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How to Write an Essay

Published by at August 12th, 2021 , Revised On June 29, 2022

Uncertain about how to write your essay? Curious to figure out what the introduction and conclusion sections should consist of?  Which essay structure and style should you choose? If these are the questions you are asking, then we are going to answer them.

For those who have spent enough time around elders, you’ve likely heard the phrase ‘there is more than one way to skin a cat,’ and you know what, the same dogma can be applied to essay assignments. Before we look into the details of how to start an essay, it will make sense to talk about the different types of essays briefly.

There are over a dozen different types of essays, and they can all be grouped into the following four major categories.

Just as there are multiple types of essays, there are also multiple styles of essay writing. The most common type of essay is the hamburger essay: it consists of five main parts, just like a well made hamburger.

Develop an Essay Outline

Before writing the essay paper, develop an outline that will provide insight into the contents of the final paper.

According to,  “An outline allows a writer to categorize the main points, to organize the paragraphs into an order that makes sense, and to make sure that each paragraph/idea can be fully developed.”

To put it in simple words, an outline will help you stay on track without getting stuck when writing the essay paper. Authors and academicians have reached a consensus that outlines a plan of action for writers to stay organized whilst giving them the map to discuss all the important elements of the topic without getting sidetracked.  Here is what an essay outline will generally include;

  1. Two or three catchy titles based on your essay’s topic so you can choose the most suitable one.
  2. A rationale and thesis, also known as the problem statement, so you know exactly what you are trying to achieve.
  3. The essay framework typically includes an introduction paragraph, main body, and concluding remarks.
  4. Introduction Paragraph: Here, you present the essay’s hypothesis – an introduction to the main idea you wish to address in the essay’s body. How is the information in the introductory section related to the content of the main body?
  5. Main Body: Here, you present your research around the topic of the essay. Any supporting information taken from other academic sources must be cited accordingly. The length of this section will depend on the overall word limit of your essay assignment.
  6. Concluding Paragraph: Your conclusion wraps up your essay in a tidy package and brings it home for your reader. Here you write a closing statement after reviewing key points from each paragraph’s main body and reiterating them.

How to Begin Your Essay

First, examine the essay question. Do not just write down everything you know on a subject without examining the key words in the question. This question has been carefully crafted, and any misinterpretation at this point can be costly. Are you to “examine” or “compare” things, for example? It makes a big difference to your approach. As you progress through your essay, it is good practice to revisit the original question to make sure you are still on track.

Once you have figured out the key points on the topic, you can proceed to start writing your essay paper. In most cases, it is better to write the main body of the essay before creating the introduction and conclusion sections.

This may sound surprising but many renowned authors and researchers have recommended this method. The idea is to develop a better understanding of the topic and supporting facts before creating the opening statement.

By waiting until you have completed the main body, you will have more information to solidify your arguments in the opening and closing paragraphs.

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Write an Essay Introduction

Why Write an Essay Introduction?

The purpose of the introduction paragraph is not only to introduce the paper but also to grab the attention of the audience. Essentially, this section of your essay will provide the basis of the arguments you will make in the main body.

As they say, “the first impression is the last impression”. So the introduction paragraph has to be inspiring and flawless. Imagine reading an essay that starts with a bunch of spelling errors and disorganised information. Would you be tempted to read all of it?

Hook the Audience

Here you thoughtfully present your arguments and opinions on the topic of the essay. You want the readers to continue reading all of the material below, and it is vitally important to develop a hook that lures them into continuing to read.

Including engaging quotes, facts, and statistics related to the topic will certainly grab their attention. Once you have the readers engaged, you can move on to present the thesis statement, which should be to the point and striking.

It is important to not exaggerate with the thesis statement. Stick to a single-sentence explanation so your readers know from the very beginning where you stand on the topic.

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Also Read: Why So Many Students Struggle With Essay Writing.

Tell the Reader What to Expect

Following that, support the thesis in the rest of your essay by developing an outline of examples to give readers a richer awareness of what the essay is about, and tell them what to expect in the main body of the essay paper.

