How to Write an Analytical Essay in 6 Steps
An analytical essay is an essay that meticulously and methodically examines a single topic to draw conclusions or prove theories. Although they are used in many fields, analytical essays are often used with art and literature to break down works’ creative themes and explore their deeper meanings and symbolism .
Analytical essays are a staple in academics, so if you’re a student, chances are you’ll write one sooner or later. This guide addresses all the major concerns about how to write an analytical essay, such as the preferred structure and what to put in the outline. Let’s start with an in-depth answer to the question, what is an analytical essay? Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly
What is an analytical essay?
One of the seven main types of essay , analytical essays intricately examine a single topic to explain specific arguments or prove the author’s theories. They commonly deal with creative works like art, literature, film, or music, dissecting the creator’s artistic themes and revealing hidden meanings. However, they can also address other issues in realms like science, politics, and society.
Analytical essays are a type of expository essay , so they’re not supposed to express bias, opinions , or persuasions . Even when the author is trying to prove their own theory (or disprove an opposing theory), their argument should stick solely to facts and logic and keep the author’s personal feelings to a minimum.
An analytical essay example could be a deep dive into the character of Hamlet, but this topic itself could have multiple interpretations. Your essay could focus on whether or not Hamlet truly loved Ophelia, question the motives for his constant hesitation, or even attempt to prove the theory that he was mentally ill—after all, he did see apparitions!
How to structure an analytical essay
Although analytical essays tend to be more detailed, specific, or technical than other essays, they still follow the same loose essay structure as the rest:
The introduction is where you present your thesis statement and prepare your reader for what follows. Because analytical essays focus on a single topic, the introduction should give all the background information and context necessary for the reader to understand the writer’s argument. Save the actual analysis of your topic for the body.
The body is the nucleus of your essay. Here you explain each separate point and offer evidence to support the thesis, breaking up your argument into paragraphs. While the introduction and conclusion are each usually just a single paragraph, the body is composed of many different paragraphs and often stretches out over pages, thereby making up most of the essay.
Every paragraph in the body still relates to your chosen topic and your thesis, but each paragraph should make a different point or focus on a different piece of evidence. For example, if your topic is about how Edgar Allan Poe uses the theme of death in his writing, one paragraph could explore the use of death in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” while a different paragraph could explore death in “The Raven,” and so on.
Finally, the conclusion wraps everything up. Conclusions usually don’t introduce new evidence or supporting details but instead reiterate the previous points and bring them all together to strengthen your original thesis. At this point your reader has sufficient background to understand the topic. With your evidential examples in mind, they’ll be more receptive to your main argument when you present it one last time.
How to write an analytical essay in 6 steps
The process of writing an analytical essay largely follows the same guidelines as all essay writing . Here we break down each individual step from start to finish.
1 Choose your topic
This step may be optional if your topic has been given to you as an assignment. If not, though, you should choose your topic with care.
Your topic should be specific enough that you’re able to discuss it thoroughly. If you choose a broad topic like “love in novels from Victorian England,” it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cover all Victorian novels in a single analytical essay (or even ten analytical essays!). However, narrowing the topic down to something such as “love in Jane Austen novels” makes your task more achievable.
That said, don’t be too specific, or you won’t have enough material to cover. Try to find a good middle ground: specific enough that you can discuss everything but general enough that you’ll be able to find enough research and supporting evidence.
2 Research your topic
Once you know your topic, you can begin collecting data and evidence to discuss it. If your analytical essay is about a creative work, you may want to spend time reviewing or evaluating that work, such as watching a film closely or studying the details of a painting. It’s also useful to review other people’s critiques of that work to inspire new ideas or reveal details you hadn’t noticed before.
Don’t forget to write down where you get your information, including page numbers for books or time codes if you’re watching visual media. You may need to reference these in your essay, so making a quick note about where you find your information while researching saves time later when you’re citing your sources .
It helps to know your thesis from the onset. However, you may realize during your research that your original thesis is not as strong as you thought. If this happens, don’t be afraid to modify it or choose a new one. In any case, by the time your research is finished, you should know what your thesis will be.
