Useful Guide On How To Write An Essay Paper

Crumpled paper overflowing from an already filled-up wastebasket, rejected ideas, banging your head in frustration:  the screen when trying to write an essay. You are not alone.  Writing an essay paper is the most dreaded assignment or task for any high school or college student. Writing is hard, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.


Before You Write

Choose your topic.  Do you have a prompt or just a general topic that you need to narrow down?  Figure out what the question is really asking and narrow down to something specific.  For example, you may be given the topic “Bicycles”.  There is a lot of information out there about bicycles.  Narrow your topic down to something that interests you, maybe, “the benefits of riding a bicycle to work each day”.

   Research, research, research.  Look for creditable, scholarly accepted sources.  Generally, blogs are not considered scholarly and will not be a creditable source.  Don’t get me wrong, reading a blog can give you insight and inspiration, but it is not a definitive authority on the matter, despite what the author claims. Also, if you can’t find a lot of information out there, then you may want to rethink your topic.  It could be too narrow.

  Brainstorm! You do not want to regurgitate information you have found during the research phase without providing any analysis.  Use this time to use your own personal insight and experiences to begin to organize your thoughts and get the gist of how your essay will go.

Phase 1: Pre-write It

    Write your thesis statement.  Pick your best idea that says what your entire essay is going to be about.  This is the central idea that is the heart of your essay.

    Support your thesis.  Outline your ideas that support your thesis statement. Play with the order of them so your paper starts to flow and tell a story.

Phase 2: Write It

     Start at the beginning.  Write a good introduction that will grab your reader’s attention.  Introduce them to what you are going to tell them and briefly how you will prove it.  This is the most important paragraph in your essay.  If it isn’t well written, then they are not going to read it.

     1 Paragraph = 1 thought.  This simple equation will save you some time.  Each paragraph should present one idea or thought and provide evidence to back it up.  So tell your point and then prove it.

    Conclude it.  Sum up your essay in a final paragraph and provide some insight or tie it all together.  Leave the reader feeling something.

Phase 3: Revise It

    MLA or APA?  Make sure you are using the right format for your essay and all citations are correct.

  Check grammar and spelling.  Make sure you check and recheck for grammar mistakes or spelling errors.  Remember, spell-check is great, but it is not the final authority.  It is not going to check thinks like verb tense, passive voice, or run on sentences.  Have a friend help if you need to.