I need a word that describes a detached style of writing, like a textbook or medical journal. I want one that's kind of like sterile but without the negative connotations. I feel like formal is too general, and academic doesn't fit the context well enough.

I think prosaic is pretty close to what I'm looking for, but I feel like it suggests that the writing is just ordinary and not detached/scientific.


He worried about the poetry exam because he was most familiar with ______ writing.


3 Answers 3


I need a word that describes a detached style of writing, like a textbook or medical journal.

I believe that academic writing is, in fact, the label that suites your requirements by definition: it is the type of writing used in textbooks and journals. See the list of its characteristics below, which, in addition to formal, include objective, balanced and evidenced. These contribute to the "detached/scientific" quality you are looking for.

academic (writing)

What is academic writing?

Academic writing is writing which communicates ideas, information and research to the wider academic community. It can be divided into two types: student academic writing, which is used as a form of assessment at university, as well as at schools as preparation for university study; and expert academic writing, which is writing that is intended for publication in an academic journal or book.

Both types of academic writing (student and expert) are expected to adhere to the same standards, which can be difficult for students to master. The characteristics of academic writing which together distinguish it from other forms of writing are that it is:

"Academic Writing", eapfoundation.com

What is academic writing?

Academic writing is clear, concise, focussed, structured and backed up by evidence. Its purpose is to aid the reader’s understanding.

It has a formal tone and style, but it is not complex and does not require the use of long sentences and complicated vocabulary.

Each subject discipline will have certain writing conventions, vocabulary and types of discourse that you will become familiar with over the course of your degree. However, there are some general characteristics of academic writing that are relevant across all disciplines. "Academic Writing", library.leeds.ac.uk

What is academic writing?

Loosely defined, academic writing is writing for academic purposes. That is, it is writing that explores or examines some aspect of knowledge. Generally, it is the kind of writing that scholars or academics produce (as philosophers, historians, social scientists, natural scientists, and so forth) as can be seen in academic books and articles in academic journals. There are of course, differences in such aspects as organization, vocabulary, and academic conventions from one discipline to another. Pedro Pak-tao Ng; Effective Writing (2003)

(Wikipedia gives scholarly writing as a synonym.)

academic (adj.)

Of, relating to, or characteristic of an educational institution or environment; concerned with the pursuit of research, education, and scholarship; scholarly, educational, intellectual. (OED)


I would classify it as technical writing.

See here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technical_writing

Medical journals specifically utilize a lot of technical writing, so I believe this would be your best bet per your question.

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Like a scholar, or learned person; showing the qualities of a scholar; as, a scholarly essay or critique.
Webster 1913

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