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Useful Essay Writing Tips

Regardless of how well you think your written paper is, it is worth considering a few end-of-project tips that might just make it a little bit better. The tips provided below are based on the numerous writing assignments produced by WritingLeader – a professional editing and writing service.

Proper Use of Colons and Semi-Colons

The use of colons and semi-colons is a great way to build interesting and/or complicated sentences. These forms of punctuation, however, are often used incorrectly. It is worth bearing in mind that a colon is generally used in lists and should only include subjects after its use rather than subjects and predicates. On the other hand, a semi-colon is used to incorporate two sentences in one. Each part of the sentence, both before and following the semi-colon, should consist of a subject and predicate and each part must be able to stand on its own as a complete sentence. If it cannot stand alone, it is not correct.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute - Begin As Soon As Possible

There are few things worse than the stress of having to complete an essay the day before it is due for submission. There is a much better way, despite the fact that a lot of students give the impression this is the only way to get an essay done! The better way is to start early because this will give you time to split your project into smaller parts that are easier to manage. If you do this, you will not be sitting in the library feeling totally stressed a few hours before the submission deadline.

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Mimize Distractions

In order to avoid distractions or at least minize their impact you should choose a quiet environment, preferably not your home. Your college library or a public library would be good options. Avoid trying to watch a movie or television while you are writing and do not make an excuse that this just a background noise! And whatever you do avoid the temptation to go on the Internet. Today nearly everyone is caught up in some kind Internet activity (e.g. chatting to friends on social networks or reading news online) during the working process. If time is of the essence, disable your internet connection, knuckle down, and get your paper written without distraction.

Save Some Source Material as You Go

To organize your source material and keep it in order, prepare each reference as soon as you find the source and make a decision as to whether it will be useful to your final paper. There are two reasons for doing this. In the first place, if you list your sources properly you will be much better organized during the writing stage because you will be in control of what you have covered so far in your research and what still needs to be done. Secondly, this is a good research practice that will enable you to catalogue your sources according to their content. Once your source material is well organized, the remainder of your work will take shape more easily.

Look for Several Points of View

During the research stage, make an effort to find one or more sources that disagree with the particular argument you are putting forward. Being able to see a topic from different angles and keep your work impartial is an important component of every good essay. Looking at a particular issue from a number of viewpoints will make your work more rounded and it will demonstrate your skill of evaluating opposing opinions. Indeed, the integration of opposing thoughts will help you argue your point more effectively and it will likely make a good impression your professor.

Do Your Research Work First, Then Draft an Outline

When you have collected all needed source material you can draft an outline to give a proper structure to your essay. The research you have done and the material you have collected will help you understand how your paragraphs should be developing your arguments. Creating an outline on the early stage makes the writing process far easier since with a written outline all you have to do is to fill in the gaps. It is a lot easier to have the plan first as there will be something you can follow. Drafting an outline before doing a research will simply waste your time.

Create a Strong Title

Despite the fact that creating a title seems like an insignificant thing for some students, a good essay title can effectively summarize a written piece and give your tutor an idea what to expect. There are two options avilable – you can select an informative title or a slick one. Choose carefully though; for example, it is not a good idea to have a flippant title for an essay about a catastrophe. In any case the title you select should be clear and it should set your paper off in the right direction.

The Use of Verbs

Sometimes it is really difficult to avoid being repetitive when writing an essay. One way to rid of this is your choice of verbs – make sure they are strong and varied. Using the verbs that are not used very frequently can significantly improve the quality of your writing in terms of evoking strong images, improving arguments and illustrating some points. Use verbs in a way that is above the capability of an elementary school student. Remember, the audience you are addressing is intelligent so use appropriate language and verbiage. And, indeed, there are some words you should avoid using altogether.

Why "Said" or “Says” are the Words to Avoid?

If you are quoting other authors it is tempting to set off with the words “as author X says …” or “this is what she said …” and so on. However, these are words you would want to avoid using. There are several other ways to introduce the works of others. Here is a list of alternative options to “said” or “says”:

  • Admit
  • Affirm
  • Agree
  • Concede
  • Confess
  • Confirm
  • Conclude
  • Declare
  • Decree
  • Disclose
  • Echo
  • Explain
  • Fret
  • Groan
  • Grin
  • Imply
  • Indicate
  • Interject
  • Insist
  • Laugh
  • Mention
  • Respond
  • Reveal
  • Smirk
  • Snort
  • Stammer
  • Stutters
  • Wail
  • Weep
  • Yawn

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Use Abbreviations Correctly

Although it is, of course, acceptable to use abbreviations in an essay, it is not good to use the type of abbreviations that are used these days in text messaging. Therefore, make sure to use abbreviations in the correct manner. Spell out any abbreviated words in full the first time you use them so that your readers (especially your tutor) know precisely what you are referring to. After you have spelled the words out for the first time, you then can use the abbreviated forms in the rest of your work.

