- SUGGESTED TOPICS
- The Magazine
- Managing Yourself
- Managing Teams
- Work-life Balance
- The Big Idea
- Data & Visuals
- Reading Lists
- Case Selections
- HBR Learning
- Topic Feeds
- Account Settings
- Email Preferences
A (Very) Simple Way to Improve Your Writing
- Mark Rennella
It’s called the “one-idea rule” — and any level of writer can use it.
The “one idea” rule is a simple concept that can help you sharpen your writing, persuade others by presenting your argument in a clear, concise, and engaging way. What exactly does the rule say?
- Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
- In persuasive writing, your “one idea” is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing.
- For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you will be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences.
- Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).
Where your work meets your life. See more from Ascend here .
Most advice about writing looks like a long laundry list of “do’s and don’ts.” These lists can be helpful from time to time, but they’re hard to remember … and, therefore, hard to depend on when you’re having trouble putting your thoughts to paper. During my time in academia, teaching composition at the undergraduate and graduate levels, I saw many people struggle with this.
Often, students would begin with strong ideas, but have trouble focusing their thoughts when it came time to translating those ideas into words — resulting in essays with loose, distracted, and ultimately, confusing arguments. It’s not that their ideas weren’t valuable. There were just too many of them to digest at once.
Luckily, there is a (memorable) strategy that can help any level of writer greatly improve their work. I call it the one-idea rule: Every component of a successful piece of writing should express only one idea.
You may be familiar with some of the variations of this rule, like the Pyramid Principle or Purdue’s rules of thumb for paragraphs. After all, every great essay, article, or written work is grounded by a foundational idea — one that equally inspires the author and their audience.
In persuasive writing, which we will focus on here, your one idea is often the argument or belief you are presenting to the reader. Once you identify what that argument is, the “one-idea rule” can help you develop, revise, and connect the various components of your writing in a clear and convincing way.
For instance, let’s say you’re writing an essay. There are three components you’ll be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences. Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not identical, of course, but they’re all related. If done correctly, the smaller ideas (in sentences) all build (in paragraphs) to support the main point (suggested in the title).
Why should you follow this rule?
There are many advantages to using the one-idea rule, but I’ll point out three that are particularly important:
You will sharpen your focus. Many written pieces fail to be persuasive because they include too many ideas rather than too few. Having a clear end goal will keep you disciplined.
You will make more discoveries (and have more fun). Focus gives you freedom. When you have one specific idea you’re trying to portray, you can then experiment more broadly throughout your piece or even take a little detour without losing sight of your main point. You can dig more deeply into certain details, as long as they are related to the title, or your main idea.
You will become more confident. Knowing that you’re following a rule that describes all good writing gives you a chance to assess the quality of your own work, as well as the work of others — including your peers, your colleagues, and even well-known authors. Great writing is a skill, and once you understand how to structure papers in a compelling way, you’ll gain the confidence to decide what makes a piece truly interesting and persuasive.
How to Get Started
This rule may sound simple, but it takes practice to master.
So, what should you do the next time you begin an assignment, and you face the terrifying abyss of a blank page and a blinking cursor? How can you identify what your big “idea” is?
These three steps can help sharpen your focus.
1) Find an angle.
Maybe you’re writing on a topic that was assigned to you by an editor or a professor. Maybe you’re brainstorming a piece to pitch to a media outlet. Or maybe there is a subject you want to tackle but your focus feels too broad. Whatever the case, you have to come up with an angle — a clear and refreshing perspective on the topic at hand that presents a specific, unique, and well-supported argument or “idea.”
If you don’t know what argument you want to make, then you’re in trouble. To figure it out, ask yourself questions about the topic that tease out details related to it:
- What do I know about this topic?
- What do I not know about this topic but want to learn?
- What inspires me about this topic?
- Would others also find these issues interesting?
As you answer these questions, useful insights, questions, and unknowns will arise. For instance, perhaps you are interested in writing about “Mental Health on College Campuses.” Answering the questions listed above, may lead you down a path of discovery:
- “I’ve seen on the news that many college students are depressed or dropping out.”
- “I don’t know many details about mental health issues on college campuses specific to this pandemic.”
- “It would be great to discover new solutions to the problem or find the best existing solutions, and explain them clearly to readers.”
- Students themselves, and institutions trying to support them, may be interested.
From here, you might start out with the goal of writing about “solutions to mental health problems faced by college students.” That’s a good start, but it’s still too vague, and may be challenging for you (someone just beginning to study the issue) to tackle effectively.
The good news is that you can narrow down your idea. Coming up with a headline is a great way to do this. For example, you might title your paper, “3 Ways Colleges Can Address Mental Health Issues Among Students.” Notice how your focus immediately narrows. This will help you stay on track and investigate a clearer solution to the problem you have identified.
2) Find evidence .
Now that you have chosen a single idea or issue to discuss, assemble facts, evidence, or data that may be useful or surprising to others, and that also support the point you want to make. Sticking with our original example, research a few ideas about “mental health in college” to draw a reader’s attention:
- Stats about college enrollment and dropout rates in the last two years
- Percentage of students feeling isolated
- Greatest mental health challenges students are facing
- What universities are currently doing to help
- What universities are not doing to help
- Preventive measures for mental health problems
- Stigmas around discussing mental health
- Impacts of virtual class vs. in-person class
As you research, a few of these ideas may jump out to you as directly supportive of your argument. Be sure to record them. Likewise, take note of any evidence you come across that counters your argument. If you are able to call out and address counterpoints before the reader discovers them, you will strengthen your main idea.
While you’re brainstorming details to include in your essay, be careful to exclude examples that aren’t obviously related to that main idea (e.g., cafeteria food on campus), unless that information provides some pertinent information or context (e.g., bad food depresses students).
3) Outline .
Organize the pertinent evidence or examples you have discovered to create an outline for your piece. If all of your examples are obviously related to the main topic, then it will be relatively easy to order them into a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The main elements of the outline are marked in bold:
- Main Idea / Title : 3 Ways Colleges Can Address Mental Health Issues Among Students
- Statistics about enrollment and drop-out rates in the last two years
- Students feeling isolated despite being grouped in dorms
- Stigma around talking openly about mental health
- How should instructors help and reach out to students?
- Preventive measures for mental health problems at school
- Creating psychologically safe spaces on campus
- Using Zoom to help people wherever they are
- Finding novel ways to gather
- Conclusion : Colleges can do more to create safe spaces for students to vocalize their mental health needs. The more students who seek help, the more lives will be improved. Those students will walk away with skills that can help them now, and in the future.
You can gut check your idea by sharing your outline with an audience, like your trusted peers, family members, or friends. Pay attention to their reactions. Ask them questions about what they liked or didn’t; what they didn’t understand; what they want to know more about. These are exactly the kinds of question about an essay’s main idea that you should ask yourself each time you work on a paper. Then, adjust your outline (including the title when appropriate) based on what you learned from your discussions.
This should be enough to get you off to a strong start. If you continue to practice, you can turn this exercise into a productive habit. It can be particularly useful when you face an assignment that seems either uninteresting or too difficult. Find just one foundational idea that interests you about any subject , and you will be able to summon the motivation, energy, and direction required to finish the task, and do it well.
- MR Mark Rennella is Associate Editor at HBP and has published two books, Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders and The Boston Cosmopolitans .
Have a language expert improve your writing
Run a free plagiarism check in 10 minutes, generate accurate citations for free.
- Knowledge Base
- Example of a great essay | Explanations, tips & tricks
Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks
Published on February 9, 2015 by Shane Bryson . Revised on December 6, 2021 by Shona McCombes.
This example guides you through the structure of an essay. It shows how to build an effective introduction , focused paragraphs , clear transitions between ideas, and a strong conclusion .
Each paragraph addresses a single central point, introduced by a topic sentence , and each point is directly related to the thesis statement .
As you read, hover over the highlighted parts to learn what they do and why they work.
An Appeal to the Senses: The Development of the Braille System in Nineteenth-Century France
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.
In France, debates about how to deal with disability led to the adoption of different strategies over time. While people with temporary difficulties were able to access public welfare, the most common response to people with long-term disabilities, such as hearing or vision loss, was to group them together in institutions (Tombs, 1996). At first, a joint institute for the blind and deaf was created, and although the partnership was motivated more by financial considerations than by the well-being of the residents, the institute aimed to help people develop skills valuable to society (Weygand, 2009). Eventually blind institutions were separated from deaf institutions, and the focus shifted towards education of the blind, as was the case for the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, which Louis Braille attended (Jimenez et al, 2009). The growing acknowledgement of the uniqueness of different disabilities led to more targeted education strategies, fostering an environment in which the benefits of a specifically blind education could be more widely recognized.
Several different systems of tactile reading can be seen as forerunners to the method Louis Braille developed, but these systems were all developed based on the sighted system. The Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris taught the students to read embossed roman letters, a method created by the school’s founder, Valentin Hauy (Jimenez et al., 2009). Reading this way proved to be a rather arduous task, as the letters were difficult to distinguish by touch. The embossed letter method was based on the reading system of sighted people, with minimal adaptation for those with vision loss. As a result, this method did not gain significant success among blind students.
Louis Braille was bound to be influenced by his school’s founder, but the most influential pre-Braille tactile reading system was Charles Barbier’s night writing. A soldier in Napoleon’s army, Barbier developed a system in 1819 that used 12 dots with a five line musical staff (Kersten, 1997). His intention was to develop a system that would allow the military to communicate at night without the need for light (Herron, 2009). The code developed by Barbier was phonetic (Jimenez et al., 2009); in other words, the code was designed for sighted people and was based on the sounds of words, not on an actual alphabet. Barbier discovered that variants of raised dots within a square were the easiest method of reading by touch (Jimenez et al., 2009). This system proved effective for the transmission of short messages between military personnel, but the symbols were too large for the fingertip, greatly reducing the speed at which a message could be read (Herron, 2009). For this reason, it was unsuitable for daily use and was not widely adopted in the blind community.
Nevertheless, Barbier’s military dot system was more efficient than Hauy’s embossed letters, and it provided the framework within which Louis Braille developed his method. Barbier’s system, with its dashes and dots, could form over 4000 combinations (Jimenez et al., 2009). Compared to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, this was an absurdly high number. Braille kept the raised dot form, but developed a more manageable system that would reflect the sighted alphabet. He replaced Barbier’s dashes and dots with just six dots in a rectangular configuration (Jimenez et al., 2009). The result was that the blind population in France had a tactile reading system using dots (like Barbier’s) that was based on the structure of the sighted alphabet (like Hauy’s); crucially, this system was the first developed specifically for the purposes of the blind.
While the Braille system gained immediate popularity with the blind students at the Institute in Paris, it had to gain acceptance among the sighted before its adoption throughout France. This support was necessary because sighted teachers and leaders had ultimate control over the propagation of Braille resources. Many of the teachers at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth resisted learning Braille’s system because they found the tactile method of reading difficult to learn (Bullock & Galst, 2009). This resistance was symptomatic of the prevalent attitude that the blind population had to adapt to the sighted world rather than develop their own tools and methods. Over time, however, with the increasing impetus to make social contribution possible for all, teachers began to appreciate the usefulness of Braille’s system (Bullock & Galst, 2009), realizing that access to reading could help improve the productivity and integration of people with vision loss. It took approximately 30 years, but the French government eventually approved the Braille system, and it was established throughout the country (Bullock & Galst, 2009).
Although Blind people remained marginalized throughout the nineteenth century, the Braille system granted them growing opportunities for social participation. Most obviously, Braille allowed people with vision loss to read the same alphabet used by sighted people (Bullock & Galst, 2009), allowing them to participate in certain cultural experiences previously unavailable to them. Written works, such as books and poetry, had previously been inaccessible to the blind population without the aid of a reader, limiting their autonomy. As books began to be distributed in Braille, this barrier was reduced, enabling people with vision loss to access information autonomously. The closing of the gap between the abilities of blind and the sighted contributed to a gradual shift in blind people’s status, lessening the cultural perception of the blind as essentially different and facilitating greater social integration.
