An Ultimate Essay Writing Guide For Students

Writing skills have become essential for almost any profession in the modern world. Students get assignments to create various types of essays regularly. Such tasks help them to learn how to expose their thoughts clearly and teach how to think critically and communicate ideas plainly. Essays are among the most widespread written tasks. Even when students enter high school, they often have to create an essay presenting their precise experience and expectations. Read our essay writing guide to get acquainted with the features of this type of paper.

Ultimate Guide To Essay Writing

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Essay Writing Guide: What Is an Essay?

We’ll proceed with our ultimate guide to essay writing using precise terminology to make it clear how an essay is defined as a type of paper. We believe that after clarifying what an essay is at its core, you will be more understanding of its structure and particular features. So here is a definition of an essay: a text document that explains the problematics on a stated topic and usually presents the author’s original vision and beliefs.

There are many approaches to defining an essay, as these pieces of writing are applicable in various areas. Among these areas are journalism, literary criticism, politics, and science studies.
Moreover, an essay can be divided into two large groups: formal and informal essays. Formal essays are more about logically constructed texts, fact explanation, serious topics, and official statements. Informal essays are more about expressing feelings and impressions, real-life experiences, a more personal expression of the author, and anecdotal elements.

Types and Categories of Essays

After clarifying what an essay is at its core, we are ready to move to the different essay varieties. Essays usually originate from the purpose of their writing. In accordance with this criterion, there are such types:

1. Narrative/reflective

This type of paper combines storytelling with personal experience. It also sometimes describes fictional characters. The narrative type of essay is the most creative and informal one. The main goal is illustrating the core points and describing the outcome because of a particular story told by the author.

2. Descriptive

This type of essay also tells about subjects or events, but there are no requirements to tell a whole story. Descriptive papers are more about particular qualities of a topic, person, event, etc. It usually includes such details as smell, touch, scenery, and sounds.

3. Expository/definition

The primary type of essay. It does not require arguments or artificial descriptions. It must explain a process or a phenomenon as it is. The main questions to answer when writing expository essays are “How does it work?” “How was it made?” etc.

4. Compare and contrast/cause and effect

Such essays can have bodies arranged as a table with two columns that contain similarities and differences between two subjects, events, issues, etc. The goal is to define what is similar between them. When it comes to cause and effect essays, the goal is to determine two subjects’ influence on one another.

5. Argumentative/persuasive

This essay has a particular goal to explain an author’s point on a topic and convince readers to join his or her side by presenting solid arguments. Moreover, there must be opposing facts that can prove that the author’s point of view is more robust.

6. Critical/critical analysis

This essay presents the breakdown of literature, poems, movies, and other creative pieces. It defines their core peculiarities and evaluates their central concepts.

7. Analytical

This type of essay is related to expository essays but it more than simply describes the concept. Analytical essays require an additional description of possible outcomes that can connect to a discussed problem.

8. Admission/personal statement

This type of essay relates to the narrative type, but the purpose is to represent a student before a college committee before entering it. Such essays contain details on students’ experiences and goals and describe their personality and achievements.

Essay Writing: Topic and Thesis Statement

Start your essay with the preparation stage. Proceed with a topic and a thesis statement. The topic will depend on the chosen essay type, and formulations will vary according to the category of the essay. For example, when writing a compare and contrast essay about Nelson Mandela, the topic might be as follows: “Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama.” At the same time, an argumentative essay topic about Nelson Mandela would be formulated as, “Was Mandela a giant of history as praised by President Obama?” As you can see, there might be various types of essays on the same area of study.

An essay’s thesis statement is a red line that you must bring through the whole text from the intro to the final paragraph. After you decide on a topic, you will require to choose the main idea that will be supporting the topic and relate to the overall subject of the essay. In other words, the purpose of the thesis statement is to show readers the direction that the essay will follow around the current topic. For some essay types, development of a working thesis statement must include the opposite point of view.

Choose a Format for Essay Writing

The next stage in our essay writing guide will be about appropriate formatting. Now you will require making it clear which of three main essay formats to use. Why is it vital? Formatting defines the style of citations and the paper’s overall look (margins, fonts, etc.).

MLA (Modern Language Association)

This is a formatting style primarily used for college papers. Initially, it was developed for language and literature texts; however, today, it is widespread because of its utility and clearness. You do not need a title page for an MLA essay, but you are required to have a header in the upper left corner of the page. The works cited page must be separate, and all the references must be listed the same way as recorded in the source.

APA (American Psychological Association)

This is a more suitable format for sciences than the previous one. It requires a title page and an abstract. This is standard formatting for essays on social studies, psychology, etc. References are cited differently according to their types. For magazine articles and books, you will require using various citation types.

Chicago/Turabian (University of Chicago Press)

One of the trickiest formatting styles requires following strict rules. It is often used for historical papers. There must be a title page arranged appropriately. An abstract is often required as well. The core peculiarity of this citation style is using footnotes and endnotes, unlike other formats.