3 Create an outline
An essay outline gives you the opportunity to organize all your thoughts and research so you can put them in the optimal order. Ideally, you’ll have finished your research by now and made notes of everything you want to say in your analytical essay. The outline is your chance to decide when to talk about each point.
Outlines are typically broken up by paragraph. Each paragraph should explore an individual point you’re making and include your evidence or statistical data to back up that particular point. Be careful about trying to squeeze too much information into a single paragraph; if it looks excessive, try to break up the information into two or more paragraphs.
Feel free to move around or rearrange the order of paragraphs while outlining—that’s what this step is for! It’s much easier to fix structural problems now in the outline phase than later when writing.
4 Write your first draft
Now is the time you sit down and actually write the rough draft of your analytical essay. This step is by far the longest, so be sure to set aside ample time.
If you wrote your outline thoroughly, all you have to do is follow it paragraph by paragraph. Be sure to include each piece of evidence and data you had planned to include. Don’t worry about details like choosing the perfect wording or fixing every grammar mistake—you can do those later in the revisions phase. For now, focus solely on getting everything down.
Pay particular attention to how you start an essay. The introduction serves different purposes, such as telling the reader what to expect, providing background information, and above all presenting your thesis statement. Make sure your introduction checks all those boxes.
Likewise, be extra careful with your conclusion. There are special techniques for how to write a conclusion, such as using a powerful clincher and avoiding certain cliches like “in summary.” Conclusions usually hold more weight than the other paragraphs because they’re the last thing a person reads and can leave a lasting impression on them.
Finally, don’t forget to include transition sentences in between your body paragraphs when needed. Moving abruptly from one topic to the next can be jarring for the reader; transition sentences improve the essay’s flow and remove distractions.
5 Revise your draft
Your first draft is never meant to be perfect. Once you have all your ideas down on paper, it’s much easier to go back and revise . Now is the perfect time to improve your phrasing and word choice and edit out any unnecessary or tangential parts.
When you revise, pay particular attention to details. Try to find areas that you can remove to make your essay more succinct or passages that aren’t clear that need more explanation. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: Will someone with no background knowledge still understand your points?
6 Proofread your essay
Last, it’s time to fix any grammar and spelling mistakes by proofreading . While it’s tempting to do this at the same time as your revisions, it’s best to do them separately so you don’t split your attention. This allows you to focus only on word choice, phrasing, and adding/removing content while revising and to concentrate solely on language mistakes during proofreading.
If you’re not confident in your grammar or spelling expertise, you can always use an app like Grammarly . Our app highlights any spelling or grammar mistakes directly in your text and gives proper suggestions on how to fix them. There are even features that help you choose the perfect word or adjust your writing to fit a certain tone. You can also copy and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes you might have missed.
Analytical essay outline example
If you’re having trouble, here’s an analytical essay example that shows how a proper outline or structure should look. The format here uses a five-paragraph essay structure, but for more complicated topics, you can add as many body paragraphs as you need.
Topic: Who is the real villain: Macbeth or Lady Macbeth?
- Briefly describe the plot of Macbeth for those who aren’t familiar with it
- Thesis statement : Lady Macbeth is the real villain of Macbeth because she manipulates her husband into committing an atrocious crime
Body Paragraph 1
- Murdering the king is all Lady Macbeth’s idea
- Macbeth is initially against it until Lady Macbeth convinces him
Body Paragraph 2
- Lady Macbeth has her own individual character arc where she is driven mad by her guilt
- Her guilt insinuates she knows her actions are villainous, with appropriate consequences
- Cite quotations from her “Out, damned spot!” speech
Body Paragraph 3
- Macbeth decides to listen to Lady Macbeth, so he is still guilty
- Speculate that he still would not have murdered the king if not for Lady Macbeth
- Macbeth remains the main character because most scenes revolve around him, but the person acting against him most is Lady Macbeth
- Remind reader that Macbeth didn’t want to murder the king until Lady Macbeth convinced him
- Clincher : Macbeth is still the hero albeit a tragic one. But his main antagonist is not Macduff or the king or even the prophecy itself; it’s his wife.