The Braille system also had important cultural effects beyond the sphere of written culture. Its invention later led to the development of a music notation system for the blind, although Louis Braille did not develop this system himself (Jimenez, et al., 2009). This development helped remove a cultural obstacle that had been introduced by the popularization of written musical notation in the early 1500s. While music had previously been an arena in which the blind could participate on equal footing, the transition from memory-based performance to notation-based performance meant that blind musicians were no longer able to compete with sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997). As a result, a tactile musical notation system became necessary for professional equality between blind and sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997).
Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.
Bullock, J. D., & Galst, J. M. (2009). The Story of Louis Braille. Archives of Ophthalmology , 127(11), 1532. https://doi.org/10.1001/archophthalmol.2009.286.
Herron, M. (2009, May 6). Blind visionary. Retrieved from https://eandt.theiet.org/content/articles/2009/05/blind-visionary/.
Jiménez, J., Olea, J., Torres, J., Alonso, I., Harder, D., & Fischer, K. (2009). Biography of Louis Braille and Invention of the Braille Alphabet. Survey of Ophthalmology , 54(1), 142–149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.survophthal.2008.10.006.
Kersten, F.G. (1997). The history and development of Braille music methodology. The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education , 18(2). Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/40214926.
Mellor, C.M. (2006). Louis Braille: A touch of genius . Boston: National Braille Press.
Tombs, R. (1996). France: 1814-1914 . London: Pearson Education Ltd.
Weygand, Z. (2009). The blind in French society from the Middle Ages to the century of Louis Braille . Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Frequently asked questions about writing an essay
An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.
In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.
Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.
At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).
Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.
The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Bryson, S. (2021, December 06). Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks. Scribbr. Retrieved May 2, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/example-essay-structure/
Is this article helpful?
Shane finished his master's degree in English literature in 2013 and has been working as a writing tutor and editor since 2009. He began proofreading and editing essays with Scribbr in early summer, 2014.
Other students also liked
How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples, academic paragraph structure | step-by-step guide & examples, how to write topic sentences | 4 steps, examples & purpose, what is your plagiarism score.
- Utility Menu
- Questions about Expos?
- Writing Support for Instructors
- Developing A Thesis
Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far, they want to know what the essay argues as well as how the writer plans to make the argument. After reading your thesis statement, the reader should think, "This essay is going to try to convince me of something. I'm not convinced yet, but I'm interested to see how I might be."
An effective thesis cannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." A thesis is not a topic; nor is it a fact; nor is it an opinion. "Reasons for the fall of communism" is a topic. "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" is a fact known by educated people. "The fall of communism is the best thing that ever happened in Europe" is an opinion. (Superlatives like "the best" almost always lead to trouble. It's impossible to weigh every "thing" that ever happened in Europe. And what about the fall of Hitler? Couldn't that be "the best thing"?)
A good thesis has two parts. It should tell what you plan to argue, and it should "telegraph" how you plan to argue—that is, what particular support for your claim is going where in your essay.
Steps in Constructing a Thesis
First, analyze your primary sources. Look for tension, interest, ambiguity, controversy, and/or complication. Does the author contradict himself or herself? Is a point made and later reversed? What are the deeper implications of the author's argument? Figuring out the why to one or more of these questions, or to related questions, will put you on the path to developing a working thesis. (Without the why, you probably have only come up with an observation—that there are, for instance, many different metaphors in such-and-such a poem—which is not a thesis.)
Once you have a working thesis, write it down. There is nothing as frustrating as hitting on a great idea for a thesis, then forgetting it when you lose concentration. And by writing down your thesis you will be forced to think of it clearly, logically, and concisely. You probably will not be able to write out a final-draft version of your thesis the first time you try, but you'll get yourself on the right track by writing down what you have.
Keep your thesis prominent in your introduction. A good, standard place for your thesis statement is at the end of an introductory paragraph, especially in shorter (5-15 page) essays. Readers are used to finding theses there, so they automatically pay more attention when they read the last sentence of your introduction. Although this is not required in all academic essays, it is a good rule of thumb.
Anticipate the counterarguments. Once you have a working thesis, you should think about what might be said against it. This will help you to refine your thesis, and it will also make you think of the arguments that you'll need to refute later on in your essay. (Every argument has a counterargument. If yours doesn't, then it's not an argument—it may be a fact, or an opinion, but it is not an argument.)
This statement is on its way to being a thesis. However, it is too easy to imagine possible counterarguments. For example, a political observer might believe that Dukakis lost because he suffered from a "soft-on-crime" image. If you complicate your thesis by anticipating the counterargument, you'll strengthen your argument, as shown in the sentence below.
Some Caveats and Some Examples
A thesis is never a question. Readers of academic essays expect to have questions discussed, explored, or even answered. A question ("Why did communism collapse in Eastern Europe?") is not an argument, and without an argument, a thesis is dead in the water.
A thesis is never a list. "For political, economic, social and cultural reasons, communism collapsed in Eastern Europe" does a good job of "telegraphing" the reader what to expect in the essay—a section about political reasons, a section about economic reasons, a section about social reasons, and a section about cultural reasons. However, political, economic, social and cultural reasons are pretty much the only possible reasons why communism could collapse. This sentence lacks tension and doesn't advance an argument. Everyone knows that politics, economics, and culture are important.
A thesis should never be vague, combative or confrontational. An ineffective thesis would be, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because communism is evil." This is hard to argue (evil from whose perspective? what does evil mean?) and it is likely to mark you as moralistic and judgmental rather than rational and thorough. It also may spark a defensive reaction from readers sympathetic to communism. If readers strongly disagree with you right off the bat, they may stop reading.
An effective thesis has a definable, arguable claim. "While cultural forces contributed to the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the disintegration of economies played the key role in driving its decline" is an effective thesis sentence that "telegraphs," so that the reader expects the essay to have a section about cultural forces and another about the disintegration of economies. This thesis makes a definite, arguable claim: that the disintegration of economies played a more important role than cultural forces in defeating communism in Eastern Europe. The reader would react to this statement by thinking, "Perhaps what the author says is true, but I am not convinced. I want to read further to see how the author argues this claim."
A thesis should be as clear and specific as possible. Avoid overused, general terms and abstractions. For example, "Communism collapsed in Eastern Europe because of the ruling elite's inability to address the economic concerns of the people" is more powerful than "Communism collapsed due to societal discontent."
Copyright 1999, Maxine Rodburg and The Tutors of the Writing Center at Harvard University
- How to Read an Assignment
- How to Do a Close Reading
- Topic Sentences and Signposting
- Transitioning: Beware of Velcro
- How to Write a Comparative Analysis
- Ending the Essay: Conclusions
- Brief Guides to Writing in the Disciplines
- Schedule an Appointment
- Drop-in Hours
- English Grammar and Language Tutor
- Harvard Guide to Using Sources
- Writing Advice: The Harvard Writing Tutor Blog
- Departmental Writing Fellows
- Videos from the 2022 Three Minute Thesis Competitio n
- November 30, 2022
- Academic Advice
How To Write an Academic Essay: A Beginner’s Guide ￼
During college, you must participate in many writing assessments, one of the most important being academic essays. Unfortunately, only a few are well-informed about the process of academic writing.
If you’re reading this, you probably want to learn how to write an academic essay. Follow our guide! Here we’ll introduce the concept of the academic essay, the five components of an academic essay, the format of an academic essay, and more.
Ready to master your academic essay writing? Let’s go!
What Is an Academic Essay?
An academic essay is writing created to initiate debate, defend an idea, or present a new point of view by supporting it with evidence.
One of the most important components that differentiate it from typical essays you have written in high school is supporting ideas with evidence. If you claim that, for example, “divorces have a negative impact on young children,” you need to find sources that support your argument to make it more convincing.
Interpreting facts is another essential element of a successful academic piece of writing. Academic essays should be written in a formal tone, with a set structure, and have a critical, based, and objective viewpoint. You should be able to understand and transmit different points of view to your readers in a simple but formal manner.
Are you still trying to figure out what steps you should take to start writing? Keep scrolling!
How To Write an Academic Essay
Writing an academic essay can initially seem intimidating, especially if you are unfamiliar with the rules and requirements.
The time and effort spent on the writing task might differ depending on the topic, word limit, deadline, and other factors. However, the key steps, including preparing for the writing, creating a thesis statement, introduction, conclusion, and editing process, must be included in every academic writing style.
By following the detailed list of actions below, you can start and finish your essay in no time.
Prepare to write your essay
Before going into the technical part of the writing process, one piece of advice you should keep in mind is planning. Planning is as important as the writing process. If you plan correctly, you will have sufficient time to perform every step successfully. Failure to plan will lead to a messy essay and, worst-case scenario, an unfinished writing piece.
Understand your assignment
First and foremost, before you take any action regarding writing your essay, you must ensure you have clearly understood every tiny detail that your instructor has provided you—this step will determine your academic essay’s effectiveness. But why is that? Understanding the assignment in detail will leave no space for any irrelevant information that would lead to wasted time and, ultimately, a lower grade.
Develop your essay topic
If your instructor doesn’t give you a specific topic, you should spend some time finding a topic that fits the requirements. Finding a topic sounds easy, but finding the right one requires more than just a simple google search.
So, ensure you develop an original topic, as it adds more value to your academic writing. However, ensure that there is enough evidence from other sources to help you back up your arguments. You can do this by researching similar topics from trusted sources.
Do your research and take notes
Once you determine the topic, go on and do some research. This part takes a lot of effort since there are countless sources online, and obviously, you have to choose some of the best.
Depending on your topic, there might be cases where online sources are not available, and you’ll also have to visit local libraries. Whatever the case, you need to take notes and highlight the components you want to include in your essay.
A quick tip: Go back to your topic often to avoid getting swayed or influenced by other less relevant ideas.
Come up with a clear thesis statement
An excellent academic essay contains a strong thesis statement. A strong thesis statement successfully narrows your topic into a specific area of investigation. It should also intrigue your readers and initiate debate.
A good thesis statement is:
- NOT a question
- NOT a personal opinion
Create a structure
After gathering all the necessary information, you can begin outlining your main ideas. The primary academic essay structure is classified into the following
Failure to maintain these three components in your academic essay will result in a poorly written assignment. Luckily, you can easily avoid that by following our guide.
Writing the introduction
Your essay will be divided into paragraphs of equal importance, but the introductory part should always stand out. You must make your introduction as presentable as possible and get the reader’s attention. Work on it as if you were to get graded only by the evaluation of that first paragraph.
The purpose of the introduction is to demonstrate that your thoughts and ideas are logical and coherent. Also, depending on the word limit, you can use more than one paragraph.
Hook the reader
All forms of writing benefit from an attractive hook. If you have no idea of how to hook the reader, you can go the safe way and choose a recent fact or statistic. Statistics will give your essay credibility, surprise the readers, and make them want to keep reading.
Give background on the topic
Now that you have the reader’s attention, you should strive to expand the essay’s key points but to a limit since the introduction is only one part of the whole essay. You should generally explain what gaps from previous sources you will cover and what others have covered so far.
Present your thesis statement
When introducing your thesis statement, you can present it as a statement of fact or controversial. If you decide to give a statement fact, it will be challenging to keep your audience engaged since facts can be easily proven. But presenting it more controversially will keep your audience awake and can even result in a better grade overall.
Interested in pursuing a degree?
Fill out the form and get all admission information you need regarding your chosen program.
This will only take a moment.
Thank you for reaching out to us. we will review your message and get right back to you within 24 hours. if there is an urgent matter and you need to speak to someone immediately you can call at the following phone number:.
- We value your privacy.
Writing the body of your essay
The body part of your essay is where you’ll expand all of your ideas presented in the introduction. It’s essential to stay consistent and not include irrelevant information. Since it is the longest part of your essay, you can easily get lost, and to prevent that, it would be best to map an internal outline specific to each paragraph. This way, you know what to include and where.
Each paragraph should follow a specific structure. It should begin with an introductory sentence that tells the reader the main ideas you will discuss in the paragraph. It’s advisable to point back to your thesis statement to identify the relationship between it and the existing idea. Also, ensure that each paragraph demonstrates new ideas.
