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“What Is an Academic Essay?”

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Overview (a.k.a. TLDR)

  • Different professors define the academic essay differently.
  • Thesis (main point)
  • Supporting evidence (properly cited)
  • Counterarguments
  • Your academic essay is knowledge that you create for the learning community of which you’re a member (a.k.a. the academy).

As a student in Core classes, especially in COR 102, you can expect that at least some of the major work in the course will entail writing academic essays. That term, academic essay , might sound as if it’s referring to a specific writing genre. That’s because it is. An academic essay is not a short story, an electronic game design document, a lesson plan, or a scientific lab report. It’s something else. What exactly is it, though? That depends, to some extent, on how the professor who has asked you to write an academic essay has chosen to define it. As Kathy Duffin posits in an essay written for the Writing Center at Harvard University, while an academic essay may “vary in expression from discipline to discipline,” it “should show us a mind developing a thesis, supporting that thesis with evidence, deftly anticipating objections or counterarguments, and maintaining the momentum of discovery.”

Even though Duffin’s essay is more than 20 years old, I still find her description interesting for a few reasons, one of which being the way that she has sandwiched, so to speak, some established content requirements of academic essays in between two broad intellectual functions of the academic essay. Here’s what I see:

When Duffin writes that an academic essay “should show us a mind,” she is identifying an important quality in many essay forms, not just academic essays: a sense of a mind at work. This is an important consideration, as it frames an academic essay as an attempt to understand something and to share that understanding. Essay is, in fact, also a verb; to essay is to try or attempt.

The established content requirements are as follows:

  • a thesis (which Duffin describes also as a “purpose” and “motive”)
  • evidence in support of the thesis, and
  • an anticipation of objections or counterarguments

Duffin caps this all off with something about “maintaining the momentum of discovery.” Honestly, I’m not positive that I know what this means, but my guess is that it means an academic essay will construct and advance a new way of knowing the essay topic, a way that makes this process seem worth the writer’s and the reader’s time.

Again, your professor may or may not define academic essays as Duffin does. The only thing I would add to the above is a reminder that the academic essays you write in COR 102 and other courses represent knowledge that you’re creating within and for the academy —another word for Champlain College, an academic institution. You’re creating knowledge for a community of learners, a community of which you, your professor, and your peers are members. Keeping this conceptualization of your academic essay in mind may help you appreciate such other common elements of academic essays as voice , citations , and essay format.

Duffin, Kathy. “Overview of the Academic Essay.” Harvard College Writing Center, Harvard U., 1998, https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/overview-academic-essay Accessed 29 July 2020.

Quick tip about citing sources in MLA style

What’s a thesis, sample mla essays.

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The Ultimate Guide: How to Write an Academic Essay

Learn how to write an academic essay with ease! Our comprehensive guide will help you master the art of creating a compelling academic essay.

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Academic essays serve as a platform for sharing knowledge, engaging in critical discourse, and contributing to the ever-evolving body of scholarly work. By honing your essay writing skills, you not only enhance your academic performance but also develop essential abilities that are transferable to various facets of your personal and professional life.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the various aspects of writing an academic essay, from understanding its definition to mastering grammar, punctuation, and proper source citation.

What Is An Academic Essay?

An academic essay is a formal piece of writing that presents a well-structured argument or analysis on a specific topic within a particular academic discipline. It is a scholarly endeavor that requires critical thinking, research, and evidence-based reasoning to support the author’s claims and assertions.

Unlike other forms of writing, academic essays are characterized by their focus on intellectual inquiry, logical organization, and adherence to academic conventions. They are typically written for an audience of peers, instructors, or scholars in the field, to contribute to the existing body of knowledge, advancing understanding, or engaging in critical discourse.

Academic essays play a significant role in the academic world, serving as a means for students to demonstrate their understanding of a subject, engage in critical analysis, and communicate their ideas effectively. They contribute to the broader academic conversation, foster intellectual growth, and advance knowledge within a particular field of study.

Types Of Academic Essays

There are several types of academic essays, each with its own unique purpose, structure, and approach to presenting information and arguments. It’s important to note that essay types serve as general categories, and some essays may combine elements of different types. Additionally, within each type, there can be variations and subgenres depending on the specific requirements of the assignment or the academic discipline. Understanding the purpose and conventions of each type of essay will help you choose the appropriate approach and structure for your writing.

Let’s explore four common types of academic essays:

Narrative Essay

A narrative essay tells a story or recounts a personal experience. It engages the reader by providing a vivid description of events, characters, and settings, often using sensory details and storytelling techniques. Narrative essays aim to entertain, evoke emotions, or convey a lesson or moral. They may be used in subjects such as literature, creative writing, or personal development.

Descriptive Essay

Descriptive essays focus on providing a detailed description of a person, place, object, or event. Through the use of sensory language and vivid imagery, descriptive essays create a vivid picture in the reader’s mind. The goal is to help the reader experience and visualize the subject being described. Descriptive essays are commonly used in subjects such as literature, geography, or visual arts.

Expository Essay

An expository essay aims to explain, inform, or describe a particular topic or concept. It presents a balanced analysis of a subject, providing factual information, definitions, explanations, or step-by-step processes. Expository essays require thorough research and a clear presentation of ideas, often using evidence and examples to support the explanations. They are commonly used in subjects such as history, science, or social sciences.

Persuasive Essay

A persuasive essay aims to convince the reader to adopt a particular viewpoint, take a specific action, or change their beliefs or behavior. It presents arguments and evidence to support a specific position, using persuasive techniques such as logical reasoning, emotional appeals, or appeals to authority. Persuasive essays require in-depth research, strong rhetoric, and effective use of evidence to sway the reader’s opinion. They are commonly used in subjects such as sociology, political science, or communication.

Good Academic Essay Topics

When it comes to selecting a good academic essay topic, it is important to choose a subject that is engaging, relevant to your field of study and allows for in-depth analysis and discussion. Here are some examples of good academic essay topics across various disciplines:

  • Psychology: The impact of childhood trauma on adulthood.
  • Sociology: The effects of social media on interpersonal relationships.
  • Economics: Income inequality and its implications for economic growth.
  • Environmental Science: How to use renewable energy for combating climate change.
  • History: The impact of World War II.
  • Literature: Exploring the portrayal of gender roles and expectations in Jane Austen.
  • Political Science: Analyzing the rise of populism in contemporary politics.
  • Health Sciences: The ethical considerations of gene editing technologies.
  • Business Management: The impact of organizational culture on employee performance.
  • Education: Examining the effectiveness of online education.

Proper Format For Your Academic Writing

When it comes to academic writing, following the appropriate format is essential to ensure clarity, organization, and professionalism in your work. While specific formatting requirements may vary depending on your institution and the type of document you’re writing. Here are some general guidelines for the proper format of academic writing:

  • Include the title of your paper, your name, the course/instructor’s name, the institution, and the date of submission.
  • Adhere to any specific title page guidelines provided by your institution.

Font And Margins

  • Use a legible font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Set the font size to 12 points.
  • Use standard 1-inch margins on all sides of the page.

Line Spacing

  • Use double spacing throughout the entire document, including the body of the text, quotations, footnotes, and references.
  • Check if your institution or professor has any specific requirements for line spacing.

Page Numbers

  • Include page numbers in the header or footer of each page, typically in the upper right corner.
  • Start numbering from the first page of the introduction or the first page of the main body of your document.

Heading And Subheadings

  • Use clear and consistent headings to organize your paper.
  • Follow a hierarchical structure with main headings (e.g., Introduction, Methodology, Results) and subheadings (e.g., Literature Review, Data Analysis) as needed.
  • Apply a logical numbering system (e.g., 1. Introduction, 2. Literature Review) if required by your institution or style guide.

In-text Citations

  • Depending on the citation style (e.g., APA , MLA, Chicago ), use appropriate in-text citation formats when referring to sources.
  • Include the author’s name, publication year, and page number (if applicable) within parentheses or as per the prescribed style guidelines.


  • Include a separate section at the end of your document to list all the sources you have cited.
  • Follow the citation style guide (e.g., APA, MLA) for formatting the reference list.
  • Include all necessary details for each source, such as author(s), title, publication year, and publication information.

Paragraphs And Indentation

  • Begin each new paragraph with an indentation (usually half an inch or 1.27 cm).
  • Ensure that each paragraph focuses on a single idea or topic and provides clear transitions between paragraphs.

Headings And Formatting

  • Use bold, italics, or underlining sparingly for emphasis or to highlight titles, names, or specific terms.
  • Maintain consistency in your formatting choices throughout the document.

Proofreading And Editing

  • Carefully proofread your paper for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors.
  • Check for clarity, coherence, and logical flow of ideas.
  • Ensure that your paper adheres to any additional formatting guidelines provided by your institution or instructor.

Steps On How to Write an Academic Essay

Writing an academic essay can seem like a daunting task, but breaking it down into smaller steps can make the process more manageable and less overwhelming. Here are the steps on how to write an academic essay:

1. Understand The Essay Prompt

Carefully read and comprehend the essay prompt or question. Identify the key requirements, such as the topic, scope, formatting guidelines, and any specific instructions.

2. Conduct Thorough Research On The Topic

Begin by gathering relevant information and conducting research on your chosen topic. Consult academic books, scholarly articles, reputable websites, and other reliable sources to gather evidence, examples, and supporting materials.

3. Develop A Clear Thesis Statement

Formulate a clear and concise thesis statement that presents your main argument or central idea. The thesis statement should guide the direction of your essay and provide a focus for your analysis and discussion.

