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10 Great Essay Writing Tips

structure of short essay

Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.

Prepare to Answer the Question

Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.

structure of short essay

Plan Your Essay

Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.

Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable

You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.

structure of short essay

View It as a Conversation

Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.

structure of short essay

Provide the Context in the Introduction

If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.

structure of short essay

Explain What Needs to be Explained

Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.

structure of short essay

Answer All the Questions

After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.

structure of short essay

Stay Focused as You Write

Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.

structure of short essay

Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread

When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.

structure of short essay

Avoid Filling the Page with Words

A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.


structure of short essay

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Useful Tips On How To Write A Short Essay

Updated 16 Sep 2022

Whether you’re a high school student or a freshman at Harvard, your teachers will definitely give you numerous writing tasks. If the assignment involves short essay format, you might feel happy at first. It seems like a simple task, doesn’t it? An hour or two and that’s it. But the truth is, short essay writing can be way more complicated than long paper assignments.

Learning how to write a short essay is important because it will help express one’s thoughts succinctly and clearly. In real life, including in class or when performing job functions, few of us have an option of waxing poetic. Knowing how to talk shortly and directly, both on paper and orally, is essential, just as replying to a prompt fully in as few words as possible. This way, you’ll become a sharp communicator, which is an essential skill in every profession. So, how to start a short essay?

What Is Short Essay Format?

The main feature of short essay writing is that students must put all their ideas and arguments into a limited amount of space. Usually, short essays take between 200 and 500 words, depending on the topic and teacher’s requirements. So, at first, select good topic and find sources that would be relevant. Generally, there should be just between two and five paragraphs in your essay. Despite such mini length, though, conveying the essence of prompt clearly is vital.

For example, one’s picked a ‘Should capital punishment be abolished in the USA?’ topic. It’s very common, there are tons of materials dedicated to this issue, but instead of being helpful, it only complicates everything. You should focus on selecting the most relevant bits of information to make your short essay wholesome. It means that you should learn how to filter and sort through all data you come across as well as structure them properly.

Fortunately, there are easy ways of how to write a short essay.

Writing a Short Essay

Whether you were assigned to write descriptive, argumentative or  narrative essays of a short size, there are some basic requirements that you should follow. Let’s take a look at all steps involved in the process of short essay writing.

Finding relevant sources is one of the most important tasks. The good news is, since essay is short, you will normally need just a few sources, about two or three. They might be articles from the respectable US journals or books, such as the ones published by Sage Publications. Pay close attention to their date — the more current all sources are, the better, and make sure they’re peer-reviewed. Read an abstract or a summary of the work you’ve found. Does it sound like something that will be useful? Remember, each source must actually contribute something to short essay.    

How to write a short essay without making sense of all ideas first? It’s impossible, so think of what you’d like to explore in particular. In short essays, stay as focused as you can. Each of your sentences must be precise and on-topic. For that, it’s important have to have a clear idea of what you’re going to write about.  

Outline is the next logical step after brainstorming. You’ve come up with all ideas, now it’s time to write them down so as not to lose direction once you start typing. Having an outline is a must, especially if you were assigned a broad topic. Threat of chaotic thoughts is very real here, so before you start working, write down all arguments and possible counterarguments. Dwell on your final goal and decide what information you are going to cover in each paragraph.

Read Also: How to Make an Essay Longer

If you’ve completed the previous steps, writing won’t be hard. You have an outline, you have sources you’re going to use, now just follow the former and add the latter! Don’t forget that you’re writing a short essay, though. Be brief and concise, cover all points quickly but succinctly. 

Editing and proofreading are vital part of your short essay writing. You should read what you wrote to make sure that it sounds good and nothing is rushed or unclear. Writing process is, first of all, the process of creation, and even if your ideas are perfectly expressed, big amount of both grammatical and orthographic mistakes will result in you getting low mark. Prevent it by proofreading your essay; if possible, check it with grammar checkers. Since the essay is of mini length, you won’t have to read for long, so be extra meticulous.

Try our all-in-one writing tool

Now that we’ve seen how to write a short essay, there is another question that must be addressed. What is short essay structure?

Components of a Short Essay

The standard five-paragraph short essays have specific structure: introduction (1 paragraph), thesis, main body (3 paragraphs), and conclusion (1 paragraph). This helps your work be elaborately structured and easier to comprehend.

First impression matters, even if you’re writing a short essay. The purpose of introduction is to attract your readers’ attention and make them interested, so your aim here is to create a hook that will intrigue the audience. Introduction in short essays should be within 5 sentences — you must make it concise, informative, and catchy. In the first sentence, make a claim about the urgency of the problem; persuade the audience that your essay is worth reading. Now you know how to start a short essay.

It is the last sentence of introduction. It must be focused on the main problem you’re planning to explore and contain a claim that you’re going to prove. So, if your topic is too broad or simple, focus on something more specific. Thesis must be debatable and it should motivate the opponents to argue with your position. In addition, everyone should be capable of figuring out your central idea just by reading this argumentative claim. So, if it’s unclear, rephrase it until it is.   

Good structure of standard short essays has particular 5–paragraph format. Three of them must be devoted to the main body, which contains your key ideas along with supporting evidence or facts. It is easier to read a paper where main points are divided into paragraphs according to micro-topics. Put the strongest argument in the first paragraph and support it with the appropriate facts.

Arguments where supporting info is less effective should be placed in descending order. It will give your short essay a great advantage, even more so if your evidence contains quotations. Don't forget to cite them according to the formatting requirements, though! To make your text cohesive, use conjunctions and linking words. That will make a flow of your narration logical because all ideas will appear gradually, changing smoothly from one into another.

