A phraseological study of highlighting strategies in novice and expert writing

Tove Larsson, Randi Reppen, Tülay Dixon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Linguistic features used to highlight findings, concepts, ideas, and their significance are ubiquitous in academic writing. In the present exploratory study, we investigate how novice writers (L1 and L2 English) and expert writers use formulaic discontinuous sequences for highlighting purposes; we also look at the extent to which there are differences in use of these across five academic registers. Through a bottom-up approach, we identified five discontinuous sequences that were particularly productive for highlighting purposes: it is * to (e.g., it is interesting to), it is * that (e.g., it is clear that), the * of the (e.g., the importance of the), the * that (e.g., the fact that), and one of the * (e.g., one of the major). While the novice writers largely depend on the same discontinuous sequences as the experts, they tend to rely more heavily on a limited set of fillers (i.e., lexical items that go in the open slots). Only minor differences across registers were noted, which suggests that highlighting strategies play an important part in all registers investigated. It is hoped that results from this study can help novice writers extend their linguistic repertoire and inform future research on highlighting strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101179
JournalJournal of English for Academic Purposes
StatePublished - Nov 2022


  • Expert writing
  • Highlighting strategies
  • Learner writing
  • Novice writing
  • Phraseology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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