Just like going out on a date for the first time, you want the introduction to be just right, almost perfect. You want to put your best self forward and create a great first impression. You should already know this, but most professors and instructors will start grading your work in their head as soon as they begin reading it. And most will have some notion of where your essay falls on that scale before they even finish the introduction. It will be the rarest of markers who withholds judgement until the end. The introduction is something you absolutely must start strong.
Always develop an introduction that clearly sets out the aims of what you are about to write and, if applicable, refers to the subject under investigation. State what the essay will try to achieve and briefly mention some of the main points you will consider. The idea is to give the marker an overview of your argument, to show that your thought process is logical and coherent and that you have carefully thought the question through. Think of your introduction as a thumbnail picture of the whole essay.
Anyone, but especially the marker, should know the essay subject and how you intend to prove or disprove it, just from having read just the introduction. You have been given this assignment: The main purpose of Gothic fiction is to break normal moral and social codes. It is certainly true that many works of Gothic fiction manifest the transgression of normal moral and social codes as their major theme.
Their emphasis on female sexuality, their breaking of the boundaries between life and death and their shocking displays of immoral religious characters would all suggest that this is indeed the case. However, it is also important to consider other major aspects of the genre that might be considered equally important in purpose, such as its fascination with the supernatural, its portrayal of artificial humanity and its satirical social attacks. Reread that paragraph. Does it tell you what the topic of the essay is? What the point is? What the essay plans to do? Now, without reading think about just the size of that paragraph.
If a marker were to see an introduction that were any less than that they would automatically know, without even reading a word, that the topic was not going to be well introduced. That is not to suggest you simply fill up the paragraph, but that a certain amount of information in the introduction is expected.
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It is worth pointing out that in a much longer essay an introduction does not need to be limited to a single paragraph. Generally, however, it will be. The second part of the essay is the body. This is the longest part of the essay. In general, a short essay will have at least three full paragraphs; a long essay considerably more. Each paragraph is a point that you want to make that relates to the topic. Paragraphs, like the essay overall, also have an expected structure. You should start a new paragraph for each major new idea within your essay, to clearly show the examiner the structure of your argument.
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Each paragraph should begin with a signpost sentence that sets out the main point you are going to explore in that section. It is sometimes helpful to refer back to the title of the essay in the signpost sentence, to remind the examiner of the relevance of your point.
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Essay writing becomes much easier for you too this way, as you remind yourself exactly what you are focusing on each step of the way. Here's a signpost sentence example: One important way in which Gothic fiction transgresses normal moral and social codes is in its portrayal of the female heroine.
Further sentences in this paragraph would then go on to expand and back up your point in greater detail and with relevant examples. The paragraph should not contain any sentences that are not directly related to the issue set out in the signpost sentence. So you are writing an essay that clearly separates its ideas into structured sections. Going back to the wage-raise example: in the middle of talking about how punctual you are, would you start talking about how you are a good colleague, then about that client you impressed, and then talk about your punctuality again?
Of course not.
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The same rules apply: each paragraph deals with one idea, one subject. The last section of your essay is the conclusion.
In general, this will also be a single paragraph in shorter essays, but can go on to two or three for slightly longer discussions. Every well-structured essay ends with a conclusion. Its purpose is to summarise the main points of your argument and, if appropriate, to draw a final decision or judgement about the issues you have been discussing.
Sometimes, conclusions attempt to connect the essay to broader issues or areas of further study. It is important not to introduce any new ideas in the conclusion — it is simply a reminder of what your essay has already covered. It may be useful again to refer back to the title in the conclusion to make it very clear to the examiner that you have thoroughly answered the question at hand.
Make sure you remind them of your argument by very concisely touching on each key point. Overall, whilst it is certainly true that the characters, plots and settings of Gothic fiction seem firmly intended to break normal moral and social codes, the great incidence within the genre of the depiction of the supernatural, and in particular its insistent reference to social injustice and hypocrisy might suggest that in fact its main purpose was the criticism and reform of society. Now you should have a solid grasp of a typical essay structure, but might not know how to actually begin structuring your essay.
The paragraphs in the main body develop your argument or response to the essay title, using examples to explore the different aspects of the question. Think about how each paragraph builds up the argument and use connecting words and phrases to link together the paragraphs. In some departments, you may be encouraged to use headings for the different sections, but check this with your assignment guidelines or tutors. The conclusion will indicate the overall themes and summarise the key points you have raised in the essay, identifying how this has addressed the question.
For a short essay of words, it may be a single paragraph of approximately words.
For longer essays, the conclusion may be a couple of paragraphs long. The conclusion is where you summarise and synthesize the significance or importance of the key evidence and examples you have discussed.
Many students find it easier to proofread from the printed page rather than a computer screen, but do think about using technology to support your proofreading process. When finishing an essay you should check it against the marking criteria provided by your school. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself:. Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service.
Connect with the University of Nottingham through social media and our blogs. Campus maps More contact information Jobs. Home Studying at university Types of teaching Being organised Reading and interpreting sources and data Writing. Writing tasks at university. Essays An essay is a piece of academic writing which makes an evidenced argument in response to a question or series of questions.
Writing an essay
Doing a piece of writing essay writing "So when you're preparing a piece of coursework, or an essay: how do you tackle that job? Identify the question s to be addressed Develop your thinking and reading to note down some initial ideas and thoughts Don't become fixed in your early ideas: remain open minded, as you may wish to change your perspective as you read more Consider the arguments against your view - how could you defend or rebut alternative positions Begin to think of the structure of your essay and the sequence you wish to introduce points.
Work towards sketching out an outline of how these points can be linked together Start writing - some students find they can refine their ideas by trying to express them in written form Be prepared to re-draft your work before final submission Where possible, give yourself time to put the essay aside for a day or two and come back to it during the drafting phases.
Seeing it with fresh eyes will be particularly useful when re-considering the structure and placing of paragraphs. Try asking friends to read your draft work. It can be very difficult after repeated reading to see your own mistakes.