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How to Write an Essay

Whether you're writing an essay for school, to argue a point, or to advance an opinion, the steps to follow are the same.


  • Step 1: Choose a topic Choose a topic of interest. If you don't have a choice in the matter, make sure you understand the topic or question you've been assigned.
  • Step 2: Research your topic Research information relevant to your topic and take detailed notes. For an essay test, take a minute before you begin and brainstorm on the subject.
  • TIP: When doing research, rely on authoritative sources, like books and magazines, as opposed to blogs or wikis.
  • Step 3: Start at the end Start where you want the reader of your essay to end up. Make this your thesis sentence – the idea you want the reader to walk away with.
  • Step 4: Outline your essay Outline the essay to develop at least two or three arguments supporting your thesis sentence. Do additional research if needed.
  • Step 5: Begin writing Introduce your topic and state your thesis. Then craft a paragraph for each of your arguments in favor of that thesis.
  • Step 6: Summarize Summarize your arguments in the concluding paragraph without being redundant. Then, on the final page, list your research sources in a bibliography.
  • TIP: Step away from the essay for a day and come back with fresh eyes. Make any necessary revisions to strengthen it.
  • Step 7: Don't worry Don't worry if the essay didn't come out as well as you'd hoped. The more you work at it, the easier it'll be and the better your writing will get.
  • FACT: Did you know? Although Edgar Allan Poe is most famous for his macabre short stories, he also wrote many essays, including one on writing, "The Philosophy of Composition."

You Will Need

  • Topic or question
  • Knowledge of the subject
  • Research
  • Pen and paper

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