4. Create An Outline To Organize Your Ideas

Organize your thoughts and ideas by creating an outline for your essay. Outline the main sections or paragraphs that will constitute the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Arrange your supporting points and evidence in a logical order.

5. Write An Engaging Introduction With A Clear Thesis Statement

Start your essay with an engaging introduction that captures the reader’s attention and provides necessary background information on the topic. Clearly state your thesis statement in the introduction and provide an overview of the main points you will discuss.

6. Develop Each Main Point In Separate Body Paragraphs

Develop each main point or argument in separate paragraphs. Begin every body paragraph with a topic sentence that presents the primary concept of that particular paragraph. Offer substantiating evidence, illustrations, and analysis to bolster your arguments. Ensure each paragraph has a clear focus and connects back to your thesis statement.

7. Analyze And Interpret The Evidence To Support Your Arguments

Offer critical analysis and explanations of how the evidence supports your main argument. Use logical reasoning and scholarly insights to strengthen your claims.

8. Summarize The Key Points Discussed And Reiterate The Central Thesis

Reflect on the significance of your arguments and provide a sense of closure to your essay. Refrain from introducing fresh information or arguments in the conclusion.

9. Revise And Edit For Clarity, Coherence, And Grammar

Thoroughly examine your essay to ensure clarity, coherence, and a logical progression of ideas. Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. Make sure that your essay adheres to the specified formatting guidelines. Revise and edit your essay for content, structure, and language use.

10. Proofread Your Essay For Errors And Make Final Improvements

Carefully proofread your essay to catch any remaining errors or inconsistencies. Read your essay aloud or have someone else review it to identify any areas that may require improvement. Pay attention to sentence structure, word choice, and overall readability.

Grammar And Punctuation Tips

To ensure clarity and coherence in your academic writing, pay attention to grammar and punctuation:

  • Ensure subject-verb agreement, meaning that the subject and verb in a sentence should match in terms of number and person. 
  • Maintain consistent verb tenses throughout your essay to avoid confusion. 
  • Proper use of punctuation marks, such as commas, semicolons, and apostrophes, is essential for conveying your intended meaning. 
  • Be cautious of run-on sentences and strive for concise and clear expressions of your ideas. 
  • Carefully proofread your essay for spelling and typographical errors, using both automated tools and manual review.

Proofreading And Editing Tips

The process of proofreading and editing is crucial for enhancing the quality of your academic essay. Here are some tips:

  • Begin by taking a break before proofreading to approach your work with fresh eyes. 
  • Reading your essay aloud can help identify awkward sentence structures, grammar errors, and areas that need improvement. 
  • Pay close attention to clarity and coherence—make sure your ideas flow logically and that your arguments are well-supported. 
  • Obtaining feedback from peers, professors, or writing centers can offer valuable insights and perspectives.
  • Edit your essay for conciseness and clarity, removing any unnecessary repetition or wordiness. A thorough review will help refine your essay’s overall structure and language use.

Citing Sources

Citing sources is essential in academic essays to give credit to original authors and avoid plagiarism. Follow these key points:

  • Choose a citation style required by your institution, such as APA, MLA, or Chicago.
  • Include in-text citations when using external sources, mentioning the author’s last name and publication year.
  • For direct quotes, use quotation marks and provide a page number in the in-text citation.
  • Paraphrase or summarize information from sources in your own words, while still providing in-text citations.
  • Create a reference list or bibliography at the end of your essay, listing all sources used, following the specific formatting guidelines of your citation style.
  • For online sources, include the URL or DOI if available.
  • Remember that accurate and consistent citation practices acknowledge others’ work and add credibility to your own essay.

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overview of the academic essay

Academic Essay: From Basics to Practical Tips

overview of the academic essay

Has it ever occurred to you that over the span of a solitary academic term, a typical university student can produce sufficient words to compose an entire 500-page novel? To provide context, this equates to approximately 125,000 to 150,000 words, encompassing essays, research papers, and various written tasks. This content volume is truly remarkable, emphasizing the importance of honing the skill of crafting scholarly essays. Whether you're a seasoned academic or embarking on the initial stages of your educational expedition, grasping the nuances of constructing a meticulously organized and thoroughly researched essay is paramount.

Welcome to our guide on writing an academic essay! Whether you're a seasoned student or just starting your academic journey, the prospect of written homework can be exciting and overwhelming. In this guide, we'll break down the process step by step, offering tips, strategies, and examples to help you navigate the complexities of scholarly writing. By the end, you'll have the tools and confidence to tackle any essay assignment with ease. Let's dive in!

Types of Academic Writing

The process of writing an essay usually encompasses various types of papers, each serving distinct purposes and adhering to specific conventions. Here are some common types of academic writing:

types of academic writing

  • Essays: Essays are versatile expressions of ideas. Descriptive essays vividly portray subjects, narratives share personal stories, expository essays convey information, and persuasive essays aim to influence opinions.
  • Research Papers: Research papers are analytical powerhouses. Analytical papers dissect data or topics, while argumentative papers assert a stance backed by evidence and logical reasoning.
  • Reports: Reports serve as narratives in specialized fields. Technical reports document scientific or technical research, while business reports distill complex information into actionable insights for organizational decision-making.
  • Reviews: Literature reviews provide comprehensive summaries and evaluations of existing research, while critical analyses delve into the intricacies of books or movies, dissecting themes and artistic elements.
  • Dissertations and Theses: Dissertations represent extensive research endeavors, often at the doctoral level, exploring profound subjects. Theses, common in master's programs, showcase mastery over specific topics within defined scopes.
  • Summaries and Abstracts: Summaries and abstracts condense larger works. Abstracts provide concise overviews, offering glimpses into key points and findings.
  • Case Studies: Case studies immerse readers in detailed analyses of specific instances, bridging theoretical concepts with practical applications in real-world scenarios.
  • Reflective Journals: Reflective journals serve as personal platforms for articulating thoughts and insights based on one's academic journey, fostering self-expression and intellectual growth.
  • Academic Articles: Scholarly articles, published in academic journals, constitute the backbone of disseminating original research, contributing to the collective knowledge within specific fields.
  • Literary Analyses: Literary analyses unravel the complexities of written works, decoding themes, linguistic nuances, and artistic elements, fostering a deeper appreciation for literature.

Our essay writer service can cater to all types of academic writings that you might encounter on your educational path. Use it to gain the upper hand in school or college and save precious free time.

academic essay order

Essay Writing Process Explained

The process of how to write an academic essay involves a series of important steps. To start, you'll want to do some pre-writing, where you brainstorm essay topics , gather information, and get a good grasp of your topic. This lays the groundwork for your essay.

Once you have a clear understanding, it's time to draft your essay. Begin with an introduction that grabs the reader's attention, gives some context, and states your main argument or thesis. The body of your essay follows, where each paragraph focuses on a specific point supported by examples or evidence. Make sure your ideas flow smoothly from one paragraph to the next, creating a coherent and engaging narrative.

After the drafting phase, take time to revise and refine your essay. Check for clarity, coherence, and consistency. Ensure your ideas are well-organized and that your writing effectively communicates your message. Finally, wrap up your essay with a strong conclusion that summarizes your main points and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.

How to Prepare for Essay Writing 

Before you start writing an academic essay, there are a few things to sort out. First, make sure you totally get what the assignment is asking for. Break down the instructions and note any specific rules from your teacher. This sets the groundwork.

Then, do some good research. Check out books, articles, or trustworthy websites to gather solid info about your topic. Knowing your stuff makes your essay way stronger. Take a bit of time to brainstorm ideas and sketch out an outline. It helps you organize your thoughts and plan how your essay will flow. Think about the main points you want to get across.

Lastly, be super clear about your main argument or thesis. This is like the main point of your essay, so make it strong. Considering who's going to read your essay is also smart. Use language and tone that suits your academic audience. By ticking off these steps, you'll be in great shape to tackle your essay with confidence.

Academic Essay Example

In academic essays, examples act like guiding stars, showing the way to excellence. Let's check out some good examples to help you on your journey to doing well in your studies.

Academic Essay Format

The academic essay format typically follows a structured approach to convey ideas and arguments effectively. Here's an academic essay format example with a breakdown of the key elements:

academic essay format


  • Hook: Begin with an attention-grabbing opening to engage the reader.
  • Background/Context: Provide the necessary background information to set the stage.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main argument or purpose of the essay.

Body Paragraphs

  • Topic Sentence: Start each paragraph with a clear topic sentence that relates to the thesis.
  • Supporting Evidence: Include evidence, examples, or data to back up your points.
  • Analysis: Analyze and interpret the evidence, explaining its significance in relation to your argument.
  • Transition Sentences: Use these to guide the reader smoothly from one point to the next.

Counterargument (if applicable)

  • Address Counterpoints: Acknowledge opposing views or potential objections.
  • Rebuttal: Refute counterarguments and reinforce your position.


  • Restate Thesis: Summarize the main argument without introducing new points.
  • Summary of Key Points: Recap the main supporting points made in the body.
  • Closing Statement: End with a strong concluding thought or call to action.


  • Cite Sources: Include proper citations for all external information used in the essay.
  • Follow Citation Style: Use the required citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.) specified by your instructor.
  • Font and Size: Use a standard font (e.g., Times New Roman, Arial) and size (12-point).
  • Margins and Spacing: Follow specified margin and spacing guidelines.
  • Page Numbers: Include page numbers if required.

