If you are looking to be the top in your class, you’re going to have to learn how to nail an essay format. Here in this article, we're going to take you through everything you need to know to format the perfect essay. A lot of students fail to crack essay writing in their first attempt, engaging in lengthy processes of trial and error in order to get things right. Fortunately for you, you don’t need to do that because you’ve stumbled upon our guide to formatting your essay. We’ve made things easy, so let’s find out more.
Look at any decent essays and you’ll notice a consistency between them, namely that they follow a logical and clear format which allows ideas and text to flow smoothly. We should dig a little deeper into what’s happening in each of the essay sections in the format, paying close attention to transitions. The first thing you should know is that a good essay makes use of format in order to guide the viewer through your train of thought and transitions help to do this. Even the use of this view strategically placed transitional words can enhance the organisation of an essay, strengthening the flow between ideas and sections.
Psst. We’ve created a little cheat sheet to help you. You can look below at the purpose you’re after and useful transitional phrases to go along with this. Take a look.
Now that we’ve touched briefly upon the transition between segments, let’s have a look at how to format the essay itself. One of the most common methods which really works is the five paragraph format. If you’re intending to write more than five paragraphs, this is no problem – the format will also apply regardless of how many paragraphs you choose.
The introduction is a crucial part of your essay way to get the reader involved. A great introduction will need a killer opening hook that once the reader to continue and find out more. As an example here is a brilliant opening line:“As Tom was in the process of giving his speech at the anti-Nazi member of the year award, many people gazed at him in shock. What exactly had he done which made him so worthy if this?”
You will also want to inform your audience about what they will learn when they read your essay. What exactly will the audience get from reading and what are they about to experience? In order to answer these questions, you will need to include a short and succinct thesis statement which outlines what the essay is about. Let’s look at an example of a great thesis statement in action:“When you took a look at the awful working conditions, dangerous missions and lack of underground action, it is clear that Tom shouldn’t have been awarded this award in the first place.”
The final purpose of the introduction is to engage the reader and keep them engaged. You should include some brilliant transitional hooks which transition them from the intro to the main body. As an example let’s consider the following:“This paper will examine many of the reasons why the people under Tom’s command are not being given the treatment that they deserve, proving that he is completely unworthy of winning member of the year award.”
So, drawing everything together and making some minor changes, we’ll have a captivating opening paragraph:
“As Tom was in the process of giving his speech at the anti-Nazi member of the year award, many people gazed at him in shock. What exactly had he done which made him so worthy if this? When you took a look at the awful working conditions, dangerous missions and lack of underground action, it is clear that Tom shouldn’t have been awarded this award in the first place. It was simply an atrocious decision to be made. This paper will examine many of the reasons why the people under Tom’s command are not being given the treatment that they deserve, proving that he is completely unworthy of winning member of the year award.”
If you think of the plan as a skeleton, you can think of the body as the meat. Essentially, this is the part of your essay where you will want to flesh out the main ideas. In your first body paragraph, you should try and bring the audience in as much as possible. This will mean putting across your strongest argument at this stage. Once you have written all of the main points that you would like to include in your first paragraph, it’s time to close the paragraph with a transition, just like we discussed earlier.
Essentially, from this point onwards you replicate the ideas we’re going to mention here. Within your second paragraph in the body, you can use reverse hooks, presenting your second strongest argument, the second smartest point, the second most significant of your examples and so on. It’s important that you relate any of the points you’ve made back to your original thesis statement. In order to help you do this, you can use simple sentence such as:
“this proves that <main arguments of your thesis> is actually correct because…”
The word ‘because’ is of high importance as this is the point where you present your ‘so what’. You’ve shared some facts which are of relevance to your thesis statement that you haven’t explicitly proven or outlined your claim to be true. Once you’ve managed to put your argument through to the reader and tied it back towards the thesis, you are ready for another transition. It is essentially this kind of format which you want to replicate throughout all of your paragraphs.
To put things simply, the ideal paragraph structure should be as follows:
Bear in mind as a quick tip, when you get to the end of writing your essay, have a look at the ends of each paragraph and check that they connect to the first sentence of the paragraph which precedes it. If you can’t get a strong enough connection, consider rewriting the transitional phrase and if you need to, rearrange the paragraphs.
For the third paragraph, you can follow the same process used in paragraph 1 and paragraph 2. If you intend to make more than three points, just carry on the method with each additional paragraph in the body until you said everything you intended to say. As a rule of thumb, however, you should have at least three paragraphs in the body which cover separate ideas that relate to your thesis statement. Anything less than this just makes the essay look a little bit weak.
At the closing paragraph, things are much the same but there is just one tiny little difference. The final sentence that you write in this paragraph will not be a standard transition, rather it will be a concluding sentence telling the reader that you’ve just finished presenting everything and your argument. This concluding transition will be vital because otherwise the audience will expect to see much more and will become confused when they don’t see anything afterwards. It’s all about the flow and feel of the essay and this is why essay formatting helps so much.
You may feel like you’ve done all the hard work, but we're not done just yet! When you’re coming up with your essay format, make sure that you don’t skip on the conclusion, because it’s one of the most important parts of the essay. The conclusion is where everything becomes tied together and, hopefully, you leave a long lasting impression on your reader.
Your conclusion should contain all of the following things:
It is important also not to bring in any new ideas within your introduction. This is not a place to make any additional claims and if you feel that you have other things to mention, you should take a look at the format we’ve gone through and put these additional ideas within the body. Think of your conclusion as an executive summary – how could you summarise what you’ve written by bringing new information? Don’t make the mistake of doing this.
Now that you’ve learnt more about how to format your essay, the rest is up to you! If you ever do get stuck, don’t forget to check in with our team of writers that can help you with their extensive experience. Best of luck in all your essay writing for the future.
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