Essay Writing Tips

Since there have been a number of requests from students regarding the technical aspects of essay writing, I thought I should post an article on this topic. Aside from using these tips in your assignment essays, I hope you can apply them to your profession one day when you are preparing your presentations for your clients. Essay writing is a valuable life skill that you will use every day from simple emails to more complex professional letters.


Two important points to remember for all forms of writing are:

  1. Clarity. Try to express ideas in clear, simple, precise language.
  2. Accuracy. Check for reliability. Ensure the information you are including is correct.

Essay writing strategy:

  1. Planning saves time in the long run. Read the question carefully as it holds the key to the answer. The most serious weaknesses in assignments are usually failure to answer the question set, and failure to follow a plan. Ask yourself whether you are answering the question, or simply writing down the information you know about a particular topic. Copying text by other writers should be avoided at all costs as this is counter-productive to your learning experience. It is also a great disservice to the author's hard work.
    Once you have researched your relevant topic, organise your material and re-read it to ensure you have an adequate amount of information.
  2. Outline your approach - what you want to say and how you want to say it. Give your strategy in the first paragraph and conclude your argument in the last paragraph. The middle section should consist only of relevant information. Be selective with regards to the information you include. Do not waffle for the sake of making your word count. This is futile and could work against you. I often come across this in the design and history questions of the assignments. It is important to answer what is asked in the question and to avoid any unnecessary information. Keeping to your plan throughout your essay will help you with this.
  3. The rough draft can be written very quickly and will contain much superfluous material. Edit carefully. Correct punctuation, grammar and spelling. Do not always rely on computer spellcheckers. Rephrase awkward sentences. Rearrange your work so that similar ideas are grouped together rather than scattered throughout. Expand where necessary but delete any parts that add nothing to your answer.
  4. Write legibly and clearly. Take care when selecting the font, line spacing and paragraph justification. Your essay should read easily - if the words and sentences are too close together or justified in an unusual format, the reader will easily tire and lose interest in your work. The essay should read as a book would. Keep the creative layouts for the design boards.

The eight practical stages of essay writing by Andrew Northedge in The Good Study Guide

  1. Thinking about the essay title. Highlight key words and make notes about them.
  2. Planning the writing process. Plan how you will cover the reading and make the time.
  3. Studying the question content. Highlight and take notes on essay relevant material.
  4. Taking stock before you start writing. Update plans, gather together essay material and get an overview of it all.
  5. Getting ideas written down. Refocus on the title, then 'brainstorm' to get lots of ideas in writing.
  6. Organising your material. Group your notes, then sequence them to create and essay plan.
  7. Drafting an answer. Turn your notes into sentences and paragraphs: a dialogue with your reader.
  8. Reviewing and polishing. Read through, revise and add finishing touches.

For further reading and information on writing essays please visit:

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Written by: Cathy Tate (Senior Tutor)

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