How to Write an Essay: Ultimate Guide
What Is an Essay?
As we get closer to essay writing, let's get familiar with the definition of an essay first. So what is an essay? It is a short composition based on a particular subject or theme, usually done by students as a part of their workload at school or university. Essays are extremely popular and are given as a task in every college and academic institution. They are a great tool for developing various skills necessary in life, like analytical thinking, research, creative skills, and so on.
In this article, we will look at writing tips from our coursework writer that can help you score your essay an A. Let's start from the beginning. To master essay writing process, you need to do the following:
- Choose an essay type and its format
- Brainstorm a topic
- Conduct research
- Develop a thesis statement
- Create an essay outline
- Write a draft and the essay itself
- Check spelling and grammar
Let's see each step of mastering how to write a good essay in detail.
1. Choose an Essay Type and Format
In this step, you need to define what kind of paper you are writing. There are four main essay categories:
- Descriptive — describes a particular topic or situation.
- Persuasive — convinces the reader to adopt a certain point of view.
- Informative — presents information that your readers don't know.
- Explanatory — explains a certain process or situation, for example: how to bake a cake.
Most Popular Types of Essays:
- 5-Paragraph Essay: This is an essay written in the classic five-paragraph style. It can be used for a persuasive, narrative, or expository essay.
- Persuasive: This paper aims to persuade the audience about a certain topic or idea.
- Cause-and-Effect: This essay is presented and followed up with an in-depth analysis of the results.
- Compare-and-Contrast: This one requires a critical analysis of the similarities and differences between two things.
- Creative Writing: In this writing, the author chooses his own topic and style to create a cool story.
- Narrative: Similar to creative writing, the writer creates a story; however, they need to follow a specific set of formatting instructions in this case.
- Expository: This paper aims to educate the reader or audience about a certain topic or idea. This does not include persuasions or opinions.
- Process: This is an assignment explaining the "How." It usually follows a step-by-step structure.
- Descriptive: This essay gives a full overview of a certain topic or thing. It includes a full explanation of each of the five senses.
- Analytical: This type of paper requires a full analysis of a topic or idea. Critical thinking and the implementation of personal inferences are necessary.
Essay Format and Style Requirements
A basic essay consists of three main parts: an introduction, body, and conclusion. Flexibility is also important. The topic of your academic paper and specific assignment guide should guide your writing and organization.
As for commonly used essay format requirements, essays are pretty strict. While single-spaced papers are usually acceptable, it is typically better if your article is double-spaced. In addition, it would help if you clearly delineated your paragraphs. A single tab at the beginning of each section is acceptable as well. The most popular fonts are Times, Arial, Calibri, and Cambria.
There are many different ways of citing sources from your research. The citation style you will use sometimes depends on the academic subject you study in your school or college. For example:
- APA (American Psychological Association) is mostly used for students specializing in Education, Psychology, and Sciences.
- MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used for Humanities subjects.
- Chicago/Turabian style is used for Business, History, and Fine Arts disciplines.
As for how long an essay is, average high school essay lengths vary from 300 to 1000 words, college admission essays are typically between 200-650 words, and an undergraduate college essay can be around 1500-5000 words long. Of course, you should also always pay attention to the requirements of your professor—usually given along with your assignment.
2. Brainstorm a Topic
It's time to come up with the topic. When asking yourself, "what should I write about?" it may be useful to write down everything that comes to mind and narrow it down later. To facilitate the process, you may use clustering or mind mapping to brainstorm and come up with an essay idea. Brainstorming is very useful at this stage as it helps to develop your topic(s) more deeply. It also allows you to recognize connections between various facets of your subject.
When deciding on what to write about, consider these things:
- Ensure access to all the materials you may need before writing a paper. If allowed, choose a topic that is familiar to you. It will be easy and interesting for you to write about a theme in which you are well versed.
- Define The Purpose: Are you trying to inform the audience of something interesting or persuade them to agree with your opinion? Even if your goal is just to tell a story, have a clear understanding of the purpose of the writing. This ensures that the audience understands you properly and that you won't waste time and effort.
- Subject Depth: At what point on the spectrum of depth do you plan on reaching? How broad or narrow do you want to go in your discussion? The best option is to find the golden middle. Make sure your subject is not too deep, as if only you can understand what you are talking about. Then, check that it is not too broad or narrow – to ensure that you can find enough information.
- Define the heading. The heading must be short, concise, and clear. It should clearly state what your paper is about in the best way possible. It should also be interesting and catchy.
Typical mistakes when choosing an essay topic:
- Choosing a boring topic because it is easy to write about. Writing about a boring topic will lead to a dull paper outcome. Selecting a broad topic, for example, "computer games," and not narrowing it down to something more specific like "computer games and the violent impacts they can have on kids."
