How to structure an essay (with pictures)

How to structure an essay (with pictures)
How to structure an essay (with pictures)

Whether you are writing an essay for the first time or the hundredth time, knowing how to properly structure it is important for anyone composing a written essay in which they present research or argument. To compose a coherent and convincing essay, you must take the time to work well on the outline and structure of the sentences. The problem is also a key element, because it is this which introduces all the rest of the essay. There are some very important methods you should employ to properly structure this type of writing.


Part 1 of 4: Preparing for the Essay

Organize an Essay Step 1

Step 1. Think about the type of essay

Determine what type of text you are writing. In general, essays have the same basic parts: an introduction that indicates how the body of the essay will look, several paragraphs in which you present your ideas and arguments, and a conclusion that helps explain what you have learned from your essays. analyzes. However, depending on the type of essay you are writing, you will need to choose different plans.

  • For example, a high school literature essay should have a very clear outline with an introduction containing the issue, three or four main parts in which you argue your ideas, and a conclusion that brings consistency to the whole at the end.
  • A more creative and open-ended essay might set out all the arguments and present the issue only at the end as a conclusion.
  • You can structure your text to compare two things in one paragraph and then bring a different point of view in the next paragraph. You can also present two different points of view on the same item in a single paragraph.
  • It is also possible to follow a chronological plan by starting at the beginning of the work or historical period you are dealing with and working your way to the end. This can be useful for an analysis where chronology is very important, such as a history essay or a report of a science experiment, or an essay in which you tell a story.
  • Traditional school essays can have different layouts.

    • The dialectical plan is used when the essay topic is a closed question (you can answer yes or no). It is the one that boils down to the famous structure thesis, antithesis, synthesisthat is, you have to present two different points of view in the first two parts and synthesize them from which you draw different conclusions in the third part.
    • The analytical plan serves to delve into and analyze a question or quotation whose guideline is suggested in the topic of the essay. You must make different arguments to support the idea suggested in the statement.
    • The thematic plan provides an answer to an open question. You have to apply your knowledge and make different arguments in different parts to answer a very general question with no given guideline.
Organize an Essay Step 2

Step 2. Read the topic carefully

If you have a topic or question, read the statement carefully. It is essential to understand what is being asked of you before you start organizing your arguments and writing the essay.

  • If you don't have a specific topic (for example, if it's up to you to choose a topic for a presentation on a particular topic), you can present ideas to your teacher to see if they are suitable.
  • Don't hesitate to ask questions about anything you don't understand. It's better to put them down before you spend hours working than to have to start all over again because you haven't cleared up a point. As long as you are courteous, virtually all teachers should be happy to answer your questions.
Organize an Essay Step 3

Step 3. Define your mission

How you structure your essay depends on what you need to accomplish. It is generally defined in the subject. Look for keywords like "describe", "analyze", "comment" or "compare" to find out what to do in the essay.

Organize an Essay Step 4

Step 4. Think about the readers

In a school or university setting, the essay will likely be read by your teacher. Nonetheless, it is important to ask yourself who your essay is for. This is especially important if that readership is not defined by someone else.

For example, do you write an article in which you express an opinion for a school magazine? In this case, the readers will probably be your comrades. However, if you are writing this same article for a regional newspaper, the readers may be people who live in your city or region, who may or may not share your point of view, who are affected by the topic you are dealing with, or any other. group you want to address

Organize an Essay Step 5

Step 5. Give yourself time

You don't want to start working on the essay at the last minute. The earlier you start to structure it, the easier it will be to write it up. Allow sufficient time for the various stages of organizing the essay.

Part 2 of 4: lay the basics

Organize an Essay Step 6

Step 1. Formulate a problem

Look for a unique observation, a powerful argument, an interpretation of a work or event, or any other relevant point that is not simply saying obvious things or summarizing a work without analyzing it.

