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Essay Basics

Getting Started

F

  • Formulate the main idea or general theme of the essay
  • Narrow it down to a specific topic
  • Develop a thesis statement that states the purpose of the essay

L

  • List the main ideas you would like to include in your essay
  • For each main idea make a list of supporting details

O

  • Organize the components of your essay. An essay has three parts: a beginning (introduction), a middle (body) and an ending (conclusion)
  • The introduction attracts the reader's attention. It focuses the reader on the subject and makes a clear thesis statement. The body of the essay develops the main ideas in the essay and offers supporting details. The conclusion summarizes the main ideas presented in the body and relates back to the thesis statement

W

  • Write a rough draft of the essay following the organizational structure you have outlined above.
  • Get the information down on paper in some order without too much concern over such things as spelling and grammatical structure

E

  • Edit the rough draft
  • Check for capitalization, punctuation and spelling
  • Check the overall sense and organization of each section
  • Make certain that each section is connected to the one that precedes and follows it. Use the first and last sentences of the section to make these connections.
  • Have a friend or classmate read it

R

  • Rewrite the draft into final form
  • Read the final version slowly and carefully
  • Do a final spell check and grammar check
  • Congratulate yourself on a job well done

Essay Basics

Introduction should be at least 5 sentences

Tell the reader what you are going to write about. The thesis statement should be one sentence and should be the last sentence of your introduction.

Paragraph 1

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 1

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 1

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 2

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Paragraph 3

Topic Sentence: Introduce your point for this paragraph

3 or more sentences to explain your point for this paragraph. Research and cite articles, books, websites, or statistics.

Transition Sentence: Finish your point for this paragraph and introduce your next point for the next paragraph

Minimum 3 sentences.

Adapted from Carole Anne May’s Spotlight on Critical Skills in Essay Writing, Pearson Prentice Hall, Toronto: 2007.

Essay Writing Words

Showing agreement or similarity?

  • in addition
  • coupled with
  • in the same fashion / way
  • first, second, third
  • in the light of
  • not to mention
  • to say nothing of
  • equally important
  • by the same token
  • again
  • to, and or also
  • then
  • equally
  • identically
  • uniquely
  • like
  • as
  • too
  • moreover
  • as well as
  • together with
  • of course
  • likewise
  • comparatively
  • correspondingly
  • similarly
  • furthermore
  • additionally

Expressing opposition or contrast?

  • although this may be true
  • in contrast
  • different from
  • of course ..., but
  • on the other hand
  • on the contrary
  • at the same time
  • in spite of
  • even so / though
  • be that as it may
  • then again
  • above all
  • in reality
  • after all
  • but
  • (and) still
  • unlike
  • or
  • (and) yet
  • while
  • albeit
  • besides
  • as much as
  • even though
  • although
  • instead
  • whereas
  • despite
  • conversely
  • otherwise
  • however
  • rather
  • nevertheless
  • nonetheless
  • regardless
  • notwithstanding

Showing causation?

  • in the event that
  • granted (that)
  • as / so long as
  • in order to
  • seeing / being that
  • in view of
  • If
  • ... then
  • Unless
  • when
  • whenever
  • on (the) condition (that)
  • for the purpose of
  • with this intention
  • while
  • because of
  • as
  • since
  • lest
  • in case
  • provided that
  • with this in mind
  • in the hope that
  • to the end that
  • for fear that
  • given that
  • only / even if
  • so that
  • so as to
  • owing to
  • inasmuch as
  • due to

Showing support or emphasizing something?

  • in other words
  • to put it differently
  • for one thing
  • as an illustration
  • in this case
  • for this reason
  • to put it another way
  • that is to say
  • with attention to
  • by all means
  • important to realize
  • another key point
  • first thing to remember
  • most compelling evidence
  • must be remembered
  • point often overlooked
  • to point out
  • on the positive / negative side
  • with this in mind
  • notably
  • including
  • like
  • to be sure
  • namely
  • chiefly
  • truly
  • indeed
  • certainly
  • surely
  • markedly
  • especially
  • specifically
  • expressively
  • surprisingly
  • frequently
  • significantly
  • in fact
  • in general
  • in particular
  • in detail
  • for example
  • for instance
  • to demonstrate
  • to emphasize
  • to repeat
  • to clarify
  • to explain
  • to enumerate
  • such as

Showing effect or consequence?

  • as a result
  • under those circumstances
  • in that case
  • for this reason
  • in effect
  • for
  • thus
  • because the
  • then
  • hence
  • consequently
  • therefore
  • thereupon
  • forthwith
  • accordingly
  • henceforth

Summarizing or concluding?