Length of the body paragraphs
Depending on the topic and the arguments you’ve gathered, it’s advisable not to exceed 200 words per paragraph in academic writing. If your paragraphs are too long and contain unnecessary wording, it will become difficult for the reader to follow your point. So keep them clear and concise.
Writing the conclusion
Congratulation, now you’ve made it to the last paragraph of your essay. The conclusion’s primary purpose is to summarize the ideas presented throughout your essay. Writing a good conclusion should take little time since you know what the essay contains. However, be aware of what points you should or shouldn’t include.
What to include in your conclusion
A strong conclusion needs to have an introductory sentence. In some cases, if your instructor approves, it can include other areas that need to be investigated in the future. But at its core, it should only remind the reader about the main arguments discussed.
What not to include in your conclusion
You should at all times refrain from including new ideas. Since the essay ends with the conclusion, don’t go into details or support new points. Doing that will confuse the reader and result in a poor grade.
Editing your essay
Without a doubt, editing is just as important as writing. No matter how careful you are during writing, there’s a high possibility that there will be some slip-ups. These can range from spelling mistakes to grammar, punctuation, and so on. We suggest you spend time doing other things and return to the essay again. This will help you notice errors that you otherwise wouldn’t.
Tips for Writing a Great College Essay
Now that you have a clear idea of the process of writing an academic essay, we have a few more tips:
- Always cite your sources
- Gather enough sources to support your thesis statement
- Keep your sentences short and comprehensive
- Start the research as early as possible
- Do not skip revising
The Bottom Line
Writing an academic essay is a complex task. But with the right tools, guidance, and willingness to learn from your mistakes, you will master academic writing in no time. Make sure to follow each of the abovementioned steps and practice as much as possible. And don’t forget to edit!
Share it with your friends!
Business Analyst vs. Data Analyst: What Are the Differences?
What is a BBA Degree?
How To Graduate Early: 9 Steps To Follow
How to write a research paper: the ultimate guide ￼.
How to Choose a Career: 10 Steps to Find the Right One
What Does Human Resources Do? 12 Key Responsibilities￼
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE?
Chat with an Admissions Officer Now!
- Associates Degree
- Bachelors Degrees
- Masters Degrees
- Doctoral Degrees
- Faculty & Staff
- Student Experience
- Admission Requirements
- Military Students
- Financial Aid
Request More Information
Get Started Today!
- Centre Details
- Ask A Question
- Change Location
- Programs & More
Your Step-By-Step Guide To Writing An Academic Essay (& Review Checklist)
Writing a formal essay can be scary! It requires a lot more work and research than other assignments, and there are many rules to follow when writing it. It’s difficult to know where to start, and even the thought of writing it can be stressful.
However, with the right information and tips or even with the aid of services like the essay writing service reddit , preparing and writing your essay becomes a lot easier. Check out our guide for essay writing below to help you write a paper you can be proud to hand in.
Before You Start Writing The Essay
1. pick your topic.
Unless your teacher has given you a very specific topic, you will need to pick one. If possible, choose a topic that interests you. Once you have a topic in mind, narrow it down to make your paper more specific. You want to be able to prove a point with your chosen topic.
Example: “Golden Retrievers as therapy dogs” is too broad of a topic. A topic that is narrower, such as, “Golden retrievers as therapy dogs for residents in nursing homes” keeps your research and ideas focused.
2. Determine Your Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement is the main point you are trying to prove in your essay—it ties all of your ideas and arguments together into one or two concise sentences. A good thesis statement gives your reader a preview of what you will be discussing in the body of your essay.
Example: Golden Retrievers are ideal therapy dogs for seniors in nursing homes because they provide emotional support and companionship to residents.
How To Write A Strong Thesis Statement
- Ask yourself, what are you trying to say about your topic in your paper? Is there something you are trying to prove?
- Focus these ideas into one or two sentences.
- Make sure you introduce your topic and give the reader an idea of the direction you are taking. Include your topic/opinion and your supporting arguments/reasons.
- Finally, make sure you are able to back up your thesis with evidence/supporting resources.
3. Find Sources
Once you have an idea of what you want to say in your essay, start finding sources you can use to back up your points. Aim to have at least 2-3 credible sources in your paper, unless your teacher says otherwise.
Some examples of sources include:
- Published articles
- Academic Journals
Always check with your teacher to find out what kind of sources he or she is looking for. Once you have found (and read) your sources, take note of pieces of information you think could back up your thesis.
4. Create An Outline
Creating an outline of your essay will help make the writing process much easier. It is a way to organize your thoughts and structure them in a way that makes sense. Try to come up with three arguments that support your thesis. These arguments will form the body of your essay.
Example: Arguments to support the thesis could be:
- Golden Retrievers can sense emotion in humans.
- Golden Retrievers are highly intelligent and easy to train.
- Golden Retrievers are more calm and gentle than other breeds of dogs.
Writing Your Essay
All essays, regardless of length, have an introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Each of these sections serve a different purpose in your paper.
The introduction of an essay is one paragraph that introduces your topic and gives an overview of what will be discussed in the body of the paper.
The introductory paragraph is where you will state your thesis and the arguments that you will be presenting in the body of the essay. Avoid talking about the conclusion or findings in the introductory paragraph—you will be discussing those in the rest of the essay.
Helpful Tip: Even though it appears at the top of your essay, write your introduction last. This way, you can summarize the rest of your essay easily—it’s difficult to summarize something you haven’t written yet!
The body of your essay is where you present your arguments/evidence that back up your thesis. Each paragraph in your essay should have:
- A topic sentence: What is this paragraph about? What are you trying to prove in this paragraph?
- Supporting sentences: How can you back up the topic sentence? What sources can you use to support your claim?
- A concluding or transition sentence: How will you keep your reader engaged? How can you link this paragraph to the next?
Every paragraph in your essay should have a unique claim/argument that supports your thesis. Always structure your essay to have the strongest argument in your first paragraph, and the next strongest argument in the final paragraph of the body. Your other argument should be sandwiched between your stronger paragraphs.
The conclusion is the last paragraph in your essay. This is where you wrap up your findings from your discussion in the body paragraphs.
Start your paragraph by restating your thesis (although not in the exact same words). In a few sentences, summarize your arguments from the body paragraphs, and avoid discussing any new ideas that you didn’t talk about in the body of your essay. Finally, wrap up your findings in one final sentence.
Helpful Tip: Your final sentence should convince your reader that you proved your thesis.
The final page in your essay is the references page (sometimes called the bibliography). This is where you document all the sources you have cited in your paper. There are several different formats that can be used to reference sources, such as APA or MLA style. Your teacher may have specified a certain format he or she would like in your paper. If you are unsure, double-check with your teacher before starting.
Polishing Your Work
After writing the first draft of your essay, take one or two days before you go back and read it so your mind is fresh. Make any changes you think are necessary to improve your paper, such as reordering sentences, adding extra information, or taking out sentences that don’t add value to your arguments.
If possible, ask another person to review your essay for spelling, grammar, and clarity. A second set of eyes is helpful to catch small errors you may have missed.
Helpful Tip: Read your essay out loud to make sure it flows and your sentences are clear.
The Oxford Learning Essay Review Checklist
Use our essay review checklist to make sure your essay is polished and ready to go before the deadline!
More Essay Writing Tips
- Don’t force yourself to write your essay in order—start by writing the body of your essay first. Your introduction and conclusion should not be written until the main points of the body are completed first.
- Don’t plagiarize. Plagiarism is taking other people’s ideas, thoughts, or work and presenting it as your own (or not citing your sources correctly). Always give credit where it is due.
- There is no such thing as starting too early! Get a head start and prioritize writing your essay so you have plenty of time to review and edit well before the due date.
- Avoid using slang terms and contractions. These words make your writing appear less formal.
Time To Get Writing!
Writing an essay can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be! Give yourself plenty of time to pick your topic, find your sources, and preparing your outline. Once you are happy with your ideas, just start writing! If you begin your essay well before the due date, you will have lots of time to edit and rework your essay. This way you can be confident in your work when it comes time to hand it in.
If you need more help with writing your essay, Oxford Learning is here to help!
Writing And Essay Help Time Management Help
11 Tips For Helping Your Child Manage A Lot Of Homework
How to study at home (without getting distracted), related checklists resources.
Checklists, Goal Setting
Academic resolutions and action plan for the new year.
Tips to develop stronger organization skills at home.
Checklists, English, High School, Writing
Your step-by-step guide to writing an academic essay (& review checklist).
Back to School, Checklists
How to start the school year off right (plus back-to-school checklist), find an oxford learning ® location near you, we have over 100 centres across canada.
Summer School 2023 is filling up fast. Speak to our expert advisors to find out more here , or enrol online now
- How to Write Better Essays: 5 Practical Tips
For many such students, each essay brings with it the challenge of making it that little bit better than the last one. The problem is that when you write essays regularly, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut of repeating the same formula each time – particularly when you already receive good feedback from the teachers who read them. So how do you take your essays to the next level and go from great to brilliant? Here are some practical tips and techniques that will help you write consistently impressive essays, especially if you’re considering attending an Oxford summer school .
1. Read other people’s essays
Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style , so reading other people’s essays can help you develop and build on your own essay-writing style. Try to read a range of other essays, including those of your peers and of academics. Read essays on a wide variety of subjects, not necessarily just those that you’re studying; different disciplines might apply different kinds of arguments or styles, so the wider you read, the more possible techniques there are for you to pick up and use in essays of your own. As you read other people’s essays, don’t just take them at face value. Be critical: what do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? How persuasive do you think they are? Is the argument a balanced one, with points adequately supported with evidence? Has the writer used any techniques you’ve not seen before? Another good source of essays is the broadsheet newspapers . Read the opinion pieces and dissect how the writer has supported their points with evidence, and again, be critical; note where they’ve left things out to try to persuade you to a particular opinion. Essays should be balanced, so you can learn from the best of these writers and pick up some techniques to help you shape a balanced piece.
2. Build your vocabulary and use it properly
A good vocabulary will allow you to express exactly what you mean, as clearly and concisely as possible. Economy with words is a characteristic of all good essays, because readers (and essay-markers) don’t like having their time wasted with long, rambling points that could have been expressed in half the number of words. One way of ensuring that you can communicate clearly and to the point is through accurate and effective use of advanced vocabulary. A good essay writer should never rest on their laurels when it comes to vocabulary; it’s something you should be working on continually, as there are always new words to learn that could help convey a point more effectively. What’s more, deploying a good vocabulary displays intelligence and allows you to be more persuasive in your essay-writing. Here are some ways in which you can build your vocabulary: – Subscribe to a ‘word a day’ email (such as this one from Merriam-Webster). Create a folder in your email account for new word emails, so that you can file each email away and have them all in one place ready to flick through and learn from in an idle moment. – Read widely, and refer to a dictionary for words you don’t know as you go along; this way, you’ll learn the new word as well as seeing it in context so you know how to use it properly. Read different genres of fiction, and non-fiction covering a range of topics, and you’ll have the added bonus of widening your general knowledge as well as your vocabulary. – Use a thesaurus – if you find yourself using the same words over and over again, add variety to your language by looking up those words in a thesaurus and finding other words that mean the same thing. A word of warning: words you find in a thesaurus can’t always be used interchangeably; even words with similar meanings can differ subtly in a way that makes them inappropriate in certain contexts, so find examples of a word used correctly before you use a new word for the first time. – Learn prefixes, suffixes and roots – it sounds boring, but this shortcut will help you learn a great many more words. Many roots come from Latin and Greek words, such as “bene” in Latin, meaning “good”, which gives rise to words such as “benefactor”, “benevolent” and “benefit”. It’s often possible to deduce the meaning of a new word if you know its root and read it in context. Prefixes are added to the beginning of a word to change the meaning, such as “semi” or “ante”, while suffixes are added to the end, such as “-able” or “-ance”. – Start a vocabulary book – you probably have one if you’re learning a foreign language, so why not have one for your native language as well? Buy yourself a nice notepad and use it to collect new words and their meanings. The act of writing down the definition will help you remember it, and you could include an example of how the word is used to increase your chances of memorising it for use in essays. It may help to have different sections for words on particular themes; you could have a general section, and then further parts of the notebook could be dedicated to words of use in history essays, science essays and so on.
