Essay Writing Guidelines
College students write essays and formal papers in many subjects, not just in english class. For example, if you are majoring in psychology then you will be exposed to analytical writing, which involves breaking down and explaining peer-reviewed and edited journal articles. In addition, writing may be used beyond your college years and well into your career. Understanding the essential essay writing guidelines is key.
Type of Essay
Determine the type of essay on which you will base your writing. The three major ones are analytical, expository, and argumentative. An analytical paper breaks apart a complicated issue and evaluates it. An expository or explanatory paper describes a phenomenon or issue to the audience. Finally, an argumentative essay paper makes a claim about some topic and then persuades the audience through evidence provided.
Develop your thesis for the paper that you will be writing. All paper and essay writing guidelines are similar in that you are making a statement about some issue and introducing briefly what will be discussed throughout the rest of the paper. Depending on how much research you have to do, the thesis may need to change over time to reflect new data or information learned.
Overall, a thesis for your essay or paper should be specific, concise, and simple for readers to understand, yet thorough enough to explain your stance. Most essay writing guidelines dictate that the thesis be positioned at the end of the first paragraph, but that may change depending on the type of writing and your particular style.
Writing the body of the paper is essentially the structural integrity of your whole paper or essay. All the factual and anecdotal evidence, opinions, and research that you have done should be included in a clear, organized fashion. Each paragraph needs to have a topic sentence that introduces the specific point, piece of evidence, or opinion. Following the topic sentence, cited evidence or persuasive arguments need to be written, depending on the type of essay or paper.
Paragraphs for essays and papers need to be ordered in a clear manner in all types of writing. For argumentative essays, the strongest argument should be presented last, leaving the reader with the strongest impression so that they may be persuaded to your side; the weakest argument should be place in the middle with a stronger argument being presented first. For expository and analytical writing, the order in which body paragraphs are positioned depends on what is stated in your thesis and in order that makes sense only to the issue that you are explaining or analyzing.
Writing the closing paragraph of your article is perhaps one of the most important parts of all essay writing guidelines, since you want to leave your reader with a clear impression of your stance, the issue, and any evidence that is involved. Closing paragraphs should briefly restate what you set out to accomplish (your thesis argument) and briefly restate the strongest evidence and arguments which you have already written. The closing paragraph should also address any issues left unanswered and state a conclusion based on all the preceding evidence.
Citations are an important part of all essay writing guidelines. You want to be sure to present information from all your researched sources, being cautious not to plagiarize. There are several guidelines for citing your resources both in-text and in a reference section at the end of your paper. The major styles that you will use in college and beyond include those of the APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and Chicago Citation styles.
Matthew Schieltz has been a freelance web writer since August 2006, and has experience writing a variety of informational articles, how-to guides, website and e-book content for organizations such as Demand Studios. Schieltz holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. He plans to pursue graduate school in clinical psychology.