How to write an essay
An essay is a type of writing based mainly on interpretation, evidence, and research. You may come up with many different types of essays, but the purpose is almost always the same.
What are essays for?The purpose of an essay is to persuade readers of a perspective or position by providing solid arguments.
Essay writing process usually consists of three consecutive stages; preparation, writing, and revision.
However, the time and effort on each stage depends on your essay type. If you are working on a college-level argumentative essay, you need much more time on preparing your argumentation.
But when you are assigned to a two-page expository essay for high school, you can start writing almost instantly, without comprehensive research.
What to do before writing
First, understand the type of essay and instructions. Take the steps below to ensure a structured approach.
Step 1. Understand your assignment
Your essay should respond to your assignment’s requirements like length, type, and deadline. If you’re confused, simply ask further clarification from your professor.
Example of an assignment
- Write an essay on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" subject of social class.
- Consider how Austen depicts the novel's various social strata and their relationships in your article. Make use of concrete instances from the text to back up your analysis.
- Your essay should be at least 500 words long , with an introduction that includes a clear thesis statement, body paragraphs incorporating supporting information, and a conclusion that ties your analysis together.
- Use correct APA 7 citation format and check for spelling and grammatical mistakes.
Step 2. Choose your topic
Some instructors allow students to choose their own topic. Just make sure it is interesting to grab the readers’s attention.
Step 3. Start researching
Step 4. Draft your thesis statement
Thesis statement is the goal of an essay. Find a clear and strong thesis statement and keep supporting it throughout your essay.
Example of a thesis statement in introduction part
The improvement of the health sector has unleashed the bitter truth that was long considered as normal in the previous ages; smoking. Although smoking was seen as cool in the 19th and 20th centuries, the developments of today’s technology have already revealed its drastic negative consequences on the human body. In this direction, this paper analyzes whether electronic cigarettes are a better alternative than traditional cigarette smoking.
Step 5. Prepare an outline
Outlining helps a lotSay your thesis statement is about benefits of hybrid learning. With an outline, you can map each benefit to a single paragraph to keep an organic flow for readers.
Introduction guide and example
This is the first paragraph where you need to grab the reader’s attention by informing what you will include in your essay. For common essay types, the introduction should be around 10% of the whole essay.
As seen below, you generally need a hook sentence, context (background), a thesis statement, and structure overview (signposting).
1. Grab reader's attention with a hook sentence
Think of yourself as a reader. Would you read an essay that lacks interest right from the beginning?
So, start with a hook sentence to trigger the reader’s interest. You may start with a shocking statistic, a question, or even a quote. Check out the hook sentence examples in our article.
2. Present background information
Good essay topics create curiosity for the reader. It is important to provide historical or academic context after your hook.
Background/context example with APA reference
Cancer due to smoking is undoubtedly one of the most common causes of death. It is now a common sense among people that smoking is extremely harmful for lungs.
However, don’t dig deep into the topic yet as it is a bit early now. You will have plenty of space in the body paragraphs.
3. State your thesis statement
Now, present your thesis statement, which is the central argument of your whole paper.
Generally, a thesis statement is one or two sentences long and given at the end of the introduction.
Body paragraph guide and example
After the introduction, it is time to present your arguments and provide evidence regarding your research in the body paragraphs.
Pro tipEach paragraph needs to have a separate topic sentence. And all your topic sentences (first sentence of a paragraph) need to support your thesis statement, preferably from a different angle.
Look at the example below to see different sections of a paragraph.
1. Length of the body paragraphs
ReminderIn any case, the body paragraphs are around 80% of your whole essay.
2. Structure of paragraphs
First present a central idea or argument, which is called “topic sentence.”
Topic sentence determines the purpose and scope of its paragraph. It is usually the first sentence of a paragraph.
Topic and transition sentence example
A paragraph from an essay about "Alcohol and Sleep"
When starting a new paragraph, prepare your reader to the following paragraph with a transition sentence, as shown in the example.
Conclusion paragraph and example
This step is the last paragraph of an essay, and it takes around 10% of the whole essay. Writing a conclusion is as important as an introduction and thesis statement.
Here you need to summarize your points and reiterate your thesis statement.
Best practices in conclusion paragraph
Things to avoid in conclusion paragraph
A memorable and solid conclusion is essential for the last impression.
5-Paragraph Essay Example
The Benefits of Meditation for Mental Health
Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 78(2), 169–183.
Hölzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S. M., Gard, T., & Lazar, S. W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research, 191(1), 36–43.
Kabat-Zinn, J. (2013). Full catastrophe living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. Delta Trade Paperbacks.