Writing an essay: how to write an essay?

In school it is the essay or book interpretation, in college the next upcoming term paper shocks students of any discipline. At the latest, if teacher or professor as an examination performance one day the production of a Essays often finally the question marks circle over the heads of pupils and students. The term essay sounds enormous and unfamiliar – but in the end it is mainly ignorance about this text form that causes the greatest uncertainty. But don’t worry: it’s not witchcraft to discuss a particular topic in an essay – as long as you know some basic things regarding the Language style and the Structure pays attention. For an essay is actually a relatively simple and free form of presenting a topic, no matter how scholarly or difficult it may sound. At essay writing is primarily about writing a personal statement on the topic of the assignment, answering the question in your own words, and justifying your own point of view.

Table of Contents: What to expect in this article

What is an essay?

The term essay originally comes from the French vocabulary. Here, the verb "essayer" means something like "to try something, try something". The translation alone makes it clear: In contrast to other forms of elaboration, the author of the essay has relatively much freedom in terms of expression and style. In principle, the writer approaches the topic and "tries his hand at it".

The most important basis: the central formal element of an essay is a clear, comprehensible structure, paired with thoughtful and intelligent content. The treated topics are to be regarded as pure food for thought, not as scientifically high-quality and founded elaboration.

But also an essay naturally brings along some basic characteristics, which also always go into an evaluation of the examination performance. Even though writing an essay can’t be compared to writing a term paper or a bachelor’s thesis, when writing a few important principles of enormous importance.

Principles of essay writing

Before it goes to the creation of the pure content text, some important principles should be clarified in advance. With the help of a sophisticated structure and the knowledge of the structure of an essay, it is much easier to write your thoughts in this prefabricated and prepared "pattern". On the one hand, this provides a little more joy in the elaboration and, on the other hand, an inner security for the author himself, which, of course, also transfers to the creative approach.

What was that again? If you don’t know your goal, you can’t get there because you don’t know the way. However, if one has a "Roadmap", it just goes better until the home stretch. Therefore, here come some important basics about essay writing, divided according to the form, language, style and structure:

The form of the essay

First of all it must be clearly clarified, which form resp. Type of essay to be written. For it is precisely here that the clear distinction already begins:

  • The comparative essay
    In the essay, which links two different but often related topics, the focus is on the juxtaposition of these two topics.
  • The argumentative essay
    In this form of essay, the goal is to use one’s own arguments to convince the reader of one’s own view of the content or. Of the topic under discussion to convince. The most important thing for this is a clear and understandable clarification of one’s own point of view.
  • The explanatory essay
    With the help of this essay form, a situation or. an approach to a particular topic be explained in a sustained and conscientious manner.
  • The analytical essay
    This is probably the most complicated form of essay writing. It is often used in interpretations of literary works and analyzes backgrounds, meanings or characters treated in the work.

Depending on the type of essay the assignment involves, the more different the author needs to structure the layout and content. The goal of each form is different, which ultimately means that the message to be conveyed to the reader of the essay differs considerably from one form to the next.

The language and style of the essay

Scholarly essays such as a bachelor’s, master’s, or even doctoral thesis are usually characterized by verbose, complicated, and technical language. In this form of examination performance, the author is generally expected to be able to work scientifically. This basic requirement often applies even before – when writing a term paper on a certain topic. The good news is that when it comes to essay writing, however, this is not primarily important. Rather, the language and style are not quite as closely formally required as in the other types of elaboration.

Thus, when writing essays, there are some stylistic methods that can, may and should be used quietly. Here, however, it is important to keep the "right measure of language". Neither should you write and formulate in an overly simple or overly casual manner, but rather make sure that your expressions are appropriate to the importance or the content of the essay. Seriousness of your chosen topic fit. Nevertheless, with some linguistic aids you can often already underline your arguments in a very effective way and thus bring them closer to the reader.

The same applies to the choice of your writing style. Word choice and sentence structure (you’ve probably heard this before in school) make sure to grab the reader relatively quickly. Why do you think novels or stories sell better in bookstores than legal texts?? True, the point is to convey information or ideas, but the more "flowery" the writing style, the easier it is for the reader to absorb and retain the content. Since we have learned that we are allowed to write a little more loosely in the essay, you can take advantage of it. For example, by using "illustrated" paraphrases for complicated words or by including belittlements – such as z.B. "Floral" instead of "flowers.". But again, make sure you keep the balance right.

The structure of the essay

What, on the other hand, is the distinction between the different types of essays mentioned above? Essay types almost reassuring is: the structure of the different essays is in the basic principle in each case the same. For the essay, there is actually only a simple, roughly knit structure that you should stick to. You may not believe it, but you’ve known the components since elementary school – introduction, body, and conclusion.

The introduction

The introduction of the essay is to be considered like any other introduction. This is a short and crisp introduction of the topic, stating the thesis or even already the reason why you want to look at this topic. However, never start sprinkling your arguments, which you have already conscientiously considered, in the introduction, because they have their place in the main body. The most important task of your essay introduction should always be to make the reader "want to know more" so that he or she is eager to read on. Limit yourself to the essentials. You may be able to fit the points of the introduction into one A4 page.

The main part

The main body of the essay is where you get to really let off steam. From now on "it goes into the full", which concerns your topic. You can bring arguments that speak for or against, include your own opinion, evaluate things, question approaches, express a lack of understanding, or even criticize the entire topic. However, it is important in the main part that you do not digress into "babble". Always make sure that your text on the respective chapter is fundamentally sound and also comes to an end when you have the feeling that there is not much more to say or write on this subject.

