In many cases, the type of essay you're writing will be determined by an assignment. If this is the case, read the assignment sheet thoroughly.
If you have any questions, talk to your instructor. This step is especially important if your paper is a research paper. Go online, head to the library, search an academic database, or read newspapers. You can also ask a reference librarian. Know which sources are acceptable to your teacher. Does your teacher want a certain number of primary sources and secondary sources? Is your teacher picky about what's considered reliable sources?
Can you use Wikipedia? Wikipedia is often a good starting point for learning about a topic, but many teachers won't let you cite it because they want you to find more authoritative sources. Even if your teacher does not allow Wikipedia, you can still use Wikipedia articles to get a general working knowledge of your topic and find search terms.
The "Works Cited" or "Bibliography" section at the bottom of the page can also be a good starting point for finding reliable sources that can provide more reputable information. However, if your teacher forbids even that much, a normal encyclopedia can serve the same function. Take detailed notes, keeping track of your sources. Record the facts and where you got them from.
Write down your sources in the correct citation format so that you don't have to go back and look them up again later. Note cards are a great option for keeping track of information. If you don't want to use note cards, you could try a digital option! For example, you might try digital note cards for an easy solution, such as the site SuperNotecards.
If you're more tech savvy, you could try a bibliographic software like Zotero. If you write a lot, you might try a writing project software, such as Scrivener. A good essay writer either includes the contrary evidence and shows why such evidence is not valid or alters his or her point of view in light of the evidence. In your research you'll probably come across really well-written and not so well-written arguments about your topic. The bibliographies of the well-written essays can also provide you with good sources.
Do some analysis to see what makes them work. What claims does the author make? Why do they sound good? Is it the logic, the sources, the writing, the structure? Is it something else? What evidence does the author present to you? Why does the evidence sound credible?
Is the logic sound or faulty, and why? Why is the logic sound? Brainstorm your own ideas. Sure, you can use the arguments of others to back up what you want to say. However, you need to come up with your original spin on the topic to make it uniquely yours. Make lists of ideas. You can also try mind mapping. Walk in your neighborhood or local park and think about your topic. Be prepared for ideas to come to you when you least expect them. Write your thesis statement. Look at the ideas that you generated.
Choose one to three of your strongest ideas that support your topic. You should be able to support these ideas with evidence from your research. Write a thesis statement that summarizes the ideas that you plan to present. Essentially, let the reader know where you're going, why, and how you will get there.
A thesis statement should have a narrow focus include both your topic and what you plan to present. For example, "Although Eli Whitney's cotton gin ushered in a new era of American prosperity, it also widened the gap in suffering for African-American slaves, who would soon be more in demand, and more exploited, than ever.
Take the thoughts that you brainstormed and assemble them into an outline. Write a topic sentence for your main ideas. Then, underneath, make bullet points and list your supporting evidence. Generally, you want three arguments or pieces of evidence to support each main idea. In , after the cotton gin had been adopted, slaves totaled about 1. Write the body of your essay. You do want to think about length here; don't write pages and pages if your teacher wants 5 paragraphs. However, you should freewrite to let your thoughts reveal themselves.
You can always make them more concise later. Don't use "I" statements such as "I think. Simply stating your argument with supporting facts makes you sound much more authoritative. Instead of writing, "I found Frum to have a conservative bias," tell the reader why your statement is true: It's tempting to allow your thoughts to wander or to add additional information that seems interesting. However, this distracts from your purpose and undermines your essay. Make sure you stay on topic!
Come up with a compelling title and introduction. Your title and introduction make people want to read your essay. If your teacher is the audience, then of course your teacher will read the whole piece. However, if you're submitting to an essay contest or writing an essay for college admissions, your title and introduction have to hook the reader if you want to meet your objectives. Skip obvious expressions such as, "This essay is about, "The topic of this essay is" or "I will now show that".
Try the inverted pyramid formula. Start off with a very broad description of your topic and gradually narrow it down to your specific thesis statement. Try to use no more than 3 to 5 sentences for short essays, and no more than 1 page for longer essays. Alternatively, you might open with an anecdote or quote that sets up the importance of your topic. Every year, thousands of unwanted and abused animals end up in municipal shelters.
Being caged in shelters not only causes animals to suffer but also drains local government budgets. Towns and cities could prevent both animal abuse and government waste by requiring prospective pet owners to go through mandatory education before allowing them to obtain a pet. Although residents may initially resist the requirement, they will soon see that the benefits of mandatory pet owner education far outweigh the costs. Summarize your points and suggest ways in which your conclusion can be thought of in a larger sense.
Answer questions like, "What are the implications of your thesis statement being true? In a sense, you are repackaging your thesis statement in your concluding paragraph by helping the reader to remember the journey through your essay. Nail the last sentence.
If your title and first paragraph make the reader want to read your essay, then your last sentence makes the reader remember you.
