College Dorm Packing Checklist. End of Summer Scholarships. Back to School Scholarships. Susan Prakash, Electrical Engineer. Find a Part-Time Job on Fastweb. Join Fastweb for Educators Today. Should it be a general overview of the subject or a specific analysis? Narrow your focus if necessary. If you have not been assigned a topic, you have a little more work to do. However, this opportunity also gives you the advantage to choose a subject that is interesting or relevant to you.
First, define your purpose. Is your essay to inform or persuade? Once you have determined the purpose, you will need to do some research on topics that you find intriguing. Think about your life. What is it that interests you? Jot these subjects down. Finally, evaluate your options.
If your goal is to educate, choose a subject that you have already studied. If your goal is to persuade, choose a subject that you are passionate about. Whatever the mission of the essay, make sure that you are interested in your topic.
In order to write a successful essay, you must organize your thoughts. This structure serves as a foundation for your paper. Use either an outline or a diagram to jot down your ideas and organize them. To create a diagram, write your topic in the middle of your page. Draw three to five lines branching off from this topic and write down your main ideas at the ends of these lines. Draw more lines off these main ideas and include any thoughts you may have on these ideas.
If you prefer to create an outline, write your topic at the top of the page. From there, begin to list your main ideas, leaving space under each one.
In this space, make sure to list other smaller ideas that relate to each main idea. Or you might choose to build the intensity of your essay by starting with the smallest problem first. Avoid letting your sources drive your organization.
For example, a very common mistake in beginning essays written about literature is to reiterate the plot point-by-point, building your argument along with it. Instead, focus on the most important idea of each paragraph. Even if you have to present your evidence in a different order than it appears in your source, your paragraph will have a better flow.
Write topic sentences for each paragraph. A clear topic sentence will assist with essay organization. Devote each paragraph to discussing only the point of its topic sentence. Discussing tangential information will create a disorganized essay. Avoid statements that may be on the general topic, but not directly relevant to your thesis. For example, compare these two first sentences: The second sentence contextualizes the fact and lets the reader know what the rest of the paragraph will discuss.
Use transitional words and sentences. Create coherence for your essay by using transitional words that connect each paragraph to the one before it. Beginning paragraphs with words such as "likewise" and "in contrast" will allow your reader to follow your train of thought. Transitions can also be used inside paragraphs. They can help connect the ideas within a paragraph smoothly so your reader can follow them.
Try the revision strategies elsewhere in this article to determine whether your paragraphs are in the best order. The Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin - Madison has a handy list of transitional words and phrases, along with the type of transition they indicate. Craft an effective conclusion. Include a restatement of your thesis using other words and summarize your essay's main points. To create a captivating conclusion, offer insights about the implications of your argument or findings for further thought or investigation.
Your conclusion can show how necessary your essay is to understanding something about the topic that readers would not have been prepared to understand before. For some types of essays, a call to action or appeal to emotions can be quite helpful in a conclusion. Persuasive essays often use this technique. This allows your argument to achieve depth and richness.
However, it can also mean that your essay ends up feeling disorganized. As you read through your essay, summarize the main idea or ideas of each paragraph in a few key words. You can write these on a separate sheet, on your printed draft, or as a comment in a word processing document.
Look at your key words. Do the ideas progress in a logical fashion? Or does your argument jump around? Try splitting your paragraphs up. Cut your essay up. Try physically putting the paragraphs in a different order. Do things make better sense in a different structure?
Ideally, your paragraphs should have only one way they could be organized for maximum effectiveness. If you can put your paragraphs in any order and the essay still kind of makes sense, you may not be building your argument effectively. You may find after reverse-outlining that some paragraphs would make better sense elsewhere in your essay. Move things around, making changes to topic sentences and transitions where necessary. For example, you might find that placing your least important argument at the beginning drains your essay of vitality.
Experiment with the order of the sentences and paragraphs for heightened effect.
Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.
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Ordering Information in the Body of the Essay. Choosing a Logical Order for Ideas - Once you have your thesis and your groups of supporting information with topic sentence ideas, you can determine the best possible order in which to present them in the essay. Organizing Your Writing. Learning Objectives. Understand how and why organizational techniques help writers and readers stay focused. Assess how and when to use chronological order to organize an essay. Recognize how and when to use order of importance to organize an essay.