Analytical essay FAQs
An analytical essay is an essay that deeply examines a single topic, often a creative work, to reveal certain conclusions or prove theories held by the essay’s author.
How is an analytical essay structured?
Analytical essays are structured like most other essays: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. However, the body paragraphs have a stricter emphasis on facts, logic, and empirical evidence compared to other essays.
What are the steps to writing an analytical essay?
As with all essays, you first research and then organize all your points into a working outline. Next, you write the rough draft with all the data and evidence collected during your research. Revise the rough draft when it’s finished to improve the phrasing and add/remove certain parts. Last, proofread the essay for any grammar or spelling mistakes.
How to Write an Analytical Essay
Developing an analytical argument is one of the most useful skills to learn in school and in University. It helps in your professional career, when making personal decisions, and just navigating life. We analyze things all the time every day, but learning how to write an analytical paper formalizes the process and creates a mental template to follow. In this article, you will learn what is an analytical essay, how to choose a good topic, receive step-by-step instructions for each paragraph, and get other useful tips.
What Is an Analytical Essay?
One of the most common college assignments, an analytical essay asks you to carefully analyze a specific topic. The topic can range from current events, movies, books, news stories, a period In history, or anything that requires further understanding. Analytical essays prove a point using claims backed by evidence. They do not use emotional appeals and personal anecdotes, rather they build an analytical argument using logic and facts. Unlike a persuasive essay where you only need to analyze one side of an issue, when writing an analytical essay both sides must be understood and presented. In the end, you should cover your personal viewpoints of whether you agree or disagree with what you are analyzing.
Analytical Essay Outline
The first thing to consider is the analytical essay format. An analytical essay is usually between 500 and 1,000 words, which means that it can follow the classic five paragraph format of essays with an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. If you need to write a longer or more detailed analysis, you can expand on the number of body paragraphs. Developing an outline is useful to plan the eventual essay and get an overview of the structure. Many people skip making an outline but it is worth it because the time you spend planning will help guide your research and make writing the actual essay take less time. Let's have a look at a typical analytical essay outline.
- ~ Background information
- ~ Thesis statement
- Body paragraph 1
- ~ Topic sentence
- ~ Supporting evidence
- ~ Transition to body paragraph to
- Body paragraph 2
- ~ Transition to body paragraph 3
- Body paragraph 3
- ~ Transition to conclusion
- ~ Summary of major points
- ~ Restate the thesis
- ~ Key takeaways
Analytical Essay Introduction
Writing an introduction for analytical papers is no different than writing an introduction for any other type of essay. The introduction is the first thing somebody reads so it's important to both engage the reader as well as make sure they understand what the paper is going to be about. A good introduction provides background information, clearly states what the goal of the paper is, and hints at the claims you are going to make.
The very first sentence should be a hook. This means that it should capture the reader's attention and compel them to read the rest of the essay. A hook can be a curious fact, a joke, an engaging question, essentially anything that's connected to your topic and also interesting.
Next, you need to give background information about the topic you are analyzing. If it is a piece of work done by somebody else like a book or a movie then this is where you give the title, year of release, name of the director/author, etc. If it is an academic subject or an abstract concept then this is where you give some brief background so that the audience gets an understanding of the topic.
Next, you need to clearly state your thesis. A thesis statement is essentially the main purpose of your essay. It is one or two sentences that clearly identify the issue you are going to analyze, hints at the claim you are trying to make, and states your opinion if you have one.
Coming up with a good thesis statement is one of the biggest challenges of any type of essay writing. A thesis statement clearly states the purpose of your essay in one or two sentences. A good thesis statement gives the reader an understanding of what the essay is about. For analytical essays, a thesis statement presents specifically what you analyzed and the conclusion you drew.
Each body paragraph should present evidence that backs up the claims you make in your thesis statement, so coming up with a clear and specific thesis is vitally important when writing an analytical essay. A thesis statement that is too broad can be difficult to prove in an analytical essay which is why it needs to be specific. Let's take a look at the following thesis statements:
- Climate change is one of the biggest problems in the world right now.
