tutor. Loving mother praising her 7s son for good result, well done assignment. Help, symbol of success, teamwork and homeschooling Stock Photo

Teen girl school pupil wearing headphones studying online from home making notes. Teenage student distance learning on laptop doing homework, watching listening video lesson. Remote education concept

Teen girl school pupil wearing headphones studying online from home making notes. Teenage student distance learning on laptop doing homework, watching listening video lesson. Remote education concept Stock Photo

Focused african american teenage girl wearing headphones writing notes study with laptop and books, serious black female high school teen student listening audio course or music while doing homework

Focused african american teenage girl wearing headphones writing notes study with laptop and books, serious black female high school teen student listening audio course or music while doing homework Stock Photo

Cheerful family doing school assignment at home. Happy young mother sitting at desk together with her son, helping him with homework, smiling and supporting him. Children, education concept

Cheerful family doing school assignment at home. Happy young mother sitting at desk together with her son, helping him with homework, smiling and supporting him. Children, education concept Stock Photo

Parent helping child. Happy family doing homework in the evening. Mother and daughter working on school assignment sitting at desk with lamp in cozy dark room with LED lights. Kids learning concept

Parent helping child. Happy family doing homework in the evening. Mother and daughter working on school assignment sitting at desk with lamp in cozy dark room with LED lights. Kids learning concept Stock Photo

Positive young male student in red shirt smiling and looking at camera while sitting at table with laptop and notebooks during homework assignment

Positive young male student in red shirt smiling and looking at camera while sitting at table with laptop and notebooks during homework assignment Stock Photo

Millennial Indian girl sit at desk in living room study on laptop making notes, concentrated young woman work on computer write in notebook, take online course or training at home, education concept

Millennial Indian girl sit at desk in living room study on laptop making notes, concentrated young woman work on computer write in notebook, take online course or training at home, education concept Stock Photo

Homework assignment, task concept vector icons set

Homework assignment, task concept vector icons set Stock Vector

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Young caucasian successful woman working remotely on distance at home using laptop on freelance. Home office, lockdown concept Stock Photo

Focused 12s teen girl read textbook write in notebook prepare homework assignment. Concentrated smart Caucasian teenager pupil handwrite do task study with books at home. Distant education concept.

Focused 12s teen girl read textbook write in notebook prepare homework assignment. Concentrated smart Caucasian teenager pupil handwrite do task study with books at home. Distant education concept. Stock Photo

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AI chat bot on smartphone assist kid student doing homework assignment. Artificial intelligence robot summarize smart solution. Education Technology. 3D vector created from graphic software. Stock Vector

Young African American woman homeschool mom helping son with homework, mother and child studying at home together. Parent sitting at table with kid checking assignment. Parenthood and homeschooling

Young African American woman homeschool mom helping son with homework, mother and child studying at home together. Parent sitting at table with kid checking assignment. Parenthood and homeschooling Stock Photo

Positive young male student in red shirt looking at camera while sitting at table with laptop and notebooks during homework assignment

Positive young male student in red shirt looking at camera while sitting at table with laptop and notebooks during homework assignment Stock Photo

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Student guy wear glasses studying in library or classroom, using laptop working on essay, prepare for college exams seated at table with diverse group mates. Education, professionals skills concept

Student guy wear glasses studying in library or classroom, using laptop working on essay, prepare for college exams seated at table with diverse group mates. Education, professionals skills concept Stock Photo

African young teenager e-learning on distance, using laptop, writing homework assignment in copybook, watching webinars online from home.

African young teenager e-learning on distance, using laptop, writing homework assignment in copybook, watching webinars online from home. Stock Photo

High angle of focused teen male student in casual clothes sitting at table with laptop and writing homework assignment while studying in library

High angle of focused teen male student in casual clothes sitting at table with laptop and writing homework assignment while studying in library Stock Photo

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Thoughtful beautiful woman sitting on a couch with looking outside in cafe. Creating new ideas, startup new business and projects. Doing homework assignments Stock Photo

assignment text written on a notebook with pencils

assignment text written on a notebook with pencils Stock Photo

High school student taking notes from book for her study. Young woman sitting at desk and finding information in college library. Focused girl studying in classroom completing assignment.

High school student taking notes from book for her study. Young woman sitting at desk and finding information in college library. Focused girl studying in classroom completing assignment. Stock Photo

Multitasking student doing homework, personal projects, solving geometry, physics, using laptop, mobile phone, writing textbook, typing. Stressed school kid studying hard vector character illustration

Multitasking student doing homework, personal projects, solving geometry, physics, using laptop, mobile phone, writing textbook, typing. Stressed school kid studying hard vector character illustration Stock Vector

Close up pile of unfinished paperwork on office desk waiting to be managed. Stack of homework assignment with paperclips. Report papers stacks. Business and education concept.

Close up pile of unfinished paperwork on office desk waiting to be managed. Stack of homework assignment with paperclips. Report papers stacks. Business and education concept.
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Young asian student in casual clothes putting hands behind head and looking outside to resting after reading a book and studying education knowledge to doing homework assignments in university.

Young asian student in casual clothes putting hands behind head and looking outside to resting after reading a book and studying education knowledge to doing homework assignments in university. Stock Photo

Focused african american school girl studying with books laptop preparing for test exam writing essay doing homework at home, teenage student learning assignment making notes, teen education concept

Focused african american school girl studying with books laptop preparing for test exam writing essay doing homework at home, teenage student learning assignment making notes, teen education concept Stock Photo

Caring young mom and her daughter sitting at table at home and making homework assignment together, tutor and girl child study learn do home task

Caring young mom and her daughter sitting at table at home and making homework assignment together, tutor and girl child study learn do home task Stock Photo

Cute little boy sitting on the desk studying writing on notebook doing her homework at home

Cute little boy sitting on the desk studying writing on notebook doing her homework at home Stock Vector

Young asian student in casual clothes wear headphones to listening music and sleep to resting on desk after reading a book and studying education knowledge to doing homework assignments in university.

Young asian student in casual clothes wear headphones to listening music and sleep to resting on desk after reading a book and studying education knowledge to doing homework assignments in university. Stock Photo

young boy child kid pupil study work on homework assignment at home

young boy child kid pupil study work on homework assignment at home Stock Photo

Learn for knowledge. Happy child do homework in writing. Written homework assignment. Horizontal isolated poster of school girl student. Banner header portrait of schoolgirl copy space.

Learn for knowledge. Happy child do homework in writing. Written homework assignment. Horizontal isolated poster of school girl student. Banner header portrait of schoolgirl copy space. Stock Photo

Young female friends studying together at table

Young female friends studying together at table Stock Photo

Mother helps her daughter with homework assignment .

Mother helps her daughter with homework assignment . Stock Photo

Concentrated on hometask. Kid do homework assignment. Homework writing. School education. Banner of schoolgirl student. School child pupil portrait with copy space.

