Essay Organization

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Writing Review

Essay Organization
An essay is a group of paragraphs that presents a logical sequence of thoughts.
An essay has three parts

  1. Beginning – introduction

  2. Middle – body

  3. End – conclusion

Introduction – one or two paragraphs that usually start with general background information and end with your thesis statement.
The thesis statement is one clear sentence that presents the reader with the main point.
Body – the paragraphs that support your thesis statement. They consist of topic sentences that relate to the main idea of the essay. These are followed by sentences which include support for the topic or main idea in the paragraph. There are three elements in the support sentences:

  1. Detailed support

  2. Relate to the main idea (unity)

  3. Flow from one sentence to the next smoothly (coherence) through use of a) repeated keywords, b) pronouns referring to keywords, c) transitions

Conclusion – ending paragraph. It ends the discussion and relates back to the introduction and summarizes the essay’s main points. It also restates (in different words) the thesis statement.
Thesis Statement – consists of two parts

  1. Narrowed topic

  2. Your point of view about that topic.

Example of narrowed topic:

Broad Narrower Narrowest

My life getting into PSC Why PSC is the best school for me

Before writing you need to,

  1. Select a topic through freewriting, brainstorming, mapping, and/or clustering

  2. Narrow the topic to fit the length and time constraints of the assignment

  3. Make an outline, either formal or informal


  1. Drafting – don’t try to write an entire paper in one sitting. Even though you will eventually proofread your entire draft, please be conscious of spelling, punctuation, word choice, and so on every time you sit down to write. Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, but don’t throw good grammar and usage out the window.

This is your essay; if you want to write the body first, please do so. But it is not a requirement. Many writers need to make sure they have a good introduction before they can go on to the body of the text.

  1. Revision – Although you will be revising and editing as you go along, you will do something called final revision in which you go back and take a good objective look at your work as if you were the reader, not the writer. Read your essay out loud – you will be able to “hear” your mistakes.

The revision consists of three elements

  1. Look at the essay as a whole; does it say what you want it to say?

  2. Look at the paragraphs; do they, support the thesis, have a central idea (topic sentence), have following sentences that relate to or support the topic sentence? Are they coherent?

  3. Look at the introduction and conclusion; are they strong enough?

  1. Editing – check for spelling, punctuation, usage and word choice.

Make sure you have documented and cited outside sources correctly. You can do this by using the MLA Handbook

Reminders about the Text

  1. Do not bold, underline, italicize, or enlarge the title of your paper. The only exception is if you use the title of another published author in your title. For example: A Reconsideration of Stevenson’s Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

  2. Do not use second person point of view (you, your, yours, and so on) in any of your essays. Since your final (fourth) essay will be a research paper, you may not use first person point of view either. It should be written in third person.

  3. Periods and commas are placed before ending quotation marks unless you are documenting the quotation. Semi-colons and colons usually go after quotation marks and question marks can be placed either before if they are part of the quotation or after if the quotation is only a part of the question.

  4. Make sure you use plural and possessive nouns correctly. No apostrophe for plural nouns only for possessive ones.

  5. TV series, films, books, long poems, magazine titles are either underlined or put in italics. Titles of shorter works like series episodes, short stories, short poems, and essays are placed in quotation marks.

  6. When discussing film and or texts, use present tense not past tense.

  7. Make sure you check that you have not mistakenly used, then for than,

your for you’re, there for their or they’re, defiantly for definitely.

  1. When referring to people use the pronoun “who”; when speaking of all others, use “that.”

Even though it won’t pick up the mistakes listed above, please use spell check before you print out your final draft.

Avoid overuse of words such as “drastically.”

Avoid the use of slang terms such as “morph.”

When you go from one thought to another use transitions. Some simple examples are However, In addition, Nevertheless, On the other hand, An example of this is, and so on.
You may not discuss two topics in one paragraph, but you may discuss one topic in as many paragraphs as you wish. In other words, avoid long paragraphs.
Most importantly, make sure you have a strong, clear thesis statement. This usually appears as the final sentence or two of your introductory paragraph. Mentally refer to it often as you do your work; it’s a way of keeping your text from straying off topic.
Documentation and Citation Guide.
There is no punctuation in parenthetical documentation. Simply give the information without commas, periods and so on.
If you do document a source any punctuation referring to that quotation or paraphrase should come after the last parenthesis.
Never use only an author’s first name in the body of your texts. Use the full name or the last name for both male and female authors.

You must document all information you get from an outside source, not only quotations. And you do not need to add a quotation to the information in order to document it.

Your sources should be cited in alphabetical order on a separate works cited page, titled Works Cited. The only texts listed on this page should only be the works you actually used in your text. Please do not head this page with any other title such as Bibliography, Works Consulted, or References.

Remember to document every outside source you use in your text.

Single source (author page #)
If you introduce your author, you need only to document the page number.
Author who has written two sources you’re using. Must make sure your reader knows which one you documenting.
Two or three authors. Supply all last names in documentation.
More than three, use “et al.” (which means “and others.”)
Two author with the same name – use first names or initials to differentiate them.
No author – shortened version of the title
Quoting a source within a source use (qtd. in and author’s name)
Source with no page number – simply author or shortened title if no author.
Long quotations – more than four lines – set off with indents – no quotation marks – book says double space. I was taught single space – I prefer single space, but double is fine. The punctuation comes before the parenthesis.
Always have a lead in –one that isn’t a full sentence has a comma before the quotation. A full sentence has a colon.
Works Cited Format
Author (Last name, First Name). Title of work (Italicized or Underlined – in Quotation marks if a shorter work, followed by the italicized or underlined title of the larger text in which it appears). Editors (of the larger work if applicable – first name[s] followed by last name[s]). Place of Publication (city only): Publisher, Year of Publication, Page numbers (of shorter works). Print (the word “Print”).
Printed periodical

Author Last name, First Name. “Article: Article Subtitle.” Journal Title volume.issue (year): page numbers. Print.


Author Last Name, First Name. Title. Source (title of website in italics). Version or edition (of an online book). Publisher or sponsor (usually found at bottom of the page – if none write N.p.) Date of publication (if none write n.d.), Web. Date of Access.

Magazine or Newspaper Article Online

Author Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine or Newspaper. Title of Website. Date of publication. Web. Date of Access.

Scholarly Journal Online DatabaseAuthor Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal. volume.issue (year): page numbers. Database Title. Web. Date of Access.

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