Adhering to this structure helps create a well-organized and coherent academic essay that effectively communicates your ideas and arguments.

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How to Write an Academic Essay Step by Step

Start with an introduction.

The introduction of an essay serves as the reader's initial encounter with the topic, setting the tone for the entire piece. It aims to capture attention, generate interest, and establish a clear pathway for the reader to follow. A well-crafted introduction provides a brief overview of the subject matter, hinting at the forthcoming discussion, and compels the reader to delve further into the essay. Consult our detailed guide on how to write an essay introduction for extra details.

Captivate Your Reader

Engaging the reader within the introduction is crucial for sustaining interest throughout the essay. This involves incorporating an engaging hook, such as a thought-provoking question, a compelling anecdote, or a relevant quote. By presenting an intriguing opening, the writer can entice the reader to continue exploring the essay, fostering a sense of curiosity and investment in the upcoming content. To learn more about how to write a hook for an essay , please consult our guide,

Provide Context for a Chosen Topic

In essay writing, providing context for the chosen topic is essential to ensure that readers, regardless of their prior knowledge, can comprehend the subject matter. This involves offering background information, defining key terms, and establishing the broader context within which the essay unfolds. Contextualization sets the stage, enabling readers to grasp the significance of the topic and its relevance within a particular framework. If you buy a dissertation or essay, or any other type of academic writing, our writers will produce an introduction that follows all the mentioned quality criteria.

Make a Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is the central anchor of the essay, encapsulating its main argument or purpose. It typically appears towards the end of the introduction, providing a concise and clear declaration of the writer's stance on the chosen topic. A strong thesis guides the reader on what to expect, serving as a roadmap for the essay's subsequent development.

Outline the Structure of Your Essay

Clearly outlining the structure of the essay in the introduction provides readers with a roadmap for navigating the content. This involves briefly highlighting the main points or arguments that will be explored in the body paragraphs. By offering a structural overview, the writer enhances the essay's coherence, making it easier for the reader to follow the logical progression of ideas and supporting evidence throughout the text.

Continue with the Main Body

The main body is the most important aspect of how to write an academic essay where the in-depth exploration and development of the chosen topic occur. Each paragraph within this section should focus on a specific aspect of the argument or present supporting evidence. It is essential to maintain a logical flow between paragraphs, using clear transitions to guide the reader seamlessly from one point to the next. The main body is an opportunity to delve into the nuances of the topic, providing thorough analysis and interpretation to substantiate the thesis statement.

Choose the Right Length

Determining the appropriate length for an essay is a critical aspect of effective communication. The length should align with the depth and complexity of the chosen topic, ensuring that the essay adequately explores key points without unnecessary repetition or omission of essential information. Striking a balance is key – a well-developed essay neither overextends nor underrepresents the subject matter. Adhering to any specified word count or page limit set by the assignment guidelines is crucial to meet academic requirements while maintaining clarity and coherence.

Write Compelling Paragraphs

In academic essay writing, thought-provoking paragraphs form the backbone of the main body, each contributing to the overall argument or analysis. Each paragraph should begin with a clear topic sentence that encapsulates the main point, followed by supporting evidence or examples. Thoroughly analyzing the evidence and providing insightful commentary demonstrates the depth of understanding and contributes to the overall persuasiveness of the essay. Cohesion between paragraphs is crucial, achieved through effective transitions that ensure a smooth and logical progression of ideas, enhancing the overall readability and impact of the essay.

Finish by Writing a Conclusion

The conclusion serves as the essay's final impression, providing closure and reinforcing the key insights. It involves restating the thesis without introducing new information, summarizing the main points addressed in the body, and offering a compelling closing thought. The goal is to leave a lasting impact on the reader, emphasizing the significance of the discussed topic and the validity of the thesis statement. A well-crafted conclusion brings the essay full circle, leaving the reader with a sense of resolution and understanding. Have you already seen our collection of new persuasive essay topics ? If not, we suggest you do it right after finishing this article to boost your creativity!

Proofread and Edit the Document

After completing the essay, a critical step is meticulous proofreading and editing. This process involves reviewing the document for grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and punctuation issues. Additionally, assess the overall coherence and flow of ideas, ensuring that each paragraph contributes effectively to the essay's purpose. Consider the clarity of expression, the appropriateness of language, and the overall organization of the content. Taking the time to proofread and edit enhances the overall quality of the essay, presenting a polished and professional piece of writing. It is advisable to seek feedback from peers or instructors to gain additional perspectives on the essay's strengths and areas for improvement. For more insightful tips, feel free to check out our guide on how to write a descriptive essay .

Alright, let's wrap it up. Knowing how to write academic essays is a big deal. It's not just about passing assignments – it's a skill that sets you up for effective communication and deep thinking. These essays teach us to explain our ideas clearly, build strong arguments, and be part of important conversations, both in school and out in the real world. Whether you're studying or working, being able to put your thoughts into words is super valuable. So, take the time to master this skill – it's a game-changer!

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What Is An Academic Essay?

How to write an academic essay, how to write a good academic essay.

Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

overview of the academic essay

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

How to Write an Argumentative Essay

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How to Write an Academic Essay in 7 Simple Steps

overview of the academic essay

What is an academic essay?

Academic essays are a common form of writing in higher education and play a crucial role in shaping a student’s future academic success. An academic essay is a piece of writing that presents an argument based on evidence and provides the reader with a clear and well-structured understanding of a particular subject. Writing an academic essay is not just about putting together a few words and sentences. It requires careful planning, research, and critical thinking skills to produce a well-written piece that meets the expectations of the reader.

In this article, we will explore the steps involved in writing an academic essay and provide you with tips and examples to help you create a top-quality piece of writing.

Step 1: Choose an Essay Topic

The first step in writing an academic essay is to choose a topic. A topic is the main idea or subject you will write about in your essay. Choose a topic that you are interested in and have a good understanding of. It should also be relevant to the course you are studying and the assignment you are working on.

While choosing the topic for your essay, be sure to follow the formatting requirements and other guidelines of your essay prompt. Read your assignment or prompt thorough and assess what is needed. For instance, if the guidelines call for your essay to follow a certain academic formatting style (such as MLA style , APA style , Chicago style , Vancouver style , etc.), this should be applied and reviewed during the editing process. As with any academic document, be sure to apply academic writing principles to your essay.

Some additional questions to ask before you begin drafting your essay:

  • What is the specific question or questions that your essay needs to answer?
  • Does your academic essay need to present a critical or rhetorical analysis of a source?
  • Do you need to use primary and secondary sources ?
  • Is the goal of the essay to present an original argument based on original research, or is it a review of the literature ?
  • Do you need to compare two or more works for your analysis?

Step 2: Conduct Research

Once you have chosen a topic, it is time to conduct research. Research is essential for an academic essay as it provides you with the information you need to support your arguments. Use a variety of sources, including books, academic journals, online databases, and other reliable sources, to gather information about your topic.

There are several different types of research that you can use to gather information for your essay, including primary research, secondary research, and tertiary research.

Primary research involves collecting original data through surveys, interviews, or experiments. This type of research is often used to gather firsthand information about a specific topic and is particularly useful when secondary sources do not exist or are limited.

Secondary research involves using existing data and information that has been collected by someone else. This includes sources such as academic journals, books, and online databases. Secondary research is often the starting point for most essay research and provides a good foundation for your own original research.

Tertiary research involves using summary or overview sources, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, and reference books, to gather information about a topic. This type of research is often used to gain a general understanding of a subject or to find specific information quickly.

When conducting research, it is important to use a variety of sources to gather information and to critically evaluate the information you find. Make sure that your sources are credible and relevant to your topic and avoid using unreliable sources, such as personal blogs or opinion pieces. Take notes as you research and keep track of your sources, including the author, publication date, and page numbers, so that you can easily reference them later in your essay.

Step 3: Create an Essay Outline

An outline is a roadmap that guides you through the writing process and helps you stay organized. A good outline should include an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should include a topic sentence, supporting evidence, and a transition sentence that connects to the next paragraph. Just as an outline for a research paper presents the structure and a summary of each section of your study.

Essay outline template

This outline provides a basic structure for an essay and can be adjusted to fit the specific needs of your topic and assignment. The introduction sets the stage by providing a brief overview of the topic and a thesis statement that outlines the main argument of the essay.

The body of the essay includes three main points, each of which is supported by evidence and explained through analysis. The conclusion restates the thesis, summarizes the main points, and offers final thoughts and implications. This outline can be used as a starting point for organizing your ideas and ensuring that your essay is well-structured and well-supported.

Step 4: Write the Introduction

The introduction is the first part of your essay that the reader will read, so it is important to make a good impression. An essay introduction should provide background information on the topic, hook the reader’s attention, and present a thesis statement . 

Here is an example of an introductory paragraph:

“The American Dream, once a symbol of hope and opportunity, has become increasingly elusive in recent years. Despite its origins as a means for individuals to pursue their own happiness and success, the American Dream has come to represent a set of unattainable goals that are beyond the reach of the average person. This essay will explore the ways in which the American Dream has become an unattainable goal for many Americans, including the reasons for its decline and the impact this has on society as a whole.”

This introduction provides context, raises a question, and presents a thesis statement all in under 200 words.

Step 5: Write the Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs are where you develop your arguments and support them with evidence. Each paragraph should focus on one main idea and should include a topic sentence that introduces the idea, supporting evidence, and a transition sentence that connects to the next paragraph. Use transition words to connect paragraphs and provide a clearer structure to your arguments and overall essay.