Present results of analysis in the final paragraph. Here, show how ideas from the main body support thesis statement, which you should paraphrase. Conclusion isn’t a simple summary of work, it’s synthesis. You must reply to the question raised back in introduction. Your aim is to provide target audience with a new view on the subject, so if the first sentence of introduction should have drawn readers’ attention, last sentence of conclusion should make them satisfied with what they have read.

Six Tips For Successful Writing

Writing can be tough in general, but academic writing is a sphere of its own, with a set of specific quirks. There are different rules about how to create great fictional story for everyone and how to write a short essay for your professor, for example. Let’s look at the list of six tips for effective academic writing.

Read also:  Process Analysis Paper : Writing Rules

Writing The Best Short Essays

Short essay writing is not a difficult task. If you pick an idea you like, research it, and develop an outline, you’re already half done. Just remember general rules of how to write a short essay and it’s likely that a great mark is already in your pocket! Some problems might still occur, though, for a variety of reasons. You might be too exhausted to research and write anything or simply have some other plans. If so, our essay maker team will help you manage your time better by offering to write a paper for you.

EduBirdie guarantees the best results because we cooperate only with the professionals who’ve undergone strict screening process. Our essay writers ’ profiles are open for all our clients, so just look through them and pick the one you like! We provide direct communication option, so our staff will reply to all possible questions right away. Whether you think of ordering college-level short essay or you’re interested in asking a writer to work on a more complex project, it doesn’t matter.

We will deliver your essay on time, with the highest quality you could ask for. If for some reason you aren’t satisfied, you can always ask for revision. Only then will money be released to writer, so you don’t risk anything. Fill in the order form now and relax. We know how to write a short essay. We won’t let you down, and we’ll make sure your professor is impressed.

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structure of short essay


Ultimate guide on how to write a short essay

Aug 27, 2021 | Essay Help | 0 comments

ltimate guide on how to write a short essay

Do you know how to write a short essay? Are you looking for some tips for writing a short essay for your high school assignments? Here you have landed on just the right page! In this article, we will discuss expert’s guidelines on short essays.

Table of Contents

What is a short essay?

A short essay is an abbreviated version of a longer written work.

It follows a particular assignment format .

We can define a short essay as any short piece of writing that focuses on one subject or idea—a formal position (thesis statement) and its supporting arguments, for example—and develops it utilizing description, analysis, reflection, or commentary.

The writer typically focuses on one main idea in a short essay and provides details supporting this thought or opinion. Furthermore, don’t forget to explore our helpful post on What is a Number Sentence  

You can even write a short essay definition essay as a piece of writing that briefly describes an object, person, or thing and provides some details to explain the writer’s point of view towards it. In other words, it is a small essay having only 500 words or as per the instructions.

If you want to know about the best pestle analysis examples , click here.

How long is a Short Essay?

How long is a Short Essay

When you write a short essay, you cannot randomly figure out how long should a short essay be or tell the exact word count. However, a short essay should be a minimum of around a half-page & a maximum of 1 page on single-spaced. It can go up as much as two pages on double-spaced. Short essays mostly consist of a maximum of 400 to 500 words according to the topic of the essay. Also, you can go through the blog on the nature vs nurture essay .

How many paragraphs in a short essay? 

A short essay is usually composed of three paragraphs: introductory paragraph, body paragraphs, and conclusion. The exact number of words in each paragraph of the introduction and conclusion depends on the type of short essay writing.

For a personal narrative or descriptive university essay writing, the first paragraph of your short essay will contain a definite short essay structure. An introductory sentence that sets up the scene; one to two sentences about the incident that occurred, including brief essay details like (sights, sounds, smells, tastes) to help paint a picture in the reader’s mind; and an ending sentence that ties into your thesis statement. One paragraph, probably the second, should support or emphasize this point with more details from the event you are describing.

In the third paragraph of your college article, you should contain a concluding sentence that sums up the main idea or reinforces your thesis statement. For getting an excellent online college essay written by experts, you can even connect with some essay writing help .

How many words in a short essay?

A short essay can vary in length and is not limited to a certain number of words. Many writers and authors suggest that effective, well-crafted short essays should contain a minimum of about 200 – 250 words and a maximum of 500 words, carefully paying attention to the prompt. However, it also depends on the essay format you’re writing for (personal narrative or persuasive). Also, follow here to discover how to restate a thesis.

How to write a short essay format? Essay writing structure 

How to write a short essay format

Introduction Paragraph: Include the topic of the essay and the argument or point you plan to prove to your reader in one paragraph.

Body Paragraphs: Use evidence from your research in each of these paragraphs to offer one element of your argument. You should try to include at least two body paragraphs, but three is preferred if there’s enough information out there for it!

Concluding Paragraph: Restate your argument and add any final thoughts you have about the topic.

Few academic short essay examples for a better understanding -Banning of plastic, free education, pollution, advanced technologies, space study, etc.

Most importantly you should write it in a spatial order organization.

What are short essay components?

Short Essay Components

A thesis needs to be shorter and compact. A strong thesis statement has to be at the end of the introductory paragraph. Remember, when you are writing an essay short, it has no room for playing with the short essay word count.Check out an example of short essay.

Consider the intensity of the topic and determine the length wisely. Keep the citation to the point and limited. Remember, you need to keep some words for introspection.

Topic sentences 

To organize the points in your essay, introduce a new point in a topic sentence before you present it. Present these topics as stand-alone ideas.

Supporting evidence

Limit the number of your words in the sentences where you provide supporting evidence. Use statistics, examples, anecdotes, and famous quotes to support your main point.

If you need to use a lot of examples to explain your topic thoroughly, choose another one.

Topics that require many supporting facts don’t fit well into the short essay length. Also read Why is academic research important?


During the short English essay, show your instructors how you can think critically and present strong arguments by reflecting on the topic. Before you begin, read your assignment prompt carefully and follow through with the directions.