- Video games are going to be more important in the future.
- Reality television is bad for teenagers.
The topics being analyzed are interesting but the thesis statements are too broad to be covered in just one essay. Exactly how the topics will be analyzed are not mentioned, leaving the reader with no idea how you are going to approach the issue. The following are better versions of these thesis statements.
- Youth activism is one of the driving forces in the climate change debate and is affecting policy changes in governments.
- The gamification of education is making video games essential to the future of humanity.
- False versions of reality expressed in reality television shows are negatively impacting teenagers’ self-esteem.
These thesis statements analyze the main topics of climate change, video games, and reality television, but they focus on specific elements and include an opinion. This gives the paper direction and informs the reader exactly what the paper will be about. They further clearly identify the way the topic will be analyzed and can help you present specific evidence in the body paragraphs.
Analytical Essay Body
In a five paragraph structure, there are three body paragraphs, but in an analytical essay, you might have more. The body paragraphs contain the meat of your essay, the evidence that supports your thesis statement. Each body paragraph should discuss a particular claim or piece of evidence and follows a specific format.
- Topic sentence that clearly states the direction of analysis for the paragraph
- The main piece of evidence for your claim
- Supporting information
- Transition to the next paragraph
The first sentence of your body paragraph should give the reader an idea of the specific issue that the paragraph will talk about. For example, if the essay is about the gamification of education, the topic sentence for the first body paragraph can be “Educational video games are being used in many third world countries to help children who cannot access standard schooling systems”. This topic sentence clearly explains what the paragraph will be about and allows you to provide factual evidence.
A good topic sentence helps the reader keep track of and structures the flow of your analysis paper. Imagine having a conversation with a friend about a topic. The main pieces of support you make for your claim are topic sentences.
The rest of the body paragraph includes factual information that proves the validity of your topic sentence. Each body paragraph should talk about only one issue, so make sure that the evidence you provide is related only to the specific claim you are making in that paragraph. It can be tempting to provide as much evidence as possible, but analytical papers that are too dense with information can be hard to read and understand, so only mention the most important facts and figures.
End each body paragraph with a brief restatement of the topic sentence, emphasizing how the evidence you've presented backs up the claim. This is a great way of transitioning to the next body paragraph that contains a different piece of evidence and analysis from a different point of view. A one-sentence summary or another kind of transition statement helps the essay flow better and builds a more convincing overall argument.
Analytical Essay Conclusion
The conclusion of an analysis essay restates all the main points in a concise way. This is not the place to add new information or provide new points of analysis, rather it is a summary of the essay presented in a way to make the main purpose clear. In general, this is the format of a conclusion paragraph for an analysis paper.
- Restate the thesis
- Summarize the main topic sentences
- Provide key pieces of evidence
- Author's thoughts on possible further analysis
If someone can understand the purpose of your paper just by reading the conclusion then you have written a good conclusion paragraph. By restating your thesis at the beginning you reminded the reader of the main purpose of your essay. After going through three body paragraphs this is important so that the reader makes connections between the evidence presented and the thesis statement.
Follow this up with a brief summary of the main claims and analysis in each body paragraph. Since you have already presented evidence backing up the claims, rephrase the main topic sentences and put together a convincing argument for your points. Make sure you don't include new evidence or points of analysis in the conclusion because this might confuse the reader. The conclusion paragraph only recaps and summarizes information. If you have a new point of analysis then add a new body paragraph.
Finally, end the conclusion paragraph with some of your own thoughts. Explain why the topic is important, why your perspective adds new information, how your analysis compares to experts in the field, etc.
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Steps For How to Write an Analytical Essay
Before you actually start writing an analytical essay there are several steps you can take to make the process easier. The more preparation work you do beforehand, the easier the writing will go and the essay will have better flow and structure overall. These are the steps you should take before you even start writing.
- Brainstorm different topic ideas
- Research a few topics you like
- Choose a topic you like that has enough information to back up your claims
- Come up with a thesis statement to help direct your research
- Make an outline
Each time you remember: 'Oh, I need someone to write my essay for me ', it might be tempting to choose the first topic that pops into your head, but choosing the right topic is one of the most important aspects of analytical writing.