Step 6: Write the Essay Conclusion

The essay conclusion is the final part of your essay and provides a summary of your main arguments. It should also restate your thesis statement and provide a final thought or call to action. The conclusion should leave a lasting impression on the reader and provide closure to your essay.

Here is an example of a conclusion paragraph for an academic essay about “The American Dream”:

“ In conclusion , the American Dream has undergone significant changes since its inception. Despite its original intention as a means for individuals to pursue their own happiness and success, the American Dream has come to represent an unattainable goal for many Americans. The factors contributing to this decline include economic inequality, declining social mobility, and a lack of access to education and job opportunities. This shift in the meaning of the American Dream has significant implications for society as a whole, including increased poverty and social unrest. In order to restore the American Dream to its original purpose, policymakers must address these systemic issues and work to create a more equitable society where all individuals have the opportunity to achieve their goals.”

Note the terms and phrases in bold that identify the conclusion paragraph and point to the main topics that are summarized. 

Step 7: Revise and Edit Your Essay

Once you have completed the first draft of your essay, it is time to revise and edit. Review your essay for any mistakes, including grammatical errors , punctuation errors , spelling mistakes, and awkward sentence structure . Make sure that your essay is well-structured and that your arguments are well-supported with language that follows the conventions of academic writing and is appropriate for the essay assignment. To ensure your work is polished for style and free of errors, get essay editing from a professional proofreading company like Wordvice.

In conclusion, writing an academic essay is a process that requires careful planning, research, and critical thinking skills. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can write a top-quality essay that meets the expectations of the reader and earns you the grades you deserve. Remember to choose a topic that you are interested in and have a good understanding of, conduct research, create an outline, write a clear and concise introduction, develop well-supported body paragraphs, write a strong conclusion, and revise and edit your essay before submitting it.

Gordon Harvey’s Elements of the Academic Essay

The “Elements of the Academic Essay” is a taxonomy of academic writing by Gordon Harvey. It identifies the key components of academic writing across the disciplines and has been widely influential. Below is a complete list (with descriptions).

Elements of an Essay

“Your main insight or idea about a text or topic, and the main proposition that your essay demonstrates. It should be true but arguable (not obviously or patently true, but one alternative among several), be limited enough in scope to be argued in a short composition and with available evidence, and get to the heart of the text or topic being analyzed (not be peripheral). It should be stated early in some form and at some point recast sharply (not just be implied), and it should govern the whole essay (not disappear in places).”  — Gordon Harvey, “Elements of the Academic Essay”

  • See this fuller discussion of some of the scholarly debates about the thesis statement:  The Thesis Statement
  • See this piece on the pros and cons of having a thesis statement:  Pros and Cons of Thesis Statements
  • See this piece on working with students without a thesis:  What To Do When There’s No Thesis
  • And see this piece for working with students with varied levels of thesis development:  A Pseudo-Thesis

“The intellectual context that you establish for your topic and thesis at the start of your essay, in order to suggest why someone, besides your instructor, might want to read an essay on this topic or need to hear your particular thesis argued—why your thesis isn’t just obvious to all, why other people might hold other theses (that you think are wrong). Your motive should be aimed at your audience: it won’t necessarily be the reason you first got interested in the topic (which could be private and idiosyncratic) or the personal motivation behind your engagement with the topic. Indeed it’s where you suggest that your argument isn’t idiosyncratic, but rather is generally interesting. The motive you set up should be genuine: a misapprehension or puzzle that an intelligent reader (not a straw dummy) would really have, a point that such a reader would really overlook. Defining motive should be the main business of your introductory paragraphs, where it is usually introduced by a form of the complicating word ‘But.'”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

“The data—facts, examples, or details—that you refer to, quote, or summarize to support your thesis. There needs to be enough evidence to be persuasive; it needs to be the right kind of evidence to support the thesis (with no obvious pieces of evidence overlooked); it needs to be sufficiently concrete for the reader to trust it (e.g. in textual analysis, it often helps to find one or two key or representative passages to quote and focus on); and if summarized, it needs to be summarized accurately and fairly.”  –Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay

“The work of breaking down, interpreting, and commenting upon the data, of saying what can be inferred from the data such that it supports a thesis (is evidence for something). Analysis is what you do with data when you go beyond observing or summarizing it: you show how its parts contribute to a whole or how causes contribute to an effect; you draw out the significance or implication not apparent to a superficial view. Analysis is what makes the writer feel present, as a reasoning individual; so your essay should do more analyzing than summarizing or quoting.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

“The recurring terms or basic oppositions that an argument rests upon, usually literal but sometimes a ruling metaphor. These terms usually imply certain assumptions—unstated beliefs about life, history, literature, reasoning, etc. that the essayist doesn’t argue for but simply assumes to be true. An essay’s keyterms should be clear in their meaning and appear throughout (not be abandoned half-way); they should be appropriate for the subject at hand (not unfair or too simple—a false or constraining opposition); and they should not be inert clichés or abstractions (e.g. “the evils of society”). The attendant assumptions should bear logical inspection, and if arguable they should be explicitly acknowledged.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

One of the most common issues we address in the writing center is the issue of structure. Many students never consciously address structure in the way that they consciously formulate a thesis. This is ironic because the two are inseparable – that is, the way you formulate an argument (structure) is essential to the argument itself (thesis). Thus, when emphasizing the importance of structure to students, it is important to remind them that structure cannot be developed in the absence of a strong thesis: you have to know what you’re arguing before you decide how to argue it.

As a writing tutor, your first task in addressing issues of structure will be to try and gauge if the student writer has an idea of what good structure looks like. Some students understand good structure, even if it’s just at an intuitive level, while others do not. If comprehension seems lacking, it may be useful to actually stop and explain what good structure looks like.

Some Ways of Thinking about Structure:

The structure of the paper should be progressive; the paper should “build” throughout. That is, there should be a logical order to the paper; each successive paragraph should build on the ideas presented in the last. In the writing center we are familiar with the scattershot essay in which the student throws out ten arguments to see what sticks. Such essays are characterized by weak or nonexistent transitions such as “My next point…” or “Another example of this…”.

Some students will understand structure better with the help of a metaphor. One particularly nice metaphor (courtesy of Dara) is to view the structure of an academic paper as a set of stairs. The paper begins with a small step; the first paragraph gives the most simple assumption or support for the argument. The paper then builds, slowly and gradually towards the top of the staircase. When the paper reaches its conclusion, it has brought the reader up to the top of the staircase to a point of new insight. From the balcony the reader can gaze out upon the original statement or question from higher ground.

How Gordon Harvey describes structure in his “Elements of the Academic Essay”:

“The sections should follow a logical order, and the links in that order should be apparent to the reader (see “stitching”). But it should also be a progressive order—there should have a direction of development or complication, not be simply a list or a series of restatements of the thesis (“Macbeth is ambitious: he’s ambitious here; and he’s ambitious here; and he’s ambitions here, too; thus, Macbeth is ambitious”). And the order should be supple enough to allow the writer to explore the topic, not just hammer home a thesis.”

“Words that tie together the parts of an argument, most commonly (a) by using transition (linking or turning) words as signposts to indicate how a new section, paragraph, or sentence follows from the one immediately previous; but also (b) by recollection of an earlier idea or part of the essay, referring back to it either by explicit statement or by echoing key words or resonant phrases quoted or stated earlier. The repeating of key or thesis concepts is especially helpful at points of transition from one section to another, to show how the new section fits in.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

Persons or documents, referred to, summarized, or quoted, that help a writer demonstrate the truth of his or her argument. They are typically sources of (a) factual information or data, (b) opinions or interpretation on your topic, (c) comparable versions of the thing you are discussing, or (d) applicable general concepts. Your sources need to be efficiently integrated and fairly acknowledged by citation.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

When you pause in your demonstration to reflect on it, to raise or answer a question about it—as when you (1) consider a counter-argument—a possible objection, alternative, or problem that a skeptical or resistant reader might raise; (2) define your terms or assumptions (what do I mean by this term? or, what am I assuming here?); (3) handle a newly emergent concern (but if this is so, then how can X be?); (4) draw out an implication (so what? what might be the wider significance of the argument I have made? what might it lead to if I’m right? or, what does my argument about a single aspect of this suggest about the whole thing? or about the way people live and think?), and (5) consider a possible explanation for the phenomenon that has been demonstrated (why might this be so? what might cause or have caused it?); (6) offer a qualification or limitation to the case you have made (what you’re not saying). The first of these reflections can come anywhere in an essay; the second usually comes early; the last four often come late (they’re common moves of conclusion).”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

“Bits of information, explanation, and summary that orient the reader who isn’t expert in the subject, enabling such a reader to follow the argument. The orienting question is, what does my reader need here? The answer can take many forms: necessary information about the text, author, or event (e.g. given in your introduction); a summary of a text or passage about to be analyzed; pieces of information given along the way about passages, people, or events mentioned (including announcing or “set-up” phrases for quotations and sources). The trick is to orient briefly and gracefully.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

“The implied relationship of you, the writer, to your readers and subject: how and where you implicitly position yourself as an analyst. Stance is defined by such features as style and tone (e.g. familiar or formal); the presence or absence of specialized language and knowledge; the amount of time spent orienting a general, non-expert reader; the use of scholarly conventions of form and style. Your stance should be established within the first few paragraphs of your essay, and it should remain consistent.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

“The choices you make of words and sentence structure. Your style should be exact and clear (should bring out main idea and action of each sentence, not bury it) and plain without being flat (should be graceful and a little interesting, not stuffy).”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

“It should both interest and inform. To inform—i.e. inform a general reader who might be browsing in an essay collection or bibliography—your title should give the subject and focus of the essay. To interest, your title might include a linguistic twist, paradox, sound pattern, or striking phrase taken from one of your sources (the aptness of which phrase the reader comes gradually to see). You can combine the interesting and informing functions in a single title or split them into title and subtitle. The interesting element shouldn’t be too cute; the informing element shouldn’t go so far as to state a thesis. Don’t underline your own title, except where it contains the title of another text.”  — Gordon Harvey, “The Elements of the Academic Essay”

A student’s argument serves as the backbone to a piece of writing. Often expressed in the form of a one-sentence thesis statement, an argument forms the basis for a paper, defines the writer’s feelings toward a particular topic, and engages the reader in a discussion about a particular topic. Because an argument bears so much weight on the success of a paper, students may spend hours searching for that one, arguable claim that will carry them through to the assigned page limit. Formulating a decent argument about a text is tricky, especially when a professor does not distribute essay prompts—prompting students to come to the Writing Center asking that eternal question: “ What  am I going to write about?!”

