When writing an academic essay, our tips for organizing an essay can help turn your submissions from standard manuscripts into better-formulated papers. Creating a method for your essay writing can contribute to improving all your writing composition, making it clearer, more logical, and coherent. This article will outline a number of tips for organizing an essay to give you along the way in your studies.
Definition: Tips for organizing an essay
Overall, any effective tips for organizing an essay should cohesively guide your writing instead of leading it astray. Many academics consider these tips as foundational instructions that should be implemented from the outset of your writing process. Rather than focusing on subject-specific content, these organizing tips aim to improve the overall style and tone of your essay. They serve as a broad set of rules that can be applied across different manuscripts. Prioritizing organization from the beginning not only keeps you on the right track but also saves time and prevents you from veering 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 keep the tips for organizing an essay in mind constantly.
- 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
|When essays are disordered or jump around, they will lack a clear tone that's easy to follow.
|A lack of organization means that adhering to a central argument will often be lost.3
|Poorly organized essays ramble, contain non-sequiturs or make bland points that result in low scores.
|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.
- 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:
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 parentheses.
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. Essays that lack them read poorly, even if the points being made are sound.
The following example doesn’t contain 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’.