Concentrated on hometask. Kid do homework assignment. Homework writing. School education. Banner of schoolgirl student. School child pupil portrait with copy space. Stock Photo

Young asian student in casual clothes wearing headphones to listening the music and reading textbook to thinking ideas while studying education knowledge and doing homework assignments in university.

Young asian student in casual clothes wearing headphones to listening the music and reading textbook to thinking ideas while studying education knowledge and doing homework assignments in university. Stock Photo

Young focused school, college girl with pen in hand write, study, think, doing assignment project homework for exams. Hard working Indian teen concentrating, read alone late hours in night at home

Young focused school, college girl with pen in hand write, study, think, doing assignment project homework for exams. Hard working Indian teen concentrating, read alone late hours in night at home  Stock Photo

Mobile education concept. Student learning online on the go using cell phone. Boy kid holding phone with school supplies flying out of screen. Modern communication technology flat vector illustration

Mobile education concept. Student learning online on the go using cell phone. Boy kid holding phone with school supplies flying out of screen. Modern communication technology flat vector illustration Stock Vector

Teacher hand holding pen for checking students homework assignment on table office. Paper documents stacked in archive with colorful paperclip. Report papers stacks. Business and education concept.

Teacher hand holding pen for checking students homework assignment on table office. Paper documents stacked in archive with colorful paperclip. Report papers stacks. Business and education concept. Stock Photo

ASSIGNMENT PLANNER KDP INTERIOR. Homework, assignment tracker.

ASSIGNMENT PLANNER KDP INTERIOR. Homework, assignment tracker. Stock Vector

Focused engaged student girl in big headphones studying foreign language, listening audio lesson at laptop, reading notes out loud, doing exercises from open book, school, college homework task

Focused engaged student girl in big headphones studying foreign language, listening audio lesson at laptop, reading notes out loud, doing exercises from open book, school, college homework task Stock Photo

Happy female teenager in white clothes with glasses and hair buns looking at camera with smile, and doing homework assignment on netbook while sitting on chair against pink background

Happy female teenager in white clothes with glasses and hair buns looking at camera with smile, and doing homework assignment on netbook while sitting on chair against pink background Stock Photo

Loving young Caucasian mom help little daughter with homework assignment study write in notebook. Caring mother and small girl child handwrite take notes prepare home task. Education concept.

Loving young Caucasian mom help little daughter with homework assignment study write in notebook. Caring mother and small girl child handwrite take notes prepare home task. Education concept. Stock Photo

Image of ac chalkboard against assignment against black background

Image of ac chalkboard against assignment against black background Stock Photo

College students discuss homework assignments after lecture. Focused young people taking notes during conversation near college

College students discuss homework assignments after lecture. Focused young people taking notes during conversation near college Stock Photo

Young student doing homework at home with school books, newspaper and digital pad helped by his mother. Mum writing on the copybook teaching his son. Education, family lifestyle, homeschooling concept

Young student doing homework at home with school books, newspaper and digital pad helped by his mother. Mum writing on the copybook teaching his son. Education, family lifestyle, homeschooling concept Stock Photo

Young focused school, college girl with pen in mouth think worried doing assignment project homework for exams. Hard working Indian teen concentrating on study that does not know the answer solution

Young focused school, college girl with pen in mouth think worried  doing assignment project homework for exams. Hard working Indian teen concentrating on study that does not know the answer solution Stock Photo

Notebook with word "Homework" on table

Notebook with word "Homework" on table Stock Photo

Smart small 7s Caucasian girl child sit at table at home write in exercise book prepare homework for school. Little kid handwrite in notebook do task assignment. Learning, education concept.

Smart small 7s Caucasian girl child sit at table at home write in exercise book prepare homework for school. Little kid handwrite in notebook do task assignment. Learning, education concept. Stock Photo

Small kid drawing a house on a table. Young caucasian boy sketching with markers at home on a sunny day. Blonde child coloring a sketch of a house with markers as his homework assignment.

Small kid drawing a house on a table. Young caucasian boy sketching with markers at home on a sunny day. Blonde child coloring a sketch of a house with markers as his homework assignment.  Stock Photo

Cropped close up of a woman writing in her notebook. Close up cropped shot of a female studying writing notes during lecture copysapce education study project college university school concept

Cropped close up of a woman writing in her notebook. Close up cropped shot of a female studying writing notes during lecture copysapce education study project college university school concept Stock Photo

Team of young college students working on study project in university library, using laptop, writing notes at table with books, sharing learning tasks. Top aerial view

Team of young college students working on study project in university library, using laptop, writing notes at table with books, sharing learning tasks. Top aerial view Stock Photo

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self study concept. workbook for homework. teen girl study to get knowledge. teen girl study school homework. back to school. school girl with homework. Completing homework assignments Stock Photo

3D Homework assignment. Concept of e-learning, online education, home schooling, web courses, tutorials.on pastel background.3d handmade.3d vector icon for technology,business illustration.

3D Homework assignment. Concept of e-learning, online education, home schooling, web courses, tutorials.on pastel background.3d handmade.3d vector icon for technology,business illustration. Stock Vector

Two Children Doing Homework Together In Kitchen

Two Children Doing Homework Together In Kitchen Stock Photo

Research, coffee and woman writing in a book at home for idea, planning or creative, goal or study notes. Notebook, education or lady student in house with tea while brainstorming homework assignment

Research, coffee and woman writing in a book at home for idea, planning or creative, goal or study notes. Notebook, education or lady student in house with tea while brainstorming homework assignment Stock Photo

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Coffee, relax and woman writing in a book at home for idea, planning or creative, research or diary. Notebook, education and female student in a house with tea while brainstorming homework assignment Stock Photo

Work from home, College student is analyzing data or doing homework assignments in her house, Use your laptop to search for information and educate yourself at home, Stay home, Internet learning.

Work from home, College student is analyzing data or doing homework assignments in her house, Use your laptop to search for information and educate yourself at home, Stay home, Internet learning. Stock Photo

Teenage girl studying, doing school homework, assignments while mother preparing dinner, cooking salad, cutting fresh vegetables, busy schoolgirl sitting at kitchen table, homeschooling

Teenage girl studying, doing school homework, assignments while mother preparing dinner, cooking salad, cutting fresh vegetables, busy schoolgirl sitting at kitchen table, homeschooling Stock Photo

Unhappy schoolgirl sitting at desk with her mother, feeling bored or fatigue doing homework

Unhappy schoolgirl sitting at desk with her mother, feeling bored or fatigue doing homework Stock Photo

Education concept: Written word Submit Assignment on blue keyboard button.

Education concept: Written word Submit Assignment on blue keyboard button. Stock Photo

Focused young african american businesswoman or student looking at laptop holding book learning, serious black woman working or studying with computer doing research or preparing for exam online

Focused young african american businesswoman or student looking at laptop holding book learning, serious black woman working or studying with computer doing research or preparing for exam online Stock Photo

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assignment writing pics

Young asian student in casual clothes reading textbook to studying education knowledge and doing homework assignments while wearing headphones and listening the music to relaxation in university.