If a gymnast does a great balance beam routine but falls on the landing, then people forget the routine. Gymnasts need to "stick the landing," and so do essay writers. Wait a day or so and re-read your essay. Get your essay done a couple of days before the due date so that you have time to go back and revise it to make it polished.
Avoid turning in a first draft that you haven't double-checked for errors. Correct errors related to grammar, punctuation and spelling. Consult a style book if you are unsure how to properly use quotation marks, colons, semicolons, apostrophes or commas. Avoid using exclamation points. Make sure you know how to use apostrophes correctly. Look for mistakes involving general punctuation.
Check for run-on sentences , commas and periods inside quotation marks, as well as sparely-used dashes, colons, and semi-colons. Remove any repetitive or unnecessary words. Vary your language with the help of a thesaurus. Also, consult a dictionary to make sure that you're using unfamiliar words correctly. At the same time, try to keep your language short, sweet, and to the point.
A thesaurus is a great tool, but don't just use big words to sound fancy. The best essays are clear, concise, and easily understood by a wide audience. Focus on writing killer verbs for sentences. Verbs communicate the action in a sentence and drive the action. A great verb can be the difference between a bland sentence and a beautiful one.
Adjectives are great descriptive words, but when used indiscriminately, they can burden an essay and make it less readable. Try to let the verbs and nouns do most of the heavy lifting before you focus on adjectives. Avoid colloquial informal writing.
Do not use contractions or abbreviations e. Your essay should have a serious tone, even if it's written in a light or lyrical style. Analyze how your essay flows. Does each sentence lead smoothly to the next? Does each paragraph flow logically to the next? Although you can analyze your essay by reading through it, it's helpful to make a reverse outline, working from your essay to outline your thoughts.
When events happen in sequence: I first started to realize that I was in the minority when I was in middle school My realization was confirmed when I proceeded to high school. If sentences elaborate on each other: Plants need water to survive A plant's ability to absorb water depends on the nutrition of the soil.
When an idea contrasts with another idea: Vegetarians argue that land is unnecessarily wasted by feeding animals to be eaten as food Opponents argue that land being used for grazing would not be able to be used to create any other kind of food. If you're relaying a cause and effect relationship: I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college I am inspired to continue my family's progress through the generations.
When connecting similar ideas: Organic food is thought to be better for the environment. Cut information that's not specifically related to your topic. You don't want your essay to ramble off-topic. Any information that doesn't directly or indirectly support your thesis should be cut out.
Have someone read your paper aloud to you. Your ears are sometimes better than your eyes at picking up mistakes in language. The essay should sound like it has a good flow and understandable words. As an alternative, you can record yourself reading it aloud and play it back. Rewrite any problematic body passages. If needed, rearrange sentences and paragraphs into a different order.
Make sure that both your conclusion and introduction match the changes that you make to the body. Compose your essay with a clear purpose. A persuasive essay is designed to sway the reader to adopt your point of view about a topic. This means it's important that your views are expressed in a clear, concise manner, which allows the reader to understand your argument. These are good examples of persuasive essay topics you might write about: Whether governments should or should not fund embryonic stem cell research.
Whether love is a virtue or a vice. Why Citizen Kane is the best movie of the 20th century. Why American citizens should be forced to vote. Write your essay as though you are conducting a debate.
When you speak in a debate, you introduce your topic, list your evidence and draw a conclusion for the people who are listening. A persuasive essay has a similar structure. Collect facts from good sources to justify your opinions. Support your argument with reasoned facts. A well-written essay is great, but a well-argued essay is undeniable.
In addition to doing research, you can perform empirical experiments including taking surveys, doing interviews or conducting experiments. Survey results or interviews could be great pieces of information to start your essay with. Tell a story about the facts. Don't just list the facts; tell a story! How would you like to be one of those wrongfully-convicted inmates?
Present the other side of your argument and use logic and facts to show why the other side's opinion is either inaccurate or not up-to-date. You're showing the reader you are unbiased and considered the other arguments, but you concluded that your argument is the best. Time after time, evidence has disproved this theory. The death penalty, in fact, does not act as a deterrent to crime: Tie all your ideas together in a gripping conclusion.
Be sure to stress your thesis, or what you are arguing for or against, one last time. Use some of the information you have discussed, or a story you've saved, to color your conclusion a little bit. Choose a subject for your essay.
You'll be investigating a topic and presenting your viewpoint about the topic based on evidence. Research papers usually fall under this category of writing. For example, you could write an expository essay arguing that embryonic stem cell research can lead to cures for spinal cord injuries and illnesses like Parkinson's or diabetes.
Expository essays differ from persuasive essays because you aren't stating an opinion. You're stating facts that you can back up with research. Select your strategy and structure. Some common strategies and structures for expository writing include: Definition essays explain the meaning of terms or concepts. Classification essays organize a topic into groups starting with the most general group and narrowing down to more specific groups.
In this type of essay, you'll describe either the similarities and differences or both between ideas or concepts. These essays explain how topics affect each other and how they are interdependent. How-to essays explain the steps required for completing a task or a procedure with the goal of instructing the reader.
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