When writing an assignment, how you present your analysis and argument are just as important as the information you are trying to present. If the reader cannot understand or follow your argument or information, your writing quickly loses its efficacy and credibility. However, if you create a structured essay with plenty of support, your writing will not only be more organized, but will assure the reader that your essay is the result of thoughtful analysis and not spur-of-the-moment thoughts put on paper. Here are some easy tips for creating a well-structured essay:
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1) Your thesis or overall statement should be present within the first paragraph. The thesis does not need to be anything too philosophical, but should let the reader know exactly what type of information they will be receiving in your essay. After a brief introduction to the topic you will be discussing, state your thesis or argument.
1. Good thesis/argument example: While known mostly for the prevalence of manufacturing within the city, the Jewish community of Lodz also thrived in local and national trade, the production of art, and the practice of religious traditions.
2) Each paragraph should have a transition sentence, or a sentence which sets the stage for the information in the next paragraph. Good “transition” words to use in these sentences include: However, Nonetheless, Additionally, Significantly, Regardless, Therefore, Similarly, Above all, Comparatively, and Likewise. Use a “transition” sentence at the end of your paragraph to connect ideas throughout your essay.
3) Topic sentences should ALWAYS relate to your thesis in some way, and should be strictly about the paragraph you are about to discuss. Topic sentences are always the first sentence in your paragraph. This helps the reader to understand why you are including certain information, and can keep you more focused on your communicative goals. If you do not include it in your thesis, do not include it in your topic sentences! For the thesis italicized above, here are some good and bad example sentences:
1. Good topic sentences:
1. Manufacturing served as the largest form of economic wealth in the city of Lodz. (Good, because the reader now knows that you will now be discussing
manufacturing, and you included this in your thesis.)
2. Goods, especially fabrics, served as a major source of exported trade for Lodz.
3. Beginning in the late nineteenth century, Jewish citizens of Lodz created a wide
variety of nationalist folk art.
4. Despite commitments with manufacturing, trade, and cultural enrichment, the Jews
of Lodz continued to involve themselves deeply with religious traditions and
practices. (Great, because not only does this sentence relate back to the thesis, but
ties together all of the ideas you already discussed.)
2. Bad topic sentences:
1. Catholics also lived in Lodz. (Catholics are not in the thesis. You would need to
slightly alter your thesis to include this information.)
2. Not many people today know where Lodz is. (This statement has nothing to do with
3. Art was very important. (To whom? What is the point of this sentence?)
4) Always write a conclusion of at least three sentences (All paragraphs should have at least
three sentences). A conclusion contains relatively the same type of information that is
included in your introduction.