The Academic Word List (AWL) was created by Dr Averil Coxhead of Victoria University, Wellington.

The AWL consists of 570 word families commonly found in academic texts from the subject domains of Arts, Commerce, Law and Science. These words also occur in newspapers and other non-fiction texts but are less common in fiction.

Each word family consists of a head word and related words. For example, the verb consult (v) has as its ‘family members’, consultant (n), consultancy (n), consultative (adj), consultation (n). On average, one in 10 words in an academic text book is in the AWL.

The AWL is a useful reference for both teachers and learners of English for academic purposes in secondary and tertiary education. It focuses on non-subject-specific language, sometimes called ‘Tier 2’ words, that students of any academic discipline will need to use to produce coherent, formal writing.

The AWL highlighter can help you identify and learn these words. Paste your writing into the box below and select which of the 10 sub-lists you want to include. AWL1 highlights the most frequent 60 words from the list, AWL2 highlights level 1 plus the next most frequent 60 words and so on. AWL10 highlights all the words from the full list.

The AWL gapmaker checkbox makes a cloze activity from your pasted text, by removing the highlighted words and producing them as an alphabetical list underneath. This supports students in learning how to use the words in context.