essay writing tips

How To Write An Effective Academic Essay: Step-By-Step Instructions


When you set out to write an academic essay, and do so effectively, consider following the steps below. These are intended to guide you through the writing process, so that your paper will come out top notch.

First, pick a topic. Once you have that in mind, brainstorm what you already know about the topic and what you need to research.

Take a day before you start working to get to know your library. If you plan on using multiple libraries, allot one day for each. Every library contains a unique reference materials system and different technologies. Knowing ahead of time where everything is, and how to use the system will save you a great deal of time when you start researching. This is particularly important if you are pressed for time and do not have any spare moments to spend locating materials.

As you are researching for your topic, be sure and take copious notes. Use index cards in multiple colors so that you can color code the research with one color dedicated to key ideas and another color to supporting evidence. Conversely, you can separate each of your key ideas with one color so that you will know that green cards are for body paragraph 1, blue cards are for body paragraph 2, etc…

  • If you are writing out notes, be sure to write out the page number, date, and name of the authors at the top of the card. You should keep the bibliographic material on hand in the proper format required for your paper. This will save you hours of work later when you are frantically trying to put together the bibliography right before the deadline.
  • When you write down statistics or quotes, be extra careful that you are as accurate as possible. Check over the finished notes for errors before you integrate them into your paper.
  • Remember that while quotes are great, you never want more than ten to fifteen percent of your total paper to consist of quotations. Use your own words, paraphrase the work of others if you need to shorten the amount of quotes you have.
  • Remember to be kind to yourself. Do not stress your mind and body out too much. When you do essay, make sure you schedule breaks in between. Every hour you should have a break scheduled where you stretch, walk around, or just look away from your books.

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