Tips for Writing Essays

Essays must always be written in the present tense

Do not use contractions (can’t, won’t, hasn’t) in formal essays.

The introductory paragraph of an essay must contain the title of the work to be discussed, and the name of the author.

Essays should not contain personal references. Do not say: “In my opinion,” “I think,” “I am going to discuss / prove.” These references are redundant because a literary analysis is YOUR analysis. In addition, the continuous use of personal pronouns makes your writing mundane.

ALWAYS write firmly. Write as if you believe you are right. Be confident. Do not be vague or noncommittal. Do not say: “It seems to be that…”

A thesaurus is not a type of dinosaur, use one and ALWAYS be precise in your word choice.

State your points clearly. Avoid vague pronouns that do not have clear and close antecedents. For example, “This is something new.” The reader will be left wondering that “this” is. Instead, write “This dream was new.” Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) are very vague without close antecedents.

If you are adding a point or example to the previous point, use signal words (connectives, transitions) to tell the reader that more of the same is coming. For example, “Therefore,” “In addition,” “Consequently,” “As a result” etc.

Do not use abbreviations, informal language, colloquialisms, jargon, slang or clichés on essays.

In order to avoid a writing style which is boring, mundane, ineffective and unconvincing, a writer must use sentences that are varied and forceful.

Commas must be placed after introductory words, phrases, or subordinate clauses that precede the main idea. For example, “Because of the storm, school was cancelled.”

Proofread your work carefully. In addition, read your essay out loud. This will help you determine if sentences are awkwardly-constructed, or if you are repeating certain words or repeating the same point.

If you are using ideas from the internet or books, or web-casts, always source your work in a bibliography. If the idea is not yours, and you have not acknowledged this, you are plagiarizing.

Transitional expressions and the relationships they signal:

ADDITION also, in addition, too, moreover, and, besides, furthermore, equally important, then, finally

EXAMPLE for example, for instance, thus, as an illustration, namely, specifically

CONTRAST but, yet, however, nevertheless, nonetheless, conversely, in contrast, still, at the same time, on the one hand, on the other

COMPARISON similarly, likewise, in the same way

CONCESSION of course, to be sure, certainly, granted

RESULT therefore, thus, as a result, so, accordingly

TIME first, second, third, next, then, finally, afterward, before, soon, later, meanwhile, subsequently, immediately, eventually,

PLACE in the front, in the foreground, in the back, in the background, at the side, adjacent, nearby, in the distance, here, there

PURPOSE to show us, to reinforce, to emphasise, to illustrate, to represent, to develop, to highlight