Keeping your basic introduction paragraph short will encourage them to smoothly move to the paragraphs in the main body of the essay. Typically, the length of your introduction paragraph should not be more than four to five sentences. If your introduction paragraph section is longer than that, you may want to cut down on the word count. See the basic elements of an introductory paragraph in the below illustration;

Essay Introduction – The DOs and The DON’Ts

The DOs – The Introduction Chapter is Critical The DON’Ts – Avoid Using Passive Voice and Personal Nouns
Always pay attention to the introduction section because this is the first paragraph the readers will read. Know that it is your opportunity to impress your audience.

A good essay introduction will help the readers understand how you will present information. Make sure you are putting the right amount of effort into this paragraph. Anything too short or too long will turn the readers off!

The examples provided and your explanation around those should be directly related to the thesis of your essay. Make every sentence count because it can be hard to condense the complete essence of any particular example in just a few sentences.

For example, if you wish to attract your readers’ attention towards the footballing talent of Lionel Messi, you might consider skipping his food preferences. Keep it relevant!

Main Body of the Essay

Paragraph Structure

What comes after the introduction and constitutes the middle paragraphs of the essay are collectively referred to as the main body or the body content of the essay. As briefly mentioned above, the primary aim of this section is to support your thesis statement with appropriate examples and theories.

What to Include in the Main Body of the Essay

The first body paragraph starts with the most significant argument or the strongest example or theory supporting your thesis statement, unless you have been instructed to do otherwise.

Some essay assignments may require students to use chronological explanations in the main body of the essay. Make sure that you are unmistakably addressing the topic of your essay in the first sentence of this paragraph with the help of the examples outlined above in the intro paragraph.

Why is Your Argument Relevant?

A one-sentence opening statement that highlights the example of “Michael Jackson”, “LED Traffic Lights” or “Doraemon” is not going to be sufficient, and so it is essential to present supporting material to help the readers understand in detail why the quoted example is relevant to your thesis statement.

Regardless of how well known your quoted examples might be, you will be expected to provide a context to them. This can be better explained by the example of “Donald Trump”.

We all know who he is but, in reality, his life is extremely complex. By using Mr. Donald Trump as an example, which of his characteristics are we referring to – his wealth, bravery, social media image, or even the colour of his hair?

Add Facts to Support Your Argument

Your audience would be interested in these explanations and as a writer, it is your responsibility to smear that image. A good way of doing that is to provide some relevant facts about the example that you believe would put your point of view across.

Once you have done that, you can proceed to enlighten the readers about why that particular example was a valid argument for your thesis. Seal the deal right here.

The importance of this transitional step should never be ignored because, by all means, it is why you presented the example to start with.

Essay Body – The DOs and The DON’Ts

The DOs – Keep It Tight The DON’Ts – Avoid Generalisation
All the different fragments of the first sentence of the main body must be effectively put together so you can paint the image for your readers exactly the way wish to.

While it is critical to make use of transitional phrases for a seamless switch from one idea to the next, it is equally important to maintain a common theme that ties the relationship between the paragraphs.

For instance, you can make use of phrases such as “moreover”, “furthermore”, “secondly”, “lastly”, and “on the other hand” to synchronize the different pieces of information.

Make use of active voice – don’t let the actions happen to the subjects, rather make the subjects direct actions.

For example, “she won the gold medal” is a much more potent and gripping way of writing rather than presenting the same information as “she was handed over a gold medal”.

Don’t use contractions, such as “hasn’t” or “wasn’t”; write the two words in full.

With the exception of personal narratives, do not make use of personal nouns such as Mr, My and I. It is better to keep it general and attract the readers’ attention.

Use of Transitions in Your Essay

Transitional Phrases Make an Essay Easier to Read

Discuss the second most important to the third or least important examples outlined in the introduction paragraph to create the remaining paragraphs of the main body.

When starting a new paragraph, do not forget to make use of transitional phrases such as “moreover,” “similarly,” “in contrast,” or “furthermore,” as these phrases will give so much more meaning to your justifications and help you introduce new sets of ideas flawlessly.

Also Read: How to Use Transitions in an Essay

And: Why Are So Many Students Struggling With Essay Writing?

Write an Essay Conclusion

The Conclusion Paragraph Ties Everything up

The conclusion of an essay is the final step of your essay assignment, but that does not mean it is the least important. The closing paragraph is your final opportunity to justify your thesis statement and follow a logical structure.

In most cases, the conclusion paragraph contains much of the same information as presented in the essay’s opening paragraph.

How Long is the Conclusion Paragraph?