For an essay with a word count of 250, you shouldn’t stray from the main point. Every sentence irrelevant to your thesis weakens your argument and takes up space that could otherwise bolster your points. Do not forget what exactly your key idea is.


In order for your paragraph to have a strong ending, include a summary of the essay’s main argument and its implications in the future. This simple strategy will allow you to depict yourself as a forward-thinking student without losing focus on the essay’s main idea. Keep this paragraph to only a few sentences. It is not a great idea to exploit the number of words. 

 Also read our assignment writing tips to have a better focus on this point.

How to write a short essay? 

How to write a short essay

1. Get a topic to explore

 If your professor didn’t assign a topic, select one on your own. Make sure to research well so that you can craft your paper well. To write an effective essay under 500 words, decide what type of essay is necessary to complete the assignment. After you know your key points, identify what you want to address. It would help if you then outlined the primary goal of writing.

2. Plan your ideas 

It’s important to know how you’re going to structure your main ideas. For example, will you use a compare and contrast method or an analysis of two different points? To get more ideas on this, check out Writing a compare and contrast essay .

3. Select a single argument for the readers to understand 

4. Establish the thesis statement 

Your essay should be argumentative and clear enough for your audience to get the main point. In other words, they should be able to tell what your thesis statement is after reading your first sentence. A thesis needs to include a one sentence summative statement about the main point of discussion and two paragraphs that support your argument.

5. Start working on the essay writing 

Start by writing an outline of your main ideas and then developing each idea in separate sentences. To write a good short essay, you should set your topic at the beginning of each paragraph, provide detailed examples and illustrations to support your argument, and use the page length appropriately.

6. Begin with the introductory paragraph. 

While your introduction should contain a hook, the main body of your essay is where you draw attention to the whole discussion in detail. The quickest way to get from a blank page to a completed essay will be to write your introduction after writing the body of the paper.

The conclusion

The conclusion should be brief, focusing on reiterating the main points covered over the whole paper. It is age-old advice to a student to avoid introducing new arguments in conclusion.

To make your essay concise, use sentences in the active voice. Using an active voice will convey a crisp and clear meaning. Write sentences that can explain a point directly without using too many words.

8. Add a finishing touch to your writing 

 Paragraphs in short essays should introduce one idea at a time. For a 500 word essay paper, focus on the most important answer first and least essential last. The paper should contain relevant ideas, and you should also review the instructions.

Also, see how to write an argumentative essay .

Writing a short essay format 

 short essay format

The word count for a short essay assignment is usually between 200 and 500 words. However, this form will depend on individual teacher preference. Taking into consideration that short essays are limited to 250 words, select an appealing topic and find relevant sources. Though there are no hard rules in terms of paragraphs, a good essay usually includes 2-5 paragraphs. A mini essay with 250 words has to convey the essence of the essay prompt clearly.

How to write a 3 paragraph essay?

For writing a good 3 paragraph short essay, provide the main points in the first paragraph with some reasoning and support in the second and summarize everything in the third. You don’t need to include an introduction nor conclusion since it is too short.

For a short written composition, you don’t need an introduction or conclusion. Just answer the prompt and write 250 words or so for your college paper.

There isn’t much difference between this type of short essay and a short answer; that’s why if you have to write an essay within three pages, it is far better to stick with the 5-paragraph format.

In the meantime explore the best accounting assignment helper to shine in a class.

How to write a 5 paragraph short essay?

How to write a 5 paragraph short essay

The five-paragraph essay is ideal for writing short essays. It includes both a formal structure in the introduction and conclusion, along with brief paragraphs giving details on each paragraph within the essay’s body.

The pages may vary depending on your word limit, but the readers should get the writer’s essence. It is advised to follow the school or the university guidelines.

The most effective and safe way to develop a five-paragraph paper is in 900 words, generally three pages.

Amazing Research paper Topics to impress tutors.

The Final verdict

So we can conclude that the short essay is one of the most usual academic writing assignments to the college students, which the student should compose after a good research work. The student has to pick up well, and hence he must have a clear knowledge and understanding. 

Also, the students have to be quick with completing the research paper. It is important to cultivate the subject well to make the article more appealing and more acceptable to the readers. This way, the knowledge of the writer gets demonstrated too.

Although writing the article may seem easy now, remember it is even easier for a proficient writer to keep your task at bay.

So, just do not worry if you need help with your essay writing. Professional and highly skilled online essay and research writers can help you with just any answer. They write quality content and write according to the desired length, following the guidelines of your professor. You can search for a good online essay helper or ask for a free sample short essay if available.

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How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on November 11, 2022.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

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Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.


In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .


Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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How to Write a Short Essay

Last Updated: February 18, 2023 References

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 89,051 times.

Essay writing is a common assignment in high school or college courses, especially within the humanities. You’ll also be asked to write essays for college admissions and scholarships. In a short essay (250-500 words), you will need to provide an introduction with a thesis, a body, and a conclusion, as you would with a longer essay. Depending on the essay requirements, you may also need to do academic or online research to find sources to back up your claims.

Picking a Topic and Gathering Research

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Composing the Essay

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Condensing Your Essay

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Essay Structure

Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.

The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.

Answering Questions:  The Parts of an Essay

A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.

It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)

"What?"   The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.

"How?"   A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.

"Why?"   Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.

Mapping an Essay

Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.

Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:

Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.

Signs of Trouble  

A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").

Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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Your Guide Towards Writing An Outstanding Short Essay!


Olla Peeps! 🙂 Writing college essays have always been a challenge. Essays are also of different types. You might have to write long essays or sometimes short essays. In long essays, we can still express ourselves in a broader form and more openly. But, the short or brief essay deals with writing limited and point to point.

You might be facing difficulties in writing a 200-word essay or a 500-word essay, but don’t worry as I am here to help you. You can also visit to get quick online essay help.

