How to: Write an essay

There’s plenty of ethos, pathos, yadda-yadda I could tell you, but I will relay the short version of a critical analysis my 9th-grade advanced writing teacher gave me. In my history of academia, it never failed me. (No, you need not limit yourself to three middle paragraphs.)


  • Topic sentence (introduces your paper by telling what it’s about in a concise way)
  • Anecdote (story) or Background (history)
  • Transition (leads into your next paragraph – try to mix the ideas of your current and next paragraphs)

Point One

  • About
  • Anecdote or Background
  • Transition

Point Two – Same as Point 1

Point Three – Same as Point 2


  • Recapitulation… basically, go to each of your previous paragraphs and restate each of their main points to make your last paragraph.
  • To finish your paper, make one last point (your “closing sentence”) that relates to your paper as a whole but hints at something in addition to what you’ve put together.

When you finish, don’t forget to

  • Spell check. You can do this in Word, but if you read your paper aloud, you will likely catch more than you’d think.
  • Are any paragraphs “too long”? Find where the second idea within the long paragraph starts, and press Enter.
  • Does each transition make sense? Are your points linear (follow a line of thought)?
  • Have you explained any and all terms? Pretend your reader knows nothing about your subject.
  • Have you cited all of your sources? Are they cited correctly?

Citing sources

MLA: Author’s last name, Author’s first name. Title of work. Date.

This looks like: Cricket, Jimminy. Pinocchio. 19 July 2010.

Your source page must be double-spaced throughout, and your citations should each begin left-aligned with subsequent lines indented.


About jlnp
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