  • as can be seen
  • generally speaking
  • in the final analysis
  • all things considered
  • as shown above
  • in the long run
  • given these points
  • as has been noted
  • in a word
  • for the most part
  • after all
  • in fact
  • in summary
  • in conclusion
  • in short
  • in brief
  • in essence
  • to summarize
  • on balance
  • altogether
  • overall
  • ordinarily
  • usually
  • by and large
  • to sum up
  • on the whole
  • in any event
  • all in all
  • Obviously
  • Utimately
  • Definitely

Sequencing or order?

  • at the present time
  • from time to time
  • sooner or later
  • at the same time
  • up to the present time
  • to begin with
  • in due time
  • as soon as
  • as long as
  • in the meantime
  • in a moment
  • without delay
  • in the first place
  • all of a sudden
  • at this instant
  • first, second
  • immediately
  • quickly
  • finally
  • after
  • later
  • last
  • until
  • till
  • since
  • then
  • before
  • hence
  • when
  • once
  • about
  • next
  • now
  • formerly
  • suddenly
  • shortly
  • henceforth
  • whenever
  • eventually
  • meanwhile
  • further
  • during
  • in time
  • prior to
  • forthwith
  • straightaway
  • by the time
  • whenever
  • until now
  • now that
  • instantly
  • presently
  • occasionally

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

(before writing essay)

1. Gather information
• Who or what is the:
  • Speaker (writer)
  • Occasion (type of content)
  • Audience (who it's written for)
  • Subject (topic writer discusses)
  • Tone (attitude of writer)
2. Examine the appeals
  • Ethos – writer’s character, qualifications and years of experience
  • Logos – how the writer supports an argument with evidence, data and facts
  • Pathos – how the writer evokes emotion (ex: sympathy, anger or love) to gain approval
3. Style details
  • Imagery
  • Tone
  • Question: does the author contrast a strong personal viewpoint with a weak opposing viewpoint to make his/her argument seem more valid?
4. Analysis
  • Ask yourself how the rhetorical strategies of appeal and style help the author achieve his purpose
 

Essay Map

  • Introduction: clearly identify the document you are analyzing (e.g., brief info on speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, subject and tone) Thesis-techniques writer uses to get people on their side. Does it accomplish the goal?
  • Ethos: how the writer uses their status as an "expert"
  • Logos: major claims using specific data and facts
  • Pathos: how imagery, emotion and words are used to gain approval
  • Conclusion: What has the reader learned? Briefly analyze how the original author’s purpose comes together

Top Tips for Thesis Statements

What is a thesis and why do I need one? Where does it go? Why is it so important to my essay? This tip sheet will help you answer all of those questions and guide you towards writing a clear and concise thesis

Your thesis tells your audience exactly what your essay is going to discuss.

It makes your viewpoint on the topic clear!

1 What is a thesis?

A thesis is a statement that tells your audience what your essay is going to cover. It expresses your viewpoint and prepares the reader for the arguments and information your essay will cover.

2 How do I write a thesis?

A good thesis statement often answers a question posed about the topic you are writing on. For example: if your topic is cars, your thesis narrows the focus of your essay and could answer the question: which cars are in highest demand? A thesis then would state which cars are in demand and hint at why. I.E "Modern car consumers demand cars that are both fuel efficient but also that satisfy an intrinsic need for individuality."

3 Where does it go?

Your thesis statement comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. After introducing your topic, the thesis narrows focus before the reader is presented with your arguments and evidence. The thesis is restated as the first sentence in your conclusion to reiterate what you have just told your audience.

4 Why is it important?

A thesis is important for several reasons. Firstly, it narrows your topic and prepares your reader for the information to come. Secondly, the thesis assists you in writing your paragraphs. Each topic sentence in your essay should refer back to an aspect of your thesis and each paragraph should support your thesis. By referring back to your thesis throughout your essay, you maintain focus and keep on topic.

 

Thesis Builder and Example

Let's practice writing a thesis!

Topic: Social media

Your Topic

 

Question: How does social media and mental health interact?

Your Question:

 

Answer to the Question: Social media can be used to promote mental health awareness

Answer to Your Question:

 

Preview of the evidence: Facebook support groups, promotion to wide audience, etc.

Your Evidence:

 

Thesis: Social media can be used to effectively promote mental health awareness as evidenced by various support groups easily accessible to wide audiences.

Thesis Checklist

Do I have a question my thesis can answer?
Does my thesis narrow the focus of my topic?
Does my thesis touch on the evidence my essay will present?
Is my thesis direct, telling the audience exactly what I am going to tell them?
Is my thesis stated as the last sentence in my introduction?
Is my thesis restated in my conclusion?