This article will cover the following points:

So, let’s get started with our article.

1) Short Essay Definition

Before moving on to know about an essay of short length, let’s learn a bit about “what is an essay?” It will help you to understand better.

What is an essay?


So, an essay is a piece of writing which highlights the author’s own argument. Essays are mainly classified as formal or informal and are generally used as a silent weapon to express thoughts on various themes and topics.

Essays might be used as arguments, favour or criticism, daily life-based observations, etc. Formal essays deal with topics related to serious purposes, dignity, organization, etc. Informal essays are defined by self-revelation, humour, graceful style, etc.

Essays can be written long, fully expressing your thoughts on a topic. But, when it comes to writing down a short essay, you need to be very clear with your points. It is crucial to write down the information in a compact manner. Usage of limited words with maximum details.

Read also: How to Write a Top-Class 500-Word Essay

What qualifies as a short length essay?

The name itself says it all. A short length essay means an essay that is written in short. The guidelines for writing short length essays are almost similar to that of writing a normal long essay. The main difference is the length.

A short or brief essay is defined by its length and the depth of ideas that are presented in it. There is a limited word count for this type of essay, so you need to make sure that you put in the right words and ideas.

Your ideas should be very clear from the beginning itself. Short essays cover catchy topics. Your essay should need to respond to an argument or a question. You can even present your individual opinion or view. In a short length or limited words essay, the ideas are predicted shallowly as the essay length is limited.

2) Short Essay Length- How long is a Short Essay?

Well, this is the most asked question of all. A short essay should be a minimum of half-page & a maximum of 1 page if we work single-spaced. It can go up to max 2 pages if we work double-spaced. Short essays should consist of a maximum of 400 words. You can go up to 500 but, if only it’s the need for the topic.

The topics of your short essays should be very catchy. It helps in catching the attention of the reader. If you have an issue deciding the topic of your essay, then just prepare an outline of all the topics which you have, and it will help you to find out the best topic. If you already have a topic, then you need to prepare an outline for its content. Let’s now discuss the Guidelines on Writing Short Essays.

Short Essay Guidelines:


Following are the 4 crucial guidelines for writing a short essay:

Read: An Essay on Action Speaks Louder than Words

3) Short Essay Format

The major feature of a short essay is that you have to limit the words of your arguments and ideas. You need to follow the structure. Short essays have a specific structure to be followed. It is basically a 5 paragraphs structure. 1 paragraph Introduction, 3 paragraphs body, and 1 paragraph conclusion.


It is the most important part of a short essay. It should be of one paragraph and not more. The first impression is crucial. Your introduction should build up the interest of the audience, and it should be clear what is the topic. It should be concise, catchy and informative.

The first sentence itself should claim the urgency of the topic which becomes worth reading. End the sentence with a precise statement. It should focus on the main problem. The statement can be debatable so that opponents will want to argue on your issue.

3 paragraphs out of 5, should be of the main body. This part contains your main ideas and supporting evidence or facts. You need to put the strongest argument in the first paragraph and then later support it with appropriate facts.

Make sure that your evidence contains quotations and cite them according to the requirements of the format. Use linking words and conjunctions to make your text cohesive. It will bring flow to your narration.

This paragraph is for the final results. It should be 1 paragraph long. In this paragraph, you need to show how your ideas from the body support the statement in the first paragraph. It is not a summary, but this part will close the question raised in the introduction part.

The main aim is to provide the reader with a new view of the subject. The last sentence of the conclusion part should satisfy the reader. The reader should be satisfied with what he read in the first place in the introduction. For more best essays visit

4) How to write a short essay?


A short essay is very different from a long essay. While writing long essays, you have full freedom to express your ideas in a much bigger space. But, in a short essay, you may feel that you don’t have much space to make an argument, as you need to be precise with your words. Below are the components of a short essay.

Components of a brief essay

Summary of the above components

As a short essay is determined by its length, it should have a maximum of 3 body paragraphs. Each paragraph can represent one point but, there should be a flow between those paragraphs. The introductory paragraph must introduce the idea which will be discussed in the essay.

A short essay should have about five paragraphs. The intro should be very catchy as it will attract the readers and then they can easily get your point. A thesis statement should be placed in the introductory paragraph of your essay.

The three paragraphs in the body part should support the thesis statement. As for the conclusion part, it should not only sum up the argument, but it should also lift up the idea presented in the essay. Ideas which you will present in the essay should be logical, and there should be an easy flow. At last, you should always proofread your essay. It is to check for any grammatical or other logical errors.

Read also: Tips to Write the Five-Paragraph Essay

5) Short essay examples

Well, I hope, that the above sections cleared it all. What is a short essay? How to write a short essay? All these questions have been answered above. To make it more clear for you, here are a few examples which you can refer to understand more. Click here , to read those examples. These are short essay examples that you will easily understand.

Tips to follow while writing a short essay


Essay writing is quite a common task for students of high school and college. But essay writing got more challenging when you have given a task to write a short essay. A short essay demands more skills and practice. There are different types of short essays such as college application essays , 200-word essays, 500-word essays etc. When a student sits to write a short essay, he/she may have a number of ideas. But, the catch is you have to select the best idea and use it in a short essay.  Here you can see some tips that will help you in writing a short essay. 

Identify your topic carefully

The first thing before you initiate the writing process is reading. Read your essay prompt carefully. You can underline important information or encircle the main question. You have to make sure what the question wants you to write. Students sometimes in a hurry fail to understand the topic and end up writing on something else. 

If you have any queries regarding the question or do not understand it, ask your instructor. 

