Writing an essay is easier when you break down the process into manageable steps, narrowing your topic, outlining, writing and revising. Regardless of the type of essay you are writing -- narrative, expository, descriptive or argumentative -- the general format will remain the same. This consists of an introduction with a thesis statement, body paragraphs and a conclusion. Revision is the important final step in producing the best possible essay.
The best way to begin your essay is by brainstorming a topic and angle. Once a topic is chosen, the next step is conducting the preliminary research to help narrow the topic as much as possible. The more specific the topic, the easier it is to locate the best sources and keep the essay concise. Outlining is the important next step, which should never be skipped. The outline is divided into sections labeled introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. The main idea of each paragraph is written under each label, followed by supporting information.
The introductory paragraph explains what the topic is and why it is important and presents the thesis statement. A thesis statement is one sentence at the end of the introduction which specifically tells the reader what will be discussed, the angle of the topic and what evidence will be used to support it. For example, a thesis statement might make the claim that examination of the availability of junk food in school cafeterias of children between the ages 8 and 12 suggests a direct impact on the health of children and obesity later in life.
The body paragraphs provide the evidence supporting the essay's thesis. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence and clearly show a direct connection to the main idea of the essay. For example, for an essay about ways to reduce smog emissions, a topic sentence for a body paragraph might state that the use of public transportation reduces smog. Adding credible and relevant supporting information is imperative to the strength of the paper.
The conclusion is the writer's last chance to convince the reader to side with their position. It tells why the thesis or main topic is important with consideration to the evidence provided. In some cases, such as an argumentative or persuasive essay, a call to action may be presented, asking the reader to start recycling, consider using different mode of transportation or take steps to improve their health, for example.
Proofreading and revising is essential in providing a polished essay. This consists of reading over the entire essay, to yourself and out loud, to make sure each source used is clearly explained and connects to the main idea. The essay is checked for concise language and cleaned up, if necessary. Keeping an essay concise and clear of all grammar and punctuation mistakes provides a professional appearance that allows the logic of the essay to be clearly followed. It is often helpful to take a few days away from the essay and come back to it with fresh eyes. This helps to spot mistakes which might otherwise be missed.