Note that you don’t want to end your essay on the wrong foot, so it is important not to get carried away when writing the conclusion paragraph. Most experts recommend keeping the length of the closing paragraph to four or five lines.

Use a Transitional Phrase

You might want to use concluding transitions such as “in the end,” “in conclusion,” “finally,” “to summarize,” “to sum up,” etc., with a passing reference to the hook in the introductory paragraph of the essay.

Repeat Your Thesis Statement

Following that, you should quickly reiterate your thesis statement, which will be the 4th or 5th time you restate your proposition.

TIP; Be careful of repeating the same information, word for word. While it would be fitting to use some of the original language used in the essay’s opening statement, it is also important to preserve a variety of verbiage in the essay’s main body to deliver your message powerfully.

Restating the thesis strengthens your point of view. Also, it aids smooth transition into the subsequent portion of the conclusion paragraph – usually a few words emphasizing the key points in the essay body.

Essay Conclusion – The DOs and the DON’Ts

The DOs – Deliver A Strong Message The DON’Ts – Do not copy from the Introduction Paragraph
While primarily a reiteration of your original idea, the conclusion paragraph is tricky to write and gives you the last chance to reinforce the thesis and influence the audience.

Reaffirm the thesis statement confidently and unveil your opinions clearly so your audience may perceive the same vibes.

Make sure to not copy the keywords from the opening paragraph into the concluding statement.

Showcase your expertise as a writer by not copying your statement verbatim.

Example of Essay Conclusion 

Here is an example for you to better learn how to write an essay conclusion.

How to Write an Essay about Yourself?

While this might sound easy, it can be really tricky if you have no prior knowledge of writing an essay about yourself. There is more to writing an essay about yourself than simply listing your experiences and achievements.

Essay Preparation

Before starting, list all your weaknesses and strengths – whether emotional, physical, spiritual or mental. Ask yourself questions such as who are the people who have influenced your life? Do you have any special abilities and skills that set you apart from others?

Which Essay Structure Should You Use?

Choose the most suitable essay structure. The five-paragraph essay structure (hamburger) will be convenient if you have not been advised to use a more specific essay format. The structure of the five-paragraph essay is outlined below.

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We have also compiled guidelines on how to structure a dissertation and how to structure a proposal!

Referencing Your Essay

The reference section is vital in academic work. You have to compile and show the sources of information you have used to ensure that you are not plagiarising others’ work. It also shows the breadth of research materials you have used. There is no universal style for writing the reference section. There are several styles, such as Harvard, APA, CMOS, and Oxford. You should use the style designated for your course. If you’re unsure, have a look at our referencing guide.

More Tips to Make Your Essay Stand Out

Planning is the key to success: Ever heard the quote, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”? Planning for your essay sounds like a waste of time, especially during the busy exam season, but it really pays off to plan.

Brainstorming before starting the essay would enable you to unearth the most powerful subtopics/examples and craft a perfect essay.

On the other hand, throwing up the first idea that comes to your mind without fine-tuning should be avoided to make justifiable arguments. Incompetently placed arguments can ruin the quality of even the best-written essays!

Extensive Vocabulary: Writing the same words over and over will get very boring for the reader. As a writer, you want the reader to remain engaged with the content of your essay throughout. So bringing that variety into the vocabulary will add much more spice to the text. Mix it up a little for effective writing.

Keep It Relevant: “Short,” “precise,” and “to the point” are the keywords that should be remembered when writing an essay. Too much content with muddled and untidy delivery can result in diversion from the essay’s main topic, which echoes the significance and needs for planning.

It always helps to outline what message you want to deliver and how it will be put in writing.

Proofreading, Editing, and Improvement: An essay with spelling and grammatical mistakes is likely to turn the readers off. Invest some time in proofreading your essay to identify and remove factual, grammatical, structural, and spelling errors.

There should be coherence between the different elements of the essay framework. Learn how our essay proofreading and editing services can polish your essay.

Learning how to do an essay is easy as long as you know the topic. If you don’t have a topic, pick one that is interesting and manageable, study some great examples and get going!

About Grace Graffin

"Grace has a bachelor's and a master's degree from Loughborough University, so she's an expert at writing a flawless essay. She has worked as a professional writer and editor, helping students of at all academic levels to improve their academic writing skills."