Structuring essays studysmarter Survival Guide



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Structuring essays



STUDYSmarter
Survival Guide



Note
Plan your paragraphs. Their order can add to or take away from the strength of your

argument.



Introduction

  • Make a general statement about the
    topic.

  • Provide background information.

  • State the position you will argue for– your thesis statement.

  • Mention the points you will cover in your essay-the outline of your essay.


Body – developing your argument

  • Begin each paragraph with a topic
    sentence.

  • Develop each main idea by making e.g. comparisons and contrasts, using referenced explanations, examples,
    definitions etc.

  • Conclude by summarising or linking to the idea/ideas being discussed in the next paragraph.


Conclusion

  • Restate your position/thesis statement.

  • Sum up the main points made in each paragraph.

  • Finish with a strong statement about the wider context.

Title

The Body consists of separate paragraphs which together make up the argument of your essay.
Begin each paragraph with a topic

sentence which encapsulates the main idea you will develop in the rest of the

paragraph. The ideas in each new

paragraph should follow on from those

expressed in the previous one.


Check that each main idea is directly

relevant to your thesis statement (and to the question you are answering).




Good structure is important
A well thought out structure is central to a successful essay.
A good time to start thinking about the

structure of your essay is after you have

analysed your assignment question and done some preliminary reading and

research.


A common way to structure an academic

essay is shown below.

The diagram above attempts to show that

Introductions generally move from general information to more specific information.

In contrast, Conclusions tend to begin with a specific focus, e.g. you can re-word your thesis statement, and conclude with a

statement of general relevance or

applicability.
The paragraphs between the Introduction and the Conclusion are referred to as the Body of the essay.


Tip
Although the Introduction is the first section of an essay, it’s best to write the final

version after you have written the Body and the Conclusion. If you do, your thesis

statement, and the outline of your essay, are more likely to accurately reflect what you have actually written in your essay.



Last but not least - Titles
Effective titles provide an edge to your essay. However, it takes time to develop a clear, engaging title that captures what your essay is about. If you want a title that is catchy and informative, try the following.


  • Develop a provisional title by playing around with the order of the key words of your essay.

  • Change it as you get clearer about your main argument.

  • Make your final decision when you have completed your essay.

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Like this Survival Guide? Why not check out...

Survival Guides: Linking words and phrases, Starting assignments, Writing thesis statements, Developing essay arguments.


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This resource was developed by the STUDYSmarter team for UWA students. When using our resources, please retain them in their original form with both the STUDYSmarter heading and the UWA logo.


Coherence — a point to keep in mind

An essay that is well organised and has good paragraphs can still be ineffective if it lacks coherence. Make sure you use words and/or phrases that show the connections between ideas



  • within a paragraph

  • between paragraphs

  • between sections

These linking words give your essay unity.
Linking words and phrases (sometimes called transitions words) seem invisible when they are well-used but obviously absent when they are not.
Checking that you have used appropriate linking words and phrases is a vital part of

doing your final proof reading and editing.




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