An essay is a piece of writing which is often written from an author’s point of view. Essays can vary in length from a sentence to a whole book. They are commonly used as literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, recollections, and reflections of the writer.
Writing an essay is one of the most difficult tasks for both students and professional writers. Unfortunately, writing an essay is something that you are going to have to get used to, whether you are in college, high school, or even the job market. Therefore, you must know the steps that are involved in writing a good essay.
Just as you can create a delicious meal by following a simple recipe, you can write a good essay by following a few simple rules. This guide details the 7 steps to writing a good essay. They are;
1. Choose and Study the Topic
2. Create an Outline. …
3. write a strong thesis
4. Exciting Introduction
5. write a draft essay – body paragraphs and conclusion
6. create a reference page
7. Polish into a final draft – Proofread
With that said, let’s look at each of the above steps in detail.
1. Choose and Study the Topic
The first step in writing an essay is choosing the topic that you want to write about; you cannot write unless you have a topic. Things become easier if your professor chooses the study topic for you. However, if the topic is not given, it’s upon you to choose it wisely. The best way to choose a topic is to search in books, magazines, and newspapers.
Follow the steps below to come up with a good topic;
- Read different materials, brainstorm, and write everything down so you don’t leave anything out.
- From there, figure out different ways to narrow down your topic or ideas. You can break them down into categories and put them together in the form of clusters. This helps you to see the relationships between concepts as well as notice any ideas that may not fit these groupings or that may be missing from them entirely.
- Once you have a list of possible topics, choose the one that best answers the question posed to you within the allotted number of words. Ensure the topic is not too narrow nor too wide to exceed the recommend word count and study time frame.
You must be very careful when choosing a topic since an unknown topic will not give you a good essay. The topic must also be chosen after a deep and thorough research and it must be something which you can write properly and fluently. Keep in mind your interest and the theme of your essay before settling on any topic. This ensures that your essay is flowing, interesting, and tackles the problem at hand in a deeper way.
After brainstorming and picking your topic, you need to do thorough research to create an excellent essay. Look up information about your topic in the library or on the internet. Interview professionals who know a lot about the topic.
It’s especially useful if you have specific questions before doing interviews because it makes it easier to receive responses that are directly relevant to what you were looking for. While researching, keep in mind the necessity of keeping your research organized so that you can easily refer back to it. This also makes citing your sources in your final essay a lot easier.
2. Create an Outline
Creating an outline is the first step toward writing a successful essay, research paper, or study guide. Without an outline, you can quickly become frustrated when you are unable to organize all of your thoughts and ideas.
What is an Essay Outline?
An essay outline is a plan of your paper. When building a house, you must have a plan to know where different facilities are located. In an essay, you need a proper plan to know where different ideas must be fixed in a flowing manner.
Why is an Essay Outline Important?
The outline is the foundation for your entire essay. It helps you to organize your thoughts and develop a logical sequence of ideas that will be easy to follow and understand. It is also a brainstorming tool that will help you develop a comprehensive plan for the preparation of the essay.
When you use an outline to create your essay, you’re making sure that you don’t forget any points, and you’re also making sure that your essay is structured logically. An outline is also a great way to make sure you are following the proper format for your assignment.
How Do You Create an Outline for an Essay?
While there are different types of essays, the most basic and common format for an outline includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.
Follow these steps to create an outline for your next essay project.
Introduction- Here you inform the readers about what you are going to write about. Make sure to mention your topic and the thesis statement that you will prove in the body.
Body- Any essay must have a minimum of three paragraphs in the body. Write a title for every paragraph, and mention all the supporting arguments related to your thesis statement. Also, include data, examples, facts, and other shreds of evidence that you will use to elaborate the topic sentence.
Conclusion- Here’s where you’ll put the finishing touches on your paper. Reiterate your thesis and the purpose of your paper.
3. Write a Strong Thesis
A thesis statement is the foundation of your paper and can be the difference between a boring, uninspired paper and a great paper. It tells the reader the main point of your argument and gives you a chance to, impress them. If your thesis statement is too vague or doesn’t make sense, your reader may get turned off before they even get to your body paragraphs. This can make it difficult to get a high grade on your paper.
What is a Thesis Statement?
A thesis statement is a one-sentence which is the main idea, the argument, or the point that you are trying to make. It is the starting point of the essay and the foundation on which all the discussion and analysis are built. A thesis statement must be explicitly spelled out in the introduction of the essay. The thesis statement is often the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.
What is the Importance of a Thesis Statement?
Thesis statements are important because without one your paper will be all over the place. A thesis tells your reader what you are going to talk about and how you are going to talk about it. Additionally, it gives them an idea of what you are trying to prove. You can read more on how to write short thesis statements to understand the time it may take to handle it.
