Knowing my own students, it’s easy to figure out that young people don’t care much about writing essays. There is just so much going on in each semester that “trivialities” such as essay structuring and formatting always take a backseat. I’m here to give you a couple of useful tips for writing a structured essay that your professors will be fond of.
Decide on a subject
Knowing exactly what you will talk about in your essay is essential. I’ve seen many students come up with ideas that seemingly change on a weekly basis.
Once you decide on a subject, that title is written in stone. Don’t change a subject because you find it difficult, confusing or lacking in materials later on. Your professor will always help you find useful sources if you ask them on time.
Outline your essay
Your essay’s outline is one of the most important parts of writing. You should use a three-part structure to outline your essay based on the importance and flow of the subject. They should look something like this:
- Introduction – This is where you introduce your reader to a subject and hook them with an intriguing preview of what you will talk about later on.
- Body – Your essay’s body serves as the main carrier of information and structure. Most of your time will be spent analyzing and talking about the subject you previewed earlier.
- Conclusion – Giving a sensible closing to your essay will allow the reader to gain a valuable bookend to the text they have just read. Conclusion represents an important part of the essay and complements the introduction perfectly.
Write the first draft
Filling in the gaps created by your outline should be straightforward – at least at first. Your initial draft serves as a skeleton for additional research and analysis you will do during the coming days (or weeks). Make sure to always keep your first draft handy so that you can come back to it for references when all the details are added. Keep revising and adding additional information to your first draft until you are satisfied with the length and complexity of your essay.
Edit and rewrite often
Students don’t like rewriting their essays – it’s just too much work sometimes. However, if mistakes are made, it’s better to rectify them sooner rather than later. You are free to rewrite and edit your essay as much as you want until handing it in for review.
Trust me when I tell you that you will always find additional things that need sprucing up, paraphrasing or even deleting entire sections altogether. Take your time and read through your essay once in a while to see if it all makes sense as a whole.
Cite your sources properly
Making claims and statements without proper citation or sources to back them is a bold move – one that many professors will be hard-pressed to forgive.
Keep a close eye on your sources and cite any claims that you have made throughout the essay with annotations and source titles or links. Depending on your college and professor, you will have to use different types of citation, so look for details about that on time.
Proofread and format
I’ve seen my fair share of essays that are written very well, using academic lingo and fluent word flow. However, the formatting of said essays was often abysmal, to a point where I had to turn some of them down. Pay close attention to the instructions given by your professor when formatting is concerned.
Split your text into cohesive paragraphs, justify the entire text evenly and use a simple, readable font such as Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri. Going over 12 points in size is not recommended since it may make you look like you were trying to bloat your essay into looking longer.
Whatever you write down, always keep your title and subject in mind. Going off-topic is easier than you might think, especially with all of the information you have to deal with in regards to other subjects.
Once you have finished writing, put everything aside and come back to it in a few days. You will quickly realize if some of your essay’s sections need additional work before being submitted for final review.