Narrow down your argument

You have got the task to write a short essay, right? So you cannot discuss everything in the essay. You have to cling to one single topic. So choose one topic and work on it. For instance, “Tragedy in Shakespeare’s plays” this topic is too vast. Here you have to research different plays of Shakespeare to bring out the tragic elements. Discussing all the tragedies of Shakespeare would make your essay a long one. Therefore, you can focus on a single tragedy by him. So, your topic should be, “Discuss Hamlet as a tragedy”. Such a topic will help you to write a short essay easily.

Always use reliable sources for collecting information

If your information is from reliable sources, your chances of getting excellence will get high. Try to go for the websites that end with .edu or .gov. Such websites usually have unbiased information. For example, if you are writing on any journalism topic, then go for BBC or other well-known news websites. Always avoid the least reliable sources, such as blogs or random articles.

Be careful about the essay words

Words are the soul of an essay. If your words are not expressive enough, you might fail to get the desired grade. Students, especially those who are from non-English speaking backgrounds need to be careful about words. While writing the essay focus on words, use transition words in your essays. These words act as a bridge between sentences and ideas. Read more about linking words:  Mega linking words for essay

Along with linking words, your focus should be on vocabulary as well. Use words that express the idea clearly. Students often in a hush forget about words. Make sure that you are using correct proverbs, words etc. in your essay.

Remove verbiage from your essay

You have a limit over the word count, therefore, using excessively long speech doesn’t make sense in a short essay. Remove all lengthy verb phrases, adjectives etc. Keep your sentences short and should explain the meaning perfectly. 

Try to be more active than passive

To make your essay succinct, make your sentences in the active voice. Active voice will convey to the point meaning in a crisp and clear manner. Write sentences that can help in explaining the meaning in a direct way. This will cut short the words from your essay.

Keep the relevant arguments only

A passionate essay writer always wants to add multiple arguments in his/her essay. But in a short essay, you have to control yourself. Only put useful arguments and weed out irrelevant ones. But, be alert, never remove the most convincing points or else your essay will lose its purpose. 

Following these 7 tips while composing a short essay, you may end up with an excellent piece of writing. If still finding issues in writing a short essay, read: Effective ways of writing a short essay .

So, guys, this article was all about a short essay. I hope, it answered all your questions. If you have any other questions, or you want me to add something to this article, then kindly comment down below and let me know. For any other queries, or for any online essay assignment help , you can contact us on the id given on our website. We would love to help you. Thank you for reading. 🙂


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Common Writing Assignments

structure of short essay



Every so often, instructors ask students to write either a very short essay or a long paragraph (say roughly 250-500 words). For convenience’s sake we’ll call this a mini-essay.

The purpose of such an assignment is not merely to shorten the pain of marking student papers. A mini-essay is like a miniature painting or an intricate sketch–it forces you to concentrate on a few select details that capture a single impression.

Obviously most of the rules of essay writing will apply to a mini-essay. Nevertheless, mini-essays have a few unique features worth emphasizing.

Key Features

A snappy introduction.

Don’t waste time introducing your thesis. If you’re writing a longer paragraph (of say 250 words), use just a sentence or two to state your argument. Even if you’ve got a bit more space, keep it short. The art of a mini-essay is to let the details do the talking.

Compare the following two sentences:

Many of us don’t like to be told how to behave, and Friedrich Nietzsche was no exception. The son of a Lutheran minister, Friedrich Nietzsche came to despise Christian moralism.

The second is much more specific. So make sure you zoom in as quickly as possible.

A Nuanced Argument

Just because your essay is super short, it doesn’t mean that you should settle for a simple thesis. Although mini-essays often require you to take one side of an argument, it’s important to avoid generalizations or black and white arguments. Try at least to recognize the existence of other perspectives:

Weak: It would be too dangerous to allow robots to develop their own code of ethics. Better: While we might like to treat robots with respect–and even grant them some level of autonomy–it would be too dangerous to give robots the right to develop their own code of ethics.

Your teacher will be pleased to know that you’ve thought about the issue from all sides.

Variable Paragraph Structure

In a mini-essay you’re not restricted to the classic essay format (introduction–body–conclusion). You can write one long paragraph (if your word count is quite low), or you can blend in your intro and conclusion with your first and last paragraph. You can also use very short paragraphs–say if your intro or conclusion consists of just one or two sentences.

While paragraph breaks are still useful, don’t waste too much time with elaborate topic sentences, summary statements, or transitions. Let your ideas flow naturally so that the reader gets as much quality content as possible.

Short Quotations

As a rule of thumb, three to four short quotations are better than one long block quotation. Choose your quotations carefully and make sure each one makes a unique and essential point.

To add depth to your mini-essay, try list a number of other details or examples that further prove your point.

Other fairy tales that use a “restoration” plot are “Snow White” and “The Frog Prince.” After revolutionizing the vacuum cleaner, James Dyson invented (among other things) the Airblade hand dryer and a fan without blades. He is now working on creating an electric car. Garth Williams’ illustration of the stereotypical schoolhouse is part of a larger attempt to depict a kind of American identity. The schooner Stuart Little sails on has an American flag, there’s a Cornell flag on George’s bedroom wall, and the little town of Ames’ Crossing represents the laid back attitude of rural America.

Do make sure, though, that these details illustrate your main point, and are not just a meaningless digression.

Concise Conclusions

In a short essay, your reader really does not need an elaborate reminder of what you’ve argued. If you do want to repeat your main point, at least try to vary your word choice. Your final sentence or two should create closure, but in a way that remains detailed and specific.

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How to Write a Short Essay?

Jilian Woods

Table of Contents

women write short essay

What is a Short essay?

The short essay definition is an academic written assignment that requires a writer to formulate their thoughts and opinions according to the proper structure and within 500 words. Sometimes the assignment gets even shorter and requires only 200 words. Just like regular essays, it can be of different types: narrative, argumentative, expository, descriptive, etc.