Formulating the Idea of an Argument (Pre-Writing Stage)

Before a student can begin drafting a paper, he or she must have a solid argument. Begin this process by looking at the writing assignment rubric and/or prompt assigned by the professor. If no particular prompt was assigned, ask the student what interests him or her in the class? Was there a reading assignment that was particularly compelling and/or interesting? Engage the student in a conversation about the class or the paper assignment with a pen and paper in their hand. When an interesting idea is conveyed, ask them to jot it down on a paper. Look for similarities or connections in their written list of ideas.

If a student is still lost, it’s helpful to remind them to remember to have a  motive  for writing. Besides working to pass a class or getting a good grade, what could inspire a student to write an eight page paper and enjoy the process? Relating the assigned class readings to incidents in a student’s own life often helps create a sense of urgency and need to write an argument. In an essay entitled “The Great Conversation (of the Dining Hall): One Student’s Experience of College-Level Writing,” student Kimberly Nelson remembers her passion for Tolkien fueled her to write a lengthy research paper and engage her friends in discussions concerning her topic (290).

Additional ideas for consultations during the pre-writing stage .

Formulating the Argument

The pre-writing stage is essential because arguments must “be limited enough in scope to be argued in a short composition” according to Harvey’s  Elements of the Academic Essay . Narrow down the range of ideas so the student may write a more succinct paper with efficient language. When composing an argument (and later, a thesis), avoid definitive statements—arguments are  arguable , and a great paper builds on a successive chain of ideas grounded in evidence to support an argument. It is of paramount importance to remind your student that the argument will govern the entire paper and not “disappear in places” (Harvey). When composing an actual paper, it’s helpful to Post-It note a summary of your argument on your computer screen to serve as a constant reminder of  why  you are writing.

Difficulties with Arguments and International Students

When international students arrive at Pomona College, they are often unsure of what the standard academic writing expectations are. If a student submits a draft to you devoid of any argument, it’s important to remember that the conventions of their home country may not match up to the standards we expect to see here. Some countries place more of an emphasis on a summary of ideas of others rather than generating entirely new arguments. If this is the case for your student, (gently) remind him or her that most Pomona College professors expect to see new arguments generated from the students and that “summary” papers are frowned upon. Don’t disparage their previous work—use the ideas present in their paragraphs as a launching point for crafting a new, creative argument.

“Students, like all writers, must fictionalize their audience.”

– Fred Pfister and Joanne Petrik, “A Heuristic Model for Creating a Writer’s Audience” (1980)

The main purpose of imagining or fictionalizing an audience is to allow the student to position his/her paper within the discourse and in conversation with other academics. By helping the student acknowledge the fact that both the writer (the student) and the reader (the audience) play a role in the writing process, the student will be better able to clarify and strengthen his/her argument.

Moreover, the practice of fictionalizing the audience should eventually help the student learn how to become his/her own reader. By adopting the role of both the writer and the reader, the student will be able to further develop his ability to locate his/her text in a discourse community.

During a consultation, you may notice that a student’s argument does not actually engage in a conversation with the members of its respective discourse community. If his/her paper does not refer to other texts or ask questions that are relevant to this particular discourse, you may need to ask the student to imagine who his/her audience is as well as what the audience’s reaction to the paper may look like.

Although the student’s immediate answer will most likely be his/her professor, you should advise the student to attempt imagining an audience beyond his/her class—an audience composed of people who are invested in this discourse or this specific topic.

If your student cannot imagine or fictionalize such an audience, it may be because the student may not believe that he/she know enough about the topic to address such a knowledgeable audience. In this case, you should advise the student to pretend that he/she is an expert on the topic or that the student’s paper will be published and read by other members of the discourse community.

The student, however, should not pander to the audience and “undervalue the responsibility that [he/she] has to [the] subject” (Ede and Lunsford, 1984). Advise him/her to avoid re-shaping the paper so that it merely caters to or appeases the audience.

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  • Parts of an Academic Essay
  • The Writing Process
  • Rhetorical Modes as Types of Essays
  • Stylistic Considerations
  • Literary Analysis Essay - Close Reading
  • Unity and Coherence in Essays
  • Proving the Thesis/Critical Thinking
  • Appropriate Language

Test Yourself

  • Essay Organization Quiz
  • Sample Essay - Fairies
  • Sample Essay - Modern Technology

In a way, these academic essays are like a court trial. The attorney, whether prosecuting the case or defending it, begins with an opening statement explaining the background and telling the jury what he or she intends to prove (the thesis statement). Then, the attorney presents witnesses for proof (the body of the paragraphs). Lastly, the attorney presents the closing argument (concluding paragraph).

The Introduction and Thesis

There are a variety of approaches regarding the content of the introduction paragraph such as a brief outline of the proof, an anecdote, explaining key ideas, and asking a question. In addition, some textbooks say that an introduction can be more than one paragraph. The placement of the thesis statement is another variable depending on the instructor and/or text. The approach used in this lesson is that an introduction paragraph gives background information leading into the thesis which is the main idea of the paper, which is stated at the end.

The background in the introductory paragraph consists of information about the circumstances of the thesis. This background information often starts in the introductory paragraph with a general statement which is then refined to the most specific sentence of the essay, the thesis. Background sentences include information about the topic and the controversy. It is important to note that in this approach, the proof for the thesis is not found in the introduction except, possibly, as part of a thesis statement which includes the key elements of the proof. Proof is presented and expanded on in the body.

Some instructors may prefer other types of content in the introduction in addition to the thesis. It is best to check with an instructor as to whether he or she has a preference for content. Generally, the thesis must be stated in the introduction.

The thesis is the position statement. It must contain a subject and a verb and express a complete thought. It must also be defensible. This means it should be an arguable point with which people could reasonably disagree. The more focused and narrow the thesis statement, the better a paper will generally be.

If you are given a question in the instructions for your paper, the thesis statement is a one-sentence answer taking a position on the question.

If you are given a topic instead of a question, then in order to create a thesis statement, you must narrow your analysis of the topic to a specific controversial issue about the topic to take a stand. If it is not a research paper, some brainstorming (jotting down what comes to mind on the issue) should help determine a specific question.

If it is a research paper, the process begins with exploratory research, which should show the various issues and controversies. It should, ultimately, lead to the specific question. Then, the research becomes focused on the question, which should lead to taking a position on the question.

These methods of determining a thesis are still answering a question. It’s just that you pose a question to answer for the thesis.  Here is an example.

Suppose, one of the topics you are given to write about is America’s National Parks. Books have been written about this subject. In fact, books have been written just about a single park. As you are thinking about it, you may realize how there is an issue about balancing between preserving the wilderness and allowing visitors. The question would then be Should visitors to America’s National Parks be regulated in order to preserve the wilderness?

One thesis might be "There is no need for regulations for visiting America’s National Parks to preserve the wilderness."

Another might be "There should be reasonable regulations for visiting America’s National Parks in order to preserve the wilderness."

Finally, avoid using expressions that announce, “Now I will prove…” or “This essay is about…” Instead of telling the reader what the paper is about, a good paper simply proves the thesis in the body. Generally, you shouldn’t refer to your paper in your paper.

Here is an example of a good introduction with the thesis:

Not too long ago, everyday life was filled with burdensome, time-consuming chores that left little time for much more than completing these tasks. People generally worked from their homes or within walking distance to their homes and rarely traveled far from them. People were limited to whatever their physical capacities were. All this changed dramatically as new technologies developed. Modern technology has most improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility.

Note how the background is general and leads up to the thesis. No proof is given in the background sentences about how technology has improved lives.

Moreover, notice that the thesis is the last sentence of the introduction. It is a defensible statement.

A reasonable person could argue the opposite position: Although modern technology has provided easier ways of completing some tasks, it has diminished the quality of life since people have to work too many hours to acquire these gadgets, have developed health problems as a result of excess use, and have lost focus on what is really valuable in life.

  • The introduction opens the essay and gives background information about the thesis.
  • Do not introduce your supporting points (proof) in the introduction unless they are part of the thesis; save these for the body.
  • The thesis is placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • Don’t use expressions like “this paper will be about...” or “I intend to show…”

For more information on body paragraphs and supporting evidence, see Proving a Thesis – Evidence and Proving a Thesis – Logic, and Logical Fallacies and Appeals in Related Pages on the right sidebar.