Young asian student in casual clothes reading textbook to studying education knowledge and doing homework assignments while wearing headphones and listening the music to relaxation in university. Stock Photo

High angle of cute concentrated sibling with blond hair in casual clothes writing in copybooks while sitting at table and doing homework assignment together

High angle of cute concentrated sibling with blond hair in casual clothes writing in copybooks while sitting at table and doing homework assignment together Stock Photo

Focused young student doing homework assignment

Focused young student doing homework assignment Stock Photo

Happy Caucasian teen high school student studying with laptop books doing online research homework assignment, smiling teenage girl in headphone using computer online education concept

Happy Caucasian teen high school student studying with laptop books doing online research homework assignment, smiling teenage girl in headphone using computer online education concept Stock Photo

Latin mother and son doing homework for school inside living room - Parent help child boy with school education

Latin mother and son doing homework for school inside living room - Parent help child boy with school education Stock Photo

AI chat bot assist kid student doing homework assignment. Artificial intelligence robot generates information and summarize knowledge to accomplish tasks in smart solution. Education Technology.

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Exercise book with homework on table

Exercise book with homework on table Stock Photo

This design helps you keep track of daily homework assignments

This design helps you keep track of daily homework assignments Stock Illustration

Young asian student in casual clothes using calculator to doing homework assignments and writing notes in notebook after studying education knowledge and preparing for exam test in university.

Young asian student in casual clothes using calculator to doing homework assignments and writing notes in notebook after studying education knowledge and preparing for exam test in university. Stock Photo

Close up pile of unfinished homework assignment stacked in archive with colorful paper clips on table in school waiting to be managed and inspected. Stack of paperwork. Education and business concept.

Close up pile of unfinished homework assignment stacked in archive with colorful paper clips on table in school waiting to be managed and inspected. Stack of paperwork. Education and business concept. Stock Photo

Books, laptop and female student on a bed for learning, research or college homework assignment. Education, university and learner online in bedroom studying, reading or check exam schedule at home

Books, laptop and female student on a bed for learning, research or college homework assignment. Education, university and learner online in bedroom studying, reading or check exam schedule at home Stock Photo

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Cheerful ethnic woman laughing while helping happy boy to do homework assignment in cozy room at home Stock Photo

Student preparing for college test, exam, reading book, studying textbook, writing notes, making summary for class report. Learning workplace table, hands with pencil close up

Student preparing for college test, exam, reading book, studying textbook, writing notes, making summary for class report. Learning workplace table, hands with pencil close up Stock Photo

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Laptop, books and female student on a bed for learning, research or college homework assignment. Education, university and learner online in bedroom studying, reading or check exam schedule at home Stock Photo

Focused pretty student girl studying in public library, writing draft, notes, article, essay, webinar summary, working, sitting at desk with open books, laptop computer. Side view

Focused pretty student girl studying in public library, writing draft, notes, article, essay, webinar summary, working, sitting at desk with open books, laptop computer. Side view Stock Photo

Smart student doing homework assignment in restaurant

Smart student doing homework assignment in restaurant Stock Photo

Homework icon vector image. Suitable for mobile application web application and print media.

Homework icon vector image. Suitable for mobile application web application and print media. Stock Vector

Happy caring young Latino mom do home work learn distant use computer with small biracial daughter. Smiling Hispanic mother help girl child with home task preparation. Online education concept.

Happy caring young Latino mom do home work learn distant use computer with small biracial daughter. Smiling Hispanic mother help girl child with home task preparation. Online education concept. Stock Photo

Young student girl sit at table with textbooks and laptop staring aside, studying alone in library, looks pensive and thoughtful search solution, prepare for exam, makes task feels confused or puzzled

Young student girl sit at table with textbooks and laptop staring aside, studying alone in library, looks pensive and thoughtful search solution, prepare for exam, makes task feels confused or puzzled Stock Photo

Young Girl Sitting At Desk In Bedroom Doing Homework

Young Girl Sitting At Desk In Bedroom Doing Homework Stock Photo

Cute little African girl sitting on the desk studying writing on notebook doing her homework at home

Cute little African girl sitting on the desk studying writing on notebook doing her homework at home Stock Vector

Young asian student in casual clothes wearing headphones to listening music and reading a book to preparing exam test while studying education knowledge and doing homework assignments in university.

Young asian student in casual clothes wearing headphones to listening music and reading a book to preparing exam test while studying education knowledge and doing homework assignments in university. Stock Photo

Happy african american teen high school student studying with laptop books doing online research homework assignment, smiling black teenage girl using computer for children online education concept

Happy african american teen high school student studying with laptop books doing online research homework assignment, smiling black teenage girl using computer for children online education concept Stock Photo

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Mom and dad helping children with homework tasks and assignments from school. Parenting and helping kids to study well. Flat cartoon, vector illustration Stock Vector

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Picture Prompts

Over 140 Picture Prompts to Inspire Student Writing

By Natalie Proulx

  • May 23, 2019

Sign up for our free Learning Network newsletter. Receive new writing prompts in your inbox every week.

Updated: May 31, 2019

Think The New York Times is only for readers at a high-school reading level? Think again.

Besides written articles, The Times also offers a rich collection of visuals — photos, illustrations, graphics, GIFs and short videos — that are accessible to learners of all levels. Since 2016, we’ve been featuring these images in our daily Picture Prompts : short, image-driven posts that invite a variety of kinds of student writing.

Teachers tell us they use these prompts in all kinds of ways. Some use them to encourage students to develop a daily writing habit . Others as an exercise to practice inferences , spark discussion or support reading . This year, one elementary school music teacher told us how her class used the visuals as inspiration for writing short stories accompanied by music .

For more ideas, we have a lesson plan on how to teach with Picture Prompts and other Times images, as well as a free, on-demand webinar that explores how to use our thousands of writing prompts for everyday low-stakes writing practice across the curriculum.

Below, we’ve categorized the 140+ prompts we published during the 2018-19 school year based on the type of writing they primarily ask students to do — whether it’s penning short stories and poems, sharing experiences from their own lives, telling us their opinions, or interpreting an image’s message. All are still open for comment.

You can find even more images in our Picture Prompt roundups for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

If you use this feature with your students, or if you have other ideas for how to use photos, illustrations and graphics to encourage writing, let us know in the comments section.

What story could this image tell? Use your imagination.

Three Dots Balloon Face Oars and S’mores Conversation Spaceship at the White House Around the Campfire Special Key Computer Screen 17-Foot Python Batman on a Couch Hanging With Friends Hole in the Ceiling In a Crowd Opossum Among Shoes Your Food Obsession Tech Gadgets Carrying a Letter Reaching Through the Wall Sledding in the Mountains Trees, River, Cottage and Sheep The Ride Headphones Leap In the Stands Shade Under the Table Security Line At Their Computers Tiny Stories Tarot Cards Haunted House? Driver and Bicyclist Red Ball Kneeling and Reaching A Letter in the Mail Campfire

Share experiences from your own life.