Equally important: the use of the aforementioned resources Language and style, after all, it’s not about simply "rattling off" the topic or mindlessly reproducing it from some source, but rather about your interpretation of the topic. Therefore, always think about the arguments that reflect your opinion and how you can also justify them. Freedom of opinion also means standing by your opinion – and this is what your examiners naturally want to read from you. Take it to heart to never make an argument without justifying your opinion, the question will come back anyway. Your argument is the most important content of the essay!

In order to build up this argumentation well in the main part, you can think about some written thoughts beforehand. This could include, for example:

  • What am I really wondering about in the topic?
  • What do I not understand because it is not comprehensible to me?
  • What makes me mad about the subject? What I might find good about it?
  • Why did I choose this topic? What I hoped to get out of learning more about this topic?

This should help you to formulate your argumentation in the first step. In the best case, you include several points of view, examples and evidence (also have a look at the next section on literature). And since your essay also reflects your own opinion, you decide which arguments you give what weight to. Of course, you should not question the entire science, because there is a demonstrable state of development on your topic. Otherwise your essay will look ridiculous rather than authentic.

What is furthermore very important in the main part is Literature, that has already dealt with this topic. As a tip, you should take to heart to research this literature diligently. The more valid information you have, the better you can build up your own interpretation and relatively quickly get further argumentation points for your previously defined questions. When researching literature, you can either use the Internet to get book tips or talk to your teacher or lecturer about literature recommendations that could help you further. Either you can borrow the books (still the main source for your studies) free of charge from your university library or you get access to the archives of the publishers, where the books are mostly available for download in PDF format. And you will quickly notice: The literature also builds on each other. You should use this as a starting point to build the main body of your essay in a similarly structured way. If the arguments build on each other, either reinforcing or strengthening each other, you can quickly formulate coherent content in the direction you want to go.

The conclusion

In the conclusion, as in the introduction, it is important to "get to the point". Because: the reader would like to receive a summary of the interpretation here once again. Therefore, it does not need "babble," nor does it need to expand on the main body with new insights, further arguments, or even new opinions. Calmly review the core results of your essay, justify your final opinion and give a short outlook into the future, if your topic allows it. Draw a concise conclusion and then let the reader "free".

More tips on writing an essay

Whenever you "try" something for the first time, you are far from being an expert. And you can be sure that your teacher or lecturer knows this too. There is nothing to be said against asking for help from an appropriate source if you get stuck. Maybe sometimes all you need is a brief approach to help you get on with writing your essay. And also your fellow students or classmates will support you, since you "have to" go through it together.

You will certainly be given a guideline for the length and formatting of your essay by your educational institution. But this is also based on certain specifications, even if the specifications may differ a little from school to school. As a basic rule, we can assume that an essay is usually is between five and ten pages long. absolutely adhere to the measure, which is given by your lecturer.

These specifications often also describe exactly how the literature brought in must be labeled. Because whenever you quote something or make reference to a pre-existing textual work, you must make this clear, otherwise your text will be considered "Plagiarism", so unjustified copy. Since an essay is usually kept simple, you often don’t need footnotes, but be sure to provide a bibliography at the end of the essay that lists all sources used. Either your teacher or your school’s policies will tell you the formal parameters. Sometimes it is also enough to mark indirect speech in the text. For example, it might look like this: Peter Schreiber in his book "Typewriter" argues that "writing essays is a boring task. Direct quotes, on the other hand, should be avoided.

Be sure to remember to use language that is easy to understand. The trick is to write neither too overly scientific nor too "terse". Formulate in an understandable, clear and concise way and work with a few well-chosen stylistic devices. This way the reader will enjoy your essay.

Planning is everything: Be sure to make a schedule for yourself so that you don’t get stuck all at once due to a Time constraints come into the "whirl" and then deliver only a rather half-finished and little thought-out work. Plan enough time for writing. You may also experience writer’s block or simply lack of drive from time to time. However, nothing is worse than not finishing on time – this not only takes away your enjoyment of the Writing an essay, but puts you under unnecessary pressure. And you can easily avoid this with a mature schedule.

I would like to emphasize one more important point at this point: Be careful not to slip into "babbling. Try to use active and direct language and avoid empty phrases or unnecessary filler sentences that are not relevant to the topic. The text should live as a quality feature above all from the fact that you build up precise, concise and thus for the reader informative your content. Filler words may flatter the text, but when you realize that you may not be able to fill the pages, you have already made fundamental mistakes in considering your questions and researching the literature. Once again, good preparation with a realistic schedule is the guarantee that you will be able to write a wonderful essay! The quality of the essay consists of sound arguments and a mature formulation!

The work on the essay is completed – and now?

Congratulations! Your essay is finished – and hopefully you still have some time left before you have to hand in the final version. Use the time to digest the essay. The work was certainly exhausting, especially when diving so deeply into a new topic. Leave the document and occupy yourself with something completely different for a certain time, for example, two days. Then you should read the essay again. If you have included errors, you will notice them now. You automatically become a bit "operationally blind" if you sit in front of the screen all the time and just want to finish the topic. Often a proofreading by someone you trust can help, because it is not for nothing that four eyes see more than two. A wrong spelling or a funny grammar formulation are simple and avoidable mistakes that will only annoy you a lot after the grade is announced, yet they are so simple to avoid.

Especially if essay writing is probably not going to be one of your favorite things to do, it should be of elementary importance for you to get feedback on the essay you have created, even though you may never want to write an essay again in your life. However, it may happen again that you have to write an essay, then you can learn from the mistakes you may have made in the opinion of your "evaluator". And it also brings you further in your personal development, because you have acquired a skill that you did not have before: You are now able to write an essay.

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