The process of writing an essay can seem vague and difficult to understand, even for experienced academics. In reality, it is an extremely structured and repeatable process, which follows a series of steps that must be adhered to in order to produce a coherent and polished final product. In this article, we will go over these steps, in detail, and show you exactly how an essay is written.
The Structure Of A Standard Essay
In literary studies and other subject areas, essay writing is often assigned as part of the coursework. To ensure that all essays are of a high standard and adhere to a consistent and identifiable structure, many universities and other educational bodies have set down a set of rules and guidelines for essay writing. This is particularly the case with reference and citation essays, where the referencing and citation of named sources is mandatory.
As a rough example, let us take a look at the common essay structure that is used across most academic disciplines in Ireland:
- an outline;
- an introduction;
- a body;
- an ending, with a conclusion drawn from the body of the essay; and
- a bibliography.
This structure is used to ensure that all essays are built on a solid academic foundation and that every paragraph adds to the main idea or argument of the essay. Furthermore, the outline serves as the structure for the essay, providing both the writer and the reader with a clear idea of the main points and structure of the piece.
Firstly, the outline must be established, which is a crucial step in the essay-writing process, as it will dictate the structure and logic of the entire piece. The outline is simply a series of headings or bullets that will serve as both an introduction and a framework for the piece. It is often helpful to think of the outline as laying down the ground work for the essay. As such, the first paragraph of the essay will generally be made up of a series of major headings, which will be followed by a short paragraph explaining what each heading is. Below is an example of an outline for an essay on the theme of tourism in Bali:
- Body (Thesis);
The first thing to note about this outline is that it is extremely simple, yet it still has all the necessary components that a standard essay needs to include, which is:
- a topic sentence (or a series of them) to capture the central idea/theme of the essay;
- major headings to organize and structure the content of the paper;
- a short paragraph (known as the introduction) that gives an overview of the topic and situates it in the social and cultural context;
- a body, which is a summary of the argument or thesis that you are going to develop;
- an ending, which is generally a conclusion drawn from the material in the body of the essay; and
- a bibliography.
The introduction is a short piece of writing that is generally used to introduce or explain something that follows. In an essay, the introduction is generally a series of background information, which sets the scene and gives the reader a feel for what is to come. The introduction should contain enough information for the reader to understand the context of the essay but not so much as to overwhelm them.
The introduction should include all the necessary historical and contextual information about the topic that the reader needs to know in order to understand the argument of the essay. This includes explaining terms and concepts that may be unfamiliar to the reader, as well as providing the reader with a feel for the time period in which the essay is set. In the case of a historical essay, the introduction will usually begin with a short description of the historical events that led up to the formation of the text. This information will be followed by a series of sub-headings that will be used to organize the rest of the information in the paper. Each sub-heading should be supported by a short paragraph.
The Body (Thesis)
The body is the heart of the essay, containing the argument or the thesis that you are going to develop. To create a good impression, the body should be an organized and detailed summary of the argument, supported by relevant evidence. At the same time, it should be concise enough to keep the focus on the main idea/argument.
The body should be divided into two parts. Part one should be a summary of the argument, while part two should be a set of referenced examples, which will be used to substantiate your claim. In each part of the body, a short paragraph should be used to develop the argument, with a reference to specific sources that you have used to compile your argument. In part two of the body, you can use bulleted points to make your point without using too many words; this makes it easier to read.
The conclusion is a short piece of writing that ties the whole piece of work together, often including a brief summary and a call to action. The conclusion should be concise yet also contain sufficient information for the reader to understand the significance of the essay.
The conclusion should not introduce any new information or change of direction, but it should bring the piece to a close and leave the reader with some sort of impression. Sometimes, the conclusion is the final part of the paper; sometimes, it is a separate piece of paper that is attached to the body of the text. In the case of an academic text, the conclusion should be a summary of the main ideas and arguments that the reader has just followed, tying them together in some way. This is known as the ‘integrative review’ and is used to synthesize and evaluate the findings of a number of relevant studies.
At the end of the paper, there should be a bibliography. It is a list of all the sources (books, articles, web pages, etc.) that the writer has used to support their argument or position. The bibliography should be structured in the same way as the outline, starting with a short description of the historical context behind the topic, followed by a set of sub-headings for the sources that are cited.
For each entry, you should give the citation at least in the form of a short title plus the page number. When referencing an article, it is common practice to provide the author’s last name, city, and country of publication. When referencing a book, it is common practice to provide the author’s last name, city, and country of publication.
There are three essential things to keep in mind when putting together a bibliography for an essay:
- ensure that all the sources are relevant and significant to the topic at hand;
- ensure that all the sources are properly cited and attributed; and
- ensure that each source is easy to find.
To start with the first point, it is often helpful to think about what makes a good source. A good source will most often possess at least one of the following qualities: