Format Of An Academic Essay

A large portion of university and high school education is based on writing academic essays. They are the most effective at demonstrating students knowledge on a subject and showcasing their ability to gather and present data. Therefore, it is very important to understand how to create a quality academic essay and what kinds there are to choose from.

What is an academic essay? It is essentially a structured form of writing that serves a purpose of presenting new information or applying already existing knowledge to deliver a point. To understand how and when to use an academic essay, we need to look at the main types.

Table Of Contents

Types Of Academic Essays

All four main types of academic essays serve a unique purpose; however, some might share a similar structure. With that being said, the four academic essay types are narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive.

By approaching it from an educational perspective, we can see that the expository and persuasive types are most commonly seen in the university curriculum, as they are more scientific and objective. Narrative and descriptive are more subjective and engage your creativity. Now, let’s break down each type!

Narrative Essay: This is a type of writing that In other words, it is a super condensed version of a novel. As one is required to show their creative abilities, constant use of strong adjectives will enhance the audience's’ perception of the matter and help paint a graphic picture. Alongside telling a compelling story, a well-written narration should present a point that is “written between the lines.” Ideally, after reading the entire narrative essay, a clear message or theme should be extractable from the text. By doing this, you are motivating the reader to read it entirely, as it comes with a secret message that will only be uncovered at the end!

Here you can find more information on how to write a narrative essay

Descriptive Essay: Just like with narrative essay writing, . In short, the author chooses a specific noun or idea and describes it to the reader. However, just like a narrative essay, . Carefully selected and powerful words are essential to the writer’s success, as the essay must evoke a certain feeling in a reader and connect them to the object of discussion. When the audience can relate to the subject and consider the writers content as a possible definition of the term, then one knows they have written a stellar descriptive essay.

Expository Essay: This is a type of academic writing . Sufficient evidence should follow all information provided. An expository essay is no place for opinions or personal views on things. A quality paper should use analysis that consists of factual information on the subject. The author's primary job is to with coherent writing and understandable logic. As an example, “How to Write an Academic Essay” could be considered a branch of expository essay writing.

Persuasive Essay: Last but not least, Persuasive essay writing teaches one to embrace the role of a salesman. You have an opinion, project, or an idea which you have to sell to a reader. The logic behind how you supply the reader with the information should be impeccable, leaving them with no doubt that what you are expressing is the only truth they need to know. Cater your points carefully to avoid being pushy, and hide your sales tactic behind well thought out sentences. When it comes to defending an argument, the author can use ; this depends on what they are attempting to argue.

Good Academic Essay Topics

Logically, topics will vary based on the style of writing one is creating. Sometimes, topics will find themselves in several types, but the main content objective will always vary. That being said, here are some good academic essay topics for high school and college students.

Narrative Essay Topics

  • Describe a time you overcame adversity. Explain the situation and how you handled it.
  • Talk about a passion that is rooted deeply into your personality and would make you feel incomplete should it disappear.
  • Create a story that teaches the importance of honesty and integrity.
  • Create a story that illustrates the value of hard work and discipline.

Descriptive Essay topics

  • In your own words, define love.
  • What constitutes a hero or heroic action?
  • Describe a genius. What are examples of genius acts?
  • Describe a businessperson. What traits do they possess?

Expository Essay Topics

  • What effect has social media had on interpersonal relationships and communication?
  • What are some strategies society can use to reduce the growth and dangers of global warming?
  • What methods can society implement to prevent and punish cyberbullying?
  • What are the main causes of racism in today’s society?

Persuasive/Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Provide an argument as to whether or not the death penalty should be abolished.
  • Should we give animals more rights, instead of treating them as mere property?
  • Should the United States have a stricter gun control policy?
  • Was the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki mass murder or a justifiable means to end WWII?

