Discourse Conventions


Discourse conventions are the established rules, styles, methods, and structures that guide communication within a particular group–a discourse community.

Some discourse conventions are unique to a particular group. Other discourse conventions are shared more broadly. For instance, writers across academic fields tend to associate clarity with brevityflow, inclusivitypage/screen design & scannability, simplicityunity, usability, and visual appeal.

Discourse conventions play a crucial role in shaping academic writing and ensuring effective communication between writers and readers. Discourse conventions provide a shared framework for the presentation and organization of ideas, which helps writers communicate with clarity to readers.

all of the texts produced by academic writers

Discourse Conventions refers to conventions — to repeated textual patterns — that are shared by members of a discourse community.

Examples of Discourse Conventions

the unique ways members of a discourse community speak, write, and visually communicate with one another.

Why Do Discourse Conventions Matter?

shared by members of a discourse community.

stance that adopts the discourse patterns of members of a discourse community




sentence structure




grammars, mechanics, of a discousres community

the writing style a discourse community

linguisticonventions of a discourse community. Here convention refers to people’s communicative practices

In contemporary Writing Studies, discourse conventions are perceived to be the conventions, the writing styles

Types of Discourse Communities

In his reflective article, “The Concept of Discourse Community: Some Recent Personal History,” Swales (2017, n.p.) proposes there are three major types of discourse communities:

Local Discourse Communities

“These are groupings of people who all work at the same place (as in a factory or a university department), or at the same occupation in the same area (all the bakers in a town). These DCs [Discourse Communities] have acquired many abbreviations and acronyms as well as some special words and phrases that are needed in order to get their jobs done more quickly and more efficiently—terminologies that are not used, nor even often understood, by the general public” (Swales 2017, n.p.)

Focal Communities

“Focal Communities . . . typically associations of some kind that reach across a region, a nation, and internationally. They may be informal groupings or more formal ones with rules, elections and paid memberships” (Swales 2017, n.p.)

Examples: The Modern Language Association; The National Council of Teachers of English

Hybrid Communities (aka Folocal Communities)

“Hybrid communities . . . have have a double—and sometimes split—allegiance, as they are confronted by internal and external challenges and pressures.”

Works Cited

Swales, J. (2017). The Concept of Discourse Community by John M. Swales. Composition Forum, 37. https://compositionforum.com/issue/37/swales-retrospective.php