3. Elevator pitching your essays
We’ve probably all had it hammered into us that we should write an essay plan before we start writing, but before you even do that, you need to know what the argument you’re going to make actually is. Only then can you start writing the structure for an essay that builds up to your overall conclusion. To condense what you’re trying to say into a short, snappy summary for you to work from, try making an ‘Elevator Pitch’ style summary of what you intend to write and why readers should be interested in it. The Elevator Pitch is a technique used by salespeople when condensing the arguments for buying a product into the shortest possible summary of why a customer should consider a purchase. The salesperson is told to imagine themselves in a lift; in the time it takes for that lift to reach the desired floor, they should have given a compelling argument in favour of that product that would result in the customer buying it, or at least wanting to know more. Your Elevator Pitch for your essay should sell the idea of it to a reader, leaving them wanting to read the essay in question. This is quite a tough exercise, as it forces you to be ruthlessly concise in your thinking and choice of words; but you can use this summary to help you write your introduction, and it’ll help you achieve clarity in what you’re trying to say.
4. Tell the reader what other people say
We’ve mentioned this on a previous article on essay writing, but it seems pertinent to mention it here too. Essays are a chance for you to show off how widely read you are, so make sure you quote other people’s opinions, and original sources , on what you’re writing about. For example, if you were to write a history essay on early religious practices in Britain, you could quote original texts on that topic (such as Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People) and also mention what a range of modern scholars have to say about the topic. Contrasting views should be sought; it’s unlikely that everyone agrees on the topic, so show you’ve looked at all the possible angles. For each of the subjects you’re studying, start a page in a notebook for important people in that field, with a summary of when they lived and what their views are. That way, you’ll have something to refer to when you’re writing an essay and want to consult appropriate scholars or other writers whose opinions you might wish to include. Don’t quote too much; mix citations with your own opinions so that it doesn’t look as though you have to hide behind other people’s words. It’s fine to disagree with a scholar you quote, provided you can give evidence and reasoning for doing so. This shows that you have thought about it and made your own mind up, rather than blindly accepting what that scholar has said; this demonstrates strong critical reasoning skills, one of the hallmarks of brilliant students.
5. Syntax, punctuation and tone of voice
You may not consciously realise it when you’re reading, but sophisticated sentence structures make the world of difference to how intelligent you sound. As we’ve already said, the most important consideration when you’re writing is making yourself easy for readers to understand; but you can still do this and utilise a range of interesting syntax at the same time. Employ a variety of sentence structures, long and short, but don’t let your sentences become too long and rambling, or they become difficult to read. Effective punctuation is vital in conveying your arguments persuasively; the last thing a teacher or lecturer wants to read is an essay riddled with poor grammar. What’s more, the reader shouldn’t have to read a sentence more than once to understand it. You probably already have a tone of voice you use for writing essays, but is it interesting and engaging? Read through some of your old essays and ask yourself honestly whether you find them absorbing. If they’re not, it could well be because you’ve not established the right tone of voice. Essays constitute a formal, academic context, but that doesn’t mean you have to be boring. A confident tone of voice will help show the reader that you know what you’re talking about and reassure them that they’re in safe hands. Writing in the active rather than the passive voice is a well-known trick of the trade that writers use to give their writing a sense of immediacy and make it more compelling; you too can deploy this technique in your essays by steering clear of the passive voice (for example, rather than writing “Much work is being done to…”, say “Scholars are putting a great deal of effort into…”). Over the course of an entire essay, you’d be surprised what a difference this makes to your tone.
We hope you’ve found these tips and techniques useful and that they help you take your essay-writing to new heights. If you would like to improve your writing skills even further, then why not sign up to our Creative Writing summer school .
If you have any tips you’d like to share with us, do let us know by leaving a comment below!
Images: sleeping student , dictionary .
2 responses to “How to Write Better Essays: 5 Practical Tips”
Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I find It truly helpful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to offer one thing again and help others like you aided me.
Howdy! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 3gs! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the outstanding work!
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.
How to Write an Academic Essay: Guide and Tips
A large portion of university and high school education is based on writing academic essays. They are most effective at demonstrating students’ knowledge of a subject and showcasing their abilities to gather and present information and data. In this guide from our essay writing service , we are going to explain to you how to write an excellent academic essay and show you the different types you can choose from.
What Is an Academic Essay?
In a nutshell, an academic essay is a structured form of writing students face in school, college, and university as a part of their curricula. The most common purposes of such writing are to either present some new pieces of information or to use existing facts and knowledge to deliver specific ideas. This type of assignment allows students to demonstrate their knowledge and creativity and encourages them to develop their ideas to communicate a message.
Get Your Academic Essay Written!
Simply send us your paper requirements, choose a writer and we’ll get it done.
Compared to other types of academic writing, essays are usually shorter in length and present the authors’ opinions to support their arguments. Here are some key features of an academic essay for you to keep in mind:
- Conciseness — as a rule, essays are short; the length of such papers range from 200 to 500 words.
- Topic — due to their short lengths, a perfect topic for an essay should be narrowed-down and not too broad.
- Well-structured text — although essays can be considered as one of the least formal types of writing, they still need to have a solid structure and follow the proper academic paper format.
- Clear central idea — every academic essay should deliver a specific point that should be clear and powerful (i.e. thesis statement).
- Personal motivation — unlike other types of writing, essays often imply that their authors are personally interested in the subjects they are discussing.
- Supporting facts, evidence, and examples — although essays may present an author’s personal beliefs and ideas, they should also provide arguments that support those ideas.
It helps to develop your academic writing skills early—as they are skills you will carry forward throughout your studies and lifetime. People who are good at writing academic essays also tend to be able to articulate themselves more clearly, and tend to have more confidence when speaking.
To fully understand how and when to use an academic essay, our custom writing service will describe the main types of them for you.
Academic Essay Example
Here is a perfect academic essay example from our research paper writer .
Types of Academic Essays
Academic writing can be categorized into four main types of essays that serve unique purposes—though some share similar structures. With that being said, the four types of academic papers are narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive.
Expository and persuasive types are most commonly seen in university curriculums as they are more scientific and objective. Narrative and descriptive essays are more subjective and engage your creativity. Now, let’s break down each type and look at each academic essay definition.
This type of writing requires the author to create a compelling story of practically anything imaginable. In other words, it is a super-condensed version of a novel. This type of essay requires students to demonstrate their creative abilities. Therefore, it implies the constant use of strong adjectives. Their use will help the author of an essay to create a strong, graphic picture for their story and enhance the audience's perception of the topic. Although telling a compelling story is basically the main purpose of this type of essay, there is much more to it than there seems. A well-written narration should also have a point that is “written between the lines”. Simply put, there should be a clear message delivered through the text. By putting a hidden message between the lines, you motivate the reader to read the paper in its entirety as it sparks their curiosity.
Read more about how to write a narrative essay .
In short, in this type of essay, the author chooses a specific thing, experience, emotion, or idea and describes it for the reader. Just like with narrative writing, this style requires the author to be subjective and creative. And, just like a narrative essay, the author is meant to draw a picture in the audience’s eyes. Another key to success in writing a descriptive essay is carefully selecting words. Such a paper should evoke certain emotions in the reader and connect them to the object of discussion. Finally, the paper should describe the subject in simple terms. When the reader understands the subject well after reading an essay - that’s when you know you have written a stellar descriptive paper.
Another type of academic writing — an expository essay is used to help readers understand subject matter by providing grounded information and facts. This type of writing requires its author to support all of the information included in the paper with valid evidence. An expository paper is no place for opinions or personal views on a subject. A quality paper should use analysis that consists of factual information on its subject. The author's key goal is to inform and educate the audience through clear logic and facts. Just to give you an example, this “How to Write an Academic Essay” article can be considered as expository writing.
Writing a persuasive paper requires one to embrace the role of a salesman (or saleswoman). You can state an opinion, project, or idea which you then have to sell to your reader(s). The logic behind how you supply the reader(s) with information should be impenetrable, leaving them with no doubt that what you are expressing is the only truth they need to know. Cater your points carefully to avoid being pushy, and hide your sales tactic behind well-thought-out sentences. When it comes to defending an argument, you can use logical tactics, emotional tactics, or a mix of both; this depends on what you are attempting to argue.
Good Academic Essay Topics
Logically, topics will vary based on the style of writing you are creating. Sometimes you can find the same topic within separate academic essay categories, but the main content will always vary depending on the category of paper you write about. That being said, here are some good academic essay topics for high school and college students:
Narrative Essay Topics
- Describe how you and your family survived the quarantine. Explain how it affected you.
- Talk about your experience of being engaged in remote learning. How did it affect your grades and overall performance? Do you think that remote education is better or worse than the traditional alternative?
- Write a story that explains the importance of technology in the modern person’s life.
- Write a story that explains the value of every person’s contribution to the process of solving the global problem of climate change.
Descriptive Essay Topics
- Describe a person who has had the biggest impact on your life.
- What is the most significant recent event in global history?
- Describe the experience of falling in love. How does it affect one’s personality?
- Describe the most impactful piece of art or music you have ever seen. What traits do you think define powerful art?
Expository Essay Topics
- Why does the rate of teen suicides keep increasing? What forces youth to commit suicide?
- What can each individual do to contribute to the prevention of climate change and reduce the threats it brings with it?
- What strategies can our society adopt to recover after the global pandemic as quickly and painlessly as possible?
- George Floyd’s death and the police’s abuse of authority: What can we do to prevent future cases?
Persuasive/Argumentative Essay Topics
- Should the government make relevant amendments to the constitution to restrict the actions permitted by police officers during arrests?
- Should we keep on following self-distancing rules even now since the danger has diminished?
- Gun control: Provide arguments for stricter gun control in the US.
- Should technology (apart from those devices used for educational purposes) be banned in colleges?
Don't have time to finish reading all of this?
Count on the support of our professional writers. We process all requests fast.
Proper Format for Your Academic Writing
Usually, an academic essay follows the standard 5-paragraph structure: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Moreover, each section will have its own unique internal structure. The introduction’s main goal is to introduce the topic and to reveal the essay’s main message (a.k.a. the thesis statement). The body paragraphs’ primary tasks are to defend the thesis with 3 sub arguments—1 per paragraph. Lastly, the conclusion is there to wrap up the entire argument and to leave a lasting impression in the form of an overall concluding statement. Down below we have presented a graphic organizer that illustrates the breakdown.
Need an Essay WRITTEN FAST?
No worries, we've got you covered. Send us your paper requirements and we'll write you an original essay in no time.
Start Off the Writing Process by Creating an Outline
Before commencing any academic writing, you need to create four essential components that need to be answered beforehand. They are the thesis statement, subpoints, a connection, and the summary.
- Thesis Statement: This is the focal point of your writing and one of your introductory paragraphs' key elements. It is the main message the author is trying to deliver.
- Body Points (Subpoints): These are the key points or statements that you will use to support your thesis.
- Connection: When writing an academic essay, it is important to tie it directly or indirectly to the real world. Provide a reason why it is important to you or why it is relevant to society. This will fill your paper with new meaning and showcase your unique way of thinking.
- Summary: This is a short and strong statement that briefly explains your given points.
You might also be interested in getting more info about HOW TO WRITE AN OUTLINE in MLA and APA styles.
To help you get a better idea of how to shape a perfect outline for your essay, here is a sample outline for a paper written about “Police Brutality and Its Impact on the Society”:
- ~ Hook: Statistics show that in 2019 alone, almost two thousand people were killed due to police brutality.
- ~ Background information and explanation of key terms: The term "police brutality" refers to the excessive, unwarranted, and often illegal use of force by the policemen. Throughout the US, and throughout global history, there have been plenty of cases of fatal force that range from assault to torture, and even murder. Moreover, statistical data indicates that the levels of violent crime in the United State do not determine the rates of police violence. That is why, recently, police brutality has become a real and prevalent issue that is being widely discussed and spotlighted in the media.