How to Write a Strong Thesis Statement
All essays no matter how wide or complicated can be reduced into a single question. It then follows that the first step in writing a great statement is to turn your supplied or compiled essay topic into a question. After that, try to answer the formulated question with a single sentence answer. Now the answer is your thesis statement.
An excellent thesis statement must have the following four characteristics
- Take on a topic that could cause disagreement between reasonable persons
- Deals with a topic that can be effectively treated given the nature of the assignment
- Express a primary/ main idea
- Make a statement regarding your stand about the topic
4. Write an Exciting Introduction
Even though the introduction is often one of the shortest parts of your paper (10% – 20%), it’s often the most important. The introduction to your paper should be the bridge between the rest of your research and your readers. It’s where you lay the foundation for your argument and lead readers into the body of the paper. If the introduction doesn’t do its job, your readers may never get around to reading the rest of your paper.
The main importance of the introduction is
- To hook the readers
- Provide a background of your topic of study
- To introduce your thesis statement
How to Write Exciting Introduction
As we have seen, the introduction is tasked with capturing the attention of your reader and giving them a reason to continue reading your article. The best way to write an introduction is to tell your reader what your essay is all about. To write an exciting introduction following the following steps.
Hook your Readers
Writing an engaging introduction can be very challenging. You want to capture your readers’ attention, yet you only have a few seconds before they start scrolling down. Here are some points on how to write an introduction that will keep your readers’ attention:
1. Hook your reader with an interesting quote or statistic.
2. Start with an engaging question or statement.
3. Give the reader an idea of what they will learn.
4. Ask for their attention.
5. Make it relevant to their interests.
6. Create some mystery.
7. Tell them what they are going to learn.
8. Remind them of what they already know.
9. Use an analogy.
10. Start with a quote or statistic that relates to your topic.
11. Start with a question.
Provide Background Information on Your Study
Here you provide your readers with context to understand your topic and argument depending on the subject of study. The information depth here depends on your scope of study and the length of your topic. However, do not provide detailed information and ensure the information is relevant to the topic. Some of the background information includes historical and geographical data, social content and debate outlines, and a summary of relevant theories.
Present Your Thesis Statement
In this step, it is the time to focus and show precisely what you would like to say on the subject. This is the statement of your thesis—one or two sentences that summarize your whole argument. Remember, this is your introduction’s most significant element. A solid thesis is not just a declaration of truth, but a claim that needs proof and explanation. The objective is to express your stance clearly in a debate or a key point on a subject.
Map the Structure of Your Essay
It’s a good idea to complete the introduction by indicating what will be discussed in each section, especially in longer articles. Keep it short and sweet, and make sure your reader understands where your argument is going.
5. Write a Draft Essay – Body and Conclusion
The body of your essay is the main part, where you present and analyze information and sources. It should contain a thorough development and interpretation of your ideas. The length of the body depends on the topic and subject of study and the guidelines set out by your instructor or institution. However, this part should not be less than three paragraphs which are typically around 60-80% of the total word count.
It is important to divide your essay into paragraphs to give it a logical framework. Each paragraph should be focused on a single core concept or idea. Each paragraph is long enough to sustain your argument. You can read the optimal length of a paragraph to understand the best number of words. To know how many words per page, use our word to pages counter to give you insight on the length.
To write a good paragraph, start with the topical statement. A topic sentence introduces that concept. In general, the topic sentence should continue from the previous paragraph and introduce the point that will be stated in this paragraph. To provide explicit connections between sentences, ensure to utilize transition words and phrases.
Present proof such as data, examples, or quotes from relevant sources after the topic sentence. Make careful to interpret and explain the evidence, as well as demonstrate how it contributes to the development of your broader argument.
The conclusion refers to the last paragraph of an essay. It should take up 10–15 percent of the average word count. A strong conclusion should refer to your thesis statement, bring your main arguments and ideas together, plus it should also demonstrate why your point of view is important. A strong conclusion should also sign off with a memorable or impacting line that makes a lasting effect on the reader.
6. Create a Reference Page
After you are done writing your essay, it’s time to refer to the jotted sources so that you can create a reference page. As you may already know, lack of citation can be termed as plagiarism and may result in severe consequences.
As such, you should reference all the library materials you used such as magazines, textbooks, and other published materials.
Since the internet is the main source of information these days, make sure to use credible domains. Some examples of good sources include websites that end with .edu, .gvt, and .org. Other good information sources are newspapers, scientific journals, nonfiction books, academic, and public libraries, as well as online encyclopedias.
