The Five Steps of Writing an Essay

Mastering these steps will make your words more compelling

Knowing how to write an essay is a skill that you can use throughout your life. The ability to organize ideas that you use in constructing an essay will help you write business letters, company memos, and marketing materials for your clubs and organizations.

Anything you write will benefit from learning these simple parts of an essay:

  1. Purpose and Thesis
  2. Title
  3. Introduction
  4. Body of Information
  5. Conclusion

Here are five steps to make it happen:

01
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Purpose/Main Idea

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Before you can start writing, you must have an idea to write about. If you haven't been assigned a topic, it's easier than you might think to come up with one of your own.

Your best essays will be about things that light your fire. What do you feel passionate about? What topics do you find yourself arguing for or against? Choose the side of the topic you are "for" rather than "against" and your essay will be stronger.

Do you love gardening? Sports? Photography? Volunteering? Are you an advocate for children? Domestic peace? The hungry or homeless? These are clues to your best essays.

Put your idea into a single sentence. This is your thesis statement, your main idea.

02
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Title

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Choose a title for your essay that expresses your primary idea. The strongest titles will include a verb. Take a look at any newspaper and you'll see that every title has a verb.

Your title should make someone want to read what you have to say. Make it provocative.

Here are a few ideas:

  • America Needs Better Health Care Now
  • The Use of the Mentor Archetype in _____
  • Who Is the She-Conomy?
  • Why DJ Is the Queen of Pedicures
  • Melanoma: Is It or Isn't It?
  • How to Achieve Natural Balance in Your Garden
  • Expect to Be Changed by Reading _____

Some people will tell you to wait until you have finished writing to choose a title. Other people find that writing a title helps them stay focused. You can always review your title when you've finished the essay to ensure that it's as effective as it can be.

03
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Introduction

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Your introduction is one short paragraph, just a sentence or two, that states your thesis (your main idea) and introduces your reader to your topic. After your title, this is your next best chance to hook your reader. Here are some examples:

  • Women are the chief buyers in 80 percent of America's households. If you're not marketing to them, you should be.
  • Take another look at that spot on your arm. Is the shape irregular? Is it multicolored? You could have melanoma. Know the signs.
  • Those tiny wasps flying around the blossoms in your garden can't sting you. Their stingers have evolved into egg-laying devices. The wasps, busying finding a place to lay their eggs, are participating in the balance of nature.
04
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Body of Information

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The body of your essay is where you develop your story or argument. Once you have finished your research and produced several pages of notes, go through them with a highlighter and mark the most important ideas, the key points.

Choose the top three ideas and write each one at the top of a clean page. Now go through your notes again and pull out supporting ideas for each key point. You don't need a lot, just two or three for each one.

Write a paragraph about each of these key points, using the information you've pulled from your notes. If you don't have enough for one, you might need a stronger key point. Do more research to support your point of view. It's always better to have too many sources than too few.

05
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Conclusion

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You've almost finished. The last paragraph of your essay is your conclusion. It, too, can be short, and it must tie back to your introduction.

In your introduction, you stated the reason for your paper. In your conclusion, you should summarize how your key points support your thesis. Here's an example:

  • By observing the balance of nature in her gardens, listening to lectures, and reading everything she can get her hands on about insects and native plants, Lucinda has grown passionate about natural balance. "It's easy to get passionate if you just take time to look," she says.

If you're still worried about your essay after trying on your own, consider hiring an essay editing service. Reputable services will edit your work, not rewrite it. Choose carefully. One service to consider is Essay Edge.

Good luck! The next essay will be easier.