- ~ Thesis statement: The unwarranted use of force is a real problem that has a significant impact on how people view their society, and it has to be addressed appropriately to prevent further growth of discontent and violence.
- ~ Point 1 + example/evidence
- ~ Point 2 + example/evidence
- ~ Point 3 + example/evidence
- ~ Summary of the key points discussed in the main body.
- ~ Restatement of the thesis statement.
- ~ A final sentence that leaves readers with more to consider.
Once you have created a proper outline, listed your main points, and collected evidence to support your ideas, it is time to start writing your paper. A lot of people choose to come up with a title before the writing process as it helps them set the mood for their work. Others prefer writing first and then creating a title based on their written information. The second option is more suitable for writing a narrative or descriptive essays, as the title’s meaning could be abstract. However, when it comes to expository and persuasive papers, it is important to set a specific essay title and to follow its general theme.
Introduction: How to Start an Academic Essay
The academic essay format we are talking about in this article is pretty basic. It has been widely used to create high-quality essay examples for university for years. The main reason students still use it is that it is considered to be the most effective in terms of delivering information to the reader.
Where to start: When writing any academic writing assignment, a student should begin by shaping a solid introduction.
Quick tip: If you are not too experienced in writing academic papers, don’t hesitate to find a good academic paper example to give you an idea about how to make a good introduction. Looking at good samples can help to get you going.
A reader’s attention span is at its peak at the very beginning of a paper, when they just start reading, so your introductory paragraph will basically set the tone for the entire academic paper. Luckily, EssayPro can share a few handy and highly effective techniques to help you build a compelling introduction!
First of all, you should begin with a powerful hook. The term “hook” is used to refer to the first sentence of the introduction paragraph—the main purpose of which is to grab the reader's attention and encourage them to read on. To help you get on the right track, here are some of the best tactics for creating a hook that works:
- Quote: Starting an introduction with a creative and meaningful quote is one of the most popular techniques for introducing a paper. When the quote is chosen right, it can make a powerful impact on a reader and set the right tone for the entire essay. Therefore, quotes often serve as good openers. However, it is vital to pick the right quote that will directly relate to your topic and does not distract your reader from your topic’s main point.
- Fact: Another common opening technique is to begin an essay with a factual statement or statistic. This is most helpful when writing an expository or persuasive essay, as, in this case, such an opener will add credibility to your paper. Also, starting with a fact will demonstrate that you have researched your topic well.
- Rhetorical Question: Finally, another way to begin your essay is to start with a rhetorical question. This technique will help you to connect more with your reader(s). A good rhetorical question will stick in your reader's mind as they go through the rest of the paper. However, it is important that you answer the rhetorical question from the introduction in your essay’s body or, at least, guide your audience towards a relevant observation.
Bad Hook Example: “Police brutality must stop.” – This is not intriguing and does not grab the reader’s attention, though it gives the reader an idea of what the essay will be about.
Good Hook Example: “I don’t have a gun. Stop shooting.” – This hook will have a stronger impact on a reader because it is a famous quote from a police-brutality victim. Consequently, it hints on the topic of the essay, but keeps the intrigue.
When you have a powerful hook, it is time to give your readers an insight into the essay's main topic. Since the main theme of the paper may not yet be evidently clear at this point, you need to narrow down your paper’s focus by introducing some valuable contextual background information. Outlining the background data will help readers understand how the topic will unfold throughout the paper. Finally, after you provide the background, it is time to shape your golden sentence (a.k.a. thesis statement).
In a nutshell, the thesis statement is the key theme, idea, or argument of your essay. In other words, it summarizes the entire message you are going to deliver in a single sentence.
Bonus tip: When shaping your thesis statement, do not overload it with unnecessary information. Keep it straight to the point and concise. Remember that the main purposes of this sentence are to lay out the focus of the paper and to introduce the readers to the main ideas you will cover within the body paragraphs.
Bad Thesis Statement Example: “Police violence is bad for society.” – This is too short and does not indicate a solid opinion from the author.
Good Thesis Statement Example: “The unwarranted use of force is a real problem that has a significant influence on society and has to be addressed appropriately to prevent the growth of discontent and violence further.” – This is concise, but detailed enough to let the readers understand the purpose of the writing. It is logical and states the clear position the author supports.
The Main Body
The body paragraphs of your essay will be the source of information for your audience. The main body is always the biggest part of a 5 paragraph assignment and requires the most attention. When writing your body paragraphs, your main points should be stated according to the order of your outline and should support your thesis statement with valid arguments and facts. If you deviate from that, it’s going to confuse the audience, especially those who are very attentive to your essay’s flow.
Here are the main requirements for writing a strong body section:
- Accuracy : Be cautious with information and do not contradict yourself. Include the relevant subpoints (based on the body paragraphs) you presented in your thesis.
Bad Example: Due to the rapid growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, we can assume that climate change is a real issue. (Point 1) However, according to some sources, Antarctica is now gaining back ice, which indicates that the problem is being resolved. (Point 2)
Good Example: Due to the rapid growth of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, we can assume that climate change is a real issue. (Point 1) Also, according to scientists and the reports from statistics taken from satellites, Antarctica keeps losing its land ice rapidly, which also indicates continued global warming. (Point 2)
- Evidence: Every topic or idea you present should be defended with sufficient evidence to accredit your words. Provide details such as facts, statistics, and references.
Bad Example: Global warming is a real threat because of the increase in the carbon footprint left by people.
Good Example: According to the official Nasa report, the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have now almost reached the point of 420 parts per million. This indicator is considerably larger compared to the level of the atmospheric carbon dioxide reported in 1950, which barely reached 320 parts per million. These facts let us conclude that the issue of climate change is now indisputable.
- Word Choice: Mind your vocabulary, especially when it comes to persuasive or descriptive papers. The words you use should accurately represent your information. Use vivid adjectives and strong adverbs. Some things you want to avoid in terms of word choice are misused words, jargon or technical terms that confuse readers, slang or inappropriate language, cliches, wordiness, etc.
Bad Example: Last but not least, police brutality cases cause society discontent that leads to mass riots and generates even more violence.
Good Example: Lastly, police brutality causes discontent that leads to mass riots and generates even more violence.
- Keep It Consistent: A body paragraph should be between 5-7 sentences. Logically, they should all follow a similar structure, with the main difference revolving around the presentation of the subpoint. We always recommend students check out a quality academic writing sample to get a good idea of how the whole piece should look like.
The main body's goal is to answer any questions that have appeared in the reader’s mind after the introduction. Every new point should get the audience closer to understanding the complete concept you deliver throughout your essay. Ideally, your goal is to bring them to the same level of knowledge on the subject as you have in your capacity. After doing so successfully, it is time to transition to the conclusion.
Academic Essay Conclusion
In any assignment you write, you have to start strong and finish even stronger. As you move towards the end of your paper, your reader might not even remember what the first paragraph you wrote was about. Therefore, you have to remind them. Overall, a good essay conclusion is going to include:
- Summary: A condensed paraphrasing of the information stated in the thesis and the subpoints. (Only if you are writing an expository, descriptive, or persuasive paper)
- Personal or Social Connection: In other words, why this information is relevant to society. Stating such a connection showcases the general importance of the subject and its modern-day relevance.
- Overall Concluding Statement: This will normally be the last sentence that serves the purpose of tying a knot around your work. If you have initially started with a rhetorical question, a nice touch would be to give the audience an answer to it here. If you have written a quote, rephrase it in your own words. It is important to leave the audience with a strong statement that will stay in their minds.
The drafting process takes you from a compilation of information to the structured delivery of your idea within your essay. No excellent-quality paper has ever been written in a single draft. The process begins with a rough draft – a stage where you use all of the information you have acquired from your relative outline. From there, you narrow down this information to the most relevant parts that add actual value to your academic essay topic. Every new draft must also rid itself of content problems, structural flaws, or simple typos. The final draft of an essay might end up being drastically smaller than its original draft.
Word choice is one of the factors that define the quality of an academic essay. It is also often overseeded or neglected. It is no secret that some words are better at communicating ideas than others. It is also no secret that vocabulary plays a big role in the writing process. Focusing on word choice is especially significant in descriptive essay writing when your goal is to paint a picture in a reader’s mind. If you are writing a paper on a specific area of study, it is crucial to use words related to that field and avoid simple neutral words that offer no contribution to the text.
Finalizing the Submission
At this stage of writing, your content should be well polished. After taking your essay through a peer review and/or red pen edits, make sure to:
- Fix all grammatical mistakes and punctuational errors
- Finalize your title
- Add a bibliography if needed (basically, a “references” or “works cited” page that also includes the sources you have used, but weren’t referenced within the text)
- Make sure your paper meets its specified academic paper formatting requirements.
If you need dissertation writing help , leave us a message ' rewrite my essay ' or ' buy essay cheap ', and we'll help asap.
We hope we’ve given you a good head start at becoming an expert academic essay writer. Remember, the purpose of an academic essay is to develop your ideas to deliver a message. As a result of getting better at academic essay writing, you will be able to articulate yourselves clearly and be able to write and speak more confidently. Good luck with your assignment!
Want Us to Write Your Academic Paper?
Still aren’t sure if you can handle writing an academic paper all by yourself? No worries, we’ve got you covered! EssayPro has a large pool of professional writers with MA and Ph.D. degrees, and many years of experience in delivering top-quality academic help.
The Only Guide to Essay Writing You’ll Ever Need
Feel passionately about something and want to share it? Write an essay! Disagree with a popular opinion and wish to convince others to join you? Write an essay! Need to write something because the college you dream of attending is making you? Write an essay!
“Essay” is a loose term for writing that asserts the author’s opinion on a topic, whether academic, editorial, or even humorous. There are a thousand different approaches to essay writing and a million different topics to choose from, but what we’ve found is that good essay writing tends to follow the same framework.
Give your essays extra polish Grammarly helps you write with confidence Write with Grammarly
Below we discuss that framework and how you can apply it to your essays, whatever types they may be. But first, let’s start with the nucleus of any good essay: the topic.
Your essay needs a thesis statement
There are three things to consider before writing your essay: thesis, type, and audience. Of these, the most important by far is your thesis, or the crux of what your essay is about.
Your thesis, encapsulated in your thesis statement , is the central point you’re trying to make. The thesis of Bertrand Russell’s essay “ In Praise of Idleness ,” for example, is that people focus too much on work and don’t value time spent idly. Essays can occasionally stray and go into related tangents, but they always come back to that one core idea in the thesis.
You should always pinpoint your thesis before writing. If you’re having trouble nailing it down, ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I want my reader to remember when they’re done reading my essay?”
The best practice is to include your thesis as soon as possible, even in your topic sentence if it’s appropriate. You’ll want to reiterate it throughout the essay as well, especially when wrapping up everything in the conclusion.
The rest of your essay, then, supports your thesis. You can include empirical evidence, testimonials, logical deductions, or even persuasive rhetoric —whatever gets the job done. The point is that you’re building upon your initial thesis, not switching to completely different topics.
6 types of essays
Like any form of writing, essays come in many different types. Sometimes the assignment dictates the type, as with admissions essays, and other times the thesis will determine it. Regardless, it helps to know what your options are, so here are some of the most common essay types:
1. Argumentative essay
Argumentative essays assert or defend a position. This is the most common type of school paper, so keep that in mind when writing your first college essay .
2. Admissions essay
Most colleges request an admissions essay in applications, which typically revolve around why you’re interested in their school.
3. Persuasive essay
A persuasive essay is just as it sounds: an essay to persuade or convince the reader of a certain point. It’s similar to an argumentative essay— they both strongly favor a particular point of view, but the difference is the end goal: Argumentative essays just have to present their case, while persuasive essays have to present their case and win over the reader.
4. Compare-and-contrast essay
When you want to devote equal attention to two opposing things, a compare-and-contrast essay works better than argumentative or persuasive essays, which lean to one side over the other.
