An essay is a structured piece of writing that presents an argument, tells a story, or explores a topic in depth. In academic writing, the term academic essay is frequently used. This denotes a carefully crafted piece of writing that adheres to certain standards and conventions, aiming to contribute to existing discourse or to provide a fresh perspective. With this article, we will help you understand the basics of how to write an essay, so you can receive good grades on your next work.
Definition: How to write an essay
How to write an essay refers to the systematic process of creating a structured written piece that presents and supports a specific idea or argument. This process typically involves selecting a topic, conducting research, planning and organizing one’s thoughts, drafting the content, and revising for clarity and coherence. The final product, an essay, is often a combination of an introduction that presents the main idea (thesis), body paragraphs that provide evidence or examples supporting the thesis, and a conclusion that summarizes and reinforces the main points.
|Type of academic essay||Explanation||Examples|
Note: It is important to know what type of academic essay you have to write for your assignment. The type helps you to decide on a topic to write about as well as how to structure your essay outline.
Essay at university and high school
When you are given a typical five-paragraph expository essay, you would simply spend most of your time writing in high school. However, if you are at university, a college-level argumentative essay is bound to be a more complex piece of writing. It demands extensive independent research from varied sources, has stricter guidelines, and often requires deeper critical thinking compared to the more straightforward or surface-level student papers in high school. Depending on where you are in your academic journey, there is a vast difference when it comes to how to write an essay.
Step-by-step guide on how to write an essay
The process of how to write an essay can be broadly distilled into three main points or stages: Pre-writing and planning, drafting, and revising and editing.
For the planning, you should:
- Understand the essay question or prompt
- Conduct preliminary research to gather relevant sources
- Work on your essay outline
During the drafting, you:
- Craft a compelling introduction
- Develop the body of the essay
- Construct a conclusion
In the last step, you revise and edit your text. For this, you:
- Review for coherence, consistency, and logical flow
- Proofread for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors
- Ensure the essay follows the required format or style guide (e.g., APA Style, MLA)
- Seek feedback from peers, tutors, or mentors and make necessary adjustments
Below you find the steps on how to write an entire essay.
How to write an essay introduction is not difficult if you know what you should do. You have to lead into the topic and essay question, attract the reader’s attention, and give them a good idea of the focus of the essay. Use attention grabbers, also called hooks, like startling information, an anecdote, a dialogue, a strong statement, or a summary of the topic in general. Add a few more sentences to link the hook to your thesis statement, also called the topic sentence, that marks the end of the essay introduction.
Each of the main ideas in your outline will become one paragraph. Each of those paragraphs follows the same basic structure. First, you have to write down your main ideas. Then you add your supporting points as well as an elaboration (description, explanation, etc.) for each point. Lastly, round it up with a closing sentence. Make sure to use connections between sentences with the help of transition words, so the change in topic does not come abruptly.
You have to summarize your main points as well as give a final perspective on the topic. Help your reader to draw a logical conclusion from what they just read. Repack your thesis statement in your conclusion so that the reader can remember the individual steps taken to come to this conclusion. Moreover, you should answer questions like: What are the implications of your topic sentence being true? What comes next? What questions remained unanswered?
Come up with an intriguing title that arouses the reader’s interest. Furthermore, take your time to do the formatting of your paper. You also might want to put the paragraphs in a different order. Check the instructions again because you might have to include other information (name, date, etc.). Handing in a well-formatted academic essay makes a good impression on your instructor.
When it comes to how to write an essay, revision is the key to success. You have to analyze your writing to figure out if it makes logical sense and if there is a natural flow that makes it easy to read. Is every main idea supported by enough evidence, did you make clear how ideas are linked? Run a spelling and grammar checker to be on the safe side. Moreover, ask a friend to read your academic essay to give you feedback. Occasionally, you cannot see the mistakes when it comes to your writing. Having another opinion on your paper helps you with your revisions.
Structuring the paragraphs
Each paragraph should have an introductory, topic-based sentence as well as a concluding sentence that draws a link to the topic and critically summarizes your argument.
Follow with sentences that provide evidence or examples to back up the topic sentence. This can include data, quotations, anecdotes, or explanations. Delve deeper into the significance of the supporting details in relation to your main argument. Explain how the evidence supports the topic sentence and contributes to the overall thesis of the essay.
Furthermore, you should pay attention to coherence, consistency, flow, variety, and relevance.
- Stay consistent in tense, perspective, and style.
- Use transition sentences, a link between sentences, to guide the reader.
- Vary sentence structure and length to keep the reader engaged.
- Every paragraph should relate back to and support the essay’s overall thesis or argument.
- Avoid digressions or unnecessary details.
In the following, you will find samples of how to write an essay. Here, you can read several essay types, whether to help you get started or if you’re simply unsure how to distinguish them.
Dos and don‘ts of how to write an essay
Below, you will find a list of the dos and don’ts of how to write an essay.
- Signposting language
- Stay focused
- Write the body first
- Revise your writing
- Plain and clear writing style
- Use of personal pronouns
- Writing without an outline
To start your essay, you first need an appropriate research paper topic. Ensure that your topic fits within the guidelines set by your institution, and it’s not too broad or narrow. Then, formulate your thesis statement and begin outlining a plan for your academic essay. Once you’re finished, you can start on how to write an essay.
A good essay introduction will begin with an opening statement that grabs the reader’s attention and draws them in. Then, you give a bit of background information and lay out the structure for the reader. The thesis statement should be placed towards the end of the introduction, as it provides one to two sentences of a summary of your essay and the main idea.
The five steps on how to write an essay are the following.
- Planning: Understand the prompt and organize your ideas.
- Research: Gather relevant information and evidence.
- Drafting: Write the initial version of the essay.
- Revising: Refine content for clarity and coherence.
- Editing: Proofread for grammar, punctuation, and formatting errors.
A good essay is clear, coherent, well-organized, presents strong arguments supported by relevant evidence, and is written with a consistent style and proper grammar. Furthermore, it starts with a bold statement and ends with an impactful conclusion.