Once you have a few different topic ideas, conduct brief research on them to see if you really find them interesting and if there is enough information for you to write a convincing essay.
Now that you have a topic and know some information about it you should come up with a thesis statement so that you have a question in mind when conducting in-depth research to find evidence to support your claim.
Take notes while doing research and put them into an outline so that you can easily recover the information when writing your essay and you get an idea of the overall flow. An outline helps collect information as well as build a convincing argument.
Choose a Topic
The good thing about analytical essay topics is that anything can be analyzed so anything can be a topic. The bad news is that with so many options it can be challenging to find one actually worth analyzing. First things first, if your teacher has assigned a list of topics to choose from, go over the list and pick out the ones you find interesting. If your teacher has assigned a list of options then It is your job to explore one of the topics in a unique and interesting way. If you can choose any topic you want, go over a list of potential topics and conduct brief research to narrow them down to just two or three. The topic you choose should be based on a few things:
- If you are genuinely interested in the topic it will make the research and writing more fun
- The topic should have enough research for you to back your claims
- The topic should not be too broad so that you cannot fully explore it in one essay
- Try and find a unique way of approaching the topic
Congratulations, you have just finished the first step of how to write an analytical essay!
Write an Analytical Thesis Statement
Now that you have a topic in mind and have done adequate research your next challenge when writing an analytical essay is to come up with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is one or two sentences towards the end of an introductory paragraph that clearly states the purpose of the essay. A thesis statement directs the entire essay and tells the reader what to expect. Why write a thesis statement so early? Because coming up with a thesis statement early will help direct your research. Not only does this save time, but it also helps structure the essay and arguments in your mind as you discover new information.
A good thesis statement clearly states the specific topic you are going to talk about, what exactly you are going to analyze, and includes your opinion. For example, the thesis statement “The gamification of education is making video games essential to the future of humanity”, clearly tells the audience the essay will be about video games and their impact on education.
Organize the Body of Your Essay
Body paragraphs are the place in an analysis paper where you provide evidence to show the reader that your findings are valid. Each body paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence that describes what is going to be discussed in that paragraph. Each body paragraph should only talk about one specific point of analysis or evidence. Each body paragraph should highlight a piece of evidence that backs up your original thesis. Organize your body paragraphs in a way that builds an argument from various viewpoints while ensuring that there is good flow and each individual argument is easy to understand.
Now that you have a thesis statement and understand the overall structure of the body paragraphs it is time to actually find the information you need to back up your analysis. Research your topic thoroughly while focusing on information related to your thesis. Make a list of information that backs up your claim and check if the sources are reliable or not. Choose three or four of the most relevant pieces of information that back up your claim and conduct further research on that information in particular. Fill in relevant information into your outline and record where you found the information. Doing research when writing an analytical essay doesn't have to take a long time or be boring, it can be fun if you enjoy the topic and conduct well-directed research.
Use Evidence Effectively
For an analytical essay to be convincing it needs facts, but presenting the facts in a robotic way isn't persuasive or engaging. Use the evidence and information you find in your research but craft a story around it. You can state a statistic like “30% of children in third world countries use education applications or say “30% of children in developing countries without access to formal education now use education applications to get high school degrees and pull their families out of poverty”.
Use Contrasting Opinions
It may seem counterproductive to include opinions that disagree with your opinion into your analytical paper, but it is a great way of building a convincing argument in an analysis paper. Find the strongest contrasting opinion and make a body paragraph where you explain why that viewpoint is incorrect using evidence. This builds a strong argument because it shows that you have considered opposing viewpoints, and by undermining the strongest one you strengthen your argument.
Write an Effective Summary
A conclusion paragraph is essentially a summary of all the main points of the essay. A well-written conclusion recaps the most important elements of the essay in just a few sentences. You can do this by restating the thesis to remind the readers about the purpose of the essay, and then restating the topic sentences from each body paragraph to summarize the strongest pieces of evidence backing up your claim. Finally, in a sentence or two explain why the topic is important and how your analysis is unique.