One Last Adventure Amusement Park Dog in a Backpack Generation Z Breakfast A New App Met Gala Tidying Up Take Your Child to Work Day New Homes Photos From Space Social Media Star Signs of Spring Literary Protagonists The Story of Your Name Dream Home Momo Gym Class Nostalgic Places Price Tags Night Owl or Early Bird Lunar New Year Rescue Pets Polar Vortex Facing Rejection Dreams Superstitions Holiday Season Astrology Favorite Books Journaling Caffeine Giving and Getting Candy Around the World Journeys Saying Thank You Nutrition ‘The Simpsons’ Man, Seal, Octopus Weddings The Night Sky Remembering 9/11 World’s Largest Prairie Dog

What do you think this image, chart or cartoon is saying?

Falling Bottles Focus Here Emojis Eagle and Gender Symbols Hand and Fist Jungle Gym Stacks of Money Magnifying Glass ‘Freedom From Want’ ‘The Writer’s Block’ Watching Walking Down the Street Gun Parts Globe and Books Head Full of Stuff Tight Rope Adventure New Faces Leaping Over Binoculars Brexit Floating Coins Giant Machine Blue Water Other People’s Burdens In a Maze Chalk Outline Hands on Their Shoulders Past and Future Pieces of a Flag From a Hole to a Balloon

What’s your opinion on this issue?

Spy Cams Jack-of-all-trades Gender Expectations Game Show Winner Royal Baby Movie Theaters Tiger Woods Wins ‘The Image of the Revolution’ Final Four Referees $430 Million Deal Student Climate Strikes Women’s History Month Legos and Battlebots Cash Reward Brushing Beagle Book Covers Super Bowl Commercials Math Fast-Food Buffet The ‘Bird Box’ Challenge Hands-On Parenting 2018 in Pictures The Outspoken N.B.A. Online Video Games Standout Steer California Wildfire Election Day Public Libraries Champions A Computer in Everything Snail Mail Fashion Trends Sleep Deprivation Household Chores Gymnastics on Horseback Song of Summer Giant Ice Disk

Want more writing prompts?

You can find our full collection of writing prompts, added as they publish, here . We also have a list of over 1,000 writing prompts for narrative and persuasive writing gathered from our daily Student Opinion questions . Plus, we have a collection of “ 40 Intriguing Images to Make Students Think ,” taken from four years of our weekly “ What’s Going On in This Picture? ” feature.

  • Grades 6-12
  • School Leaders

Black History Month for Kids: Google Slides, Resources, and More!

150 Inspiring Picture Writing Prompts To Spark Creativity (Free Google Slides)

Use a picture to write a thousand words!

Picture writing prompts including a cartoon cat and mouse and a portrait of a Black family from the 1930s

Creative writing is a challenge for many students, often because they can’t come up with anything to write about. That’s why we love picture writing prompts. Each one sparks the imagination and helps young writers jump right into crafting a story to match. We rounded up a whole collection of intriguing images for use with kids in grades K-12 along. Plus we designed a set of free Google Slides featuring all of the prompts so you can easily share them with students.

Tip: Start by showing students the picture (or let them choose from among several) without making any comment about what they’re seeing. For kids who still struggle to get started, suggest a potential title or opening sentence, like the examples included here.

Don’t miss our free downloadable. Grab your full set of ready-to-go Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides with all of the prompts below.

Elementary Picture Writing Prompts

Middle school picture writing prompts, high school picture writing prompts, art picture writing prompts.

When kids first see these picture writing prompts, they may or may not immediately feel inspired. If they need some help, ask them questions like “What led up to this moment?” or “What’s going to happen next?”

Dog holding a rose in its mouth, with a heart-shaped cloud in the sky

When Larry fell in love, he fell hard.

Lighted sign reading ASK hanging from a building

When the new sign appeared on Main Street, everyone in town wondered exactly what it meant.

Snowy Footprints

A series of random footprints in the snow

After that crazy day, all that was left to show for it was footprints in the snow.

Dinosaur Bones

Child hiding inside a large toothy skull, reaching out a hand

“Come with me if you want to live!” Ash said, reaching out a hand.

Undersea Treasure

Goldfish swimming around a closed treasure chest sitting in the sand under the water

For years, no one saw the locked treasure chest but the local fish, who wondered what it could contain.

A Game of Fetch

A claymation dog bringing a stick to a snowman in a snowy scene

To Scout, it was a game, but to Mr. Freezy, it was much more.

Ladybug Gossip

Of pair of spotted red ladybugs perched on a leaf

The ladybug’s picnic was an excellent chance to meet up with old friends and hear all the latest gossip.

Two children peering in through a barred window

We met them when they peeked into our window, watching us as we ate lunch and watched cartoons.

King of the Jungle

Majestic lion perched on a log wearing a crown

It wasn’t the crown that made Amari the king of all he surveyed.

The Final Pitch

Small child waiting at home base for a baseball pitch that's about to arrive

It all came down to this—the final pitch in a game that was tied 2-2.

Doggie Massage

Two dogs sitting in a way that looks like one is giving the other a back massage

Every dog in the neighborhood knew that Rocky gave the best massages and was always willing to lend an ear too.

Skateboard Life

Girl in a striped shirt and red headband posing with a skateboard in front of some graffiti

When Charli got her first skateboard, she made herself a promise.

Garden of the Past

Painting of a woman in old-fashioned clothing walking in a cottage garden

The woman walked in the garden every day, never saying a word.

Sunset Friends

Two children on a jungle gym silhouetted against a setting sun

They met on the jungle gym every day at sunset, sharing everything about their days.

Pink Umbrellas

A sunny alleyway with pink umbrellas strung across it

When the pink umbrellas first appeared, Toni thought they might be magic.

Firefly Forest

Illustration of a forest at night filled with fireflies

Olivia was surprised to discover that the fireflies didn’t just glow, they also sang.

Robot Spider

A large mechanical spider standing on a stormy beach

When it first crawled ashore, the mechanical spider moved slowly.

Fallen House

House tipped on its side following a hurricane

Staring at their house, which was now on its side, the whole family was in shock.

Red Riding Hood

A young girl wearing a red hooded cape riding a brown horse in the forest

If only she’d been riding her faithful steed the day she’d met the Big Bad Wolf, things might have been very different.

Kangaroo Fall

A kangaroo sprawled on its back in the grass

“Well, this is embarrassing,” thought Bouncer, as laughter filled the air around him.

A child's hand-drawn sign for a lost cat attached to a tree

Daci’s big brother said her signs wouldn’t help them find their runaway cat, but he was wrong.

Penguin Bookshop

An illustration of a penguin wearing a top hat, standing in a booksshop

A visit to Mr. Pickerel’s Penguin Bookshop is always an adventure.

A carton of colorful eggs with faces drawn on them

Of all the eggs in the carton, Ella was the one who could always crack you up.

