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A Quick and Simple Guide to Writing an Essay

A Quick and Simple Guide to Writing an Essay

If you are looking for a kick-start to write an essay, read this.

There are other articles in this blog that will give you more detailed information, and you will benefit by reading them.

This is a general guide that will follow the outline for a basic five-paragraph essay—introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. What is stated here is the basis of every essay. You can take this and adapt it to suit the needs of your particular essay assignment.

This is what you should do before you start writing:

  • Plan your schedule in order to meet the deadline for submission.
  • Analyze the assignment question to know what is required.
  • Consult your teacher or professor to confirm that you understand precisely what is required.
  • Compose a thesis statement and discuss it with your instructor.
  • Make an outline for the content of your essay.
  • Do whatever research might be necessary.

If you have covered these initial steps, you should be ready to begin your writing.

Introduction (the first paragraph)

  • Grab the attention of your reader by presenting something startling or surprising–a fact, a statistic, a quote, a detail that is relevant to the subject.
  • Rephrase the assignment statement or question in your own words and use it with this attention grabber. This will keep you on track to give what the essay requires.
  • Narrow the focus of your essay as you go from a brief statement of background information to a specific point that will satisfy what is required by the assignment. This will prepare your reader for your thesis statement.
  • Give your thesis statement. This provides your goal, and it helps you to know the points you must make to get there, to prove your thesis.
  • State the major points that you will develop in the body of your essay to prove your thesis. Let there be at least three points—one point per paragraph. Don’t say, “This paper will discuss …”
  • Don’t be vague.
  • Don’t use “I, me, my” (first person), unless the assignment requires it.
  • Let your introduction and your thesis statement be the firm foundation on which the rest of your essay is constructed.

Many teachers prefer the thesis statement to be the final point in the introduction. Again, be sure to confirm such things with your instructor.

Follow your outline as you write the body paragraphs.

If the subject and the required length of the essay demand it, you can devote more than one paragraph to any major point. If this happens, for good proportion, try to develop the same number of paragraphs for each major point, but this must be natural and not forced.

First Body Paragraph

  • State your first major point to support your thesis in the first sentence of your first body paragraph.
  • State a supporting fact, statistic, case study, example, evidence, or quote with further information and a comment on it.
  • State as many points as you need (both positive and negative) to support your main point.
  • Sum up the supporting points of this paragraph, briefly, in a concluding comment that leads naturally into the next major point.

Second Body Paragraph

  • State your second major point to support your thesis in the first sentence of your second body paragraph.
  • State a supporting fact, statistic, case study, example, evidence, or quote with further information and a comment on it.
  • State as many points as you need (both positive and negative) to support your main point.
  • Sum up the supporting points of this paragraph, briefly, in a concluding comment that leads naturally into the next major point.

Third Body Paragraph

  • State your third major point to support your thesis in the first sentence of your third body paragraph.
  • State a supporting fact, statistic, case study, example, evidence, or quote with further information and a comment on it.
  • State as many points as you need (both positive and negative) to support your main point.
  • Sum up the supporting points of this paragraph, briefly, in a concluding comment that leads naturally into the concluding paragraph of your essay.

Conclusion (the last paragraph)

  • Summarize the major points presented in the body of your essay.
  • Do not introduce any new points.
  • Show that you have proved your thesis and restate your thesis in different words.
  • Recommend appropriate action or predict an outcome based on what your thesis has proved.
  • Avoid having the final word in the matter and leave the door open for further research to support or oppose your thesis.

Transitioning

  • Remember to link your ideas.
  • Let one idea flow naturally into the next.
  • Do not be guilty of non sequiturs—points that do not follow from what has been said immediately before the present point.
  • Use transitioning words and phrases—only where necessary and only if they actually fit the situation—between sentences and from one paragraph to another. Using the natural flow of ideas is better than depending on transitioning words.

A sample of transitioning words and phrases

  • in the same way
  • moreover
  • similarly
  • on the contrary
  • although
  • regardless
  • to put it differently
  • significantly
  • to clarify
  • with this in mind
  • unless
  • given that
  • for this reason
  • consequently
  • accordingly
  • as shown above
  • in summary
  • in any event
  • in the meantime
  • eventually
  • presently

Additional matter

Are the following items needed to complete your essay? Be sure to confirm with your instructor.

Style

Which style does your instructor require you to use for your essay and your references?

  • The Chicago Manual of Style
  • Turabian
  • APA
  • MLA
  • Harvard
  • Oxford
  • Cambridge

Editing and Proofreading

  • Edit your work to be sure that it meets all requirements.
  • Proofread your work to correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

A brief note about the argumentative essay

If you are presenting an argument, your body paragraphs should include

  • your argument in support of your thesis;
  • counterarguments against your thesis;
  • your refutation of these counterarguments.

This is all you need to write your essay. Click on the essay-writing link, below, to find more useful information.

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Are there any points about essay writing for which you would like some clarification? If so, please ask here. Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

Here are more articles to help you with English words, grammar, and essay writing.

This item was written to help you in your use of the English language. The writer, Owen Fourie, is the owner of Flawhound, an online tutoring service guiding you to improve your writing skills.

Copyright © 2011 by English Essay Writing Tips www.englishessaywritingtips.com


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