Author: Deborah Croft | Designation: Product Manager at EA | Date Published: 14, June 2010
An essay is called an essay because it follows some basic essay formats. Every writer who tries to write an essay should understand and follow a standard essay format. Most teachers consider the format of the essay equal to the content of it. Often students are required to develop their essays in various styles like MLA style, APA style, Harvard, Chicago, AMA, oxford and few more. The essay format decides the entire structure and organization of the ideas. A standard essay form decides the title page, table of contents, main page and sub sections, introduction and conclusion and appendix.
If you are to consider basics of a standard essay format, your essay should have an introduction, a body consists of three to twenty main points depending on the requirements, and a conclusion. Even though various essays demand the body to be extended or keep it short, you should have a minimum of three points. The introduction in a standard essay form should let the reader know what the subject of the paper is. You should also inform the reader about how your organized your paper is. This part should give a brief about your main points or evidence that proves your thesis statement. The last sentence of the introduction should be your thesis statement. The thesis statement should clearly state your argument or points you are going to prove in the essay.
The body of the essay should also be clearly following the standard essay format and body is everything between your introduction and conclusion. Your body should have separate paragraphs for your supporting points and there are no strict rules on organizing your points. Some say you must describe the most important point last in order to keep the reader interested. In each paragraph you should have an introduction to each of your points and an explanation to it. You should also provide supporting evidences to your points like quotes and examples. The last part of your every point should tell the reader how you can relate it to the argument of the essay.
The conclusion of the essay should restate the thesis of the essay. You should also prove the thesis using the points mentioned in the body part of the essay.
There are a number of other parameters to be considered when following a standard essay format. You should use good quality white paper and only one side is to be written. The page should be given margins according to the citation style you adopt. In case of title pages if instructed by your teacher, follow the instruction or you can write the title on upper one by third portion and leave the middle of the page empty. You should use the name of the professor and date on the bottom part of the page. When numbering the page, it is recommended to use your last name just before the number on the upper right hand corner of every page. You should not use a period after the number. There should be double spacing between the lines on your entire paper thus enable comments from your teachers. You can leave a single space between every word and two spaces between sentences, however there is no need of a space before a punctuation mark. The names of books, novels and plays should be underlined and quotation marks are to be used before and after the titles of shorter works.
The capitalization should also be minimized only to necessary and only the first letter of each word in the title should be capitalized. If you are writing a long essay, you should include a table of contents which makes reading easy. It should go in the order of introduction, body, conclusion, works cited etc. you don’t require any special characters to end the essay with, just a simple period will do.
Essay Format & Standard
Writing an essay often seems to be a dreaded task among students. Whether the essay is for a scholarship, a class, or maybe even a contest, many students often find the task overwhelming. While an essay is a large project, there are many steps a student can take that will help break down the task into manageable parts. Following this process is the easiest way to draft a successful essay, whatever its purpose might be.
According to Kathy Livingston’s Guide to Writing a Basic Essay, there are seven steps to writing a successful essay:
1. Pick a topic.
You may have your topic assigned, or you may be given free reign to write on the subject of your choice. If you are given the topic, you should think about the type of paper that you want to produce. Should it be a general overview of the subject or a specific analysis? Narrow your focus if necessary.
If you have not been assigned a topic, you have a little more work to do. However, this opportunity also gives you the advantage to choose a subject that is interesting or relevant to you. First, define your purpose. Is your essay to inform or persuade?
Once you have determined the purpose, you will need to do some research on topics that you find intriguing. Think about your life. What is it that interests you? Jot these subjects down.
Finally, evaluate your options. If your goal is to educate, choose a subject that you have already studied. If your goal is to persuade, choose a subject that you are passionate about. Whatever the mission of the essay, make sure that you are interested in your topic.
2. Prepare an outline or diagram of your ideas.
In order to write a successful essay, you must organize your thoughts. By taking what’s already in your head and putting it to paper, you are able to see connections and links between ideas more clearly. This structure serves as a foundation for your paper. Use either an outline or a diagram to jot down your ideas and organize them.
To create a diagram, write your topic in the middle of your page. Draw three to five lines branching off from this topic and write down your main ideas at the ends of these lines. Draw more lines off these main ideas and include any thoughts you may have on these ideas.
If you prefer to create an outline, write your topic at the top of the page. From there, begin to list your main ideas, leaving space under each one. In this space, make sure to list other smaller ideas that relate to each main idea. Doing this will allow you to see connections and will help you to write a more organized essay.
3. Write your thesis statement.
Now that you have chosen a topic and sorted your ideas into relevant categories, you must create a thesis statement. Your thesis statement tells the reader the point of your essay. Look at your outline or diagram. What are the main ideas?
Your thesis statement will have two parts. The first part states the topic, and the second part states the point of the essay. For instance, if you were writing about Bill Clinton and his impact on the United States, an appropriate thesis statement would be, “Bill Clinton has impacted the future of our country through his two consecutive terms as United States President.”
Another example of a thesis statement is this one for the “Winning Characteristics” Scholarship essay: “During my high school career, I have exhibited several of the “Winning Characteristics,” including Communication Skills, Leadership Skills and Organization Skills, through my involvement in Student Government, National Honor Society, and a part-time job at Macy’s Department Store.”
4. Write the body.
The body of your essay argues, explains or describes your topic. Each main idea that you wrote in your diagram or outline will become a separate section within the body of your essay.
Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure. Begin by writing one of your main ideas as the introductory sentence. Next, write each of your supporting ideas in sentence format, but leave three or four lines in between each point to come back and give detailed examples to back up your position. Fill in these spaces with relative information that will help link smaller ideas together.
5. Write the introduction.
Now that you have developed your thesis and the overall body of your essay, you must write an introduction. The introduction should attract the reader’s attention and show the focus of your essay.
Begin with an attention grabber. You can use shocking information, dialogue, a story, a quote, or a simple summary of your topic. Whichever angle you choose, make sure that it ties in with your thesis statement, which will be included as the last sentence of your introduction.
6. Write the conclusion.
The conclusion brings closure of the topic and sums up your overall ideas while providing a final perspective on your topic. Your conclusion should consist of three to five strong sentences. Simply review your main points and provide reinforcement of your thesis.
7. Add the finishing touches.
After writing your conclusion, you might think that you have completed your essay. Wrong. Before you consider this a finished work, you must pay attention to all the small details.
Check the order of your paragraphs. Your strongest points should be the first and last paragraphs within the body, with the others falling in the middle. Also, make sure that your paragraph order makes sense. If your essay is describing a process, such as how to make a great chocolate cake, make sure that your paragraphs fall in the correct order.
Review the instructions for your essay, if applicable. Many teachers and scholarship forms follow different formats, and you must double check instructions to ensure that your essay is in the desired format.
Finally, review what you have written. Reread your paper and check to see if it makes sense. Make sure that sentence flow is smooth and add phrases to help connect thoughts or ideas. Check your essay for grammar and spelling mistakes.
Congratulations! You have just written a great essay.
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