  • The issue is the guideline of your essay. It is this that tells the reader (s) what to expect in the body of the text.
  • A good issue usually presents a point of view that can be discussed, that is, someone could object to it and present another opinion. This may seem difficult to you, but it is very important to have a questionable problem, because if it is not, it probably means that you are saying something too obvious and that there is no point in expand on the subject.
  • Present your major arguments at the same time as your problem. For example, if you are doing a dissertation on the similarities between two literary works, you can describe these similarities in a very general way when setting out your problematic.
  • Ask yourself the question "so what? A good essay explains why the ideas or arguments presented are important and interesting. Imagine that a friend asks you the question "so what?" In relation to your work. Could you tell him how your text is relevant?
  • The three-part plan is the one taught in high school, but in graduate school it is not always compulsory. You don't necessarily have to restrict yourself to this very structured structure.
  • Modify the problem. If, during your research, you discover important points that you did not address in the issue, modify the issue to include them.
Organize an Essay Step 7

Step 2. Do your research

To start structuring your work, you need to have a minimum of knowledge on the subject being dealt with. If the essay requires additional research, do so before you begin.

If you can consult a librarian, do not hesitate to do so. These people are trained to help you find good sources of research and can help orient you right from the start

Organize an Essay Step 8

Step 3. Write down all your ideas

People who are not used to writing essays often make the mistake of trying to come up with an outline before they've brainstormed ideas. It can be difficult and frustrating because at this point you don't know what to say yet. Take a look at your ideas and points of view so that you have material to deal with.

  • Try free writing. Write down whatever crosses your mind on the topic being discussed, without rejecting ideas. Write without censoring yourself and without stopping (for 15 minutes, for example).
  • Make a graphical representation. Write down your central idea and frame it. Write down other ideas and link them together to see how they come together.
  • Take your topic and approach it in six different ways: describe it, compare it, relate it, analyze it, apply it, and argue for and against the given point of view.
Organize an Essay Step 9

Step 4. Review your problem

Once you do the research and come up with some ideas, you may have a new perspective on your argument. Modify your problematic according to this new point of view.

If the original problem was very general, now is the time to clarify it. For example, a subject like “the French Revolution and human rights” is far too general, even for a doctoral thesis. Target more specific items to help you define your plan

Part 3 of 4: structuring the essay

Organize an Essay Step 10

Step 1. Make a plan

Write down and organize the points you will cover in the essay. Use your problem to define the progression that you will follow in your argument. For example, if you want to adopt a dialectical plan, write down ideas that correspond to the different points of view you will be discussing.

Determine the order in which you will present these ideas. For example, if you are going to make three arguments that oppose a particular management system in a company, you might capture readers' attention by starting with the most problematic point and ending with the least problematic point. You could also choose to increase the importance of the argument by starting with the least serious problem and ending with the most serious

Organize an Essay Step 11

Step 2. Follow your own plan

Don't feel obligated to reproduce the structure of the text you comment on or from which you derive your ideas. A very common mistake in writing literary essays is to summarize the plot of the work point by point with the same structure in terms of the essay. Instead of doing this, introduce a central theme in every paragraph of your text. Even if you need to state the facts in a different order than in the work, your essay will have more consistency.

For example, a paragraph about Hamlet's madness might include examples from different scenes in which this character behaves insanely. While not all of these scenes are grouped together in Shakespeare's play, it makes a lot more sense to comment on them together than to do a linear analysis of the whole play in order from start to finish

Organize an Essay Step 12

Step 3. Introduce each part

Write a clear introductory sentence at the start of each section to help give your work a clear structure. In each paragraph, comment and analyze only the idea presented in its introductory sentence. If you digress and introduce other ideas and arguments, the essay will be poorly organized.