- A desire to look smart by choosing hard and strange topics. If a case is too difficult, it might be hard to find enough information about it or difficult to convey to your readers.
- Creating an inappropriate title that doesn't match the content/topic. Remember, a good essay title can make your paper stand out.
- Choosing a title that does not correspond with the specific assignment.
3. How to Start an Essay: Research
To write a good essay, you always need to do some research. Other than just going to the library or searching online, you can interview people who are experts in the subject. Get out there and talk to people, ask them to share their experiences, watch some interviews on YouTube and other platforms, and search social media. These are always good ways to start an essay.
4. Develop a Thesis
A thesis statement is one sentence that says what the essay is about. This basic premise can be used for writing your entire paper. However, it should be specific and based only on what you will discuss in your writing. You will then need to support it using some evidence.
Good thesis statement example: The constitution provides everyone with rights; however, there are some limitations regarding this providence in the law.
By reading the thesis statement, you can understand what the rest of the paper will be about, and it should make you want to read the rest of what is written.
5. Outlining Your Essay
The paper's outline is the skeleton of your essay. It is great for ensuring that your paper is logical, well organized, and flows properly. Outlines help you see the logical steps of development in your essay. Use it to list ideas, main arguments, and supporting sources. It's crucial to outline your writing as it will guide your pen and keep you on track.
How to Make an Outline
Let's find this out by viewing an outline example:
- Hook statement;
- A preview of the subtopics you will discuss in the body;
- A thesis statement.
- Topic sentence — must state the first subtopic and be opened with a transition;
- Claim — a piece of argument that will be defended;
- Evidence — information to support the claim;
- An explanation — describes how the evidence defends the claim;
- Concluding sentence.
- Restatement of the thesis statement;
- Rephrasing main subtopics;
- Concluding statement.
Watch our video on basic essay structure and keep on reading!
First impressions always count. The essay introduction is your chance to grasp the reader’s attention and convince them to read the rest of the paper. Every introduction must:
- Grab the reader's attention;
- Provide background information on the topic;
- Reveal the main argument or thesis statement.
- The attention-grabber is often referred to as a hook. Hooks can be anecdotal or informative, depending on the essay type and the audience. A strong theme will make the audience want to read more.
Example of a good attention grabber: My life changed when I lost my elder brother in a drastic suicide almost fourteen years ago in his home.
Background information gives the reader context and allows them to understand the writer's point of view fully. The thesis statement is the primary argument or focus of the essay.
This is the part of your assignment where you need to explain and develop the main ideas of your topic. It comes after the essay introduction and before the conclusion paragraph. Almost always, this is the longest part of the paper. Begin writing each section with a topic sentence, write down a supporting point for that idea, and end it by elaborating upon it (it can be a description, explanation, or example).
The structure of the body paragraphs should look like this:
- A clear topic sentence;
- Specific evidence or supporting detail;
- Transitions between sentences and paragraphs;
- A concluding sentence will tie the evidence or facts back to the main point and bring the section to a logical end.
This brings us to the final part – the essay's conclusion. Here you summarize the paper, remind the reader of your thesis, and leave them with some final thoughts. Here's what to include in your conclusion:
- Mirror your introduction paragraph by speaking about specifics;
- Rephrase your thesis—it will have more meaning after the reader has read your paper;
- Remind the reader why your arguments are important;
- End it with a final impression or general statement.
- Don't bring new ideas to a conclusion.
Also read about 5 paragraph essay outline, it will probably be useful for you.
6. Writing the Essay
Now that you have the outline or the basic skeleton, you can create a whole, cohesive, and clear essay.
The First Rough Draft
The purpose of writing a rough draft is simple. No one can write an essay without mistakes on the first try. So, after you have written a rough draft, read it one more time and follow EssayPro's advice:
- Check the clarity of your writing and, if necessary, remove all worthless parts of its content. Also, check it for grammar mistakes.
- Check the flow of your writing and add proper transitions between paragraphs (if not already there).
- Make sure that your paper is based on the topic that you have chosen.
It would help if you tried to support your thesis with the information in your paragraphs. Each paragraph should include a topic sentence — the most important sentence that tells readers what the rest of the section will be about. Also, try to make sure that everything flows together. Transition words can be very helpful here. They connect paragraphs and will prevent your paper from sounding disjointed.
Questions to Check by Yourself Before Submitting an Essay:
- Did you do good research on the topic?
- Do you have a strong thesis?
- Did you use the best examples to support your idea?
- Have you managed to present your case in the first draft successfully?
- Does the conclusion give an interesting look into the future of this topic?
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7. Checking Spelling and Grammar
After the paper is written, you need to reread what you've written and look for mistakes or typos. Do not forget to check for technical errors, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Also, make sure to include transitions between paragraphs so your writing flows smoothly instead of just jumping from one idea to another.
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