Body paragraphs give proof for the thesis. They should have one proof point per paragraph expressed in a topic sentence. The topic sentence is usually found at the beginning of each body paragraph and, like a thesis, must be a complete sentence. Each topic sentence must be directly related to and support the argument made by the thesis.

After the topic sentence, the rest of the paragraph should go on to support this one proof with examples and explanation. It is the details that support the topic sentences in the body paragraphs that make the arguments strong.

If the thesis statement stated that technology improved the quality of life, each body paragraph should begin with a reason why it has improved the quality of life. This reason is called a  topic sentence . Following are three examples of body paragraphs that provide support for the thesis that modern technology has improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility:

     Almost every aspect of our lives has been improved through convenience provided by modern technology. From the sound of music from an alarm clock in the morning to the end of the day being entertained in the convenience of our living room, our lives are improved. The automatic coffee maker has the coffee ready at a certain time. Cars or public transportation bring people to work where computers operate at the push of a button. At home, there’s the convenience of washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and power lawn mowers. Modern technology has made life better with many conveniences.      Not only has technology improved our lives through convenience, it has improved our lives through efficiency. The time saved by machines doing most of the work leaves more time for people to develop their personal goals or to just relax. Years ago, when doing laundry could take all day, there wasn’t time left over to read or go to school or even just to take a leisurely walk. Nowadays, people have more time and energy than ever to simply enjoy their lives and pursue their goals thanks to the efficiency of modern technology.      Accessibility to a wide range of options has been expanded through modern technology. Never before could people cross a continent or an ocean in an afternoon. Travel is not the only way technology has created accessibility. Software which types from voice commands has made using computers more accessible for school or work. People with special needs have many new options thanks to modern technology such as special chairs or text readers. Actually, those people who need hearing aids as a result of normal aging have access to continued communication and enjoyment of entertainment they did not previously have. There are many ways technology has improved lives through increased accessibility.

Notice how these proof paragraphs stick to one proof point introduced in the topic sentences. These three paragraphs, not only support the original thesis, but go on to give details and explanations which explain the proof point in the topic sentence.

Quick Tips on Body Paragraphs

  • The body of your essay is where you give your main support for the thesis.
  • Each body paragraph should start with a topic sentence that is directly related to and supports the thesis statement.
  • Each body paragraph should also give details and explanations that further support the poof point for that paragraph.
  • Don’t use enumeration such as first, second, and third. The reader will know by the topic sentence that it is a new proof point.
  • See Proving the Thesis in Related Pages on the right sidebar for more information on proof.

The Conclusion

Instructors vary of what they expect in the conclusion; however, there is general agreement that conclusions should not introduce any new proof points, should include a restatement of the thesis, and should not contain any words such as “In conclusion.”

Some instructors want only a summary of the proof and a restatement of the thesis. Some instructors ask for a general prediction or implication of the information presented without a restatement of thesis. Still others may want to include a restatement along with a general prediction or implication of the information presents. Be sure to review assignment instructions or check with instructor.  If your assignment instructions don’t specify, just sum up the proof and restate the thesis.

Example which sums up proof and restates thesis :

Modern technology has created many conveniences in everyday from waking up to music to having coffee ready to getting to work and doing a day’s work. The efficiency provided by technology gives people more time to enjoy life and pursue personal development, and the accessibility has broadened options for travel, school, and work. Modern technology has improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility.

See how the thesis statement was restated. The two major arguments about the possible locations proven to be incorrect were also included to remind the reader of the major proof points made in the paper.

Example which makes a general prediction or implication of the information presented:

Modern technology has created many conveniences in everyday life from waking up to music to having coffee ready to getting to work and doing a day’s work. The efficiency provided by technology gives people more time to enjoy life and pursue personal development, and the accessibility has broadened options for travel, school, and work. Without it, everyday life would be filled with burdensome tasks and be limited to our neighborhood and our physical capacity.

Here’s an example of a conclusion with a general prediction or implication statement with a restatement of thesis.

Modern technology has created many conveniences in everyday life from waking up to music to having coffee ready to getting to work and doing a day’s work. The efficiency provided by technology gives people more time to enjoy life and pursue personal development, and the accessibility has broadened options for travel, school, and work. Without it, everyday life would be filled with burdensome tasks and be limited to our neighborhood and our physical capacity. Modern technology has improved our lives through convenience, efficiency, and accessibility.

Quick Tips for Conclusions

  • The conclusion brings the essay to an end and is typically the shortest paragraph.
  • It is important to not introduce new ideas or information here.
  • Unless otherwise specified in your assignment, just sum up the proof and restate the conclusion.
  • Some instructors may want the concluding paragraph to contain a general prediction or observation implied from the information presented.
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Introduction to Academic Essays

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overview of the academic essay

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Scholarly Writing: Scholarly Writing


Scholarly writing is also known as academic writing. It is the genre of writing used in all academic fields. Scholarly writing is not better than journalism, fiction, or poetry; it is just a different category. Because most of us are not used to scholarly writing, it can feel unfamiliar and intimidating, but it is a skill that can be learned by immersing yourself in scholarly literature. During your studies at Walden, you will be reading, discussing, and producing scholarly writing in everything from discussion posts to dissertations. For Walden students, there are plenty of opportunities to practice this skill in a writing intensive environment.

The resources in the Grammar & Composition tab provide important foundations for scholarly writing, so please refer to those pages as well for help on scholarly writing. Similarly, scholarly writing can differ depending on style guide. Our resources follow the general guidelines of the APA manual, and you can find more APA help in the APA Style tab.

Read on to learn about a few characteristics of scholarly writing!

Writing at the Graduate Level

Writing at the graduate level can appear to be confusing and intimidating. It can be difficult to determine exactly what the scholarly voice is and how to transition to graduate-level writing. There are some elements of writing to consider when writing to a scholarly audience: word choice, tone, and effective use of evidence . If you understand and employ scholarly voice rules, you will master writing at the doctoral level.

Before you write something, ask yourself the following: 

  • Is this objective?
  • Am I speaking as a social scientist? Am I using the literature to support my assertions?
  • Could this be offensive to someone?
  • Could this limit my readership?

Employing these rules when writing will help ensure that you are speaking as a social scientist. Your writing will be clear and concise, and this approach will allow your content to shine through.

Specialized Vocabulary

Scholarly authors assume that their audience is familiar with fundamental ideas and terms in their field, and they do not typically define them for the reader. Thus, the wording in scholarly writing is specialized, requiring previous knowledge on the part of the reader. You might not be able to pick up a scholarly journal in another field and easily understand its contents (although you should be able to follow the writing itself).

Take for example, the terms "EMRs" and "end-stage renal disease" in the medical field or the keywords scaffolding and differentiation in teaching. Perhaps readers outside of these fields may not be familiar with these terms. However, a reader of an article that contains these terms should still be able to understand the general flow of the writing itself.

Original Thought

Scholarly writing communicates original thought, whether through primary research or synthesis, that presents a unique perspective on previous research. In a scholarly work, the author is expected to have insights on the issue at hand, but those insights must be grounded in research, critical reading , and analysis rather than personal experience or opinion. Take a look at some examples below:

Needs Improvement: I think that childhood obesity needs to be prevented because it is bad and it causes health problems.
Better: I believe that childhood obesity must be prevented because it is linked to health problems and deaths in adults (McMillan, 2010).
Good: Georges (2002) explained that there "has never been a disease so devastating and yet so preventable as obesity" (p. 35). In fact, the number of deaths that can be linked to obesity are astounding. According to McMillan (2010), there is a direct correlation between childhood obesity and heart attacks later in their adult lives, and the American Heart Association's 2010 statistic sheet shows similar statistics: 49% of all heart attacks are preventable (AHA, 2010). Because of this correlation, childhood obesity is an issue that must be addressed and prevented to ensure the health of both children and adults.

Notice that the first example gives a personal opinion but cites no sources or research. The second example gives a bit of research but still emphasizes the personal opinion. The third example, however, still gives the writer's opinion (that childhood obesity must be addressed), but it does so by synthesizing the information from multiple sources to help persuade the reader.

Careful Citation

Scholarly writing includes careful citation of sources and the presence of a bibliography or reference list. The writing is informed by and shows engagement with the larger body of literature on the topic at hand, and all assertions are supported by relevant sources.

Crash Course in Scholarly Writing Video

Note that this video was created while APA 6 was the style guide edition in use. There may be some examples of writing that have not been updated to APA 7 guidelines.

  • Crash Course in Scholarly Writing (video transcript)

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How To Write an Overview of an Essay

An overview of an essay is not a reproduction of the original, which is a common mistake many students make. An overview is a piece of writing which aims to deliver an understanding of the original essay but without their needing to read the original.

In some respects, it is a summary, or abstract, but an overview provides a little more detail than a summary, or abstract. Like any other well-produced piece of writing, an overview of an essay should be concise, well-structured, and coherent and be effectively planned before commencing writing.

Key Point:   An overview of an essay is objective, there is no need to give an opinion on the points made, the aim is not to analyse or critically review the work, but simply to give a summary of the information in the original text.

Planning your overview

The first stage of planning an overview is to read, and re-read the original text, the first time to gain an overall feeling for the subject of the work and the author’s aim and intent. The second time is to delve deeper into the work and identify the style, tone and intended audience for the essay, as well as an initial breaking down and listing of the core ideas and points discussed.

