Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to write a good essay

Here are a few of the key ingredients for an effective essay for a college/university class.
Unfortunately, many student essays miss one or more of these ingredients.
  • Have a single main point/idea/opinion. Clear state what it is. Your goal is to convince the reader that you are right; or at least, that your opinion is worth considering.
  • Provide an argument and evidence to support your main point.
  • What do scholars say about your opinion? Do they agree or disagree? Why?
  • Show that you have read widely in researching your essay, with a focus on the most influential academic authors (not bad internet sites). This should be demonstrated by quoting these authors and citing them in your bibliography.
  • Don't plagiarise. Never copy text of other authors, without referencing them. Use your own words.
  • Polish your essay. Writing is hard work. Edit. Rewrite. Spell check. Get someone else to read it and give feedback. Proofread.
For much more detailed discussions see

Writing in College from Joseph Williams and Lawrence McEnerney at the University of Chicago

10 steps to writing an essay is from Tom Johnson at the American University in Cairo.

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