When writing an essay, you need to know how to have good ideas but you also need to know how to organize them. In most cases, a five paragraph essay is sufficient, with an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
The introduction should catch the reader’s attention and then proceed to explain what the essay will be about (the thesis statement). The body paragraphs contain all the main points of an essay, with details, examples, facts, and quotations to prove your points. Finally, the conclusion should wrap your essay up, summarizing your main points and re-emphasizing your purpose.
To avoid plagiarism in writing, you need to be familiar with methods to cite sources. One of these formats is MLA (Modern Language Association), used mostly in the liberal arts – in particular English Literature.
MLA instructs writers to have their research or quoted sources listed in alphabetical order at the end of the essay (Works Cited page). MLA format does not include footnotes and endnotes, but instead credits author and page number directly in the body of the text. (Eg. Jones, 86)
Types of essay
One specific type of essay is known as the compare and contrast essay. This type of essay compares two ideas or objects and explains how the two things are different, as well as how they are both the same.
Another type of essay is called a persuasive essay. This essay is written to persuade the reader to agree with a specific point of view. The writer holds a certain belief and gives reasons why it is correct.
An argumentative essay is similar to a persuasive essay, though much firmer in tone. Both sides of the argument are acknowledged, with firm evidence (facts and examples) presented to convince the reader that the position held by the writer is correct.
A narrative essay is sometimes called a personal essay. It describes personal moments that have been important in a person’s life. Though similar in tone to a story, there’s a direct point being made by the author, indicated in the thesis statement.
A descriptive essay focuses on a person, memory, place, experience or object. Like the personal essay, there is a purpose behind describing this place or person, outlined in the thesis statement. Descriptive essays are very detailed, using adjectives to show setting or mood.
Cause and effect essays are written to explain the reasons for an event or situation. This essay outlines how one action causes another, or how events are tied together. Sometimes there are many effects linked to one cause, or vice versa.
An expository essay explains a topic. It is a demonstration of knowledge on a certain topic. An example of an expository essay could be about how to construct a model airplane, or why a city decided to impose a curfew bylaw.
An analytical essay is written about a certain topic, with the writer presenting facts and conclusions related to that essay topic. An analytical essay is, primarily, a research-based essay, though the author goes further and writes about conclusions drawn from the research.