The point of such assignments is to teach expressing thoughts in the shortest form. Students must avoid repetition and stick to being laconic. The paper doesn’t require cliché phrases, slang, and vague information. Only an opinion and facts, strong arguments, statistics to prove it.

How Many Paragraphs is a Short Essay?

When learning everything about the paper’s volume and style, it’s important to remember how to write a short essay according to the precise structure. The text must be subdivided into three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. While the opening and closing paragraphs are quite short and simple, the main part – the body – can contain several paragraphs. Each argument you use to prove your point of view must be singled out into a separate paragraph. So, depending on the essay’s length and content, the text could have between three and five paragraphs.

Keep in mind that sometimes the new assignment you receive from the teacher already mentions how many paragraphs there should be. Keep an eye on such details to create the best text.

Short Essay Format

When reading a sample short essay, you’ll notice that being clear is essential. It’s better to avoid complicated phrasing and sentences since they often confuse the readers and make the text hard to comprehend.

Choosing the proper terms and words is also significant. Stick to the academic vocabulary to make your paper sound convincing. When editing the paper, make sure you have the most crucial bits of information that are structured according to their relevance.  Furthermore, even short texts require references and quotes. Make sure to avoid plagiarism or copy/paste as well.

How to Start a Short Essay?

Before you begin the short essay writing, you should do some research. Look through the topical literature on the given theme, pick the best ideas, and strong facts to support your point of view. The preliminary stage serves as a proper foundation for the high-quality paper. It could be reasonable to make a mind map or draw the scheme of how each argument is connected to the other one. Such a visual representation will help you find where to start your text and how to present the rest of the data.

Giving the paper an extraordinary start is the best way to attract readers’ attention. There are plenty of ways to do that:

A strong and comprehensive beginning is a foundation for an excellent paper. However, it’s better to keep it simple and laconic. Too complicated or confusing introduction and ruin the impression from your paper.

However, a strong beginning doesn’t guarantee the rest of the text will be equally impressive. Dedicate enough time to the rest of the paper and deliver relevant information to support your ideas.

7 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Essay

Writing essays is always time- and energy-consuming. It requires good writing skills, enough knowledge about the subject, and attention to detail. In case you don’t feel confident about writing the paper, you can learn more about the writing process beforehand. Discover the list of the most helpful tips on how to write a short essay. It is sure to help you do the best job and write an outstanding essay.

Select an exciting topic you feel passionate about

In case the teacher hasn’t provided a specific topic and gave only general recommendations, do your research. Discover the latest news related to the subject and brainstorm the possible ideas you can dwell on. Pick the topic you are interested in to create a high-quality paper that will inspire others to learn more on the subject.

Mind the readers

It’s not always crucial to know how many paragraphs in a short essay but who will read the paper. Take into account their possible opinions, background knowledge on the topic, and other factors. Use proper stylistic devices to maintain their attention and comprehensively deliver your idea.

Make sure you have enough expertise before writing the text

Read on the chosen topic and learn as much as possible. It’s the most significant thing one should do in the shortest possible time to succeed with the essay’s content. Choosing relevant resources and respected scholars as a foundation for the paper increases readers’ trust and openness to the given information.

Focus on writing, eliminating every distraction

Many students are used to writing while listening to music, watching TV shows, or hearing others talk in the background. Such distractions can impact the text quality a lot. Moreover, it takes more time to write the text. So, to present the facts and arguments properly, it’s better to get rid of all distractions and temptations and focus solely on the topic.

Stick to the given requirements

In case a teacher/instructor/professor has a list of requirements and guidelines, make sure to address the given aspects. Ignoring such details can reflect poorly on the grades. Mark the essential details you must include in the paper and reread the text afterward to verify each requirement was accounted for.

Double-check the paper before submitting

Read the finished text several times to enhance clarity and remove all sorts of possible mistakes: typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes, stylistic issues, etc. There are lots of websites that offer free proofreading software and premium services. Select the most helpful assistance and improve the paper before submitting it.

Delegate the job to professional

Writing a good essay requires lots of time and patience. If you don’t feel like writing the paper and following all the tips above, you can simply hire professional writers who will take care of those assignments for you. You are sure to receive high-quality texts on time and save time for other important things in your life.

Short essay examples

In case you prefer to write an essay on your own, reading some samples is always a good idea. These are free essays on various topics that anyone can download here and use to their benefit for at least two reasons.

First of all, good samples give an insight into how a high-quality essay looks like: what structure it has, how the arguments are arranged, what stylistic devices are used, etc. Such technical details can help learn the proper structure, formatting, and other key features.

Secondly, they can serve as an inspiration on what topic to pick, which aspects to focus on, and how to keep the readers interested in the content. Discover some excellent samples and create equally great papers using them. No charge necessary. They are free to use as you please but remember that others have access to them as well. Submitting them as your own is not the best solution.

Need Help Writing a Short Essay?

Writing essays don’t need to be a difficult assignment because there is a simple way out. Do you need experts’ help with writing a short essay? Have no worries. Hire our professionals and receive the best possible results on deadline.

We guarantee the best essays because experienced writers create each order from scratch. Writers follow your requirements and preferences to deliver properly structures, mistake-free essays. Make an order now to get the best price and forget about stress related to writing boring tasks.

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How to write movie titles in essays, how to write a biography essay.

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Basic essay structure

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Improve your writing

Organise your essays to demonstrate your knowledge, show your research and support your arguments.

Essays are usually written in continuous, flowing, paragraphed text and don’t use section headings. This may seem unstructured at first, but good essays are carefully structured.

How your assignment content is structured is your choice. Use the basic pattern below to get started.

Essay structure

An essay consists of three basic parts:, introduction.

The essay itself usually has no section headings. Only the title page, author declaration and reference list are written as headings, along with, for example, appendices. Check any task instructions, and your course or unit handbook, for further details.