On the other hand, bad sources include Wikipedia, .com websites, fiction novels, word of mouth, glossy magazines, and personal websites.
Remember to use the referencing style recommended by your area of study, the institution you are in, or your professor. Common referencing styles include MLA, APA, Harvard, and Chicago.
7. Polish into a Final Draft – Proofread
Now that the essay is complete, the final step before the submission is thorough proofreading. Reread what you have written correcting typos, spelling, punctuation, and other grammatical mistakes. It is also advisable to read it aloud so that you can hear how certain sentences sound.
To make sure your essay is polished do the following;
- Check for any technical issues.
- Check for mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You can’t always rely on spell check to catch all of your mistakes. Sometimes you can misspell a word but it will still be a word, such as when you misspell “from” as “form.”
- The use of quote marks is another typical source of issues when citing. It’s critical to cite your sources correctly and clearly.
- You should also think about the distinctions between quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing. Lines of text that are identical to an original piece of writing are kept for quoting. Large chunks of someone else’s writing that you want to portray in your own words are saved for paraphrasing. Summarizing is the process of putting the essential points from another person’s text into your own words.
Finally, make use of apps that check grammar and plagiarism to ensure your final copy is fully polished and original. For long essays, it takes more time to proofread than short ones. Read a summary of how to write a 5-paragraph essay to understand more about writing short papers.
How to Proofread an Essay
Whether you’re writing a rough draft or final copy, there are some simple ways to make sure your essay is free of errors and ready for submission-proofreading. By proofreading your essay, you’ll be able to catch errors that you missed while you were writing.
Here are tips on how to proofread your essay effectively;
- Reverse the proofreading process. Start at the end and work your way back through the paper, paragraph by paragraph or line by line. This will drive you to focus on the paper’s surface aspects rather than its significance.
- Start with a single type of error. If commas are your most common issue, go over the entire manuscript and double-check that one issue. Then go back and proofread for the next most common error.
- Take a break after writing before embarking on proofreading. Set the paper aside for some minutes or even a day before starting to reread.
- Understand your patterns. Your instructor can assist you in identifying the most common faults you’ve made in past papers, so you can focus your efforts on locating and correcting them.
- Read over your article multiple times, one time focusing solely on spelling, another on punctuation, and so on. Again, this can assist you in focusing so that you can do better.
- Use your computer’s and online grammar and spell-checker, but do so with caution, and double-check your work. These apps frequently make mistakes; for example, they may propose a term that isn’t what you want.
- Request that someone else read your paper and assist you in identifying any unclear sentences, overly wordy areas, or errors.
- Proofread when your mind is fresh and at a time of day when you are most observant of mistakes.
- Proofread your work aloud at least once. This will slow you down, and you’ll be able to hear the difference between what you intended to write and what you wrote.
How to Format an Essay
Although there are different styles of formatting depending on the subject and area of study, below is the generally accepted format of an essay.
- Fonts: Your article should be typed in Times New Roman 12-point font.
- Double-space: Your essay should be double-spaced throughout, with no single spacing and no excess spacing. Extra spaces between paragraphs should be avoided.
- Heading: Type your name, the instructor’s name, your class, and the date on the first page of your essay.
- Margins: The top, bottom, left, and right margins of your essay should all be one inch, according to most formatting styles such as MLA. note that Word’s default margin is one inch.
- A title should be included in your essay. According to MLA (common format), the title should be centered on the first page, above the first sentence of your essay, and appear under the heading information.
- Indentation: Each paragraph’s initial line should be indented. This indentation should be 1/2 inch or five spaces, according to the MLA, but pressing [Tab] once should give you the correct indentation.
- Align Left: Your essay’s text should be aligned equally on the left margin, but not on the right. Choose “Align Left” on your word processor. “Justify” is not a good option.
How to Cite Sources Using APA
APA is a style of referencing where the author’s last name and date of publication are listed in parentheses at the end of the sentence or paragraph.
It is important to include both the author’s last name and year of publication when citing sources. The exception to this rule is if you are citing more than one source from the same author, for instance, two chapters from the same book. In that case, only include the first author’s last name and date in your citation.
How to Cite Sources Using MLA
MLA is the most widely used format of academic writing in the United States. The MLA style of citation relies on parenthetical citations within the text. This style is very popular with humanities and liberal arts fields.
There are two different ways to cite sources using MLA: Parenthetical citations and Works Cited page. The first way, which is more common in many disciplines, involves giving the reader a citation within the text, whereas the second way provides a list of all sources at the end of an essay or research paper.
The following items are frequently included in MLA citation format, in this order.
Last name, first name of the author The title of the source is “Title of Source.” Container title, other contributors, version, numbers, publisher, publication date, and place are all listed.