How to Write a Good Essay

If you’re reading this, you may be a student who is required to write an essay. However, writing a good essay is not that different than writing you will do in your future career, whether it be reports, letters, advertisements, or emails. You may not like to write, however it’s an essential skill for many jobs. Even jobs where you think writing may not be important may involve writing at some point. For example, in technical work you may be asked to write documentation of procedures or a user manual. In many jobs, you may be expected to write a report for management that makes a recommendation or summarizes a meeting or decision.

Getting Started

Don’t rush into writing until you have a plan. It will save time in redoing things later and avoid finding out that you lack structure and doesn’t flow well. Or you could find that you never properly addressed your topic. The first item in your plan should be your topic. If you were not given a topic, be careful in selecting your topic. You want a topic that is going to be interesting to you and the reader, something that you can research, and one that is unlikely to offend someone. Writing about the latest political issues may not be wise.

Next, create the structure of your essay. Determine your main topics and in what order. You may want to decide what point each paragraph or section is going to address. Doing so will make your essay flow much better, you will not miss an important point, and will make the writing much easier when you know your objective for each paragraph. You should also ensure you are planning an appropriate opening and closing.

Research

Writing a good essay doesn’t mean limiting yourself to what you know. Research the topic online or by other means. This does not mean copy other’s work, it means reading ideas from many different sources, adding and modifying them based upon your own perspectives, and then writing it in your own words. As you conduct research, you can take notes on key points you wish to remember to address.

Your research can include talking to people if you know someone who is familiar with the topic, asking if you can quote them. This adds a powerful uniqueness to your essay and makes it more interesting.

Find factual citations you can include to support your points. Be specific as possible in the source of the citation and follow any writing rules you are expected to follow.

Writing Style

How you write is as important as the content. Beyond proper grammar and spelling, your writing style can be somewhat subjective. One approach is to read some writing from a few authors which you admire and are professionals and look at how they write sentences and how they structure their message. Compare it to your own writing and see what you may be able to add.

Expanding your vocabulary can help. Use a thesaurus for ideas on a different choice of word but be very careful it’s a fit. Your skills with grammar, spelling and sentence construction may not be where you want it to be, however writing is the best way to learn, provided you are open to feedback.

Proofing

This is an extremely critical step. First off, proofread it yourself. Go back and read every single sentence as though you had never seen it. You’ll likely seen things you missed. You can either fix them as you go, or flag them all and then go back. Use a word processor with spelling and grammar check, to catch basic errors. Sites like Grammarly can help as well.

Another important step is to have someone else proofread it. Another set of eyes almost always catches things you missed. At minimum they can check for grammar and spelling errors. However, we highly recommend you have someone proofread it that is very good at writing. Not only to result in a better essay, but even more importantly to learn from. If you don’t know someone good at proofreading, we recommend a college essay editing service. Here’s the most important part- study the edits of your proofreader carefully. Understand why the edits were made and how you can incorporate that in your writing.

But don’t cheat and have someone write the essay for you. This is unethical and can backfire on you later. And don’t take content from the Internet as your own unless you are giving it credit with a citation. Even a few sentences copied from the Internet can be detected.

Final Tips

Don’t try to finish your essay all in one sitting. Come back to it another day, you’ll have a fresh perspective with new ideas. Also, depending on the topic, look for ways to share your unique ideas, real life examples, and commentary. An essay that simply states boring facts does not stand out. If appropriate, include some light humor. If you include facts, find some applicable but unusual facts nobody has heard of. If your essay is memorable, it might stand out from the crowd.

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