5. Personal essay
Personal essays are often anecdotal or real-life stories of the authors, like the works of David Sedaris . Because they tend to follow narrative structures, the thesis can be flexible or interpretive.
6. Expository essay
An expository essay thoroughly explains a certain topic to expand the reader’s knowledge. It is similar to an argumentative and persuasive essay in format, but with one key difference: expository essays don’t have a bias.
Know your essay’s audience
Your final consideration is who will read your essay—a teacher, an admissions counselor, your peers, the internet at large, etc.
No matter what you’re writing, your audience should influence your language. For one thing, your readers determine whether the essay is formal or casual , which has an enormous impact on language, word choice, and style . Take emojis for example: In a casual essay they might be welcome, but for formal writing they’re not the most appropriate choice. 😓
Your audience also affects the essay’s tone, or how you sound on an emotional level (enthusiastic, cautious, confident, etc.). If you’d like to know more, you can read about the 10 common types of tone here .
The essay writing process
If you’re writing an essay, research paper , term paper, novel, short story, poem , screenplay, blog article about essay writing—when writing just about anything , really—it’s crucial to follow an efficient writing process. Even if you prefer the stream of consciousness style for writing your rough draft, you still need to have an orderly system that allows you to revise and hone.
For essay writing, we recommend this six-step writing process :
It always helps to collect your thoughts before you begin writing by brainstorming . Based on your prompt or thesis, try to generate as many ideas as possible to include in your essay. Think of as many as time allows, knowing that you’ll be able to set aside the ideas that don’t work later.
The preparation phase consists of both outlining your essay and collecting resources for evidence. Take a look at the results of your brainstorming session. First, isolate the ideas that are essential to support your thesis and then organize them in a logical and progressive order. In this stage you’ll incorporate your essay structure, which we explain below.
If you want empirical evidence or complementary citations, track them down now. The way you write citations depends on the style guide you’re using. The three most common style guides for academics are MLA , APA , and Chicago , and each has its own particular rules and requirements for citing just about any kind of source, including newspaper articles , websites , speeches , and YouTube videos .
This is the main stage of essay writing where you roll up your sleeves and actually write your first draft . Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect; this is your first draft, not your final draft, so give yourself the freedom to make errors. If you’re focusing on getting every single word right, you’ll miss the big picture.
The revisions stage involves your second draft, your third draft, or even your twelfth draft if necessary. Address all the nuances and subtleties you glossed over in the first draft.
Pay attention to both word choice and clarity , as well as sophisticated writing techniques like avoiding the passive voice . If you’re not confident in your writing skills yet, the Grammarly Editor ensures your writing is readable, clear, and concise by offering sentence structure and word choice suggestions, plus clarity revisions as you write. Grammarly helps catch common mistakes with sentence structure—like run-on sentences, sentence fragments, passive voice, and more.
When all the heavy-duty revisions are finished, it’s time for the final polish. Go through your essay and correct misspellings , formatting issues, or grammatical errors. This is also where you can turn to Grammarly’s AI-powered writing assistant, which helps catch these common mistakes for you. Or copy and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes you might have missed.
Essay structure almost always follows a simple beginning-middle-end format, or in this case, an introduction-body-conclusion format. However, it’s what’s contained within those sections that makes all the difference.
Essays follow the same guidelines for introductions as any other piece of writing, with an extra emphasis on presenting the thesis prominently, ideally in the topic sentence. By the end of your introduction paragraph, your reader should know without a doubt what your essay is about. From there, follow the conventional best practices on how to write an introduction .
The majority of your essay is body paragraphs , all of which support your thesis and present evidence.
Pay close attention to how you organize your body paragraphs. Some arguments benefit from a logical progression, where one point leads to a second, and that second point leads to a third. Remember that the reader doesn’t understand the topic like you do (that’s why you’re writing the essay), so structure your paragraphs in the way that’s best for their comprehension.
What if you’re writing an argumentative essay where you compare and contrast two or more points of view? Do you present your argument first and then share opposing points of view, or do you open with your opposition’s argument and then refute it?
Serious writers can get pretty technical about how to organize an argumentative essay. There are three approaches in particular used often: Aristotlian (classical), Rogerian , and Toulmin . However, these can get exceedingly complicated, so for a simple essay, a basic structure will do just fine:
- Evidence supporting your point and/or disproving counterpoint
Essay conclusions wrap up or summarize your thesis in a way that’s easy for the reader to digest. If you get the chance, you can add a new perspective or context for understanding your thesis, but in general the conclusion should not present any new evidence or supporting data. Rather, it’s more of a recap. For more specific tips, read about how to write a conclusion for an essay here .
For quick and simple essays, you don’t need to get too technical with your essay structure. The five-paragraph essay structure works well in a pinch. This contains:
- One introduction paragraph
- Three body paragraphs
- One conclusion paragraph
While this essay structure might not be flexible enough for more advanced topics, it comes in handy when speed is a factor, like during timed tests.
Essay writing tips
Master the five fundamentals.
Especially for school essays, your reader will scrutinize how well you handle the fundamentals. Knowing about essay structure and the writing process is one thing, but can you demonstrate an understanding of language style? Can you develop your thesis logically and coherently? Are your references and citations trustworthy?
When you’re ready for the next step of essay writing, take a look at the five concepts you must master to write better essays . The tips there pick up where this guide leaves off.
Seek out another pair of eyes
This tip is not just for essays; it’s always advisable to have someone else read over your writing before finalizing it. All too often we miss the forest for the trees, and thinking long and hard on the same topic can give you tunnel vision. The solution is to get a fresh take from someone who’s seeing it for the first time.
Typically you can swap with a friend and edit each others’ works. If that’s not an option, however, you can also use a writing center or join a writing group online. At the very least, you should sleep on it and take another look when you’re refreshed.
Remember: Grammar and form are essential
It’s not always about what you say, but how you say it. You could have the most obvious, objectively agreeable thesis in the world, but if your writing is incoherent, confusing, and full of mistakes, it’s tough to engage with your reader.
For when your writing needs to make the right impact, Grammarly Premium offers full-sentence rewrites for confusing sentences—from splitting long sentences, cutting extra words, or rearranging key phrases—in addition to catching common grammar mistakes. It also gives you readability-focused formatting suggestions, so you know your writing is clear. It also helps those who are looking to improve their writing skill level in English, with suggestions for commonly misused words and phrases.
Honing your writing with these elements in mind is key to relaying your point to your reader—and asserting your thesis as effectively as possible.
Essay and dissertation writing skills
Planning your essay
Writing your introduction
Structuring your essay
- Writing essays in science subjects
- Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
- Writing extended essays and dissertations
- Planning your dissertation writing time
Structuring your dissertation
- Top tips for writing longer pieces of work
Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations
University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions.
You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:
Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.
However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:
Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’
Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:
The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.
- Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
- References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline.
Essay writing in science subjects
If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:
A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.
Short videos to support your essay writing skills
There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:
- Approaching different types of essay questions
- Structuring your essay
- Writing an introduction
- Making use of evidence in your essay writing
- Writing your conclusion
Extended essays and dissertations
Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.
Planning your time effectively
Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.
Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.
The structure of extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:
- The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
- Explanation of the focus of your work.
- Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
- List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.
The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.
The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources.
Tips on writing longer pieces of work
Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.
For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work .
Systems & Services
Access Student Self Service
- Student Self Service
- Self Service guide
- Registration guide
- Libraries search
- OXCORT - see TMS
- GSS - see Student Self Service
- The Careers Service
- Oxford University Sport
- Online store
- Gardens, Libraries and Museums
- Researchers Skills Toolkit
- LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com)
- Access Guide
- Lecture Lists
- Exam Papers (OXAM)
- Oxford Talks
Latest student news
CAN'T FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR?
Try our extensive database of FAQs or submit your own question...
Ask a question
- Online Degree Explore Bachelor’s & Master’s degrees
- MasterTrack™ Earn credit towards a Master’s degree
- University Certificates Advance your career with graduate-level learning
- Top Courses
- Join for Free
7 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills
Writing, like any other skill, is something you can get better at with time and practice. Learn how.
From sending emails to preparing presentations, writing is often a day-to-day task in many professions spanning diverse industries. Writing skills go beyond grammar and spelling. Accuracy, clarity, persuasiveness, and several other elements play a part in ensuring your writing is conveying the right message.
What are writing skills?
Writing is a technical skill that you use to communicate effectively through the written word. Though these may vary depending on what you’re writing, there are several that transcend categories. Writing skills can more specifically include:
Research and accuracy
Each of these components can influence the quality of writing.
Effective Communication: Writing, Design, and Presentation
Build Communication Skill for Professional Success. Master business writing, graphic design, and business presentation skills
86,493 already enrolled
Average time: 5 month(s)
Learn at your own pace
Skills you'll build:
Business Writing, Presentation, Graphic Design, Writing, Grammar, Communication, Graphics, Typography, Public Speaking, Communication Design
Why are writing skills important?
Being able to write well is a form of effective communication , which many employers see as a crucial job skill . In fact, strong communication—spanning written, verbal, non-verbal, and visual—is among the nine common employability skills that employers seek in job candidates.
Regardless of your role, with good writing skills, you can clearly transcribe your thoughts into meaningful messages, enabling you to share your ideas, build relationships, and strengthen your professional image.
Learn more: Important Communication Skills and How to Improve Them
How to improve your writing skills
Writing, like any other skill, is something we can get better at with time and practice. Here are some strategies for developing your own written communication:
1. Review grammar and spelling basics.
Grammar and spelling form the foundation of good writing. Writing with proper grammar and spelling communicates your professionality and attention to detail to your reader. It also makes your writing easier to understand.
Plus, knowing when and how to use less-common punctuation, like colons, semicolons, and em-dashes, can unlock new ways to structure sentences and elevate your writing.
If you’re looking to strengthen your grammar and spelling, start by consulting a writing manual. The Elements of Style by William Stunk and E.B. White has long been considered a staple for writers. You can find similar resources at your local library, bookstore, or online.
Academic English: Writing
Transform Your Writing Skills. Prepare for college-level writing and research in just four courses.
193,867 already enrolled
Average time: 6 month(s)
Punctuation, Essay Writing, Academic Writing, Writing, English Grammar, Grammar, Creative Writing
2. Read what you want to write.
Knowing what a finished piece of writing can look like can guide your own. If you’re trying to write a humorous short story, read humorous short stories. Writing a book review? Find a few and take note of how they’re structured. Pay attention to what makes them good and what you want to emulate (without plagiarizing, of course). If you’re working on a school assignment, you can ask your instructor for examples of successful pieces from past students.
Make reading a part of your everyday life to improve your writing. Try reading the news in the morning or picking up a book before you head to bed. If you haven’t been a big reader in the past, start with topics you’re interested in, or ask friends and family for recommendations. You’ll gradually begin to understand what subjects, genres, and authors you enjoy.
While it’s tempting to submit work as soon as you’re done with it, build in some time to revisit what you’ve written to catch errors big and small. Here are a few proofreading tips to keep in mind:
Set your work aside before you edit. Try to step away from your writing for a day or more so you can come back to it with fresh, more objective eyes. Crunched for time? Even allotting 20 minutes between writing and proofreading can allow you to approach your work with renewed energy.
Start with easy fixes, then progress to bigger changes. Starting with easier changes can get you in the rhythm for proofreading, allow you to read through your work once more, and clear distractions so you can focus on bigger edits. Read through your work to catch misspellings, inconsistencies, and grammar errors. Then address the larger problems with structure or awkward transitions.
If you could say something in fewer words, do so. Being unnecessarily wordy can cloud your message and confuse the reader. Pare down phrases that are redundant, repetitive, or obvious.
Read out loud. Reading out loud can help you find awkward phrases and areas where your writing doesn’t flow well.
Should you use computer spelling and grammar tools?
Many computer-based tools—like spell check on your word processor, or Grammarly — can help you find and fix simple spelling and grammar errors. These tools are not perfect but can help even the most seasoned of writers avoid mistakes. Take note of any frequently highlighted words or phrases so that you can avoid the same mistakes in the future.
