As a college student, I majored in journalism. That means I have a lot of experience in all types of writing. In order to major in a communications-related field, students must take a rigorous schedule of English courses, which means a whole lot of essay writing.
I quickly adapted a method of essay writing, which I believe simplifies and streamlines the process.
What’s the trick? Instead of sitting down and writing an essay, from start to finish, as many students do, it’s much easy (and way less time consuming) to do all of your research beforehand, placing each item into a basic outline.
From there, the outline contains all of the information you need to create your essay and, the essay essentially writes itself.
The only work left will be filler writing to explain your thought processes.
Here’s how you can format your essay outline (Note: the example below has three paragraphs, but additional paragraphs can be added as necessary.):
I. Introduction paragraph:
a. What you’d like to discuss within your introduction paragraph
b. Quotes or references, if any
II. Thesis statement: What’s the main point of your essay? Decide what you want to convey in your essay and put it into words. Your entire essay will revolve around this point, so make sure you’re clear and concise in your phrasing. (This is usually placed near the end of your introduction paragraph.)
III. First paragraph topic that supports your thesis
a. List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you’ve stated within your thesis and that relate to your first paragraph topic.
IV. Second paragraph topic that supports your thesis
a. List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you’ve stated within your thesis and that relate to your second paragraph topic.
V. Third paragraph topic that supports your thesis
a. List supporting quotes/references: Find quotes from reputable sources that support what you’ve stated within your thesis and that relate to your third paragraph topic.
VI. Conclusion paragraph: Note what you’d like to say within your conclusion paragraph. Your conclusion paragraph should detail how you are going to unite the topics from your aforementioned topics and weave them together into one solid point. Students commonly mistake a conclusion paragraph as a summary paragraph when, in fact, it’s really an opportunity to drive home your argument. Your conclusion should round out your essay and unite your paragraphs together, solidifying your thesis.
a. Additional quotes or references, if any
VII. List all citations: As you find each quote or reference to include within your essay, make sure to cite each reference, so you won’t have to scramble at the end to go back to your sources to see where you found each quotation. List each citation on your outline so it’s already finished before you even complete your essay. That way, it’s one less thing to worry about.
By following this outline format, the work of your essay is already clearly mapped out ahead of time. You already know what you want to say and how you’re going to say it and you have all of the support to back up each theory.
This method takes the stress out of essay writing because it eliminates guesswork; struggling for the right idea or argument and helps you ensure your thesis is strong. If you’re not able to easily fill out the outline, your thesis isn’t strong or clear enough and your essay topic will likely not be a winner as a result.
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Please review this guideline for a five-paragraph standard essay.
Please note: this is an essay template only. As a writer, you should primarily follow customers' instructions and their requirements regarding essay length and number of words and overall structure.
Keep in mind: An essay is a short piece of writing that discusses, describes or analyzes one topic. It can range in length from one paragraph to more than twenty. It can be about anything, and be written in almost any style. It can be serious or funny, straight-forward or symbolic. It can describe personal opinions, or just report information.
Basic elements of an essay:
1. Introduction (Introductory Paragraph).
Your essay should start with an introductory paragraph. There are actually many different ways to begin an essay; therefore, the format of the introductory paragraph is flexible. Often, essays begin with a General Introductory Statement. This statement could be an anecdote, description, striking statistic, a fact that will lead to your thesis, etc. Beginning this way, you will use the first few sentences to prepare, or "lay the groundwork" for your thesis, and use the last sentence of the first paragraph to present your thesis. However, your thesis statement can be anywhere in your introduction. In a longer essay, you can even wait to present your thesis until the second paragraph or later. Also for a longer essay, you should begin to introduce a few supporting ideas in the first couple of paragraphs. These supporting ideas should be the topics that you will discuss in full in your body paragraphs. For a short essay, presenting supporting ideas during the introduction is optional.
Your second paragraph generally begins the body of the paper. (For a longer paper, the body of the paper may not begin until the third paragraph or later). This paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that introduces the first supporting idea (the support for your thesis). You should use the middle of the paragraph to discuss your support, give examples, and analyze the significance of these examples. Your last sentence of the body paragraph could be used to draw a conclusion for that supporting idea, or to transition into the next paragraph.
Your next two body paragraphs should follow the same format as your first body paragraph. They should each have a separate topic sentence and supporting ideas, but the three paragraphs should work together to prove your thesis. If you are writing a longer paper, you will have more than three body paragraphs, but they should all follow this format.
The form of your Conclusion, like your introduction, is flexible. One good way to conclude a paper is to begin the last paragraph with a statement that reflects on what has been stated and proved, without repeating it exactly. Then you should briefly restate your key points to gently remind the reader how well you proved your thesis. Your conclusion should end with a statement or idea that leaves a strong impression and provokes further thought.
(This guideline is largely based on "English Works! at Gallaudet University").