We all had to write essays. In high school, college, even at work, we had to put our creativity, research skills and writing ability in the spotlight and prove our competence and knowledge. And sometimes it is harder than it seems since there might be lots of unnoticed mistakes that make our essays look superficial, dull or even plagiarized. I’ve written hundreds of essays so far, and what I’m about to tell you is based on my own experience. I’m not a professional essay writer, nor am I a professor or teacher. However, you might find these small tips quite handy!
Be careful with your bibliography!
This is essential. You are writing about a topic, and an original idea comes into your mind, but be careful! Search that idea, the keywords, to find out if someone else has written about the same idea that you had. Or you saw or read something, and you add that “something” in your essay, but you do not have the correct citation for that source. It is called unintentional plagiarism and it is extremely annoying.
My tip? Cite EVERY SINGLE THING you have seen, read or heard. Depending on what type of citation styles your professor/teacher wants, be flexible and cite and quote everything correctly. From the page numbers, the volume and publishing year to the name of the author and publisher, make sure everything is all right! Check your “Bibliography” or “Works Cited” section as many times as needed. Here is a helpful guide on multiple citation styles, such as MLA, APA and Chicago!
Oh, man, size does matter! Whether the font size or the length of the essay is, trust me, it’s vital! Of course, the most important thing is what you write, but if the presentation is unpleasant, your work will suffer. So, be careful with the sizing, don’t go crazy with the “bold” and “italic”, and do not underline anything, especially if it’s an academic essay. A neat delivery with a clear structure will be a huge plus. The length of your sentences is of interest as well. Instead of using a string of long sentences, try to write a few shorter ones in between since it can become tiring and irritating to read something made up of mile-long sentences.
The length (size) of the essay itself is important. If you have, for example, a 3000-word limit, do not exceed that limit. Some may allow a few additional words, but it is safer to not go beyond that limit too much. Also, if you have a 1500-2000-word limit, don’t just hit the 1500 milestone and leave it like that. It might look a little bit superficial, so in this case, writing about 1700-1800 words is ideal. This is not a rule, but it’s helpful!
Choose your words carefully
When you are writing an essay, depending on what kind of essay it is, you can use a more informal way of writing. For example, this article (though not an essay) is written in informal register and addressed to the large public. If your “target audience” are doctors, professors, or people in some kind of academic environment, choose a more formal language. Be extremely mindful of your writing, edit it rigorously and be as objective as possible when proofreading your work!
Do not use connectors such as “like” because they are too colloquial and informal. And try to avoid repetition of certain words. If you’ve said, for example, “strange” twice and you want to say it a third time, use a synonym such as “peculiar”, “uncanny” or “eerie”. Their meaning can be easily modified, and an engaging, well-presented word-play is almost always welcomed. It adds flavour. Of course, again, what you write, your ideas and arguments are important, so do not forget that! We will find each other again in another article about how to find and structure your arguments in an essay! Knowledge is nESSEYsary!