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How to Write an Essay

Published on Dec 22, 2022

How to write an essay

Writing an essay may seem a daunting task, but it really is quite simple if you break it down into a series of smaller tasks.

The basic format of an essay

First, consider the following format, which is commonly used in western universities to write an essay or similar type of assignment. The first paragraph states the problem or question. The second paragraph states the author's opinion on the subject. The third and largest paragraph describes two or more examples to support the author's opinion. The fourth paragraph states a conclusion, in which the writer states what they have learned from the examples.

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Writing an essay

However, note that not all essays follow this format. Some are written in reverse order, starting with the conclusion and working toward the introduction. Other essays may focus on providing only one example to support the author's opinion. And, of course, different universities may have their own requirements for writing essays. If you are unsure about the requirements at your university, you should visit the website or speak with a faculty member.

Nevertheless, even if the format of an essay is unfamiliar to you, it should be an easy task to write after following the steps below. Even if you have to write a much longer paper or a dissertation, using the following tips will make the writing process much easier.

Step 1: Identify the topic of your essay

The first step in how to write an essay is to identify the topic of your essay. The topic is presented in the assignment or stated as the starting point for the conversation or discussion. If you have not yet spoken with a faculty member or read the assignment, then you should consider discussing the topic with a friend or colleague who has already received the assignment.

The topic should be clearly defined, either as a general statement or a specific question. For example, 'The role of women in modern society' is a general statement of topic, while 'The role of women in modern society: a positive or negative thing' is a specific question that defines the extent and range of your essay.

Whatever the topic, it is important that you understand exactly what is required of you before starting to write. If in doubt, discuss the issue with a colleague or faculty member.

2: Do research to support your essay

An essay requires only brief research, as an essay is an short article that describes, explains or discusses one issue using one, two or three examples. If the assignment asks you to give your opinion about a topic, then you should start your research using your own knowledge, experience and observations. If, however, the assignment requires you to provide a factual report or dissertation, then you will need to acquire knowledge that is not based on your own experiences and observation. In this case, you will need to consult books, journals and other sources of information.

It is important that you identify and include in your essay only those sources of information that are relevant and reliable. The selection and use of reliable sources is an important step in how to write an essay effectively. If you are uncertain about the reliability and relevance of a source, discuss the issue with a colleague or faculty member.

3: Create an outline

The third step in how to write an essay is to create an outline. The outline organizes the essay by presenting the key points and main ideas. An effective outline helps to establish direction and organize the essay by presenting the key points and main ideas. Although there are no set rules for creating an outline, generally an essay has three parts: introduction, body and conclusion. Within each part, there are two or more subheadings that describe the main topics and supporting ideas.

The benefit of creating an outline is that it helps you put together your essay and see the big picture — the direction in which you are leading your text. A good outline also helps you eliminate unnecessary sentences and paragraphs from your essay.

4: Start with the introduction

The fourth step in how to write an essay is to start with the introduction. The introduction creates a frame of reference for the reader. It explains the significance of the essay by defining the topic in broad terms and by creating reader's expectations about the content and tone of the text.

Effective introductions are direct and emphatic. They provide a surprising statement, an intriguing question or a clear statement of purpose.


How to Write an Essay