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How to Properly Structure Formal Essays

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    Essays are dreadful to write if you do not know exactly what you are doing. That is why many college students wait until the last minute to begin preparing for an assignment that would normally take a few hours if they just buckled down and started it. Luckily, we know the best way to structure an essay so that much of the planning portion is similar to following a script. Alright, let us get started.

    1. Introductory Paragraph

    Believe it or not, these are relatively simple. While this structure is ideal for history essays and research papers, other fields like English and Sociology can follow the same structure. The introduction should always follow the funneling method of starting broad and narrowing it down.

    A. Broad Statement

    Start with a broad statement such as “throughout history, x has been a common facet of society…” This will begin your essay

    B. Narrow down to a time/place

    Once you start broad, narrow it down to a time and place. This will define the historical context that you are referencing. It will also let the reader know that you are focusing on an exclusive period of time rather than broadly skipping around. A place and date is optimal for this section.

    C. Introduce key terms, relevant background information

    If you are going to use a specific work as a main source, define the author and title. You could even offer a brief summary of the author’s main assertion here. Make sure to not offer quotes or go into detail. Also, any relevant background information here would be appropriate.

    D. Thesis Statement

    This is very tricky for many students, but thesis statements are simple when broken down into a few types.

    For argumentative thesis statements, these forms are great to use and include color coded examples to break down the logic:

    While X is true, Y is more true.

    While some statistical evidence regarding the effectiveness of raising the drinking age is mixed and volatile, negative externalities like increased violent behavior and unsafe drinking habits should prompt legislators to not only lower the drinking age to 18, but seek alternative solutions.

    California, specifically, was a pioneer in developing a sophisticated judicial process for determining guilt and then punishment for potential death row inmates. However, there is still substantial debate surrounding the legitimacy and overall fairness of the process of sentencing convicted criminals to death in California.

    Because of A, B and C, Z happened.

    Implementing strategies that utilize organizational justice, workforce unity and employee development were all highly influential ways to motivate workers in diverse settings.

    As you can see, all of these thesis statements follow a really rigid structure in terms of their layout. Also, they plan out the structure of the rest of the essay.

    Extra Tips for Introduction Paragraphs:

    NO quotes/citations (especially in essay introductions)

    Pay Attention to formatting rules

    Make sure that you have a specific thesis

    2. Body Paragraphs

    Body paragraphs are also pretty standard in terms of their overall structure. The whole point of most body paragraphs is to introduce evidence that supports your thesis statement

    A. Topic Sentence

    This is a mini-thesis that tells the reader what the body paragraph is about. These are usually one line.

    B.  Background Information

    This is either relevant information, introducing a source or merely explaining the reader what the context of the evidence is.

    C. Introduce 2-3 Facts or Quotes

    Use 2-3 citations and use the evidence of other authors or sources that you have compiled. Make sure to introduce them and do not simply “drop” the quotes as if they are standing alone.

    D. Explain the Quotes

    This is a part of the body paragraph that many students miss. Since your evidence does not speak for itself, explain what it means in your own words. Re iterate the main point and summarize it if need be.

    E. Relate to the Thesis

    This is the most important part of the body paragraph. Make sure to take your evidence and points and relate them back to the thesis. That is, explain why this evidence that you argued for in your mini-thesis is relevant and adds value to your argument (main claim).

    3. Conclusion

    In the conclusion, you want to recap your argument and be relatively sufficient in touching on only the main points. The following structure is ideal if you are stuck:

    A. Restate Thesis in 2-3 Sentences

    Re-state your thesis statement in an expanded way that is more thorough.

    B. Recap each body paragraph in 1-2 sentences

    Simply restate what you argued in each body paragraph as a 1-2 sentence bit.

    Tips for Writing Conclusions

    DO NOT introduce quotes or new information

    DO NOT forget to summarize the key points

    That is it, you are on your way to completing your essay. This formula for writing is proven to work and surely follows a format that is easy for professors and other peers to read.

    Extra – General Writing Tips

    These extra helpful hints will also aid you in working faster, smarter and not making common mistakes that professors can grade harshly on:

    A.  For citing sources, do not do them manually; instead, use BibMe and it does it all for you!

    B. Never use the word “said” when quoting. There is an appropriate word to use for each case, find other words to use instead of said.

    C. Make sure to use colons and semicolons the right way!

    D. Have fun, writing is an important skill set in life and will add value in many more ways than you think!



    Ultius, Inc. "How to Properly Structure Formal Essays." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 21 Jan. 2013. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-properly-structure-formal-essays.html

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    Ultius, Inc. (2013, January 21). How to Properly Structure Formal Essays. Retrieved from Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services, http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-properly-structure-formal-essays.html

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    Ultius, Inc. "How to Properly Structure Formal Essays." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. January 21, 2013. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-properly-structure-formal-essays.html.

    Copied to clipboard

    Ultius, Inc. "How to Properly Structure Formal Essays." Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. January 21, 2013. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/how-to-properly-structure-formal-essays.html.

    Copied to clipboard

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