How To Write an Essay

Cheeseburger
Most essays take a repetitive form sometimes known as the "hamburger essay". What this means is that the introductory and concluding paragraphs are very similar, whereas the most important information is found in the body of the essay. pointnshoot / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

There are many ways to write an essay. Many essays take the form known as the "hamburger essay". In the hamburger essay, the introductory and concluding paragraphs are very similar. The most important information is found in the body paragraphs of the essay. Think of a hamburger: The buns cover the top and the bottom (the introduction and conclusion), and provide a nice covering for the most important part of the meal—the burger.

How to Prepare for the Essay

In order to write an essay, it's important to have a map of what you will write. Take the time to write an outline of your essay. Once you have your outline, you can keep on track and write a well-organized essay. Here's an example of an essay outline:

1. Select the topic of your essay. and choose a title.

Technology is Changing Our LIves

2. Choose the central idea, or thesis, of your essay.

Information technology has revolutionized the way we work.

3. Outline your essay into introductory, body and summary paragraphs:

Introductory Paragraph

  • Hook: Statistics on home workers
  • Thesis: Technology has changed work
  • Links to main ideas to be developed in essay: Technology has changed where, how and when we work

Body Paragraph I

  • Main idea: Technology has changed where we can work
  • Support: Work on the road + example
  • Support: Work from home + example statistic
  • Conclusion

Body Paragraph II

  • Main idea: Technology has changed how we work
  • Support: Technology allows us to do more on our own + example of multitasking
  • Support: Technology allows us to test our ideas in simulation + example of CAD 
  • Conclusion

Body Paragraph III

  • Main idea: Technology has changed when we work
  • Support: Flexible work schedules + example of telecommuters working 24/7
  • Support: Technology allows us to work any time + example of people teaching online from home
  • Conclusion

Concluding Paragraph

  • Review of main ideas of each paragraph
  • Restatement of thesis: Technology has changed how we work
  • Concluding thought: Technology will continue to change us

How to Write the Essay

1. Start writing your essay with the introductory paragraph. Start with an interesting sentence known as the hook:

Forbes magazine reports that "One in five Americans work from home" 

There are a number of types of introductions: Interesting statistics, a quote from a famous person, or a rhetorical question such as "Did you know that ...".

2. After this first sentence, add your thesis statement. The thesis clearly states what you hope to express in the essay.

3. Use one sentence to introduce the body paragraphs to follow. Linking ideas from the introduction to  your body paragraphs provides structure to your essay. 

Here's an example introductory paragraph for the essay outlined above:

Forbes magazine reports that "One in five Americans work from home". Does that number surprise you? Information technology has revolutionized the way we work. Not only can we work almost anywhere, we can also work at any hour of the day. Also, the way we work has changed greatly through the introduction of information technology into the workplace.

4. Continue your essay by writing each body paragraph. Begin each body by stating the main idea of the paragraph.

Let's consider how the location of where we work has changed.

5.  Develop your body paragraphs by giving detailed information and examples. It's important to back up your ideas with specific examples of your main ideas.

6. Body paragraphs should develop the central idea and finish with a summary of that idea. There should be at least two examples or facts in each body paragraph to support the central idea.

Here's an example of body paragraph:

Let's consider how the location of where we work has changed. In the past, workers were required to commute to work. These days, many can choose to work from the home. From Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine you will find employees working for companies located hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Too, the use of robotics to manufacture products has led to employees spending more time behind a computer screen than on the production line. Whether it's in the countryside or in the city, you'll find people working everywhere they can get on line. No wonder we see so many people working at cafes!

7. The summary paragraph summarizes your essay and is often a reverse of the introductory paragraph. Begin the summary paragraph by quickly restating the principal ideas of your body paragraphs. 

8. The penultimate (next to last) sentence should restate your basic thesis of the essay. 

9. Your final statement can be a future prediction based on what you have shown in the essay. 

Here's an example of a summary paragraph:

Information technology has changed the time, place and manner in which we work. In short, information technology has made the computer into our office. As we continue to use new technologies, we will continue to see change. However, our need to work in order to lead happy and productive lives will never change., The where, when and how we work will never change the reason why we work.