If you are thinking something along the lines “I wish there was a genie, who would help me write my essay!”, you are probably stuck and have no idea how to build a cohesive paper. Sure, each professor has their own instructions, but sometimes they are not clear, or they simply do not cover it all. Indeed, structuring a paper is no easy task. This short guide introduces the main issues students face when dealing with the structure and helps solve those issues.
How to Structure an Essay
The first part of the article concerns itself with the standard rules of the structure, the benefits that come along with its organization and how to complete a good paper quickly and effectively.
Why Do It?
There are a few main reasons why you should structure your work. Firstly, your reader is going to understand you better, as your text will be cohesive and the message clear. Secondly, you are not likely to forget the key points you are trying to make. Thirdly, it looks better than a continuous stream of consciousness. It is exactly like tidying up your room: even though you do not want to do it, afterwards it will be easier to find all your belongings. The junk you did not need is in the trash, the room looks much nicer, and your mom is happy.
Marc Aurelius once said about organization: “The secret of all victory lies in the organization of the non-obvious”.
Academic Essay Structure
The basic academic essay structure consists of three parts. In the introductory part you are making a statement. This is the foundation on which you will build your house, it should be strong and give a general idea of what the house will look like.
In the main part you provide strong arguments regarding your statement. Designing the walls, the windows, the doorways and shaping your dwelling are all part of it.
The conclusion restates your arguments, summarizes your hard work and gives it value. It is the roof on top of the house – the much-needed finishing touch.
Usually, there is also a reference list, the only part including a separate heading. Think of it as your garden fence – no one will doubt that this is your paper anymore. The reference list should be written according to the requirements of your university, or the special requirements of your professor, so do not hesitate to ask them for guidance. It may include the author, the title, the chapter and the page number, etc.
The Structure of an Essay
If you do not have the structure of an essay, write a plan for it. You can do a plan as a series of answers to various questions. This way you will not miss anything, as you can just look at your questionnaire, and it will help you logically arrange the chaos of the arguments that you have accumulated after your extensive research.
Here are some question examples for you:
- What is your work about?
- What are the points that you are trying to make?
2. Main body
- How can you back up your argument?
- What references can you provide?
- Where did you learn that?
- What is your interpretation of the references?
- What are the main points to draw from your paper?
- How did you achieve such results?
- How can it be used in the future?
Non-Standard Essay Structure
In school your writing requirements will evolve with the development of your skills. You will not need to write five paragraph essays or descriptive passages all the time. The professors will increase the difficulty by adding other types of work, or challenging requirements. In the second part of this article, let us look at some of the examples and analyze how to structure a non-standard essay.
2500 Word Essay Structure
If you are restrained by the number of words, you may as well divide your essay into three parts based on the word count. In this case, give yourself 250 words for your introduction. Explain what the topic is going to be about, what the main focus is and provide some background knowledge that the reader should appreciate.
The next part will take up the biggest chunk of your essay – 2000 words of information, facts, references and all the things you need to mention. You can divide this information into three parts as well. For example, if you are writing an essay on the differences of corporate and sole-proprietorship business, you could split it into three parts: investment, scale and security, benefits. You can then give each topic roughly 720 words.
Lastly, hit the 2500-word essay structure goal with the last 250 words of conclusions. Explain to your reader what they have just learned from your essay.
Persuasive Essay Structure
The title of such an essay is self-explanatory. It means to help you practice your skills in convincing someone of your opinion. The difficult part comes when you do not agree with the opinion, and you also need to convince yourself in the process. Here, the library and Google come in handy, because you need to find reliable statistics, expert opinions, and references, in other words, conduct a serious research.
Once you gather the material, you can start thinking about your persuasive essay structure. Make your point in the introduction. You could say: “Have you ever wondered where the plastic straws and cups from your drink go?” Turns out, it is not environmentally friendly to drink from such cups. In this essay I will provide a thorough analysis of the damages inflicted to marine life by the plastic waste.”
The main body must argue why the plastic is indeed harmful. You can divide this paragraph into smaller ones, each stating a dangerous effect: plastic straws getting stuck in turtle’s noses, dolphins stuck in plastic bags and so on. Use different persuasive tools: rhetorical questions, logical arguments, facts that appeal to emotions. Here is some more information on persuasive tools in writing.
Your conclusion should leave no doubts – plastic is harmful. Make the reader decide that they will not use the single-use plastic anymore. To achieve this effect, restate the arguments with more force and summarize the contents of your essay.
Here are some of the persuasive tools you may use:
- Catchy phrases
Expository Essay Structure
Sometimes you just need the facts. Expository essays focus on the facts and the logical connections between them. They are not trying to make you stop smoking or care about gun-control, but rather analyze some events and their ins and outs. There are multiple types of such papers, such as cause and effect, comparison, process descriptions, etc. Depending on the type, the structure may vary.
The first and last parts remain roughly the same, while the paragraphs in the main body can shuffle according to your needs. While comparing two subjects, you may divide the paragraphs by their individual characteristics, or write extensively on subject A in one paragraph and on subject B in another. Think about the easiest way to analyze the subject and structure your expository essay accordingly.