Proper Format

In general, all academic essays follow a very similar formatting style. Usually, this type of writing will consist of 5 paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Moreover, each section will have a unique internal structure. The introduction’s main goal is to introduce the topic and reveal the main message a.k.a thesis statement. The body paragraphs’ primary task is to defend the thesis with 3 sub arguments, with 1 per paragraph. Lastly, the conclusion is there to wrap up the entire argument and leave a lasting impression in the form of an overall concluding statement. Down below is a graphic organizer that illustrates the breakdown.

Outline Of An Academic Essay

Before commencing on any academic writing, four essential elements need to be created and answered beforehand. They are the thesis statement, subpoints, connection and the summary.

  • Thesis Statement: The focal point of your writing. The main message an author is trying to deliver.
  • Body Points (Subpoints): These are the key points or statements that you will use to support your case.
  • Connection: When writing an academic essay, it is important to tie it directly or indirectly to the real world. Provide a reason as to why it is important to you or its relevance to society. This will fill your writing with new meaning and showcase your unique way of thinking.
  • Summary: A strong concluding statement that is going to explain your given points briefly.

After creating a proper outline then writing out your main points and collecting evidence to support your idea, it is time to start writing your paper. A lot of people choose to come up with a title before the writing process as it helps set a mood for the work. Others prefer writing first and then creating a title based on the written information.
The second option is more suitable for writing narrative or descriptive essays as the title’s meaning could be abstract. However, when it comes to expository and persuasive papers, it is important to set a specific essay title and follow it along.

The Introduction

There is an already established academic essay format that has been used for many years and was shown to be the most efficient in delivering information to the audience. To begin any essay, one must start with an introduction.

the audience's attention span is at its highest in the very beginning, so your introduction is going to set the tone for the entire paper. Luckily for you, our top academic writer has several techniques that will help you build a compelling introduction!

The first sentence of any introduction should get the reader interested from the get-go and motivate them to read on. Here are some reliable strategies to creating a captivating hook:

  • Start With a Quote: A creative and meaningful quote could leave a powerful impact on a reader and also serve as a good opener. However, it is crucial to make sure that the quote directly relates to your topic and doesn’t wander away in generality.

  • Rhetorical Question: Starting with a rhetorical question allows you to connect more with the reader. A good rhetorical question is going to stay in your audience's mind throughout the entirety of your paper. However, a rhetorical question should be answered within your article’s body or at least guide the reader towards a relevant observation.

  • Factual Statement: When writing an expository or persuasive essay, starting with a fact or a statistic will give your writing more credibility. It is also going to demonstrate that you have researched the topic by providing the reader with real information and not simply an opinion.

After creating an exciting hook, it is time to funnel your readers into the main topic of conversation. As the topic of conversation will not be evidently clear at this point, it is time to narrow their focus by providing contextual background information. Doing so will help the audience understand where the writing is taking them. Lastly, it is time to write our golden sentence aka thesis.

The thesis statement is an essential part of any formally written custom academic essay; In other words, the entire message you are attempting to deliver should be summarized in this sentence.

Tip: Do not overload it with unnecessary information; it should be a concise sentence that lays out the focus and introduces the subpoints from the body.

The Main Body

Your body paragraphs will be the source of information for your audience. It is always the biggest part of the essay and requires the most attention. When writing your body paragraphs, the points should be stated accordingly to the order of your thesis statement. If you deviate from that, it’s going to confuse the audience, especially those who are very attentive to your essay’s flow.

These are the main requirements for writing a strong body:

  • Accuracy: Be cautious with information and do not contradict yourself. Include the relevant subpoint (based on the body paragraph) that you have presented in your thesis.

  • Evidence: Every topic or idea you present should be defended with sufficient evidence to accredit your words. Provide details such as facts, statistics, and references.

  • Word Choice: Mind your vocabulary, especially when it comes to persuasive or descriptive essays. The words should accurately represent your information. Use vivid adjectives and strong adverbs.

