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Jul 17th 2017

How to Write a Professional Essay: A Guide that Works

After all that procrastinating, the day finally came: you realized you have to work on that essay whether you like it or not. You have the topic, and you can find the resources you need online. The only problem is: no one taught you how to write a professional essay. Why did your professors skip that step? Do they expect you to figure things out on your own? Here's the good news: we give you professional essay writing tips to help you write that paper with less stress involved.

In this article, we'll show you how to research, write, and revise an essay. The guide works for all types of essays, and it's really easy to follow.

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How to Write Professional Essay: Initial Stages

Some students want to start writing the paper immediately. They open an MS Word document and start staring at the blank page, wondering why nothing is happening. You're stuck at the very beginning because you missed really important stages of the process:

  • Understanding the paper
  • Brainstorming for ideas
  • Research
  • Outlining

You see? There's a long way to go before you can start writing the paper.

In the first two stages, you need to understand the assignment and brainstorm for ideas. Let's see how that works.

1. Understanding the Essay Question

What does your professor want you to achieve with this essay? You should go through the instructions few times, so you'll understand the purpose of the assignment. If you don't understand something, feel free to ask other students. Talking to the professor might be scary, but it's something you can always do if you need clarification.

This is the key to success: understanding the type of essay you're working on.

If you fail to understand the type of essay your professor requires, you'll miss the point. You don't want all your efforts to be useless, do you?

Here are few questions you need to answer before you continue with the process of completion:

  • What's the purpose of this assignment?
  • Are you supposed to write an expository essay? That means you should investigate the concept in depth, evaluate and discuss the evidence, and derive your own clear idea from it.
  • Did your professor ask you to describe a concept? Then you'll simply conduct research and provide that information in an essay format, without forming your own argument. That's a descriptive essay
  • Are you working on an argumentative essay? That happens to be the most common assignment you get, and it's the most complex one to tackle. Here, you must investigate the topic and evaluate the evidence you collect. You must form a strong thesis statement that you'll support with facts.

Let's make this simpler for you: what kind of essay should you write? Answer that question to set the right track of the whole project.

2. Brainstorming

Once you're sure you understand the assignment, you're ready for the next important step: brainstorming.

  • What's your own opinion about this issue?
  • How will you address the prompt?
  • What ideas are you going to describe?
  • Who's your audience and how are you going to convince them to consider your point of view?
  • What resources do you need to complete the essay?

These are the main questions to answer during the brainstorming stage. They seem simple, but a complex topic makes them challenging.

Take a piece of paper and write all relevant ideas that come to your mind. They don't have to be connected with one another. At this stage, you're just exploring your own opinions. Write whatever you can think of – questions, thoughts, experiences, anything.

Then, rank those ideas by relevance and importance. Choose the one that's most inspiring to you, but also gives you enough space for in-depth research.

If your professor didn't set a precise topic, the brainstorming stage will help you narrow down the prompt to a specific topic. If, for example, the theme of the assignment is World War 2, you can't write an essay named World War 2. The Position of German Women during World War 2 – now that's a narrow topic you can work with.

Step Two – Research

Now, you're ready to take things further. You have your main idea thanks to the brainstorming stage. The research process should bring you to relevant sources of information that support that idea and prove its point.

If you're working on a narrative essay, you won't need to do much research. That's the type of essay where you share your experiences or stories from a personal point of view. All other types of essays, however, are based on diligent research. You'll have to support your arguments with strong facts. Wikipedia doesn't make it work. The first website you found in Google's results probably won't work, either. Professional essay writers pay huge attention to the research process for a good reason: the success of the entire paper depends on this stage.

How exactly do you find resources worthy to be featured in an academic paper?

  • Your professor will be impressed if you include scientific or academic research in your essay. This means you'll have to go through journals to find what you need.
  • Websites can be relevant resources, but you have to make sure they are authoritative. Double-check the information you find online. It may be false.
  • Use Google Scholar instead of Google as your search engine. It leads you to reliable, authoritative sources that show you're serious about exploring the concept. Thanks to this tool, you don't even have to hit the library.

Here are few extra tips to help you conduct a successful research:

  • You don't have to read entire research studies and books during this stage. It's okay; this is just an essay. Read the introduction and skim through the content to see if it gives you the information you need. When you locate sources that seem perfect for your paper, you can analyze them in detail.
  • Don't forget to take notes! You'll be getting more ideas as you go through the research stage. Take notes and write where those ideas are coming from. You'll have to reference all sources you use.

This is how the structure of a 5-paragraph essay looks like:

  • Introduction – That's where you guide the reader towards the main point. You can provide some background information, so you'll make sure they understand what you're talking about. Don't make that part too long. Get to the point as soon as possible. You wrap up the introduction with your thesis statement – the foundation of your essay.
  • Three body paragraphs – You should come up with three main arguments that support your thesis statement. You'll discuss each argument in its own paragraph. You have to make sure the essay flows, so you'll need logical transitions between these paragraphs.
  • Conclusion – In this part of the essay, you restate the thesis statement to show how your arguments proved it.

Why do you need an outline, anyway? Can't you just start writing the essay?

It's important to have a scheme. This structure will make sure you won't make unnecessary digressions and you'll maintain the logical flow. Think: what will you write in each of these sections? Write the outline with bullet points. Once you have that, it will be easy to connect the dots and write the entire essay.

The Writing Process

You're ready for this! You have a plan and you know what to do. These are the things to keep in mind when you're writing the paper:

  • Maintain academic language! In academic writing, you don't write as you speak. You should use proper grammar and punctuation. Don't even think about abbreviations and slang. The vocabulary should be discipline-specific.
  • You don't have to write the parts of the essay in the right order. The important thing is to have your thesis statement ready. If you have that, you can start with the body paragraphs. Then, it will be easier to write the introduction and conclusion.
  • Avoid generalizations. You have to be very specific and explain where each argument is coming from. Keep your facts straight!
  • When you're done, remind yourself: this is only your first draft. It will go through serious revisions before it's ready.
Final Touches: Revisions

Never skip the editing, proofreading, and formatting stages!

  • When you edit the paper, you're focused on its essence. Do the arguments make sense? Are there gaps in logic? If that's the case, you'll need to add some more background information. Are the transitions between the paragraphs good? Is your thesis statement clear? Is every single paragraph and sentence related to that thesis statement? If you notice excessive words, phrases or sentences, you'll need to get rid of them.
  • Once you're sure the essay sounds well, you should continue with the proofreading stage. Now, you'll focus on the technicalities: spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Go through the paper several times, so you'll make sure it's absolutely perfect.
  • Finally, the formatting! All references should be provided in the format your professor asked for. Are you supposed to maintain APA, MLA, Turabian, or another citation style? Master the format and make it uniform throughout the citations.

When you put it like this, writing an essay sounds like a huge challenge. The process is long and demands great attention. However, now that you have the instructions you need, it will be easier to handle the paper. Start as soon as possible and go stage by stage.

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