Children writing a fairground swing ride

That was the year Min was finally tall enough to ride the Sky Swings, but now she wasn’t so sure.

Rubber Duck Parade

A row of rubber ducks in various costumes floating down a water-filled gutter

It was truly an honor to be asked to lead the Spring Duck Parade.

Teddy Story Time

Three teddy bears posed to look as if they're reading a book

Every afternoon, the three friends gathered for story time in their favorite spot in the woods.

Underwater School

A child sitting at a desk, looking out the window at fish swimming by

Nia thought going to school underwater would be exciting, but some days she really missed going outside for recess.

A red ball with a smiley face floating on the water

The day Amos started his journey down the river, the sun was shining brightly.

Turtle Trouble

A grumpy looking sea turtle floating in clear water

“None shall pass,” growled the old sea turtle, blocking the way.

Dinosaur Race

An illustration of a young girl racing alongside a dinosaur

Pia was supposed to keep Balthazar on a leash, but once they reached the forest, she set him free and they both began to run.

Finally Seeing Eye to Eye

Cartoon illustration of a large bear with a tiny mouse standing on its nose, looking into its eyes (Picture Writing Prompts)

“So, we meet at last, face to face,” Lord Squeakerton said to his enemy, the Count of Catnip.

Monkey face with mouth and eyes open in surprise

It takes a lot to surprise a monkey, but you don’t see something like this every day.

Not Coming Out

Child hiding behind a heap of pillows on a beige couch (Picture Writing Prompts)

The day started out normally enough, but by the end, Chris knew he was in over his head.

Life on Other Planets

A space scene showing a robot and robot dog standing on the surface of an alien planet, with a domed habitat behind them

“Hurry up,” Grnklor told his robopup. “We have to get back inside before nightfall.”

Reindeer Games

Boy leading a reindeer along a snowy path into the setting sun (Picture Writing Prompts)

The wind had died down, but the setting sun seemed to take all the warmth of the day with it.

Something to Celebrate

A young boy raises his arms in triumph as a young girl points at a computer screen, smiling (Picture Writing Prompts)

Their classmates could hear their shouts of joy from all the way down the hall.

Home Sweet Mushroom

Illustration of a mushroom turned into a house, with a fence and lighted windows, under a full moon

When the fairies that lived in the garden invited her to stay with them for awhile, Maria wasn’t sure what to expect.

Loch Ness Mystery

Model of the Loch Ness Monster rising from a lake

“There it is! I told you Nessie is real!” Angus whispered to Lee.

Lonely Bear

Worn teddy bear sitting on a stone bridge

It was hard to say who was lonelier that night, Amil or his lost stuffed bear, Jasper.

Sometimes You Lose

Boy sitting on the ground with his face in his hands

When his team lost the championship, Miguel was crushed, but it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to him.   

Middle school writing prompts can be a little more complex, with pictures that have a lot of potential interpretations. Encourage students to delve deeper into the story by describing how the characters feel and why they behave the way they do.

A pair of light blue Converse sneakers

Morgan was incredibly proud of those shoes, paid for entirely with money from after-school jobs.

Never Lose Hope

Splotch of green paint with the words

With his last bit of energy, Kai scrawled his message in the wet paint.

Computer keyboard with a red button reading Get Me Out of Here

The keyboard button could only be used once, and no one knew exactly what happened when you pressed it.

Piano Lessons

A young child's hands on a piano keyboard

Before she could even speak, Arya was drawn to the black and white keys.

Rolled fern front photoshopped to look as if a baby is sleeping inside

There was no doubt about it, this was was indeed a very special kind of garden.

A person wearing a dingy bunny costume standing on the end of a dock

No matter how you looked at it, it had been a very rough day to be the Easter Bunny.

Empty Chairs

Four empty beach chairs on the shore, with seagulls flying overhead.

By sunset, all four chairs were empty, and the only signs of life were the gulls swooping down from above.

Floating Treasure

Two black birds sitting on a chest floating in the water

To the birds, it was simply a convenient place to land, but Ali and I knew it was much more than that.

Shadow Question

A pair of sneakers and a person's shadow in a puddle

That was the day they discovered that just because you were invisible didn’t mean your shadow was.

Letter and Key

An old key lying on an old handwritten letter

The day she turned 12, Vivi’s aunt handed her an envelope containing the family secret.

Space Target

An illustration of a woman aiming an arrow at a target against an outer space landscape

Onyx paused, knowing that once their arrow hit the target, there was no knowing what would happen.

Mermaid Mystery

A mysterious figure that could be a mermaid, seen from below

It was a mermaid—or was it?

World on a String

A girl standing on a path, holding a suitcase and a bunch of balloons that look like planets

Her dad had promised to give her the world, but she wasn’t expecting three more planets as well.

Bee Standoff

Two bees face ot face on a purple flower

“This flower ain’t big enough for the both of us!” said Bianca.

Solitary Seat

A leather chair next to an old woodstove with a valise and old books

For as long as anyone could remember, Angus McGee spent his evenings in the same chair next to the woodstove.

Best Friends

A little girl holding a very large teddy bear, dragging it down a dirt road

When you decide to run away from home forever, you can’t possibly leave your best friend behind.

Dinosaur Demise

Illustration of dinosaurs panicking as a meteor is about to hit the earth

In retrospect, setting the time machine to randomly choose a day and time in the past might not have been such a good idea.

Magic Lamps

A collection of green

“Choose wisely,” said the old shopkeeper, “for only one of these lamps is truly magic.”

Message in a Bottle

Glass bottle on a seashore with a rolled up paper inside

The message floated at sea for more than 50 years before the day we found it on the beach.

Barrel Boat

Man wearing a life jacket and paddling half a barrel in a lake

Of all the ways to impress someone, Jonah thought to himself, this had to be one of the most ridiculous.

Dragon Guardian

A child sitting in the grass, with a dragon curled up around her

When your parents give you your own dragon guardian, your childhood is bound to be enchanted.

Octopus’s Garden

Diver encountering a large octopus with fish in the background (Middle School Picture Writing Prompts)

Wouldn’t you like to be under the sea, in an octopus’s garden in the shade?

Around the Corner

Girl peering around a corner at a boy walking a dog

After finally pressing “send,” she couldn’t resist peeking around the corner to watch him read the text.

Beam Me Up!

Small child sitting in a field watching a flying saucer beam up its tricycle (Middle School Picture Writing Prompts)

Milo’s earliest memory was of watching his beloved tricycle float into the sky above him, caught in a beam of light.

Poison Apple

A red apple held in a skeleton's hand

To join the club, all Aaron had to do was creep up and snatch the apple from the skeleton’s hand without being seen.

Giraffe Council

Three giraffes shown from the neck up against a cloudy blue sku

“It is now 3 p.m., and I call this meeting of the Mighty Council of Giraffes to order,” announced Imari.

Mystery Creature

Computer illustrated creature with blue scales, pink spikes, and large eyes

At first glance, it was hard to tell whether the little creature was friend or foe.

