An essay refers to the systematic presentation of ideas that describe the process of performing a task or explaining the process by which a system works. An essay may be explanatory in which case it explains the steps in performing a task; it can also be expository or narrative.
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The main aim of writing an essay is simply to explain, outline or describe an event, object or system. An essay may be brief or comprehensive, depending on the writer’s interest. It can also be complicated or simple, depending on the nature of the subject under investigation. However, this greatly depends on the instructions provided, and the writer’s knowledge of the subject.
Whether brief or short, an essay must be fully understandable, in order to convey the intended message conveniently. Molly suggests that to achieve this, the writer must use the appropriate style in writing, in addition to using the appropriate terminology and phrasing that the reader will easily understand without much strain 1.
Each type of essay has its style of writing, though there is a general guideline to writing all essays. A typical essay should contain an introduction, body and conclusion. These are the three main parts of an essay. The content and length of each part will depend on the depth and the concentration of the subject.
The introduction should clearly outline the background of the topic, and give a brief literature review to the subject under investigation.
It is important to note that not all essays will require an introduction, but the necessity will depend on the instructor’s priority. The introduction is an overview of the topic, without specializing on a given area. The introduction is followed by the ‘body’ of the essay.
This is the part that contains the actual material of the writing, as Rositter suggests 2. For example, in a narrative essay, the body contains the narration of the issue and any other material relevant to the topic. The body of an explanatory essay will contain a deep explanation of the subject matter, giving all the necessary details of the explanation.
This part requires the writer to deeply focus on the issue which they are writing about. The writer must first understand the topic of interest before starting to give details about it. The body may require deeper research from outside sources related to the subject. The details are very essential, as they help the reader to understand the content.
In order to discuss the topic with the desired level of comprehensiveness, each paragraph in the body of an essay should introduce a new idea. Greetham explains that subsequent lines in the same paragraph should expand the main idea, giving the required details 3.
The body should have several paragraphs in order to maximize the number of details provided. Sometimes, several ideas may be contained in the same paragraph, due to specifications on the essay’s length.
The final part of the essay is the conclusion. It may consist of one or a few paragraphs that collectively sum up the whole topic of discussion.
It concludes the essay with a statement of proposition or opposition of the topic and should also include the reasons for the conclusion made. The conclusion, according to Greetham, gives a reflection of the entire topic in a few lines, stating the relevance of the whole discussion at a glance4.
Although some essays are too complicated, an essay should be generally easy to understand, and this greatly relies on the clarity of the points that the writer includes. In other words, it should be self-explanatory in order to achieve its intended purpose and to benefit the reader, without further assistance from the writer. This is why the guideline is important, as it gives the basic structure of writing a quality essay.
- Molly, M, Schaum’s quick guide to writing great essays, McGraw Hills, Washington DC, 1999, p. 37
- Rositter, J, The college guide to essay writing, DW Publishing Co, Washington, 2006, p. 52
- Greetham, B, How to write better essays, Macmillan Publishers, London, 2001, p. 19
- Greetham, p. 27.
Greetham, B, How to write better essays, Macmillan Publishers, London, 2001.
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Molly, M, Schaum’s quick guide to writing great essays, McGraw Hills, Washington DC, 1999.
Rositter, J, The college guide to essay writing, DW Publishing Co, Washington, 2006.