Just a few more things and you will know how to write an analysis essay!
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Analytical Essay Topics
As mentioned above, finding the right topic is vitally important when it comes to answering the question of how to write an analytical essay. Which is why we have this section devoted entirely to it. Remember that a good topic:
- Is something you generally find interesting
- Should attract a reader's attention
- Should not be too broad
- Needs enough quality research to present evidence
- Asks a question that is important
Finding a good topic for an analytical paper isn't easy, but make sure you spend enough time pinpointing something that fulfills the criteria. A good topic is the difference between enjoying the writing process and getting a good grade, or finding it a chore and getting a bad grade. You might also find it helpful to explore an article on how to write a reflection paper to get more information.
Here is a list of good analytical essay topics to get you started.
Topics about psychology
Here are some topics on psychology essay writing
- What qualifies as a mental disorder?
- Why do more young people feel lonely?
- What is the effect of lockdowns on mental health?
- Is happiness an illusion?
- What are effective methods of coping with depression?
Topics about pop culture
- Why DOTA is the perfect game
- What is the impact of the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
- An analysis of the history of Science Fiction
- Why blank is the best music genre
- The rise and fall of Kanye West
Topics about art and history
- How does World War II still affect us?
- An analysis of postmodern art.
- Are all artists geniuses?
- What is the influence of the Renaissance?
- What are the lessons learned from war?
Analytical Essay Examples
I assume you are going to use the examples that are already on the website
Despite the difference in doctrines, the Jews, Christians, and Muslims have in one way or another related in accordance to their faith and beliefs. The three monotheistic religions are known for their high regard for their disparities despite the similarities they manifest. It is not only a matter that concerns the religions themselves, but also the society given the world is slowly changing and more people have begun to question the existence of each religion in essence. While, the similarities may be just but subtle, the extent of reach is relatively wide, and for that cause the standing of these religion need some inspection. Noteworthy, there are common features in the religions such as the tenacious adherence by certain groups, which may also pose the question regarding not only lack of choice but also the need to be considered one.
A major consequence of war is in its ability to demolish traditional values and introducing drastic changes the perceptions of the world among those who experience the horror and devastation that define war. For military personnel, assuming a normal life after war is a form of torture because for such an individual visualizing the society from an optimistic perspective is relatively difficult considering that it always in the brink of war which threatens the peace that may be prevailing. Hemmingway uses this story to reminisce about his life after participating in the First World War. It was from his experience in the war as a driver for the Italian Army that he developed depression and he experienced multiple injuries.
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Examples on Writing an Analytical Essay (PDF)
- What is an Analysis?
- How Do You Write an Analytical Essay?
What is an Analytical Essay?
Types of analysis essay, 1. rhetorical analysis essay, 2. literary analysis essay, 3. process analysis essay, 4. character analysis essay, 5. poetry analysis essay.
6. Causal Analysis Essay
How to write an analytical essay, 1. brainstorm and decide on a topic, 2. create a strong thesis, 3. craft a captivating title, 4. find supporting evidence, 5. create an outline.
Elements of an Analytical Essay
- Hook Statement/ Brief Introductory Point
- Background Info (Narrowed)
- Transition sentence
- Thesis Statement
Rhetorical analysis example.
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Analysis papers can be written about art, music, literary works, current events, historical events, politics, scientific research, and philosophy, among other topics. Analytical essays are common in academic settings, and they also appear in magazines, newspapers, academic journals, trade journals.
Below are listed some useful analytical essay examples. Each example is presented according to the different types of analysis essays. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example A rhetorical analysis essay examines how the author has written something. The writer uses persuasive and effective methods to look into the topic in detail.
An analytical essay is usually between 500 and 1,000 words, which means that it can follow the classic five paragraph format of essays with an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. If you need to write a longer or more detailed analysis, you can expand on the number of body paragraphs.
Examples on Writing an Analytical Essay (PDF) Remember the excitement you feel when your professor decides to just let you watch a movie or read something instead of having a discussion in class? You’re so excited that you forget that there’s always a catch.