Woman leaping across a chasm silhouetted by an orange sky

As the sky turned orange, Keisha ran faster than ever and used the last of her energy to push off and soar over the water below.

The End of Days

A boy stands with his bicycle watching as bombs rain down on a city skyline (Picture Writing Prompts)

Despite their best efforts, they arrived too late—the battle had already begun.

Out of the Book

Woman dressed in a blue ball gown peering out of a book lit from inside, with a mouse nearby

“Happily ever after” was about to take on a whole new meaning.

Stopped Clock

Old broken alarm clock stopped at 11:17

I was sure that the time on the broken clock was the clue to solving the mystery.

Dueling Webs

Two dew-covered spiderwebs in the early morning sun

It’s never a good idea to build your web too close to another spider’s, but this time I had no choice.

Do Shoes Grow on Trees?

A bare tree covered with hanging pairs of shoes against a clear blue sky

The day I threw my own shoes into the tree was the day I really started to grow up.

Abstract Art

Closeup of splotches of colorful paint

“So,” asked their art teacher, “what do you think this painting means?”

Wandering Robots

Small cardboard robot in a field of daisies (Picture Writing Prompts)

Everything about NB-317 was made of cardboard except his heart—that was made of flesh and blood and very capable of being broken.

Dream Come True

Blue house floating in the sky above mountains, held up by blue balloons

It all started when Quinn watched her favorite movie the night before they assigned partners for the eighth grade science fair project.

Mysterious Cave

Rocky cave with strange geometric patterns in the rock

The cave was unlike anything we’d ever seen before, and what was more, it almost seemed like the rock was alive.

Storm at Sea

A pirate ship on stormy seas, with a purple sky and dramatic streaks of lightning

As the rain lashed his face and lightning tore apart the sky, Kiran had to admit he’d always thought it would be a lot more fun being a pirate.

Grasshopper Close-Up

A closeup view of a grasshopper looking directly at the camera

That’s when Javed realized it wasn’t that the grasshopper was too big—it was that he was suddenly very, very small.

UFO Parking

Sign saying UFO Parking with picture of a flying saucer

“Well, that’s convenient,” Javdok remarked to Qabow when they saw the sign.   

High school writers are ready to dig deep, exploring character development and detailed plots. These pictures offer a jumping-off point to set their imaginations free.

Cyborg Girl

An altered image showing a young girl in a black dress with a white collar, with a neck made of mechanical gears

When she was 14, Tasha’s parents finally told her the truth about what she really was.

BBQ Cookout

Barbeque grill with many different kinds of meat

“So, I’m guessing no one told you I’m a vegetarian?” asked Sadie with a smile.

Hands holding up a phone with a picture of a baby's face in front an old man's face

The latest app was like a time machine, allowing people to look back in time, but it also had a dark side.

Woman sitting on a sidewalk with her head on her knees as others walk by

She was surrounded by people but never felt more alone.

Hippo Troubles

A hippo mother and baby with its mouth open

Like all parents, hippos sometimes really need a break from their kids.

iPad Farmer

Old man in overalls using an iPad while snapping green beans

Grandpa Jack never failed to surprise us.

Marching Band Blues

Black man in a red shirt sitting on a bench, wearing a sousaphone

Kaleel sat sadly on the bench, watching the rest of the band march away in jaunty time to the music.

Never-Ending Tunnel

A white-tiled tunnel stretching far into the distance

The tunnel seemed to stretch to infinity, but Jayma knew what was at the end, and it terrified her.

Carving Out Love

A birch tree with

For years, we wondered who “WP” was, and who it was who loved them so much they carved it into a tree for all to see.

Glowing Globe

Man holding a glowing globe in a misty library

Just then, the globe began to glow, and Jaxson knew he was about to leap through space and time once again—destination unknown.

See No Evil

Three skeletons posed in the classic

It seemed like a funny joke to pose the skeletons in front of old Mrs. Petoski’s house, but then she turned up dead, and the police said it was murder.

Upside Down

Woman hanging upside down from the ceiling in a kitchen

It’s an odd feeling to wake up one morning and find yourself able to walk on the ceiling.

Face at the Fence

Child with their face pressed up against a wire fence

So much depended on which side of the fence you were on.

Bicycle Race

Three people competing in a bicycle race

Finley had trained too hard for this race to come in third—it just wasn’t good enough.

Family Travels

Vintage photo of a Black family strapping luggage to a car, with a young girl posing in front

In the picture, my grandmother’s expression is hard to interpret, but she’s told me the story many times.

Laundromat Antics

A pair of legs waving out of a dryer in a laundromat

Dani never expected to meet her first love feet first.

Black and white photo of a wedding ring lying on a sheet of notepaper saying "I'm sorry!"

Molly’s mom probably didn’t mean for her to be the one to find the note, but that’s how things turned out.

Through the Storm

Pickup truck driving through flooded streets in a storm

Javier knew it would have been smarter to stay put, but he had to make sure his mom was safe before the worst of the storm arrived.

Lifetime Friends

Two babies holding hands while being held by adults

They’d been friends for as long as they could remember—even longer, in fact.

Stray Kitten

A small kitten facing a person's legs, in black and white

“I am NOT taking you home with me,” Kai told the tiny mewling kitten firmly.

Abandoned Greenhouse

Woman inside an abandoned ramshackle greenhouse in the woods

Willow was free to leave at any time, but she couldn’t make herself go.

A fence topped by rolls of razor wire against a blue sky

Amani’s earliest memory was razor wire—miles and miles of it.

Church Graveyard

An old graveyard outside a stone church

Everyone feels differently in a graveyard, but for me, they’re very peaceful places.

Orb of Death

A hooded figure folding out a crystal ball with a spooky image in it

“Do you really want to know?” Death asked. “Because once you know, you won’t be able to forget.”

Missed Shot

Men in wheelchairs playing basketball, as one laments a missed shot

Steve was sure his shot would make it, but it bounced off the rim just as the buzzer rang to end the game.

First Contact

Alien figure with a human in a spacesuit visible in the window behind them (High School Picture Writing Prompts)

This was it—the moment that would change what it meant to be human forever.

One Life To Live

An old man wearing a cowboy hat sits in front of a house (Picture Writing Prompts)

His face said his life had been a hard one, but his eyes told a different tale.

Winter Walk

Snow-covered field with a winding trail of footprints

Snow fell, creating a blank canvas to record the story of that fateful walk.

Train to Nowhere

Sepia-toned image of an old sleeper train car in disrepair

It certainly wasn’t the most luxurious way to travel, but then again, no one really wanted to make this trip in the first place.

Modern Mary Poppins

Woman standing in the middle of a wheat field on a gray day, holding an umbrella and bag

She dropped into our lives on a gray day in midwinter, a hint of the spring that was to come.

All That Remains

A chair sits in the hallway of an abandoned building under a shaft of light from above (High School Picture Writing Prompts)

Dust motes filled the air of the abandoned hallway, replacing the voices once heard there.