Once the core ideas have been identified, it is good practice to break the original text down into sections, usually into relevant points or arguments made by the authors. This supports your understanding of the material and can highlight other key points not identified in the first reading.

Good practice at this point is to mark both areas for inclusion in the overview and those that are seen as secondary and thus will be excluded. For each key point note the information given and any sources. You are now ready to write your overview.

Writing your overview


The introduction should draw in your reader with a hook to encourage them to read further. In addition, you should include the title of the essay, the author and any available detail on the author that is relevant to the work, for example, professional status or similar. It can also be useful in the introduction to provide a small level of background detail to the topic to give a foundation for the reader.

Main Body text

The main body is where the key ideas identified in the planning stage are presented. Each idea should be written as a separate paragraph and include only important information summarised from the original text. It is for this reason that the planning stage includes identification of “for inclusion” and “for exclusion” points from the original work. In essence, following this process ensures all relevant and key details of the work are included in the overview and supports the delivery of a logical, coherent overview structure. Furthermore, the body text, should, where appropriate include references or quotes from the original text to improve clarity and the information being presented.

The conclusion should sum up any major points from the essay, including any conclusions drawn or opinions given and why, along with any calls for action that are highlighted in the original work. Note: There is no requirement to give an opinion on the work in an overview, it is a summary, not an evaluation. This can include future research, further reading or similar. Remember, you are not replicating the original work, but simply giving an overview or summary of the main points made in the essay.

Key phrases for writing an overview of an essay.

To help you write an effective overview of an essay, we have put together some key phrases that can be used at different stages of the work.

For the body text:

The author endeavours to prove… …expresses a view that…to the effect that… …seeks to criticise… …having dismissed x, the author then… …provides excellent examples of… Ultimately, for the author… Appears to be saying that… From the evidence and evaluation, it does appear… The author suggests that for the future…

For summarising, the following phrases are useful:

  • The most important
  • First of all

Made by History

How the College Application Essay Became So Important

Board of Admissions examining applicatio

S chool is out and summer is here. Yet future high school seniors and their families are likely already thinking about applying to college — a process that can be as labor-intensive and time-consuming as it is confusing. Students submit SAT scores, grades, references, personal essays, and more, often without a clear sense of what counts most.

The challenges facing college applicants today aren’t new. For over a century, Americans seeking higher education have had to navigate complicated admissions requirements including exams and grades as well as qualitative metrics of assessment, such as references, interviews, and essays.

Collecting so much academic and personal information has given colleges and universities greater control over the kinds of students they admit. In the first half of the 20th century, this information was mainly used to bar some applicants based on race, gender, and religion. Since the social movements of the 1960s and 70s, however, it has been used to do nearly the opposite by expanding access to previously excluded groups. In this process, personal essays have been especially valuable for the unique insights they can offer into applicants’ backgrounds and perspectives. In the context of today’s narrowing national diversity agenda, they are key to promoting inclusion in American higher education.

In the late 19th century, college admission standards were relatively low in America, even at the “Big Three” private universities, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. In an era when few Americans had more than an eighth-grade education, and even fewer could afford the cost of higher education, there was little competition for admission. Applicants needed only to pass subject matter exams, tests that were rudimentary and could be taken repeatedly until passed. Even those who failed their entrance exams might be admitted if they had elite standing and could pay tuition.

Read More: How to Talk About Race on College Applications, According to Admissions Experts

By the turn of the 20th century, however, demand for higher education was growing. Colleges worked intentionally to admit a broader range of students, dropping archaic requirements like knowledge of Latin and Greek that had previously barred all but the most privileged high school students from applying. More and more qualified applicants competed for fewer available spots, which meant that colleges and universities could be more selective. 

But with more applicants passing exams and earning entry to higher education, private universities became increasingly concerned about the demographics of their student bodies. By the 1910s, as immigration increased, and more public high schools were better preparing students of all backgrounds to meet private entrance requirements, rising numbers of Jewish students were landing spots at the historically Protestant and upper-class universities. With antisemitism on the rise, many private colleges adopted new metrics of admission that could be used to limit the number of “undesirable” students, especially Jewish ones. 

It was at this juncture that selective colleges introduced the application essay to assess students for the amorphous category of "fit." Applications in general became much more involved and intrusive. 

For instance, beginning in 1919, Columbia required prospective students to complete an eight-page form, submit a photo, list their mother’s maiden name, and provide information about their religious background. Even standardized tests could be used to screen students by cultural background. Early entrance exams were heavily biased toward American customs and colloquialisms, putting first-generation immigrants at a disadvantage.

In the wake of World War II, the passage of the GI Bill created a surge in demand for higher education across the country. Between 1950 and 1970, enrollment in colleges and universities in the U.S. nearly quadrupled. 

Although public and private universities expanded in response, they still came under new pressures to bolster selective criteria that would allow them to limit the growth of their student bodies. To ensure spots for students long considered the natural recipients of higher education — especially white, middle-class, Protestant men — private colleges continued to use quotas and other forms of preference such as legacy status to effectively limit the numbers of Jewish students, people of color, and women admitted. Meanwhile, admissions were far from need blind; applying for a scholarship could damage your chance of acceptance.

Public universities like the University of California, Berkeley charted a different course. In the post-war period, the UC system admitted all students who met basic requirements — graduation from an accredited high school along with a principal's recommendation, acceptance by exam, or completion of an Associate’s degree. But public universities now also faced more demand than they could accommodate. Indeed, the 1960s California Master Plan for Higher Education acknowledged that state universities, too, might well have to introduce a selective process for choosing applicants in the face of expanded access across much wider class, geographic, and ethnic backgrounds. 

By the 1960s, a selective application process became common across major private and public universities. But the social movements of the 1960s and 70s forced private universities to drop their formal practices of discrimination and changed the use of personal essays and other qualitative metrics of evaluation in the process. 

For the first time, in the 1960s, admissions officers at historically white and Protestant universities acknowledged that applicants’ academic profiles were deeply shaped by the opportunities — educational, economic, and cultural — available to them, and that these in turn were shaped by students’ race, ethnicity, and sex. 

While special considerations about background had once been used to systematically exclude minorities, in the 1960s they were invoked for the first time to do the opposite, albeit with some striking limitations. 

By looking at applicants from a comprehensive standpoint, which included these markers of identity, even the most selective private universities made major strides in achieving racial diversity in this period. They also dropped quotas and began to admit women on an equal basis with men. Class diversity, however, was another matter — to this day private universities continue to be comparatively socio-economically homogenous despite meaningful shifts in other areas. 

Since the 1970s, the admissions system has only grown increasingly competitive, with more students than ever before applying to college. That forced universities to choose between strong applicants while building their own brands and competitive profiles. This competitive environment has turned the college application essay into a particularly important vehicle in the admissions process for learning about students’ backgrounds and human qualities.

Read More: How the End of Affirmative Action Could Affect the College Admissions Process

In 1975, a small group of mostly East Coast colleges came together to form the Common App — today used by more than 1,000 universities. The Common App led the way in formulating what we now think of as the personal statement, aimed at understanding the inner world of each student.

For more than 50 years now, universities both private and public have evaluated essays for a range of qualities including leadership capacity, creativity, service to the community, and ability to overcome hardship, as part of their admissions decisions. The kinds of questions universities ask, the qualities they seek, and the responses they receive have changed many times and have been shaped by the cultural trends of our times. 

In 2021 for example, following the spread of a global pandemic, the Common App introduced a question about gratitude for the first time. And while the prompts remained unchanged following the 2023 Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. (SFFA) v. President & Fellows of Harvard College and SFFA v. University of North Carolina , which formally excluded race as a factor in admissions, universities began to read them for the role of race, ethnicity, and other identities in students’ profiles. In these and many other ways, the essay has only gained value as a way for students to explain the important ways their experiences and identities have shaped their academic profiles.

overview of the academic essay

Still, there have been calls to eliminate the college essay from admissions requirements from both the right and the left, as either frivolously inclusive, or potentially exclusionary. Now, at a time when there are major political constraints on supporting diversity and inclusion at the national level, personal essays give admissions committees important flexibility. They also allow colleges to evaluate students for underrated but essential intellectual and personal qualities hard to observe elsewhere, including the capacity for growth, self-reflection, and awareness of the world around them. 

The history of modern admissions shows how institutions of higher education have sought to engineer their classes, often reinforcing harmful racial, class, and gender hierarchies. There is little objectivity in the metric of “fit” that has shaped American admissions practices. But the Civil Rights era has had a powerful and long-lasting legacy in broadening access through an assessment of applicants that is attentive to identity. However flawed the system, the essay offers something no other metric can: an account of a student’s lived experience, in their own words.

Sarah Stoller is a writer and historian. She also tutors college essay writing.

Made by History takes readers beyond the headlines with articles written and edited by professional historians. Learn more about Made by History at TIME here . Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors .

More Must-Reads from TIME

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Write to Sarah Stoller / Made by History at [email protected]

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  • How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

Published on November 23, 2020 by Shona McCombes . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Summarizing , or writing a summary, means giving a concise overview of a text’s main points in your own words. A summary is always much shorter than the original text.

There are five key steps that can help you to write a summary:

  • Read the text
  • Break it down into sections
  • Identify the key points in each section
  • Write the summary
  • Check the summary against the article

Writing a summary does not involve critiquing or evaluating the source . You should simply provide an accurate account of the most important information and ideas (without copying any text from the original).

