Important Points: Writing an Essay Narrow Your Topic



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Important Points: Writing an Essay

Narrow Your Topic

  • If the assignment, for example, is pollution, you need to NARROW it. Do you want to write about water pollution, air pollution, litter, chemical toxins?
  • Brainstorm your topic and come up with a narrow, focused topic.
  • For example, starting with pollution, I might come up with the topic of mercury pollution in fish. Then, I might narrow that further and decide to write a paper arguing that the benefits of eating fish outweigh the concerns of mercury pollution.
  • Now my topic is narrow and focused and I am ready to come up with supporting ideas.

After coming up with a narrow focused topic, think of support

  • Using my mercury example I might come up with the following points for support:
  • Levels of mercury pollution in many fish is minimal.
  • Some fish can be purchased that is tested and certified to be low in mercury.
  • If people do not eat well, they will have health problems of more concern than the effects of mercury pollution.

Make sure that you have specific information and examples for each of your points of support.

Next, write your THESIS

  • Your thesis should be narrow, focused and outline for your reader what your essay will cover.
  • For example, the thesis for the mercury example might be:
  • In spite of recent warnings to avoid fish due to mercury pollution, eating low mercury fish is a safe way to help promote good health.

Think about how far this thesis has come:

  • From: Pollution
  • To: In spite of recent warnings to avoid fish due to mercury pollution, eating low mercury fish is a safe way to help promote good health.
  • It is critical to narrow your topic and craft and focused thesis. Once you have this done, writing the paper will be EASY!
  • Use transitions! When moving to new ideas or new paragraphs, you must use transitional words and phrases.
  • Avoid the word YOU.
  • Avoid contractions. Even if it feels awkward to use do not instead of don’t, remember that academic writing requires a higher level of formality.
  • Try to use a variety of sentence lengths. Avoid short choppy sentences. Try to combine ideas with conjunctions.
  • Do not use abbreviations or non-standard English.
  • Proofread very carefully for spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. Read your essay out loud to make sure it flows and makes sense.


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