A very small bunny being carried in a shirt pocket

From the day he found the little creature, Luis refused to go anywhere without him.

The Question

Figure holding flowers behind its back, with a woman turning to look in the background

Their happily ever after began quietly, with a bouquet of wildflowers.

Night Lights

A person holding an umbrella walks down an alley toward a street filled with neon lights

Misty rain both blurred and emphasized the lights that lit Suri’s way home that evening.

Forest of Fear

Black and white photo of tree trunks with arms and hands reach out from behind them (Picture Writing Prompts)

At first, Mateo thought it was a joke, but the screams that followed told him there was nothing remotely funny about it.

Closeup of a human eye, with the pupil represented as a camera lens

At the elite level, being a spy meant serious commitments.

The Yellow Door

A row of white doors with one yellow door (Picture Writing Prompts)

On their 14th birthday, every resident of Fresnia was required to stand before the Wall of Doors and make a choice.

Graffiti Palace

Abandoned warehouse with graffiti on the walls

To strangers, it seemed random, but every mark on those walls had deep meaning for us.

Fossil Fish

Fish fossil in light-colored stone

Millions of years ago, the fish gave one final flop before lying still in the deep mud.

On the Rails

Woman standing on railroad tracks holding a guitar and looking off into the distant sunset (Picture Writing Prompts)

Aliyah stood on the tracks, uncertain of where to go next.

These picture prompts are all works of art, some more well known than others. Try providing them to students without sharing the titles first, then offer up the titles if they need some help getting started.

The Dance Class (Edgar Degas)

The Dance Class by Edgar Degas

Greek Funerary Plaque (520-510 BCE)

Greek Funerary Plaque

Washington Crossing the Delaware (Emanuel Leutze)

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze

Kyōsai’s Pictures of One Hundred Demons

Kyōsai’s Pictures of One Hundred Demons

First Steps, After Millet (Vincent van Gogh)

First Steps by Vincent Van Gogh

Lady Lilith (Dante Gabriel Rossetti)

Lady Lilith by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (Georges Seurat)

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

After the Hurricane, Bahamas (Winslow Homer)

After the Hurricane, Bahamas by Winslow Homer

Drawing Lots for Prizes (Kitagawa Utamaro)

Drawing Lots for Prizes by Kitagawa Utamaro

Portions of Field Armor (Jacob Halder)

Portions of a Field Armor by Jacob Halder

Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner (Lewis Wickes Hine)

Sadie Pfeifer, a Cotton Mill Spinner by Lewis Wickes Hine

Still Life With Monkey, Fruits, and Flowers (Jean Baptiste Oudry)

Still Life With Monkey, Fruits, and Flowers by Jean Baptiste Oudry

Man Leading a Giraffe, 5th Century Byzantine

Man Leading a Giraffe, 5th Century Byzantine

The Three Skulls (Paul Cézanne)

The Three Skulls by Paul Cézanne

The Madame B Album (Marie-Blanche Hennelle Fournier)

The Madame B Album by Marie-Blanche Hennelle Fournier

Coiled Trumpet in the Form of a Snarling Feline Face (c. 100 BCE to 500 CE)

Coiled Trumpet in the Form of a Snarling Feline Face (c. 100 BCE to 500 CE)

Crazy Quilt With Animals (Florence Elizabeth Marvin)

Crazy Quilt with Animals by Florence Elizabeth Marvin

Storytime (Eugenio Zampighi)

Storytime by Eugenio Zampighi

Cubist Village (Georges Gaudion)

Cubist Village by Georges Gaudion

Zig-Zag Passenger and Freight Train (Unknown)

Zig-zag Passenger and Freight Train (Unknown)

The Power of Music (William Sidney Mount)

The Power of Music by William Sidney Mount

The Large Tree (Paul Gauguin)

The Large Tree (Paul Gaugin)

After the Bath (Mary Cassatt)

After the Bath (Mary Cassatt)

Wedding Gown (Korea, Late 1800s)

Wedding Gown (Korea, Late 1800s)

The Contemplator (Eugène Carrière)

The Contemplator (Eugène Carrière)

The Girl I Left Behind Me (Eastman Johnson)

The Girl I Left Behind Me (Eastman Johnson)

24c Curtiss Jenny Invert Single

24c Curtiss Jenny invert single

Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model

Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model

Wrecked Zeppelin (British Library)

Wrecked Zeppelin photograph from The British Library

Skeleton (Tales of Terror Frontispiece)

Skeletons Frontispiece from Tales of Terror

Get Your Free Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides

Just click the button below to fill out the form and get instant access to free downloadable Picture Writing Prompts Google Slides with all the prompts included above.

How do you use picture writing prompts in your classroom? Come share ideas and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

These picture writing prompts are a unique way to excite young creative writers. Find options for all grades on a variety of subjects.

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What Is Academic Writing?

Lindsay Kramer

You learn a lot in college, and not all of it can be found in the course catalog. A lot of the skills you acquire you find yourself having to master on your own: managing your time, researching efficiently, and making ramen noodles in a coffee pot. 

Another one of the skills you need to master is academic writing . Academic writing isn’t like other types of writing; it’s formal , it’s objective, and for a lot of students just starting college or grad school, it can be daunting. 

But once you break down the fundamentals of academic writing and examine them piece by piece, you’ll see they’re nothing to be afraid of. There are rules you need to follow, but once you’ve got those rules down, you’re on your way onto the dean’s list. 

Give your papers extra polish Grammarly helps you improve your academic writing Write with Grammarly

Table of contents

Characteristics of academic writing, types of academic writing, academic writing structure, academic writing tips, score top marks on your writing every time.

Perhaps the most prominent characteristic of academic writing is the emphasis on adhering to a style guide . While nearly all content and media outlets use a specific style guide—which is either an already established guide or one of their own creation—correct adherence to a chosen style guide is nonnegotiable with academic writing. In most cases, you’ll lose credit if you don’t adhere to the style guide in your writing. 

Two of the main style guides for academic writing are the Modern Language Association (MLA) guide and the American Psychological Association (APA) guide. Others include the American Medical Association (AMA) style guide, the American Chemical Society (ACS) style guide, and the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) . Each of these style guides maintains specific rules for how to format and punctuate your writing as well as how to cite the sources you use. 

Beyond the style guide, these are the key characteristics that define academic writing:

Academic writing should be formal, clear, and concise

Academic writing uses formal language. It’s also optimized for clarity and conciseness , which can initially seem contradictory to the use of formal language. 

Many writers confuse formal language with flowery language . Generally, flowery language uses elaborate words, lengthy sentences (sometimes to the point of being run-on), and metaphors so drawn-out that they obfuscate the point the writer is trying to make. 

Actual formal language is much different. Formal language uses the most accurate, non-colloquial verbiage available to communicate the author’s points, and this verbiage may include jargon. Sentences are only as complex as they need to be in order to express coherent thoughts and positions; you should use literary devices like metaphor sparingly. In instances where literary devices are appropriate, they’re used differently than in other types of writing. Overall, clarity and conciseness are your main goals. 

