It will be helpful for you to master some key expressions that we commonly use in academic writing in order to introduce specific examples. Two of the most common expressions of this type are such as and for example.
You may think that these expressions are used in the same way and are interchangeable, but a closer look at the contexts of their use will reveal differences. Mastering these differences will help you greatly improve your academic writing.
Look carefully at the following examples that show the most common way we use such as. 1 is from the introduction to an article.
- Ethnographic observations find that homemade meals often consist of convenience foods such as canned vegetables with heavy seasoning, frozen fried potato products that would be reheated in the oven, macaroni and cheese out of the box, and hot dogs as the main meat item.
2 is a similar example from the results section of a journal article.
2. Results on food preparation ability of the students in this study are presented in Table 1. A large percent (=90%) of the students knew how to make basic foods such as hamburgers, tacos, mashed potatoes, and scrambled eggs. In contrast, a relatively small percent (=25%) of the students knew how to make quiche, pizza sauce, basic salad dressings, or mayonnaise.
Look closely at these examples. What phrases occur before such as? What occurs after such as? What do you note about the punctuation and capitalization?
Now consider 3 and 4, which show the most common way we use for example.
3. In the context of this study, treats are sugary or salty snack items that fall outside the bounds of “eating right” or meeting children’s basic nutritional needs. Treats serve several purposes in mother– child interactions. In most cases, treats are used as a reward for children’s good behavior. For example, Nora in San Antonio would buy her daughters pudding cups, fruit roll-ups, or ice cream for good behavior.
4. When mothers are short on funds, they often use cheaper and less healthful foods to substitute for those they cannot afford. For example, Karen in Chicago would try to buy as many fresh foods as possible as soon as her food stamp benefits are deposited in her account.
Look closely at these examples. What kind of phrase occurs before for example? What occurs after for example? What do you note about the punctuation and capitalization?
Compare the examples using such as and the examples using for example. What differences can you find in the forms and uses?