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How to Write an Essay

How to Write an Essay
  • Essays are a form of writing used to describe or discuss something or to express a viewpoint on something whether forcefully or impartially.
  • Essays do not include bullet points, headings and sub headings
  • Usually written in the present tense (sometimes in past or future tense)
  • You must acknowledge sources of information used (use referencing where appropriate)
  • There are different types of essays, including: descriptive essays, narrative essays, discursive essays, expository essays, analytical essays and argumentative essays

Although the essay uses objective information, its purpose is generally to develop or argue a main idea (the thesis).

A good essay encourages the reader to think about ideas, and provides new insights and perspectives on a subject. It does this mostly by weighing up data and the opinions of experts, and building a case for the thesis.

  • An essay is one piece of writing with a central theme that is followed throughout.
  • An essay should demonstrate development of an idea.
  • An idea can be developed logically through comparison and contrast, illustration, chronological ordering, description, discourse, exposition, or analysis.
  • An essay should be organised into a series of paragraphs, each paragraph dealing with a single main idea.
  • Each paragraph should flow logically to the next.
  • Language should be simple and concise, and using correct terminology.
  • Ideas presented should be objective, specific and clear, or fully explained.
  • Ideas should be supported by well researched information and expert opinion.

The essay should include:

 An introductory paragraph which sets the tone and content for the entire essay. It should outline the focus of the essay, the perspective that will be taken, and it should be clear.

 The body, made up of a series of paragraphs containing the information that you have researched. These should flow, using ‘linking words and phrases’ such as; therefore, consequently, on the other hand, in contrast, to illustrate this; that clearly relate what was said to what will follow. Each paragraph should deal with one idea at a time, rather than jumping back and forth between ideas. For example, after discussing push factors affecting migration, you might start the next paragraph with: “People also choose to migrate because of pull factors, factors that attract them to other places”. The “also choose to migrate” links the previous discussion with what will follow.

 The conclusion (usually a paragraph) should sum up the point of view or argument without introducing new information. For example, it might end with the sentence: “Clearly, the research indicates that migration in the 20th century has resulted from a combination of push and pull factors. However, as was noted, there appears to be an increasing trend in people being forced out of their homelands by a range of factors, including ethnic and religious tensions”.  The conclusion must relate back to the introductory paragraph.

  • Appendix (Appendices) - An appendix is supplementary to writing in an essay, report, book or other document.
  • An appendix should support or extend information in the writing it accompanies.
  • Any types of words or language can be used
  • Bullet points, italics or any type of formatting may be used.
  • Information should be concise but also complete, and always relevant, complementary to, and supportive of the document it accompanies.
  • An appendix can be sub divided to create two or more appendices


This is an extract from the e book "English Grammar" written by staff from this school

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