Don't Use Too Many Quotes

While, it is certainly important that all sources are properly cited but it is actually possible to over-quote. So be mindful about this because it can make you seem as if you lack inspiration or are simply too lazy. Why would a tutor give you a top grade if most of your work can be attributed to other people?

Helpful hint: The direct quotes should not exceed 10% of the whole paper.

So use quotes sparingly to allow your own ideas and thoughts to shine through.

Passive Voice Should be Used Sparingly

When writing shun the passive voice in favor of active voice form. An excessive amount of passive voice can take the impact out of your words and prevent them from fully conveying any opinions and vivid images to your reader. Bear this rule in mind: it is the subject of a sentence that acts on an object, not the other way around. For example, “the toy was played with by the dog” versus “the dog played with the toy.” This small piece of advice will ensure your words are clear, crisp and concise.

Avoid Using the Word "Me"

Academic texts should convey the writer’s thoughts, ideas and opinions in a formal manner. This means one should prevent using such words as “me” and/or “I”. Even if you are expressing your own ideas or opinions, just state them without saying “I believe …” and so on. Additionally, it is best to avoid using the word “you.” In its place, use words such as “people,” “one” or something similarly general. Instead of using “you could …” a statement like "one could..." carries more weight within an academic environment.

Give Yourself a Break

As well as not being good for your health, the act of sitting in the same place for several hours can hinder creativity. It has been shown that the habit of working on the same thing for a lengthy periods of time reduces productivity and that taking breaks occasionally dramatically improves focus. So take hourly relaxation breaks for up to fifteen minutes at a time. Use the time to have a coffee or anything that is not essay-related.

Do Some Thinking Yourself

While you are writing make sure you put some of your own thoughts and ideas into your essay. Do not just repeat the information you find during your research. It may be that you relate a personal experience or give your own opinion on a particular subject, but whatever it is, it will show you can reason and think critically. In addition, your opinions presented in a tactful manner will certainly help you win the favor of your readers.

Answer Questions, Don’t Just Ask Them

It is important that you sound authoritative in your essay. One way to achieve this is not to ask too many questions. If you do, it can get ever more difficult to provide answers to all of them within the essay itself. Instead, it is best to answer questions posed by other people. Your research and writing task is to address the topic and answer any questions it gives rise to rather than raising more questions yourself. There are better tools available than asking and answering questions. Your job is to find the best way to support your argument and not ponder excessively in your writing.

Check Thoroughly for Plagiarism

In the academic world plagiarism is a major transgression and if you are caught, you will regret it. If you have reached reading this article this far you probably want to learn how to write an essay yourself. Yet plagiarism can occasionally and accidently make its way into your work. Therefore, be extra vigilant wherever you use quotes or paraphrasing.

Read Your Work Aloud

It is a great idea to read your words aloud (to yourself and in a quiet place) as your project is at the final stage. This helps ensure your work sounds just as great as it is meant to sound. Although simple, this tip will ensure your essay sounds fresh and in an easy-to-understand way. The aim of this exercise is to make sure every sentence has a correct syntax, is sufficiently formal and sounds naturally. This practice will also reduce the possibility of you submitting sloppy work because you will have a precise idea how your words sound. If the words sound good to you then there is every chance your tutor or professor will agree by awarding a high grade for the work you have done.

Do Not Submit Your First Essay Draft

When you complete an essay it is very common to feel like you have accomplished the task and it is time for a little relaxation. Yet, if you submit the first draft as soon as it is ready, particularly if you have not done any spell or grammar check then you putting at risk the whole thing. You should always make time to proofread your work and make whatever adjustments are necessary. Perhaps the introduction could be better or some sections do not flow very well. There may be a few misspelled words that need corrections.

Whatever the circumstances, never submit your first draft that has not been proofread and edited. You will be rewarded later with better grades!