How To Structure Your Essay
by Nayab Imran
How to structure your essay is one of the most searched and asked about questions and many students have come to us for guidance on how to properly structure essays for their academic assignments; they were confused regarding how and where they should start their essays, what their thesis statement should be and how much or how little they should include in the following paragraphs so as to convey the information they had gathered. This made us think that we should explain everything in detail so as to avoid continuous repetition.
Structure in literature means ‘composed of parts’ or the ‘organization of something’. Simply put, it is any material written on any particular subject or topic and can be described as the organizational method of the written material on a specific subject or topic. Some commonly found methods of this organization are:
• Order of telling or occurrence, also known as ‘Narrative Method’
• Time sequence, also known as ‘Chronological Method’
• Comparison and Contrast
• Cause and Effect
• Specific to general, also known as ‘Inductive Method’
• General to specific, also known as ‘Deductive Method’
Writing an academic essay means molding a clear set of ideas into an argument. Essays are linear in nature in that they provide one idea at a time and in the order that makes the most sense to the reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader’s logic. The structure of your essay needs to be unique in regards to the main claim you wish to make. Even though there are guidelines present to construct specific types of classic essays, for instance, the comparative analysis essay, there is no one way or foolproof method for developing an effective or structurally comprehensive essay.
Using a basic formula to write an essay is always discouraged as a mechanical approach can suck the life out of an essay; making it dry and utterly boring. An effective essay requires a good structural plan in addition to its outline. Unity, harmony, good constructions, content, and logical sequence is very important for school, college, university, and professional level essays.
A typical essay consists of a variety of information found in specialized sections or parts. These sections introduce the argument, analyze the data, raise counterarguments and conclude the essay. We can also say that the body of an essay is divided into paragraphs; the aim of these paragraphs is to openly support the thesis statement of your essay and help maintain the interest of the reader. Following is a basic structure of an essay that can help you better understand and assemble essays of your own:-
In the first paragraph, introduce the topic area of your essay with a general, broad opening sentence(s). While keeping it brief, mention all the main ideas of your essay and your thesis statement. For instance,
“The changes that occur in global climatic conditions because of greenhouse gas…. and many other air toxins…. are collectively known as Global Warming….”.
The main body consists of usually one or two paragraphs containing evidence and data supporting your arguments. In these paragraphs, you are given the chance to show your knowledge and grasp of topic by using relevant examples and authoritative quotes. Provide the reader with the data and information necessary to form an opinion. Analyze the data you have assembled to support your argument. For instance,
“Temperature levels have begun to escalate due to….frequently occurring….heatwaves and hurricanes. Scientists are of the opinion that…According to an estimate….This rate could…”.
When you have submitted your arguments and points, it is time to counter-argue by considering a possible argument against your thesis and reasoning. This proves to be a persuasive tactic, allowing you to anticipate doubts and objections that a skeptical reader might raise. However, not all objections are worth entertaining and shouldn’t be included in the essay just for the sake of it.
You can add counter arguments as a section anywhere in the essay from the introduction to just before the conclusion of the essay. Just remember, overusing counter-arguments will obscure the main idea instead of enhancing it and your essay will end up making you look like a fool. For instance,
“Some scientists believe….certain areas of…may cool off and that not the entire global is actually warming…”.
Conclusions are a last chance for an author to persuade the readers of his point of view. Conclude the essay by linking the last paragraph with the first. Make every effort so that the concluding paragraph is impressive, effective, brief and at par with the thesis statement. Using simple language, speculate the implications of your discussion (what it implies, suggests and involves). Avoid phrases such as “in conclusion”, “to conclude”, “in summary” et cetera as well as undermining sentences such as “there may be better methods than the method applied here. Finally, conclude your essay by summarizing the main points of the essay so as to gain the support of the reader. For instance,
“Climate change and global warming can lead to the extinction of all wildlife and human beings. At the moment, a study on animals and plants has revealed that 47% of species….Therefore, it has become vital for us to….”.
The introduction and conclusion have fixed places but other parts don’t, hence they can be shifted around depending on your convenience and desire. You can also imagine these sections of the essay as a means of answering a number of questions that your readers might have about your chosen topic and your thesis. For your thesis to be considered as an arguable claim, the readers must have questions or else your thesis will be considered a mere observation of fact.
Remember, an essay will never be attractive and charming to its readers if it is not written with grace and ease. If the writer isn’t passionate about the topic of the essay, his writing will be mediocre at best and downright incomprehensible at worst. Essay writing scares a lot of students as they are unfamiliar to openly discuss their ideas in a written form. They do not know how to write essays in freestyle form and hence depend on memorizing essays for their examinations.
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