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How To Write An Essay Book Pdf


If you’re at high school, college or university, you’ll almost certainly need to write essays. More and more students are being asked to produce written assignments, even in physics and mathematics.

Writing an essay means more than finding and recording facts. It means thinking critically: analysing material and reaching a conclusion. It means showing that you understand the material you’ve been studying. Above all, it means presenting a coherent argument.

Learning to write essays also prepares us for life beyond college. In the real world, more and more of us need to be able to express ideas clearly, with good grammar and a flexible style. Essay writing gives us the skills to become more effective citizens.

And yet, all too often, students are not offered the skills and techniques to write effective essays.

How do you start? What kind of words should you use? Are you entitled to offer your own views on a subject?

How to Write an Essay will make life easier for you. It will help you produce an essay that your tutor will appreciate, and that will do you credit.


About the author


  1. Why write essays?
    1. Your reasons for writing
    2. What your tutor is looking for
    3. The real reason for writing a good essay
  2. What is an essay?
    1. The three defining features of an essay
    2. Joining the academic conversation
  3. Get going!
    1. Procrastination: the art of putting it off
    2. Getting to grips with writing
    3. Getting to grips with study
    4. Essay writing in three stages: plan; draft; edit
  4. Answering the question
    1. Understanding the question
    2. Creating a thesis statement
  5. Constructing an outline
    1. Creating a frame of reference
    2. Supporting your thesis statement: building a pyramid
  6. Drafting
    1. From head to page: ten tips for drafting more easily
    2. Illustrating, citing and quoting (and avoiding plagiarism)
    3. Grabbing the reader’s attention: the introduction
    4. Ending well: writing the conclusion
  7. Editing
    1. Why edit?
    2. Bringing paragraphs under control
    3. Constructing straightforward sentences
    4. Using words well
    5. Developing your style
  8. Dealing with feedback
    1. Presenting your essay well
    2. Making the most of feedback
  9. Appendix: where to go from here

Book list

Websites and links

Writing essays made easy! Improve your essay writing skills – from analysing questions and creating introductions to submitting finished essays. This eBook covers reports, dissertations, and term papers. Learn how to develop your English grammar, clarify your thinking, and plan your writing. The book includes five sample essays on current affairs, history, philosophy, sociology, and literary studies. PDF format can be used on laptops, mobiles, and workstations. You can add your own notes and live hyperlinks to personalise your eBook and make it more interactive. This is a full length book for the price of a cup of coffee.

New design – stylish typography and layout – seventh edition

Sample pages   A good essay — Paragraphs — Analysing questions



A brief review Analyse the question – Generate ideas – Choose topics – Reading – Selection process – Put topics in order – Arrange material – Make changes – Finalise plan – First draft – Paragraphs – Revising draft – Editing.
A good essay Answers the question – Clear structure – Appropriate style – Arguments supported by evidence – Shows clear thinking – Wide reading – Originality.
Abbreviations Common abbreviations used in referencing sources and showing bibliographic details.
Analysing questions How to recognise key terms and instruction terms in the question(s) you have been asked to answer..
ApostrophesHow to use the apostrophe correctly in contractions and the possessive case.
BibliographiesHow to create and present a list of the works you have used or quoted from in your essay.
Case agreementHow to create agreement between subjects and objects, and ensure consistency when using singulars and plurals.
CategorisingHow to assess and organise the topics you are going to use in the construction of your essay plan.
Checking drafts A checklist of what to look for after you have completed the first draft of your essay. It’s easy to forget details: a checklist helps.
Colons The colon is used to introduce a list, or to separate two clauses. This shows how to do it.
ConclusionsA good conclusion should draw together and summarise all the arguments in your essay.
DatesThe commonly used system for referring to days, dates, and seasons in academic writing.
Endnotes How to represent bibliographic information of works from which you have quoted, in a separate list of notes at the end of the essay.
Exam essays How to produce essays under the pressure of limited time during an examination. Some tips and tricks.
Footnotes How to represent bibliographic information of works from which you have quoted, in a separate list of notes at the foot of each page of the essay.
Generating ideasHow to create the ideas and the arguments for your assignment – free thinking and capturing data.
Instructions An explanation of the terms commonly used in essay questions and instructions – and what they require from you in your answer(s).
Introductions How to get an essay off to a good start. It must be relevant, and it should be short.
Jargon How to recognise specialist language – and understand where it is appropriate – and when it is not.
Length of essaysHow to stay within the word limit, and how to edit your work if you have exceeded the word count.
Line referencesHow to show references to quotations from plays and poetry.
Names How to represent the names of people, organisations, places, and events in academic writing.
Narratives How to deal with subjects which involve a ‘story of what happened’ (history, fiction) without getting lost in events.
Numbers How to represent the numbers of things mentioned in an essay.
ParagraphsHow to create the structure and arrange the elements of an effective paragraph.
PlagiarismHow to understand plagiarism, and avoid it by acknowledging your sources.
Planning essaysAnalyse the question – Generate ideas – Choose topics – Arrange order – Provide evidence – Make charges – Finalise plan – Check for relevance. Sample plan.
PresentationHow to maximise the visual impact of your essay by using margins, white space, headings, line-spacing, and emphasis.
Punctuation The basic rules of punctuation, plus guidance on using marks such as the dash, hyphen, oblique stroke, and quote marks.
Questions Do not pose your answer in the form of questions. In fact do not raise questions in essays – unless you are going to answer them.
Quotations How to quote from other people’s work in your essay – and how to make sure that your quotes are tied back accurately to bibliographical citations.
Reading How to decide how much reading and research are required for background information to an essay assignment.
RelevanceHow to decide on the relevance of your arguments in relation to the question you have been asked to answer.
RepetitionHow to avoid repeating the same names (people and places) and key words in an essay.
RewritingHow to improve the quality of your essay by editing and re-writing it before submission.
Semicolons How to understand the semicolon and use it correctly. If in doubt, don’t use it.
SentencesHow to create simple and effective sentences. Follow the simple Subject – Verb – Object pattern of writing.
SignpostingAvoid heavy-handed signals of intent in your essay. Let your arguments speak for themselves.
Style A plain and simple prose style will help you to avoid the problems of over-complicated writing.
Taking notesHow to take efficient notes when reading, listening to lectures, or watching videos. An example of a good set of notes.
TensesHow to choose the right tense to discuss a text and describe events from the past.
TitlesHow to show the titles of articles, journals, newspapers, magazines, films, and books in essays.
Tone How to create a persuasive tone for an essay, which is engaging but not too personal.
Tutor commentLearning from the comments a tutor may write on your essay. It’s valuable feedback.
Word-processorsHow to use the power of a word-processor to improve the quality of your work.
Writer’s blockSeven effective techniques for getting words onto the page. Recognising the type of block. How to generate more text.
Sample essaysFour sample essays at different levels – on Government, Philosophy, Sociology, and Literary Studies.
Reference Reviews of useful reference books for academic writing – with direct web links to Amazon.


Dr Roy Johnson is the author of best-selling writing and study guides – Studying Fiction, Making the Grade, Improve your Writing Skills, Writing Essays 3.0, and several others. He was originally an industrial designer, then went on to lecture on literary studies at Manchester University and the Open University. He publishes a monthly newsletter on writing, culture, and technology, and is the director of Mantex Information Design.

“My essay grades improved immediately” Isobel Smith [Open University]

Price – £1.95 – 102 pages – PDF format – 1996-2011 – ISBN 0951984403

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