Using tips for organizing an essay can help turn your submissions from standard manuscripts into better-formulated theses. By creating a method for your essay writing, all your writing composition will improve, making it clearer and more logical.1 This text offers numerous tips for organizing an essays in all fields of study.
Definition: Tips for organizing an essay
- Overall, any tips for organizing an essay need to work together and not pull your writing in different directions.
- Consequently, many academics define tips for organizing an essay as a set of instructions that you should consider from the outset.
- In other words, good tips for organizing an essay help with the overall style and tone rather than deal with the subject matter at hand which will change for every manuscript you write.
- In other words, they’re a broad set of rules to follow.
- It is important to organize your thoughts and process before writing an essay as it will keep you on the right track, prevent wasted time and avoid dealing with subject matter that is off-topic.
Tips for organizing an essay: Importance
- As mentioned, any tips for organizing an essay should be considered before you even begin writing.
- Refer to your tips as you write and ask yourself whether or not the tips for organizing an essay are being followed.
- Finally, it is important to read your essay once you’ve completed it.
- Edit it with the general tips for organizing an essay in mind to help it in terms of coherence.
- To summarize the importance of essay organization, refer to the table below.
|Important tips for organizing an essay||Outcome|
|Clarity||When essays are disordered or jump around, they will lack a clear tone that's easy to follow.|
|Coherence||A lack of organization means that adhering to a central argument will often be lost.3|
|Focus||Poorly organized essays ramble, contain non-sequiturs or make bland points that result in low scores.|
|Professionalism||Well-organized essays come across as competent and well-qualified with the right sort of professional tone.|
Tips for organizing an essay – 6 Steps
Although tips for organizing an essay take many forms, there are six basic steps that tend to offer the clearest guidance for students. Once learned, these tips for organizing an essay can be reproduced again and again to help make your writing more and more compelling.
Step 1: Create an outline
- To begin with, jot down a structure for your writing.
- Most academic tips for organizing an essay include the creation of an outline.
- Begin with an introduction that addresses the central question posed by the essay title.
- Good tips for organizing an essay will also include time for a reasoned conclusion that draws together your argument neatly.
- In between, you should list the points you want to make that support your argument.
- Start with the most compelling and obvious point working down to the least.
- Include sub-points that support each of your essay’s arguments.
Step 2: Avoid letting other outlines/structures of your sources drive your organization
Many essays are formed by offering a précis of the arguments of others.
For example, an economics essay might ask you to outline the theories of Karl Marx.
In this example, good tips for organizing an essay would be to steer clear of simply restating Marx’s opinions in your own words. If you quote from other economists’ theories about Marxist economics, then avoid using their structures, too. If you do, then your essay’s structure will be effectively plagiarized. In short, make your own points in your own way.
Step 3: Use clear and concise language
Clear and concise language – avoiding overly technical terms or using ten words when three would suffice – is important in all essay writing. It is one of the tips for organizing an essay you should follow when planning the structure, too. You might want to explain what a technical term is at the outset so you can continue to use it concisely later without repeating yourself. If so, you’ll need to have planned its first occurrence. Define acronyms once and, where a foreign language is necessary, explain what it means in English in parenthesis.
Step 4: Use transitional phrases
Among the best tips for organizing an essay is to include more transitional words or phrases in your writing. These words lead the reader from one sentence to the next and from one paragraph to the next. Think of them as cues that tie your arguments together for greater coherence.4 Essays that lack them read poorly even if the points being made are sound.
- In this example, there are no transitional phrases.
- In this example, ‘therefore’ and ‘despite its’ are transitional phrases that link the thoughts being expressed together in a more coherent way.
Tips for organizing an essay should offer supporting phrases, like ‘furthermore,’ ‘moreover’ and ‘again’ as well as comparative terms, such as ‘whereas’ and ‘although’. Try to use words like ‘nevertheless’, ‘later’, ‘earlier’ and ‘for the same reason’ when backing up points in your essay with sub-points.
Step 5: Focus on one main idea per paragraph
Paragraphs should be made up of one main idea. These are the points you created in your essay structure plan. Tips for organizing an essay should also include the notion that sub-points need to be made in separate paragraphs. These support your argument and are best when a topic sentence is used to explain what the paragraph is about. When you move on to a new point, not another sub-point, use a transitional phrase to help the reader, such as ‘another point that ought to be made is’ or, indeed, ‘moving on’.
Step 6: Revise and edit for the organization
Any tips for organizing an essay should include time and space to revise your writing. Common errors are repeating points, drifting off the main subject and failing to use sufficient transitional phrases so your essay becomes more of a collection of sentences than a systematically argued thesis. Many tips for the organization of essays don’t include revision but this is also, of course, your chance to deal with spelling and grammatical issues that may have crept in.
Without a set of good tips to follow, essays can be incoherent even if they address the question asked of you. They help with structure, time management and the overall professionalism of submitted essays.
Some guidance advises trimming essays to meet requested word count lengths. This is often not required in exam essays but may be for coursework. Use your review time, as outlined in step 6 above, to make any cuts.
Follow these tips every time you plan and write an essay. They can help with all essay styles and subject matters.
Topic sentences offer the reader the chance to understand entire paragraphs in just one sentence. Think of them as tips for the organization of an essay as a headline or signpost while the rest of the paragraph is the ‘story’.5
1 Hunter College. “Organizing an Essay.” Accessed April 2023 https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/organization/Organizing-an-Essay.
2 University of Nevada Writing & Speaking Center. “Time Management.” Accessed April 2023. https://www.unr.edu/writing-speaking-center/student-resources/writing-speaking-resources/time-management.
3 The University of Melbourne. “Improving Cohesion.” Accessed April 2023. https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/resources/editing-your-writing/improving-cohesion.
4 Touro University. “Transitional Words.” Accessed April 2023. https://www.touro.edu/departments/writing-center/tutorials/transitional-words/.
5 Harvard College Writing Center. “Topic Sentences and Signposting.” Accessed April 2023. https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/topic-sentences-and-signposting.