Content in assignment introductions can vary widely. In some disciplines you may need to provide a full background and context, whereas other essays may need only a little context, and others may need none.

An introduction to an essay usually has three primary purposes:

A standard introduction includes the following five elements:

You should aim to restrict your introduction to information needed for the topic and only include background and contextual information which helps the reader understand it, or sets the scene for your chosen focal points.

In most essays you will have a considerable range of options for your focus. You will be expected to demonstrate your ability to select the most relevant content to address your focal points.

There are some exceptions. For example, if an assignment brief specifically directs the essay focus or requires you to write broadly about a topic. These are relatively rare or are discipline-specific so you should check your task instructions and discipline and subject area conventions.

Below are examples of an opening statement, a summary of the selected content, and a statement at the end of the introduction which tells the reader what the essay will focus on and how it will be addressed. We've use a fictional essay.

The title of our essay is: 'Cats are better than dogs. Discuss.'

To submit this essay you also would need to add citations as appropriate.

Example of opening statements:

People have shared their lives with cats and dogs for millenia. Which is better depends partly on each animal’s characteristics and partly on the owner’s preferences.

Here is a summary of five specific topics selected for the essay, which would be covered in a little more detail in the introduction:

Example of closing statements at the end of the introduction:

This essay will examine both cats’ and dogs’ behaviour and abilities, the benefits of keeping them as pets, and whether people’s perceptions of their nature matches current knowledge and understanding.

Main body: paragraphs

The body of the essay should be organised into paragraphs. Each paragraph should deal with a different aspect of the issue, but they should also link in some way to those that precede and follow it. This is not an easy thing to get right, even for experienced writers, partly because there are many ways to successfully structure and use paragraphs. There is no perfect paragraph template.

The theme or topic statement

The first sentence, or sometimes two, tells the reader what the paragraph is going to cover. It may either:

The last sentence

It should be clear if the point has come to an end, or if it continues in the next paragraph.

Here is a brief example of flow between two summarised paragraphs which cover the historical perspective:

It is known from hieroglyphs that the Ancient Egyptians believed that cats were sacred. They were also held in high regard, as suggested by their being found mummified and entombed with their owners (Smith, 1969). In addition, cats are portrayed aiding hunters. Therefore, they were both treated as sacred, and were used as intelligent working companions. However, today they are almost entirely owned as pets.

In contrast, dogs have not been regarded as sacred, but they have for centuries been widely used for hunting in Europe. This developed over time and eventually they became domesticated and accepted as pets. Today, they are seen as loyal, loving and protective members of the family, and are widely used as working dogs.

There is never any new information in a conclusion.

The conclusion usually does three things:

The conclusion should usually occupy just one paragraph. It draws together all the key elements of your essay, so you do not need to repeat the fine detail unless you are highlighting something.

A conclusion to our essay about cats and dogs is given below:

Both cats and dogs have been highly-valued for millenia, are affectionate and beneficial to their owners’ wellbeing. However, they are very different animals and each is 'better' than the other regarding care needs and natural traits. Dogs need regular training and exercise but many owners do not train or exercise them enough, resulting in bad behaviour. They also need to be 'boarded' if the owner is away and to have frequent baths to prevent bad odours. In contrast, cats do not need this level of effort and care. Dogs are seen as more intelligent, loyal and attuned to human beings, whereas cats are perceived as aloof and solitary, and as only seeking affection when they want to be fed. However, recent studies have shown that cats are affectionate and loyal and more intelligent than dogs, but it is less obvious and useful. There are, for example, no 'police' or 'assistance' cats, in part because they do not have the kinds of natural instincts which make dogs easy to train. Therefore, which animal is better depends upon personal preference and whether they are required to work. Therefore, although dogs are better as working animals, cats are easier, better pets.

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This guide is for anyone looking to vastly improve their essay writing skills through better knowledge what is meant by good 'essay structure'.

Essay writing is a key component to academic success at every level. It is, essentially, the way in which people within the academic community communicate with each other. Thus, there are fundamental ways in which academics structure their work and formal ways of communicating what they have to say. Writing essays is not simply a hoop for students to jump through. The vast majority of instructors and professors also write essays at a professional level, and they do not ask of their students anything less than the standard that is asked of them.

Where too many students go wrong in writing their essays is in either failing to plan ahead (not giving sufficient, care, thought, or time to the process) or in not understanding the expectations of essay writing. Of these expectations, appropriate and effective essay structure is critical. Students often lose valuable marks by failing to structure their essays clearly and concisely to make the best of their ideas.

So how do you structure academic writing? What is the best essay structure format?

First, consider what an essay is . What is it supposed to do? At its core an essay is simply an argument . Now, by argument we don’t mean a slanging match between two angry people. Rather, we are talking about a formal argument. An idea or a claim, which is supported by logic and/or evidence.

Imagine the following scenario: you feel the time has come to approach your boss about getting a raise at work. Imagine yourself walking into your supervisor’s office and requesting that raise. Almost automatically, your mind formulates a rhetorical structure. There are effective and ineffective ways of asking of making such a request. The effective strategy will have a logic and an order. You will firstly claim that you deserve a raise. And you will give evidence to support why you deserve that raise. For example: you are a hard worker, you are never late, you have the admiration and respect of your colleagues, you have been offered another position elsewhere and you want the pay matched. And so on. And you would probably wrap up your discussion with an overview of of why giving you more money is important.

And that is fundamentally an essay. Every good essay has three basic parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.

This simple guide will show you how to perfect your essay structure by clearly introducing and concluding your argument, and laying out your paragraphs coherently in between. Your essay writing can be dramatically improved overnight simply by using the correct essay structure, as explained below.