4. Get feedback.
Whether you’re writing emails or essays, asking for feedback is a great way to see how somebody besides yourself will interpret your text. Have an idea of what you’d like your proofreader to focus on—the structure, conclusion, the persuasiveness of an argument, or otherwise.
Approach a trusted friend, family member, coworker, or instructor. If you’re a student, your school might also have a writing resource center you can reach out to.
You might also consider forming a writing group or joining a writing class. Find writing courses online, at your local community college, or at independent writing workshops in your city.
5. Think about structure.
Grammar and spelling keep your writing consistent and legible, but structure ensures the big ideas get across to the reader.
In many cases, forming an outline will help solidify structure. An outline can clarify what you’re hoping to convey in each section, enable you to visualize the flow of your piece, and surface parts that require more research or thought.
Structure might look different depending on what you’re writing. An essay typically has an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. A fiction piece might follow the six-stage plot structure: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, and denouement. Choose what’s best for your purposes.
Craft Your Story Like the Great Writers. Craft an original story that will absorb a reader’s interest from the beginning to end.
110,044 already enrolled
Short Story Writing, Fiction Writing, Creativity, Copy Editing
Like many skills, one of the best ways to improve your writing is to practice. Here are a few ways you can get started:
Start a journal or a blog.
Join a class or writing workshop.
Practice free writing.
Write letters to friends or family.
Put together an opinion piece for your local newspaper or publication you like.
7. Know some common fixes.
Even if a text is grammatically correct, you may be able to make it more dynamic and interesting with some polish. Here are some common ways you can sharpen your writing:
Choose strong verbs (for example, “sprinted,” “dashed,” or “bolted” instead of “ran”).
Avoid passive voice.
Vary sentence length.
Cut unnecessary words.
Replace cliches with original phrasing.
Good with Words: Writing and Editing
Writing. Editing. Persuasion. Learn the mechanics and strategy of effective communication.
54,185 already enrolled
Average time: 4 month(s)
Persuasion, Creativity, Writing, Time management, Editing
Showing your writing skills in a job search
Your writing skills will shine throughout the job search process , whether or not you intend to show them off. This is because job applications are largely written materials, including your cover letter , resume , and email communications . Use these opportunities to demonstrate your writing skills to prospective employers by submitting clear, accurate, and engaging materials.
Additionally, if you have specialized expertise, such as experience with legal writing, medical writing, technical writing, or scientific writing, you can note that in a resume skills section and further detail that experience within your cover letter or during your interviews .
Become job-ready with a Coursera Plus subscription
- Get access to 7,000+ learning programs from world-class universities and companies, including Google, Yale, Salesforce, and more
- Try different courses and find your best fit at no additional cost
- Earn certificates for learning programs you complete
- A subscription price of $59/month, cancel any time
Whether you’re a scientist or a product manager, journalist or entrepreneur, writing effectively will enable you to communicate your ideas to the world. Through practice, exposure, and familiarizing yourself with basic rules, you’ll be able to use your writing to say exactly what you want to say.
If you’re looking for a structured way to expand your writing skillset, explore writing courses on Coursera —the first week is free.
Give your team access to a catalog of 8,000+ engaging courses and hands-on Guided Projects to help them develop impactful skills. Learn more about Coursera for Business .
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
Develop career skills and credentials to stand out
- Build in demand career skills with experts from leading companies and universities
- Choose from over 8000 courses, hands-on projects, and certificate programs
- Learn on your terms with flexible schedules and on-demand courses
Learn something new.
- Learn a Language
- Learn Accounting
- Learn Coding
- Learn Copywriting
- Learn Public Relations
- Boulder MS Data Science
- Illinois iMBA
- Illinois MS Computer Science
- UMich MS in Applied Data Science
Popular Career Paths Articles
- Business Analyst Career Guide
- Data Analyst Career Guide
- Data Engineer Career Guide
- Data Scientist Career Guide
- Product Designer Career Guide
- Project Manager Career Guide
- Scrum Master Career Guide
- Social Media Manager Career Guide
- UX Designer Career Guide
- UX Researcher Career Guide
Popular Resume & Cover Letter Articles
- A Guide for When to Add GPA on Resumes
- Check Out These Resume Length Guidelines
- Crafting an Impressive Project Manager Cover Letter
- Examples of Successful UX Designer Resumes
- How To Add a Resume to LinkedIn
- How to Craft a Resume With No Experience
- How to Show Management Skills on Your Resume
- Learn How Long Your Cover Letter Should Be
- Learn How to Include Certifications on a Resume
- Write a Standout Data Analyst Cover Letter
Popular Interviewing Articles
- Crafting the Perfect Follow-up Email After an Interview
- Data Analyst Interview Questions
- Data Engineer Interview Questions
- IT Interview Questions
- Marketing Interview Questions
- Project Manager Interview Questions
- Scrum Master Interview Questions
- SQL Interview Questions
- Strengths and Weaknesses Interview Questions
- UX Designer Interview Questions
- What We Offer
- Coursera Plus
- Professional Certificates
- MasterTrack® Certificates
- For Enterprise
- For Government
- Become a Partner
- Coronavirus Response
- Free Courses
- All Courses
- Beta Testers
- Teaching Center
- Modern Slavery Statement
- Australia edition
- International edition
How to write better essays: 'nobody does introductions properly'
Is Wikipedia really a no-go? Should you bother with the whole reading list? And how do you make a convincing argument? We ask the experts
A s the government begins its crackdown on essay mill websites , it’s easy to see just how much pressure students are under to get top grades for their coursework these days. But writing a high-scoring paper doesn’t need to be complicated. We spoke to experts to get some simple techniques that will raise your writing game.
Tim Squirrell is a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, and is teaching for the first time this year. When he was asked to deliver sessions on the art of essay-writing, he decided to publish a comprehensive (and brilliant) blog on the topic, offering wisdom gleaned from turning out two or three essays a week for his own undergraduate degree.
“There is a knack to it,” he says. “It took me until my second or third year at Cambridge to work it out. No one tells you how to put together an argument and push yourself from a 60 to a 70, but once you to get grips with how you’re meant to construct them, it’s simple.”
The goal of writing any essay is to show that you can think critically about the material at hand (whatever it may be). This means going beyond regurgitating what you’ve read; if you’re just repeating other people’s arguments, you’re never going to trouble the upper end of the marking scale.
“You need to be using your higher cognitive abilities,” says Bryan Greetham, author of the bestselling How to Write Better Essays . “You’re not just showing understanding and recall, but analysing and synthesising ideas from different sources, then critically evaluating them. That’s where the marks lie.”
But what does critical evaluation actually look like? According to Squirrell, it’s simple: you need to “poke holes” in the texts you’re exploring and work out the ways in which “the authors aren’t perfect”.
“That can be an intimidating idea,” he says. “You’re reading something that someone has probably spent their career studying, so how can you, as an undergraduate, critique it?
“The answer is that you’re not going to discover some gaping flaw in Foucault’s History of Sexuality Volume 3, but you are going to be able to say: ‘There are issues with these certain accounts, here is how you might resolve those’. That’s the difference between a 60-something essay and a 70-something essay.”
Critique your own arguments
Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about writing academic essays, but it’s the key to drawing out developed points.
“We’re taught at an early age to present both sides of the argument,” Squirrell continues. “Then you get to university and you’re told to present one side of the argument and sustain it throughout the piece. But that’s not quite it: you need to figure out what the strongest objections to your own argument would be. Write them and try to respond to them, so you become aware of flaws in your reasoning. Every argument has its limits and if you can try and explore those, the markers will often reward that.”
Fine, use Wikipedia then
The use of Wikipedia for research is a controversial topic among academics, with many advising their students to stay away from the site altogether.
“I genuinely disagree,” says Squirrell. “Those on the other side say that you can’t know who has written it, what they had in mind, what their biases are. But if you’re just trying to get a handle on a subject, or you want to find a scattering of secondary sources, it can be quite useful. I would only recommend it as either a primer or a last resort, but it does have its place.”
Focus your reading
Reading lists can be a hindrance as well as a help. They should be your first port of call for guidance, but they aren’t to-do lists. A book may be listed, but that doesn’t mean you need to absorb the whole thing.
Squirrell advises reading the introduction and conclusion and a relevant chapter but no more. “Otherwise you won’t actually get anything out of it because you’re trying to plough your way through a 300-page monograph,” he says.
You also need to store the information you’re gathering in a helpful, systematic way. Bryan Greetham recommends a digital update of his old-school “project box” approach.
“I have a box to catch all of those small things – a figure, a quotation, something interesting someone says – I’ll write them down and put them in the box so I don’t lose them. Then when I come to write, I have all of my material.”
There are a plenty of online offerings to help with this, such as the project management app Scrivener and referencing tool Zotero , and, for the procrastinators, there are productivity programmes like Self Control , which allow users to block certain websites from their computers for a set period.
Look beyond the reading list
“This is comparatively easy to do,” says Squirrell. “Look at the citations used in the text, put them in Google Scholar, read the abstracts and decide whether they’re worth reading. Then you can look on Google Scholar at other papers that have cited the work you’re writing about – some of those will be useful. But quality matters more than quantity.”
And finally, the introduction
The old trick of dealing with your introduction last is common knowledge, but it seems few have really mastered the art of writing an effective opener.
“Introductions are the easiest things in the world to get right and nobody does it properly,” Squirrel says. “It should be ‘Here is the argument I am going to make, I am going to substantiate this with three or four strands of argumentation, drawing upon these theorists, who say these things, and I will conclude with some thoughts on this area and how it might clarify our understanding of this phenomenon.’ You should be able to encapsulate it in 100 words or so. That’s literally it.”
Keep up with the latest on Guardian Students: follow us on Twitter at @GdnStudents – and become a member to receive exclusive benefits and our weekly newsletter.
- Tips for students
- Higher education
- Advice for students
- EXPLORE Coupons Tech Help Pro Random Article About Us Quizzes Contribute Train Your Brain Game Improve Your English Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
- HELP US Support wikiHow Community Dashboard Write an Article Request a New Article More Ideas...
- EDIT Edit this Article
- PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Coupons Quizzes Upgrade Sign In
- Browse Articles
- Learn Something New
- Train Your Brain
- Improve Your English
- Explore More
- Support wikiHow
- About wikiHow
- H&M Coupons
- Hotwire Promo Codes
- StubHub Discount Codes
- Ashley Furniture Coupons
- Blue Nile Promo Codes
- NordVPN Coupons
- Samsung Promo Codes
- Chewy Promo Codes
- Ulta Coupons
- Vistaprint Promo Codes
- Shutterfly Promo Codes
- DoorDash Promo Codes
- Office Depot Coupons
- adidas Promo Codes
- Home Depot Coupons
- DSW Coupons
- Bed Bath and Beyond Coupons
- Lowe's Coupons
- Surfshark Coupons
- Nordstrom Coupons
- Walmart Promo Codes
- Dick's Sporting Goods Coupons
- Fanatics Coupons
- Edible Arrangements Coupons
- eBay Coupons
- Log in / Sign up
- Education and Communications
- College University and Postgraduate
- Academic Writing
How to Write an Academic Essay
Last Updated: March 2, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Emily Listmann, MA and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD . Emily Listmann is a private tutor in San Carlos, California. She has worked as a Social Studies Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, and an SAT Prep Teacher. She received her MA in Education from the Stanford Graduate School of Education in 2014. There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 15 testimonials and 86% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 766,085 times.
Being able to write a strong academic essay is a critical skill for college and university students. It is also a skill that will continue to serve you if you plan to go into an academic career, or any field that involves persuasive or analytical writing. In order to write a successful essay, start by following any assigned instructions carefully. Before you start writing, research your topic using good, reputable sources. Organize your essay clearly, and support your arguments with strong examples and evidence. Once your essay is drafted, make sure you’re handing in your best possible work by checking it over thoroughly and making any necessary edits.
Following the Instructions for Your Assignment
- Does your essay need to answer a specific question or questions?
- Is your essay supposed to present a critical analysis of a source , such as a book, poem, film, or work of art?
