Writing a good essay isn’t always easy. You need to account for the instructions you’re given, the word count or page count limit (if any), and then you need to brainstorm ideas and find reliable sources. This article will outline 10 tips you can use to formulate an amazing essay!!
Carefully review your instructions
- Most people don’t pay much attention to the instructions for their academic essay, but this is the most important part. Start by reviewing the instructions and determining what type of sources you should use and how many. Often times you’ll want to ask your professor for clarification on this, or a classmate. Starting writing down some notes about the instructions. Be mindful of the due date, amount of words or pages required and if you need specific types of sources.
Create a list of credible sources (hint: digital sources can be quickly searched for information!)
- Determining which sources you should use for your essay isn’t always essay. It’s a good idea use sources such as Google Scholar or your school’s library website to find reputable, peer reviewed sources. Books are also a good resource, but you may have to read through a lot of information before finding something relevant for your topic. The benefit of online resources is that they can be easily searched for keywords relating to your assignment, making your research a breeze! Be sure to write notes on the sources and the page you got the information from. There’s nothing worse than writing an essay and then struggling to remember where you got the information from! A properly referenced paper will improve your grade and be less likely to be questioned.
Write ideas for topics
- A good way to create or choose a topic is by the amount of available resources available for the particular topic. I think we can all agree that topics with few resources can often be difficult to write about, unless you’re a self-proclaimed expert on the topic. So, once you have some ideas, see how many supporting details you can find about each topic. At this stage some students find it helpful to write a thesis statement for each topic, but often times this is better left to after you’ve written the body of your paper.
Organization and writing an outline
- Doing all of this won’t be helpful when it comes time to actually writing your essay unless you’re organized. Thus, once you’ve chosen your topic, start by creating notes on the topic in the form of an outline. An outline is simply an overview of what topics and sub-topics you want to write about. You can include an overview of the information you want to include and the relevant sources. This is essential to creating great body paragraphs that flow nicely. In high school, most students are taught to organize their essays using the ‘burger’ method – with a beginning, middle and end. The same is true for college and university essays, however, there is often much more information (and more paragraphs) in the body of the essay. However, the basic structure remains the same, as well as the introduction and conclusion paragraphs.
Writing a good intro to an essay
- Now that you’ve tackled your outline and are all organized, it’s time to start writing. This should be fairly easy if you’ve followed the above steps, as you’ll want to use your outline to assist with your introduction. A great introduction will aim to catch the reader’s attention. You can do this in your first sentence by writing something provocative, but still academic friendly. Then jump into discussing what your essay will include and how relevant information will be asked and answered. If relevant, you will want to outline any theorists or sources that will be crucial to your paper. Then, state your thesis statement, ideally in one sentence. Remember: sentence structure is particularly important. Don’t write long sentences unless you’re confident you won’t confuse your reader.
The Body Paragraphs
- The body of your essay is an important part of your essay and allows you to use all of the resources you gathered in your outline. Go back to your outline and see where you think a good place to start would be. Keep in mind that you should support your thesis at all times via relevant sources. However, most students make the mistake of simply quoting information without properly explaining it. Thus, it’s often best to answer the question of your assignment by paraphrasing the information into your own words and then citing the facts properly. This way you demonstrate an understanding of the sources. This is the best way to write a body paragraph for a good college essay.
Support your information (and what makes a good source)
- Most students can write but some forget to support their information with relevant citations by respectable authors. In your outline, you created a list of sources. Go back to that list while writing to ensure you are writing content that is supported by academic sources. These include: peer-reviewed journals, academic articles from reputable online databases, journal articles, books, newspaper articles from good publishers and websites from academic institutions or accredited authors. Sources you shouldn’t use include: Wikipedia (tip: you can often find good sources in the reference section of every wiki article!), blogs by anonymous authors, or articles without an author. As well, the legitimacy of a website can often be determined by having a quick look. If it looks like your favorite fashion blog, don’t use it. But if it looks like a boring academic website, odds are it might be good to use.
Transition properly from paragraph-to-paragraph
- The best way to keep your reader from wandering off and wondering where your essay is going, is by using proper transitions and pairing them with a good topic sentence. When beginning a new paragraph, you’ll want to transition your reader into what you’re writing about by using words such as: additionally, however, moreover, and nevertheless. Use whichever word is appropriate, but don’t overuse the words by using the same transition word for every paragraph. In addition, you want to start a paragraph with a good intro sentence which should introduce your idea and potentially build on what you’ve already said. The end of your paragraph should conclude your idea and no new information should be stated and sources should not be required.
Conclude your essay
- Introductions and conclusions are not always easy, therefore some writers prefer to leave the introduction (and sometimes the thesis statement) until they’ve written their essay or be prepared to change it. A good concluding paragraph will have a good transition and you’ll want to restate your thesis in different words. No new information or sources should be used, but rather you should summarize what you’ve written and ensure your arguments/content agrees with what you said in your thesis. Once you’ve demonstrated a good understanding of the topic and of your thesis, conclude the conclusion with something catchy. It should provoke the reader to think further about the topic or should leave a lasting impression on your reader.
Have a knowledgeable friend or essay editor review what you’ve written
- If this is your rough draft, or even your final copy, you’ll want to have someone else’s eyes look over your paper. Often a graduate student or TA should review your paper to see if you’ve done a good job and to remove any English language issues. They’ll be able to fix any issues, such as spelling, grammar and punctuation problems, as well as tell you whether something seems incorrect. You may not realize it, but you may be missing some important references which could cost you valuable points. Professional editors, like those provided by Edit My Paper, can also improve your vocabulary, which should improve your grade. After all, if you have great ideas but don’t deliver them in an organized way or with sloppy grammar, it can impact your grade. Your reviewer should also leave you some comments on where you went wrong or how you can further improve your paper. You should revise your essay according to these comments, or at least take them into account.
Bonus tip: Submitting your paper
- The delivery can often be just as important as the actual assignment. Make sure you submit it on time, have a good title page or have followed any formatting requirements, have footers/headers, a word count listed (if required) and page numbers. And ensure you have properly spaced your paper. As well, most papers should use Times New Roman font size 12. Using the default ‘Calibri’ font is often deemed unprofessional and can skew the length of your paper. And don’t adjust the margins of your paper – they should usually be 1-inch margins – changing them is noticeable to your professor or TA.