Academic writing takes an objective, detached stance from the subject being discussed. Because this type of tone is essential, the passive voice is sometimes necessary in academic writing, particularly in the sciences. 

Academic writing uses prescriptive grammar

When it comes to grammar, academic writing is prescriptive. By that, we mean there are specific grammar and style rules that your writing must adhere to in order to be correct. These rules come from two sources: the style guide for the piece you’re working on and generally established conventions for academic writing. Style guides provide granular requirements, such as instructions on whether to hyphenate certain compound words and when to spell out numbers versus use numerals. Broader academic writing conventions, like writing in the third person and maintaining an objective tone , apply to all academic writing. 

In contrast, other, more casual types of writing are not as strict about “proper grammar” versus “improper grammar.” In fact, in certain other types of writing, like blogging and ad copywriting, it’s often necessary to break established grammar rules in order to hook readers’ attention and communicate with them effectively. 

Using ellipses to build suspense, ending sentences with prepositions , and using exclamation points to make your sentences exciting are great strategies for catchy, conversational writing—but they have no place in academic writing.  

Formatting will depend on your style guide

Beyond adhering to specific grammar and style rules, your academic writing also needs to be formatted according to the style guide for your assignment. Formatting includes how you number your pages, what’s included in your header and footer, how the contents of your cover page are ordered, and how your citations and references are formatted. For example, if you’re writing a humanities paper, you’re most likely going to write it according to the MLA style guide. According to this style guide, the source page is titled “Works Cited” and each reference’s author is named by their last name followed by their first name. For a social sciences paper, you’d typically use the APA style guide, which instead says to title the sources page “References” and lists authors by their last names followed by their first initials.

Academic writing covers a variety of types of work. These include:

An essay is a relatively short piece of writing that, like a research paper, makes and supports a specific point. 

Theses and dissertations

A thesis and a dissertation are two types of capstone projects. Generally, the term thesis refers to the culminating project of a master’s program (and some bachelor’s programs) while the term dissertation is used for a project that culminates in a doctoral program. 

These projects are lengthy works that demonstrate the author’s candidacy for the degree they are seeking by posing an intellectual question, a persuasive argument , or a thought-provoking position. Both are created through the candidate’s research, under the guidance of their academic advisor. 

Research proposals

A research proposal is a document formally requesting sponsorship or funding to support the author’s academic research. A research proposal outlines how the author plans to conduct their research, why they want to conduct this specific research, and what they aim to accomplish through the research.

Research papers

A research paper is a comprehensive work that thoroughly demonstrates the author’s understanding of the subject they researched. Every research paper is formulated around a thesis statement—the statement in the opening paragraph that states the author’s position and summarizes their supporting arguments. 

Literature reviews

A literature review is a piece of academic writing that summarizes, describes, and evaluates a topic through analysis of other authors’ works. A literature review examines a topic through two or more works, and these works can be books, scholarly articles, presentations, dissertations, or other published materials. 

As much as academic writing uses formal language and conforms closely to style guides, it also follows a clear structure. This specific structure depends on the type of writing being produced, but generally follows this type of outline:

1 Introduction that clearly states the thesis and aims of the work

2 Position/finding/challenge supporting the thesis

a. Supporting content

b. Supporting content

3 Position/finding/challenge supporting the thesis

4 Position/finding/challenge supporting the thesis

5 Conclusion

The length of the work and the number of sections included depend on the specific assignment and the topic being covered. While an essay may only be five to seven paragraphs or so and span just a few pages, a dissertation generally clocks in around 150–300 pages. 

Another area where academic writing differs greatly from other types of writing is that in an academic paper, you always have to cite your sources. How to format your citations depends on the style guide you’re using.

Although the citation format for each style guide varies a bit, they all include the same key information about the sources you cite. This information includes the author’s name, the name of the work you’re citing, the work’s copyright date, and the work’s publisher. Take a look at how the most commonly used academic style guides advise on format:

Don’t overlook the importance of properly citing your sources—all of them. Each formatting style has specific guidelines for citing just about  any  kind of source, including  TV shows , PDFs , Wikipedia articles , and  YouTube videos . Although you probably won’t face plagiarism consequences for an incorrectly formatted citation when you clearly made an attempt to attribute the work properly, an incomplete or missing citation may be deemed plagiarism, as this article explains. Possible consequences for plagiarism include:

  • A lowered grade
  • Automatic failure of the assignment 
  • Failure of the course
  • Removal from the academic program
  • Suspension or expulsion from your university

Always refer to the style guide

In academic writing, there’s no gray area concerning whether something is grammatically correct or not. It’s either correct or it isn’t. The style guide for your assignment covers all the rules regarding what is and isn’t correct, so if you’re ever not sure, refer to the style guide. And if you’re ever not sure which style guide to follow, ask your instructor. 

Actively avoid plagiarism

By this, we mean it isn’t enough to simply avoid stealing others’ words when you’re writing. We mean you should consciously choose to differentiate your writing from your sources as much as possible so you don’t inadvertently plagiarize another writer’s work—and so your work really shines as a unique piece. 

As we mentioned above, even unintentional plagiarism can mean failing your assignment and other consequences. Grammarly’s plagiarism checker can help you avoid unintentional plagiarism while making your writing more engaging. It’s easy: Just run a plagiarism check using the Grammarly Editor and your work will be immediately compared against billions of other pieces available online. If there are any pieces of text that appear to need citations, Grammarly will flag them and you can cite them accordingly.  

Do not use contractions

Academic writing never uses contractions. This is one of the biggest differences between formal and informal writing. 

Do not take it personally

When you’re writing an academic paper, always write it in the third person. The first person (I, me) and the second person (you) are not appropriate for academic writing because they undermine the author’s objectivity. 

Academic writing is black-tie writing

Think of an academic paper as a formal event. Your writing needs to show up “dressed appropriately.” This means: conforming to the style guide, using formal language, and absolutely avoiding slang and colloquial expressions. In contrast, think of an email to your professor as business casual and messages with your friends as casual. If the language you use with your friends is shorts and sandals and the language you use with your professor is khakis and a polo, the language in your academic writing needs to be a tuxedo. 

Writing an academic paper is a lot different from writing a blog post, an email, a piece of fiction, and even other kinds of writing your professor might assign, like a critical response to a reading or a presentation for class. A piece of academic writing, whether it’s an analytical essay, a research paper, a persuasive essay , or another kind of assignment in this vein, needs to adhere to very specific style and formatting standards. It also needs to have the appropriate tone and vocabulary for an academic work. 

Don’t submit your writing without running it through the Grammarly Editor first. In the Grammarly Editor, you can set specific goals for your writing so it strikes the perfect tone for your audience. Just set the domain to “Academic” and in addition to suggestions for grammar and punctuation, you’ll see suggestions for how to change your word choice, sentence structure, and other aspects of your writing to make it shine. 

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