- Is the objective to demonstrate your ability to present an original argument based on research ?
- Have you been asked to compare and contrast two ideas, events, or literary or artistic works?
- If the formatting requirements aren’t on your assignment sheet, check the course syllabus or ask your instructor.
- Essays on subjects in the social sciences usually use APA-style citations .
- Essays on subjects in the humanities, such as literature or history, typically use MLA or Chicago Style .
- Essays on medical or health-related topics may use the AMA style, while other sciences have their own discipline-specific styles.
- The basic rules for most common citation styles are readily available online. For more detailed information, look for a style guide in your school library or bookstore.
Researching Your Topic
- You may need to log in with your student ID or institutional ID to get access to many online scholarly databases, or access them through a school or library computer.
- Another good way to start building your bibliography is to look at the reference list on an introductory overview of your subject, such as an encyclopedia entry.
- Your instructor, or your school’s reference librarian, may also be able to recommend some good sources on your topic.
- While Wikipedia is often unreliable and is not considered an appropriate source for most academic writing, it can be a good starting point for research. Check the “References” section of the Wikipedia article on your topic for useful sources.
- Where is the author getting their information? Do they provide credible sources?
- Does the author provide convincing evidence to back up their arguments?
- Does the author have any obvious biases or agendas that affect the way they present or interpret their information?
- When you look at secondary sources, such as scholarly papers or news articles, you are seeing the data filtered through someone else’s perspective. Looking at primary data allows you to interpret the evidence for yourself.
- Your instructor should specify whether you need to incorporate primary sources into your research, and if so, how to find and utilize them. If you’re not sure, ask.
- Are the author’s credentials given? Is the author qualified to write on the subject?
- Does the author state where they got their information? Are you able to verify the sources?
- Is the article written in an objective, unbiased manner?
- Is the article written for an academic audience? Is the content intended to be educational?
- How does the URL end? Generally, sites that end in .edu, .org, or .gov are more reputable than sites that end in .com.
Constructing Your Essay
- The thesis should be included toward the end of your introduction along with a brief outline of the evidence you will use to support your thesis.
- An example of a thesis statement is, “A growing body of evidence suggests that ‘Ode to a Tufted Titmouse’ may in fact have been written by Huffbottom’s lesser-known contemporary, Georgina Roodles. In addition to the poem’s numerous stylistic parallels to Roodles’ known works, private letters between Roodles and her brother demonstrate that she was keenly interested in ornithology at the time that ‘Tufted Titmouse’ was published.”
- Point 1, with supporting evidence
- Point 2, with supporting evidence
- Point 3, with supporting evidence
- Your refutation of the counter-argument(s)
- Each paragraph should include a “topic sentence” that clearly states the main point of the paragraph. For example: “The poem is characterized by several stylistic features that occur in numerous examples of Roodles’ work, including alliteration, humorous synecdoche, and malapropisms.”
- For example, “Compare the alliterative phrase ‘timid and tremulous twittering,’ which appears in the first stanza of ‘Ode to a Tufted Titmouse,’ with ‘mild and melodious meowing,’ which appears in the second stanza of Roodles’ 1904 poem, ‘Sadie: A Cat.’ By contrast, alliteration is almost completely absent from the contemporary works of Reginald Huffbottom.”
- “In 1910, an anonymous poem entitled ‘Ode to a Tufted Titmouse’ appeared in the Winter issue of Bertram’s Bogus Ballads Quarterly . The poem was eventually republished in a compilation edited by D. Travers (1934, p. 13-15), where it was attributed to Reginald Huffbottom. Several literary critics have since questioned Huffbottom’s authorship of the poem. This essay will utilize a combination of stylistic analysis and evidence from private correspondence to attempt to identify the true author of ‘Tufted Titmouse.’”
- “In addition to alliteration, ‘Ode to a Tufted Titmouse’ contains several examples of synecdoche, another stylistic device that occurs in several of Roodles’ earlier works.”
- Always make a clear distinction between paraphrasing (putting someone else’s statement into your own words) and quoting directly (using someone else’s exact words).
- If you are paraphrasing, rephrase your source’s statement or idea using your own words, but identify the source with a footnote or in-text citation. E.g.: Percival Bingley states that ‘Ode to a Tufted Titmouse’ was most stylistically similar to Roodles’ earliest work, and was unlikely to have been written later than 1906 (2015, p. 357).
- For short direct quotations, put the passage you’re quoting in quotation marks (“”), and identify the source immediately after the quote with a footnote or in-text citation. E.g.: In May 1908, Roodles stated in a letter to her brother that she found it “quite impossible to get a good rhyme for Bay-breasted Warbler” (Twistleton, 2010, p. 78).
- Longer “block quotations” (of 3 lines or more) should not be put in quotes. Instead, every line of the quote should be indented from the left-hand side.
- “Vogle has argued against Roodles as a likely author of ‘Tufted Titmose’ based on the fact that none of her known works contain references to birds (2007, p. 73). However, several of Roodles’ letters to her brother, written between 1906 and 1909, refer to ‘those blasted bird poems I’ve been working on’ (Twistleton, 2010, pgs. 23-24, 35, and 78).”
- Don’t just rehash what you wrote in your introduction. Use a few sentences to reflect on the significance of your argument, and how it might affect future studies of this topic.
- The name of the author.
- The title of the work.
- The name of the publisher, and (usually) the place of publication.
- The date of the publication.
Polishing Your Essay
- Is your writing concise? Are there any words or sentences that you could cut out?
- Is your writing clear? Does everything make sense?
- Is the essay well-organized? Is there anything that would flow better if it was arranged in a different order?
- Do you need to make the transitions between sections flow more smoothly?
- For example, “Roodles’ early work is pretty awful compared to her later stuff!” would not be appropriate in an academic paper.
- Instead, write something like, “Roodles’ poems published before 1910 show a less nuanced understanding of verse and meter than her later poems.”
- Make sure to save a copy of your previous draft separately, in case you make any major revisions and then change your mind.
- Reading out loud can help you catch problems that your eye might miss when you’re reading silently.
Expert Q&A Did you know you can get expert answers for this article? Unlock expert answers by supporting wikiHow
Support wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer.
- Do not mess with the font and/or margins to make your paper look longer. Some instructors may actually deduct points for attempts to make the paper look longer. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Use formal English. Slang, colloquialisms, and chatty language are not appropriate for an academic paper. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Manage your time. Unless you are good at writing quick papers under stress, give yourself plenty of uninterrupted time to complete your assignment. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Do not plagiarize. If you use the words or ideas of others and don't indicate where they came from, you're misleading your readers. It's dishonest, a form of cheating, and it's usually easy to see. Plagiarism can have serious consequences for your academic career. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 2 Not Helpful 1
- If you’re concerned about accidental plagiarism, use a website like Turnitin.com to check your work before you hand it in. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 1 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/how-read-assignment
- ↑ https://pitt.libguides.com/citationhelp
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
- ↑ http://www.easybib.com/guides/students/writing-guide/ii-research/a-finding-sources/
- ↑ https://www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/utepconnect/blog/march-2017/4-ways-to-differentiate-a-good-source-from-a-bad-source.html
- ↑ https://www.library.georgetown.edu/tutorials/research-guides/evaluating-internet-content
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/thesis_statement_tips.html
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/essay-outline/
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
- ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/using-evidence.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.uagc.edu/introductions-conclusions
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
- ↑ http://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources
- ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/counterarguments
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
- ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/taking-breaks/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/editing-and-proofreading/
- ↑ https://opentextbc.ca/buildingblocks/chapter/tone-and-style/
- ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/8-4-revising-and-editing/
- ↑ https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/editing-and-proofreading-techniques
About This Article
To write an academic essay, start by coming up with a 1-2 sentence thesis statement that will be the main topic or argument in your essay. Then, find a variety of scholarly sources that support your thesis and disprove any counterarguments. Once you've found sources, include quotes, facts, and statistics from them in your essay. Make sure you cite any sources you use and create a bibliography at the end of your paper. For tips on researching your essay topic, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
- Send fan mail to authors
Reader Success Stories
Aug 4, 2018
Did this article help you?
Mar 11, 2017
Oct 4, 2017
Mar 16, 2017
Nov 2, 2017
- Do Not Sell or Share My Info
- Not Selling Info
wikiHow Tech Help Pro:
Develop the tech skills you need for work and life
Try making your map like this: State your thesis in a sentence or two, then write another sentence saying why it's important to make that claim. Begin your next sentence like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then... Begin each of the following ...
There are three components you’ll be working with throughout your piece: the title, the paragraphs, and the sentences. Each of these parts should be dedicated to just one idea. The ideas are not...
The essay writing process consists of three main stages: Preparation: Decide on your topic, do your research, and create an essay outline. Writing: Set out your argument in the introduction, develop it with evidence in the main body, and wrap it up with a... Revision: Check the content, ...
In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills. Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative: you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.
Developing A Thesis. Think of yourself as a member of a jury, listening to a lawyer who is presenting an opening argument. You'll want to know very soon whether the lawyer believes the accused to be guilty or not guilty, and how the lawyer plans to convince you. Readers of academic essays are like jury members: before they have read too far ...
1. Use ACTIVE VOICE Don't say: "The stepmother's house was cleaned by Cinderella." (Passive.) Say instead: "Cinderella... 2. Mix it up in terms of PUNCTUATION Here are a few commonly misused punctuation marks that a lot of people aren't sure... 3. Vary your SENTENCE STRUCTURE Don't say: "Cinderella ...
Prepare to write your essay Understand your assignment. First and foremost, before you take any action regarding writing your essay, you must ensure... Develop your essay topic. If your instructor doesn’t give you a specific topic, you should spend some time finding a... Do your research and take ...
In a recent survey, academic staff at the University identified the interrelated skills of essay-writing and reasoning as the two most important skills for success in higher education; when asked which skills students most often lacked, essay-writing was again at …
Focus these ideas into one or two sentences. Make sure you introduce your topic and give the reader an idea of the direction you are taking. Include your topic/opinion and your supporting arguments/reasons. Finally, make sure you are able to back up your thesis with evidence/supporting resources. 3.
A good essay presents thoughts in a logical order. The format should be easy to follow. The introduction should flow naturally to the body paragraphs, and the conclusion should tie everything together. The best way to do this is to lay out the outline of …
How to Write Better Essays: 5 Practical Tips 1. Read other people’s essays. Just as the books you read subconsciously help mould your own writing style, so reading... 2. Build your vocabulary and use it properly. A good vocabulary will allow you to express exactly what you mean, as... 3. Elevator ...
Clear central idea — every academic essay should deliver a specific point that should be clear and powerful (i.e. thesis statement). Personal motivation — unlike other types of writing, essays often imply that their authors are personally interested in …
The best practice is to include your thesis as soon as possible, even in your topic sentence if it’s appropriate. You’ll want to reiterate it throughout the essay as well, especially when wrapping up everything in the conclusion. The rest of your essay, then, supports your thesis.
Structuring your essay ; Writing an introduction ; Making use of evidence in your essay writing ; Writing your conclusion; Extended essays and dissertations. Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing.
Here are some strategies for developing your own written communication: 1. Review grammar and spelling basics. Grammar and spelling form the foundation of good writing. Writing with proper grammar and spelling communicates your professionality and attention to detail to your reader. It also makes your writing easier to understand.
Critique your own arguments Once you’ve cast a critical eye over the texts, you should turn it back on your own arguments. This may feel like going against the grain of what you’ve learned about...
The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic; collect, generate, and evaluate evidence; and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner. Please note: Some confusion may occur between the argumentative essay and the expository essay. These two genres are similar, but the argumentative ...
This book takes the reader carefully through each landmark stage of the essay writing process from the interpretation of the question, to the research, planning and revision. They are shown not just how to improve their study skills such as note-taking, reading, organisation and writing, but their thinking skills too.
Following the Instructions for Your Assignment. 1. Read the instructions carefully. Before you begin working on your essay, it is crucial to understand what the assignment is about, and to learn if there are any specific rules you need to follow. Read your assignment thoroughly, and assess what you need to do.