Where the essay starts

When you are writing an essay , every sentence and every paragraph is important. But there is something extra important about introductions. Just like going out on a date for the first time, you want the introduction to be just right, almost perfect. You want to put your best self forward and create a great first impression.

You should already know this, but most professors and instructors will start grading your work in their head as soon as they begin reading it. They will be sorting your essay, maybe not in terms of a grade, but most definitely in terms of strong/weak, interesting/dull, or effective/ineffective. And most will have some notion of where your essay falls on that scale before they even finish the introduction. It will be the rarest of markers who withholds judgement until the end. The introduction is something you absolutely must start strong.

Always develop an introduction that clearly sets out the aims of what you are about to write and, if applicable, refers to the subject under investigation. State what the essay will try to achieve and briefly mention some of the main points you will consider. The idea is to give the marker an overview of your argument, to show that your thought process is logical and coherent and that you have carefully thought the question through. Don’t try to go into any of your key points in depth in your introduction – they will each be covered by a full paragraph later on. If the question is an ‘either or’ or a ‘how far do you agree’ question, it is useful to set out both sides of the argument briefly in the introduction in preparation for exploring the two sides later in the essay.

Think of your introduction as a thumbnail picture of the whole essay. Anyone, but especially the marker, should know the essay subject and how you intend to prove or disprove it, just from having read just the introduction.

Take the following example:

You have been given this assignment: The main purpose of Gothic fiction is to break normal moral and social codes. Discuss.

A strong introduction should read something like this:

It is certainly true that many works of Gothic fiction manifest the transgression of normal moral and social codes as their major theme. Their emphasis on female sexuality, their breaking of the boundaries between life and death and their shocking displays of immoral religious characters would all suggest that this is indeed the case. However, it is also important to consider other major aspects of the genre that might be considered equally important in purpose, such as its fascination with the supernatural, its portrayal of artificial humanity and its satirical social attacks. This essay will explore these conflicting purposes with reference to several different Gothic texts to discover what might be best described as the ‘main’ purpose of the genre.

Reread that paragraph. Does it tell you what the topic of the essay is? What the point is? What the essay plans to do? Now, without reading think about just the size of that paragraph. If a marker were to see an introduction that were any less than that they would automatically know, without even reading a word, that the topic was not going to be well introduced. That is not to suggest you simply fill up the paragraph, but that a certain amount of information in the introduction is expected.

It is worth pointing out that in a much longer essay an introduction does not need to be limited to a single paragraph. Generally, however, it will be.

structure of short essay

The body of your essay

The second part of the essay is the body. This is the longest part of the essay. In general, a short essay will have at least three full paragraphs; a long essay considerably more.

Each paragraph is a point that you want to make that relates to the topic. So, going back to the ‘give me more money’ example from earlier, each reason you have for deserving a raise should be a separate paragraph, and that paragraph is an elaboration on that claim.

Paragraphs, like the essay overall, also have an expected structure. You should start a new paragraph for each major new idea within your essay, to clearly show the examiner the structure of your argument. Each paragraph should begin with a signpost sentence that sets out the main point you are going to explore in that section. It is sometimes helpful to refer back to the title of the essay in the signpost sentence, to remind the examiner of the relevance of your point. Essay writing becomes much easier for you too this way, as you remind yourself exactly what you are focusing on each step of the way.

Here's a signpost sentence example: One important way in which Gothic fiction transgresses normal moral and social codes is in its portrayal of the female heroine.

Further sentences in this paragraph would then go on to expand and back up your point in greater detail and with relevant examples. The paragraph should not contain any sentences that are not directly related to the issue set out in the signpost sentence. So you are writing an essay that clearly separates its ideas into structured sections. Going back to the wage-raise example: in the middle of talking about how punctual you are, would you start talking about how you are a good colleague, then about that client you impressed, and then talk about your punctuality again? Of course not. The same rules apply: each paragraph deals with one idea, one subject.

The end of your essay

The last section of your essay is the conclusion. In general, this will also be a single paragraph in shorter essays, but can go on to two or three for slightly longer discussions.

Every well-structured essay ends with a conclusion . Its purpose is to summarise the main points of your argument and, if appropriate, to draw a final decision or judgement about the issues you have been discussing. Sometimes, conclusions attempt to connect the essay to broader issues or areas of further study.

It is important not to introduce any new ideas in the conclusion – it is simply a reminder of what your essay has already covered. It may be useful again to refer back to the title in the conclusion to make it very clear to the examiner that you have thoroughly answered the question at hand. Make sure you remind them of your argument by very concisely touching on each key point.

Here an example of an essay conclusion:

Overall, whilst it is certainly true that the characters, plots and settings of Gothic fiction seem firmly intended to break normal moral and social codes, the great incidence within the genre of the depiction of the supernatural, and in particular its insistent reference to social injustice and hypocrisy might suggest that in fact its main purpose was the criticism and reform of society.

But where do I start???

Now you should have a solid grasp of a typical essay structure but might not know how to actually begin structuring your essay. Everyone works differently. Some people have no trouble thinking everything out in their head, or putting together a plan, and starting with the introduction and finishing with the conclusion.

One surefire way to make your life easier is to, in the first instance, write out an essay plan . Jotting down a plan where you create a structure, which details what your essay will cover, will save you time in the long run - so we highly recommend you do this!

When planning your essay structure, we suggest writing from the inside out and doing the body paragraphs first. Since each body paragraph is a main idea, then once you know what your main ideas are, these should come fairly easily. Then the introduction and conclusion after that.

If you're really struggling - or just curious - you can also look into the Essay Writing Service from ourselves here at Oxbridge Essays. We can put together a comprehensive essay plan for you, which maps out your essay and outlines the key points in advance, and in turn makes the writing process much easier.

One final thought to remember: good essays are not written, they are rewritten . Always go over your first draft and look for ways to improve it before handing it in.

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