  • Keep It Consistent: A body paragraph should be between 5-7 sentences. Logically, they should all follow a similar structure, with the main difference revolving around the presentation of the subpoint.

The goal of the main body is to answer any questions that have appeared in the reader’s mind after the introduction. Every new point should get the audience closer to understanding the complete concept. Ideally, your goal is to bring them to the same level of knowledge on the subject as you have in your capacity. After doing so successfully, it is time to transition to the conclusion.

The Conclusion

In any essay you write, whether it's an academic success essay or an academic goal essay, As you move towards the end of the paper, your reader won’t even remember what the first paragraph you wrote was about. Therefore, your duty is to give them a reminder. Overall, a good conclusion is going to include:

  • Summary: A condensed paraphrasing of the stated information for the thesis and subpoints. (Only if you are writing an expository, descriptive, or persuasive essay)

  • Personal or Social Connection: In other words, why this information is relevant to society. Stating such a connection showcases the general importance of the subject and modern day relevance.

  • Overall Concluding Statement: This will normally be the last sentence that will tie a pretty knot around your work. If you have initially started with a rhetorical question, a nice touch would be to give the audience an answer to it here. If you have written a quote, rephrase it in your own words. It is important to leave the audience with a strong statement that is going to stay in their mind.

Writing Process

The drafting process is what takes you from a compilation of information to a structured delivery of an idea. The process begins with a rough draft, a stage where you use all the information you have acquired, to fill a relative outline. From there, you narrow down this information to the most relevant parts. Every new draft must also carry away with it things such as content problems, structural flaws, or simple typos. The final draft tends to be drastically smaller than the original.

Word Choice
Word choice is one of the factors that define the quality of the paper. It is also often overseeded or neglected. It is no secret that some words are better at communicating ideas than others. It is also no secret that Focusing on word choice is most significant in descriptive essays when your goal is to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. If you are writing an essay on a specific area of study, it is quite crucial to use words that are related to that field and to avoid simple neutral words that offer no contribution to the text.

Finalizing the Submission
At this stage of writing, your content should be well polished. After taking your paper through a peer review and/or red pen edits:

  • Fix all grammatical mistakes and punctuational errors
  • Finalize your title
  • Add a bibliography if needed
  • Format your paper based on the requirements

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Tutor Jennifer, from EssayPro

I remember back when I just started writing academic essays, I didn’t struggle with gathering information or having good ideas. My grammar and syntax were also good. However, I struggled with organizing my ideas into coherent and flowing paragraphs. I didn’t have transitions, and my paragraphs were not always just one isolated idea. I combatted this by doing one simple step: outlining. As the article states, outlining is critical. It is crucial that you do not skip this step. It is a tedious process, but a paramount one that could make or break your whole paper. Under each sub-point of your essay paragraph, include a topic sentence, a connection to the thesis, a transition to the next idea. It doesn’t matter what you are writing about; do not write direct information on our outline. Instead, write key ideas and the way they could flow from one to another.
I hope that our essay service will help you with your essay writing. Good luck.

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A clear sense of argument is essential to all forms of academic writing, for writing is thought made visible. Insights and ideas that occur to us when we encounter the raw material of the world—natural phenomena like the behavior of genes, or cultural phenomena, like texts, photographs and artifacts—must be ordered in some way so others can receive them and respond in turn. This give and take is at the heart of the scholarly enterprise, and makes possible that vast conversation known as civilization. Like all human ventures, the conventions of the academic essay are both logical and playful. They may vary in expression from discipline to discipline, but any good essay should show us a mind developing a thesis, supporting that thesis with evidence, deftly anticipating objections or counterarguments, and maintaining the momentum of discovery.

Motive and Idea

An essay has to have a purpose or motive; the mere existence of an assignment or deadline is not sufficient. When you write an essay or research paper, you are never simply transferring information from one place to another, or showing that you have mastered a certain amount of material. That would be incredibly boring—and besides, it would be adding to the glut of pointless utterance. Instead, you should be trying to make the best possible case for an original idea you have arrived at after a period of research. Depending upon the field, your research may involve reading and rereading a text, performing an experiment, or carefully observing an object or behavior.