  • Make sure that each of these introductory sentences relates directly to the main point of the relevant paragraph. Do not write something trivial that relates to the general theme, but not to your specific subject.
  • Make sure that each of these sentences gives an idea of ​​the content of the paragraph it introduces. Many people who are new to essay writing forget to use introductory sentences in this way and end up with sentences that do not orient the paragraphs clearly and precisely.
  • For example, compare the following two sentences: “Father Sieyès was born in 1748.” “Father Sieyès, born in 1748, played a fundamental role in the progress of the French Revolution from beginning to end. "
  • The first sentence gives no direction to the paragraph. She asserts a fact without giving the reader the slightest indication as to the value of this information. The second sentence provides context and lets the reader know what will be covered in the paragraph.
Organize an Essay Step 13

Step 4. Use transition sentences

Connect the paragraphs with words and sentences to bring consistency to the text. Open your paragraphs with words like "indeed", "so", "however", etc. This way, the reader will be able to follow the progress of your thought more easily.

  • Transient sentences help bring out the logic of your plan. For example, if you open a paragraph by writing something like "Despite its many qualities, Pizza Mamma has a few things that prevent it from being the best pizzeria in town," the reader will immediately understand what the connection is. this paragraph and the previous one.
  • You can also use these transitions within paragraphs to connect your ideas clearly so that the reader can follow you without a problem.
  • If you're having a hard time making these game transitions, your plan may not be right. Try to review it using the strategies explained elsewhere in the tutorial to decide if your paragraphs are really in the best order possible.
  • You can find all kinds of sources online offering transition words and phrases and explaining what type of transition each one makes possible.
Organize an Essay Step 14

Step 5. Write a good conclusion

Rephrase the problem set out in the introduction using other words and summarize the main points of the essay. To make the conclusion interesting, come up with ideas about the meaning of your arguments or findings, and broaden the topic by offering new points of view that might be interesting to explore.

  • You can try to come back to your main theme by giving details as to its scope. For example, you could explain how your essay helped understand something about the topic that readers might not have understood before reading your work.
  • In some essays, it can be helpful to appeal to readers' emotions or to push them to act in the conclusion. Persuasive essays often employ this technique.
  • Avoid trite phrases like "in conclusion" or "to sum up". They are very heavy and awkward.

Part 4 of 4: review the plan

Organize an Essay Step 15

Step 1. Rewrite the outline of your text

It is very common for the main point of an essay to evolve during writing. It allows your ideas to become richer and more relevant. However, it can also give a chaotic structure to the composition. Make an outline of what you wrote when you finished your draft to help you see what the current structure of the text is and what its final structure should be.

  • You can do this exercise on a computer or a sheet, as you prefer.
  • When you proofread your essay, summarize the main idea (or ideas) from each part with a few key words. You can write them on a separate sheet, in the margins of your publication, or in comment boxes in word processing software.
  • Look at the keywords. Do the ideas follow a logical progression or do you switch between different arguments inconsistently?
  • If you have trouble summarizing the central idea of ​​each part, it indicates that the paragraphs contain too much different information.
Organize an Essay Step 16

Step 2. Cut out the essay

If you are having trouble organizing the different parts, print out your essay and break it up into paragraphs. Try to physically change the order of the cut parts. Is there a new structure that makes more sense to you?

With this technique, it is also possible that your transition sentences seem less effective. Ideally, there should be one order in which you can put paragraphs for maximum efficiency. If you can arrange them in any order and the essay is still more or less understandable, you may not have constructed your argument effectively

Organize an Essay Step 17

Step 3. Move the paragraphs

Don't restrict yourself to your original plan.After you cut out the essay, you may find that some paragraphs work better elsewhere in the essay. Move them around and make any necessary changes to the transitional and introductory words and phrases.

For example, if you start with the least important idea, the essay may not be convincing enough. Try to put sentences and paragraphs in different positions for maximum efficiency

Organize an Essay Step 18

Step 4. Delete some information

It can be difficult, but sometimes a beautiful paragraph that you've gone to a lot of trouble to write doesn't add anything to the restructured essay. Do not get so attached to your arguments that you are unable to suppress them in order to increase the consistency and relevance of your composition.

Organize an Essay Step 19

Step 5. Read yourself aloud

This will allow you to spot inconsistencies and awkward parts. You may find that sometimes you go from rooster to donkey or that certain paragraphs contain unnecessary sentences or information. Highlight or underline the parts that do not suit you and correct or delete them.

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