Table of contents

When to write a summary, step 1: read the text, step 2: break the text down into sections, step 3: identify the key points in each section, step 4: write the summary, step 5: check the summary against the article, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about summarizing.

There are many situations in which you might have to summarize an article or other source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to show you’ve understood the material
  • To keep notes that will help you remember what you’ve read
  • To give an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review

When you’re writing an academic text like an essay , research paper , or dissertation , you’ll integrate sources in a variety of ways. You might use a brief quote to support your point, or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs.

But it’s often appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is especially relevant to your own research, or to provide an overview of a source before you analyze or critique it.

In any case, the goal of summarizing is to give your reader a clear understanding of the original source. Follow the five steps outlined below to write a good summary.

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overview of the academic essay

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You should read the article more than once to make sure you’ve thoroughly understood it. It’s often effective to read in three stages:

  • Scan the article quickly to get a sense of its topic and overall shape.
  • Read the article carefully, highlighting important points and taking notes as you read.
  • Skim the article again to confirm you’ve understood the key points, and reread any particularly important or difficult passages.

There are some tricks you can use to identify the key points as you read:

  • Start by reading the abstract . This already contains the author’s own summary of their work, and it tells you what to expect from the article.
  • Pay attention to headings and subheadings . These should give you a good sense of what each part is about.
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion together and compare them: What did the author set out to do, and what was the outcome?

To make the text more manageable and understand its sub-points, break it down into smaller sections.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already organized into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction , methods , results , and discussion .

Other types of articles may not be explicitly divided into sections. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

Now it’s time go through each section and pick out its most important points. What does your reader need to know to understand the overall argument or conclusion of the article?

Keep in mind that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

In a scientific article, there are some easy questions you can ask to identify the key points in each part.

Key points of a scientific article
Introduction or problem was addressed?
Results supported?

If the article takes a different form, you might have to think more carefully about what points are most important for the reader to understand its argument.

In that case, pay particular attention to the thesis statement —the central claim that the author wants us to accept, which usually appears in the introduction—and the topic sentences that signal the main idea of each paragraph.

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overview of the academic essay

Now that you know the key points that the article aims to communicate, you need to put them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and show you’ve understood the article, it’s essential to properly paraphrase the author’s ideas. Do not copy and paste parts of the article, not even just a sentence or two.

The best way to do this is to put the article aside and write out your own understanding of the author’s key points.

Examples of article summaries

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, we summarize this article , which scientifically investigates the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Davis et al. (2015) set out to empirically test the popular saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are often used to represent a healthy lifestyle, and research has shown their nutritional properties could be beneficial for various aspects of health. The authors’ unique approach is to take the saying literally and ask: do people who eat apples use healthcare services less frequently? If there is indeed such a relationship, they suggest, promoting apple consumption could help reduce healthcare costs.

The study used publicly available cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were categorized as either apple eaters or non-apple eaters based on their self-reported apple consumption in an average 24-hour period. They were also categorized as either avoiding or not avoiding the use of healthcare services in the past year. The data was statistically analyzed to test whether there was an association between apple consumption and several dependent variables: physician visits, hospital stays, use of mental health services, and use of prescription medication.

Although apple eaters were slightly more likely to have avoided physician visits, this relationship was not statistically significant after adjusting for various relevant factors. No association was found between apple consumption and hospital stays or mental health service use. However, apple eaters were found to be slightly more likely to have avoided using prescription medication. Based on these results, the authors conclude that an apple a day does not keep the doctor away, but it may keep the pharmacist away. They suggest that this finding could have implications for reducing healthcare costs, considering the high annual costs of prescription medication and the inexpensiveness of apples.

However, the authors also note several limitations of the study: most importantly, that apple eaters are likely to differ from non-apple eaters in ways that may have confounded the results (for example, apple eaters may be more likely to be health-conscious). To establish any causal relationship between apple consumption and avoidance of medication, they recommend experimental research.

An article summary like the above would be appropriate for a stand-alone summary assignment. However, you’ll often want to give an even more concise summary of an article.

For example, in a literature review or meta analysis you may want to briefly summarize this study as part of a wider discussion of various sources. In this case, we can boil our summary down even further to include only the most relevant information.

Using national survey data, Davis et al. (2015) tested the assertion that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and did not find statistically significant evidence to support this hypothesis. While people who consumed apples were slightly less likely to use prescription medications, the study was unable to demonstrate a causal relationship between these variables.

Citing the source you’re summarizing

When including a summary as part of a larger text, it’s essential to properly cite the source you’re summarizing. The exact format depends on your citation style , but it usually includes an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of your paper.

You can easily create your citations and references in APA or MLA using our free citation generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Finally, read through the article once more to ensure that:

  • You’ve accurately represented the author’s work
  • You haven’t missed any essential information
  • The phrasing is not too similar to any sentences in the original.

If you’re summarizing many articles as part of your own work, it may be a good idea to use a plagiarism checker to double-check that your text is completely original and properly cited. Just be sure to use one that’s safe and reliable.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing


  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words. Want to make your life super easy? Try our free text summarizer today!

A summary is always much shorter than the original text. The length of a summary can range from just a few sentences to several paragraphs; it depends on the length of the article you’re summarizing, and on the purpose of the summary.

You might have to write a summary of a source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to prove you understand the material
  • For your own use, to keep notes on your reading
  • To provide an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review
  • In a paper , to summarize or introduce a relevant study

To avoid plagiarism when summarizing an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Cite the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

An abstract concisely explains all the key points of an academic text such as a thesis , dissertation or journal article. It should summarize the whole text, not just introduce it.

An abstract is a type of summary , but summaries are also written elsewhere in academic writing . For example, you might summarize a source in a paper , in a literature review , or as a standalone assignment.

All can be done within seconds with our free text summarizer .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, May 31). How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-summarize/

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    Create An Outline To Organize Your Ideas. Organize your thoughts and ideas by creating an outline for your essay. Outline the main sections or paragraphs that will constitute the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Arrange your supporting points and evidence in a logical order. 5.

  12. Academic Essay: From Start to A+ Finish

    Here's an academic essay format example with a breakdown of the key elements: Introduction. Hook: Begin with an attention-grabbing opening to engage the reader. Background/Context: Provide the necessary background information to set the stage. Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main argument or purpose of the essay.

  13. How to Write an Academic Essay in 7 Simple Steps

    Step 1: Choose an Essay Topic. The first step in writing an academic essay is to choose a topic. A topic is the main idea or subject you will write about in your essay. Choose a topic that you are interested in and have a good understanding of. It should also be relevant to the course you are studying and the assignment you are working on.

  14. Gordon Harvey's Elements of the Academic Essay

    The "Elements of the Academic Essay" is a taxonomy of academic writing by Gordon Harvey. It identifies the key components of academic writing across the disciplines and has been widely influential. ... (e.g. given in your introduction); a summary of a text or passage about to be analyzed; pieces of information given along the way about ...

  15. Parts of an Academic Essay

    Overview. In a way, these academic essays are like a court trial. The attorney, whether prosecuting the case or defending it, begins with an opening statement explaining the background and telling the jury what he or she intends to prove (the thesis statement). Then, the attorney presents witnesses for proof (the body of the paragraphs).

  16. Introduction to Academic Essays

    Introduction to Academic Essays. In many academic settings, the writer is more responsible than the reader for bringing clarity to the text. Understanding the normal conventions for style, shape, and organization will help you write clearly. Style Shape Organization Introduction Paragraphs Body Paragraphs Conclusion Paragraphs Example Essay 1 ...

  17. Home

    Undergraduates at Harvard College can visit the Writing Center for help with any writing assignment, fellowship application, or graduate school admissions essay. Writing Resources Guides for writing essays and papers

  18. Scholarly Writing

    Scholarly writing is also known as academic writing. It is the genre of writing used in all academic fields. Scholarly writing is not better than journalism, fiction, or poetry; it is just a different category. Because most of us are not used to scholarly writing, it can feel unfamiliar and intimidating, but it is a skill that can be learned by ...

  19. Academic Writing

    This presentation is designed to introduce your students to a variety of factors that contribute to strong, well-organized writing. This presentation is suitable for the beginning of a composition course or the assignment of a writing project in any class. This resource is enhanced by a PowerPoint file. If you have a Microsoft Account, you can ...

  20. What Is Academic Writing?

    Academic writing is a formal style of writing used in universities and scholarly publications. You'll encounter it in journal articles and books on academic topics, and you'll be expected to write your essays, research papers, and dissertation in academic style. Academic writing follows the same writing process as other types of texts, but ...

  21. How To Write an Overview of an Essay

    Planning your overview. The first stage of planning an overview is to read, and re-read the original text, the first time to gain an overall feeling for the subject of the work and the author's aim and intent. The second time is to delve deeper into the work and identify the style, tone and intended audience for the essay, as well as an ...

  22. Overview of The Academic Essay

    Overview of the Academic Essay - Free download as PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free.

  23. How the College Application Essay Became So Important

    For more than 50 years now, universities both private and public have evaluated essays for a range of qualities including leadership capacity, creativity, service to the community, and ability to ...

  24. How to Write a Summary

    Table of contents. When to write a summary. Step 1: Read the text. Step 2: Break the text down into sections. Step 3: Identify the key points in each section. Step 4: Write the summary. Step 5: Check the summary against the article. Other interesting articles. Frequently asked questions about summarizing.