By immersing yourself in the material, you begin to discover patterns and generate insights, guided by a series of unfolding questions. From a number of possibilities, one idea emerges as the most promising. You try to make sure it is original and of some importance; there is no point arguing for something already known, trivial, or widely accepted.

Thesis and Development

The essay's thesis is the main point you are trying to make, using the best evidence you can marshal. Your thesis will evolve during the course of writing drafts, but everything that happens in your essay is directed toward establishing its validity. A given assignment may not tell you that you need to come up with a thesis and defend it, but these are the unspoken requirements of any scholarly paper.

Deciding upon a thesis can generate considerable anxiety. Students may think, "How can I have a new idea about a subject scholars have spent their whole lives exploring? I just read a few books in the last few days, and now I'm supposed to be an expert?" But you can be original on different scales. We can't possibly know everything that has been, or is being, thought or written by everyone in the world—even given the vastness and speed of the Internet. What is required is a rigorous, good faith effort to establish originality, given the demands of the assignment and the discipline. It is a good exercise throughout the writing process to stop periodically and reformulate your thesis as succinctly as possible so someone in another field could understand its meaning as well as its importance. A thesis can be relatively complex, but you should be able to distill its essence. This does not mean you have to give the game away right from the start. Guided by a clear understanding of the point you wish to argue, you can spark your reader's curiosity by first asking questions—the very questions that may have guided you in your research—and carefully building a case for the validity of your idea. Or you can start with a provocative observation, inviting your audience to follow your own path of discovery.

The Tension of Argument

Argument implies tension but not combative fireworks. This tension comes from the fundamental asymmetry between the one who wishes to persuade and those who must be persuaded. The common ground they share is reason. Your objective is to make a case so that any reasonable person would be convinced of the reasonableness of your thesis. The first task, even before you start to write, is gathering and ordering evidence, classifying it by kind and strength. You might decide to move from the smallest piece of evidence to the most impressive. Or you might start with the most convincing, then mention other supporting details afterward. You could hold back a surprising piece of evidence until the very end.

In any case, it is important to review evidence that could be used against your idea and generate responses to anticipated objections. This is the crucial concept of counterargument. If nothing can be said against an idea, it is probably obvious or vacuous. (And if too much can be said against it, it's time for another thesis.) By not indicating an awareness of possible objections, you might seem to be hiding something, and your argument will be weaker as a consequence. You should also become familiar with the various fallacies that can undermine an argument—the "straw man" fallacy, fallacies of causation and of analogy, etc.—and strive to avoid them.

The Structure of Argument

The heart of the academic essay is persuasion, and the structure of your argument plays a vital role in this. To persuade, you must set the stage, provide a context, and decide how to reveal your evidence. Of course, if you are addressing a community of specialists, some aspects of a shared context can be taken for granted. But clarity is always a virtue. The essay's objective should be described swiftly, by posing a question that will lead to your thesis, or making a thesis statement. There is considerable flexibility about when and where this happens, but within the first page or two, we should know where we are going, even if some welcome suspense is preserved. In the body of the paper, merely listing evidence without any discernible logic of presentation is a common mistake. What might suffice in conversation is too informal for an essay. If the point being made is lost in a welter of specifics, the argument falters.

The most common argumentative structure in English prose is deductive: starting off with a generalization or assertion, and then providing support for it. This pattern can be used to order a paragraph as well as an entire essay. Another possible structure is inductive: facts, instances or observations can be reviewed, and the conclusion to be drawn from them follows. There is no blueprint for a successful essay; the best ones show us a focused mind making sense of some manageable aspect of the world, a mind where insightfulness, reason, and clarity are joined.

Copyright 1998, Kathy Duffin, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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