Essay Writing Guide: The Standard Structure

An essay usually has a particular structure and consists of three sections: an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion.

An introduction

Before you proceed with the introduction, you need to remember the aim of writing and the problematics you will discuss in your paper. As mentioned earlier, you might already have figured out which main thesis will lead your narrative. Mention your core points briefly in 2-3 sentences, and be careful to not formulate these sentences too broadly. The statements must be clear and logically consistent. Never dig too deep into your ideas in the introduction. The text will be more respectable and representative if you dedicate to each argument and opinion at least one of the paragraphs in the main body. One of the working techniques of writing an introduction is to recall your readers’ desire to read more of the paper after reading the core points. Once again, make sure the thesis statement and problematics are clear and easy to understand.

Moreover, the final advice – keep in mind the overall length of your document. For short essays, a one-paragraph introduction is enough, but for a 10+ page essay, you can make it longer.

The body

It is time to create the body, which is the core of your paper and the most extended section. When it comes to the actual length and amount of units, we recommend sticking to at least 3-4 paragraphs of the main body for a short essay (up to 700 words) and considerably more for most extended essays.

For any essay type, you need to stick to the following rules when creating body paragraphs:

  • A general rule says that you need to dedicate each paragraph to one point related to the essay’s topic.
  • Each paragraph must have its structure. Begin with the introduction sentence to signpost the significant idea in terms of your essay. This section must make it clear what you would explain in this paragraph. Focus on the thesis statement when writing each paragraph and make sure the content supports the topic.
  • It is essential to end each paragraph with a cohesive sentence that will transition readers to the following section logically. Use more transition words to make the body paragraphs cohesive. These are words like therefore, again, furthermore, moreover, additionally, and others.
  • Depending on the essay type, add more detail and examples to each paragraph. It is vital to show the connection between examples and the topic of the essay. The examples must be considered as pieces of evidence that prove specific points of each paragraph.

A conclusion

After you finalize all the paragraphs of the main body, you will sum it up. The last paragraph of your essay will be the conclusion. Its length could be more than one paragraph for extended essays. Writing a conclusion requires the author to reach two main aims:

Summarize all the core points related to the main thesis. Usually, it is appropriate to restate the main thesis and briefly restate the main arguments.
Explain why the arguments of the author matter. Moreover, it can be stating the rhetorical question, suggesting to the audience to form their own opinion or to make actions, etc.
Try to not simply copy the introduction when restating the main thesis. Keep in mind that you do not have to include new facts and data in the conclusion.

Polish and Edit

Nevertheless, all the stages stated earlier would be useless if you would not dedicate enough time to polish your paper correctly. We recommend you consider your unrevised essay as a first draft that requires improvement. You will save time on the two main aims: editing content and editing grammar and style. Content editing is all about reading your essay slowly, noting the repeated thoughts, hard-to-read sentences, etc., and reformulating them. Grammar and style check-up will require using special tools that help in polishing texts.

Check Out the Sample of an Essay That Shows It All

Why Donald Trump Is the Best Persuader

The popular adage “nothing breeds popularity like success” has more than just a ring of truth. In an increasingly individualistic society, where success equates to wealth, and the cult of personality drives political debate, Donald Trump is well placed. Indeed, for many Americans, he has come to epitomize the ideal of the American Dream.

Although the American Dream might sound like a vague and abstract concept, it has at its roots important significance. For Americans, it means “an economy in which people who work hard can get ahead” (Rivlin). Furthermore, Americans want to make something of themselves, and to this end, “the values of individualism are expected to win the rewards of success in a competitive society” (Bellah et al.).

Fukuyama noted that Americans “do not regard individualism as a vice, but as an almost unalloyed virtue signifying creativity, initiative, entrepreneurship” (271). Trump exemplifies the best aspects of American individualism. In his inaugural speech Trump declared an “end to American carnage,” promising to rebuild the country and to put Americans first. “We will bring back our wealth. We will bring back our dreams” (Trump). By invoking the metaphor and by virtue of his own status, Trump is able to play effectively on the aspirations of all Americans.

Trump is an affirmation of the American Dream. He may not be the most articulate of politicians, his knowledge of political issues is often superficial, and he is prone to making outlandish claims. Yet the cult of personality has a tendency to overshadow the nuances of political issues. Donald Trump’s power of persuasion lies in the message. He is, after all, the epitome of the American Dream.

Works Cited

Bellah, Robert N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W.M., Swidler, A., and Tipton, S.M. Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life. University of California Press, updated edition, 1996.
Fukuyama, Francis. Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. The Free Press: New York, 1995.
Rivlin, Alice M. Reviving the American Dream: The Economy, the States and the Federal Government. The Brookings Institute, Washington D.C., 1992.
Trump, Donald. The Inaugural Address. The Whitehouse, 20 Jan. 2017,

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