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Guidelines on Writing Short Essays for Every Student answer format

    • Guidelines for writing a short essay are very similar to the basic guidelines for essay writing. The only difference is a length.

      The short essay has to be only half a page long; it should also have quite a catchy topic.
      A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.

      When talking about the formatting of essays, we have no right to omit the importance of drafting an outline. When you face difficulties choosing what to write about or the topic seems to be too controversial or complicated, drafting an outline is one of the most effective ways to start off writing an essay.
      In order to properly complete an essay, it is important to allocate time in which to construct an answer. This is particularly crucial when a question is part of a multi-question essay exam. Once the amount of time available to answer the question is determined, the question is read carefully several times. If there are multiple questions, all questions are read in order to determine the order in which to answer them. Keywords identify what the question is actually asking. There are six different types of questions indicated by keywords: supported thesis, cause and effect, compare and contrast, process analysis, definitions and analysis. Once the type of question is determined, an essay style answer is constructed using the proper type of supporting material. It is a good idea to make an outline for an answer, and jot down a few key phrases on a piece of scrap paper or in the exam margins prior to writing on the sheet that is turned in to be graded.

      Guidelines on Writing Short Essays

      Just like for any other type of writing, there are some fundamental principles and rules on how to write a short essay that students have to know about. The major parts that comprise a short essay are introduction, body, and conclusion.

      According to the The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue, a good essay is focused, organized, supported and packaged. Keywords should also be identified within the question around which the answer is constructed. The overall structure of the essay should be similar to that of a regular essay, with a brief introduction containing a summary of the answer, then supporting information and a conclusion.

      While introduction and conclusion are one paragraph long each, the number of paragraphs in the body is usually dictated by the topic of the short essay. If essay topic is difficult, most you will have more paragraphs since you would need more space to discuss all the details of the topic.
      Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.

      If the essay topic is very narrow, one or two paragraphs should usually be enough. However, having an outline is a must for starting short essay writing process regardless of the number of paragraphs you are going to have in your paper.
      Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.


      Talking about a short essay format, we have to say that introduction is extremely important in terms of a paper organization since it has to provide the effective opening line for the whole essay defining the further path for writing. If it is possible, the topic of a short essay should be arguable and provocative in order to make the discussion engaging.

      It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)

      You need to think of an effective thesis statement that will draw readers’ attention and keep them interested throughout the entire essay. The importance of a well-written introduction is emphasized by the fact that it influences readers’ understanding of the topic as well as provides a clear understanding of the structure of the writing and how the content is going to unfold. Although the major point of the essay has to be presented in the introduction, namely in the thesis statement, it should not be too detailed not to bore the readers from the very first paragraph.
      A summary is a concise paraphrase of all the main ideas in an essay. It cites the author and the title (usually in the first sentence); it contains the essay's thesis and supporting ideas; it may use direct quotation of forceful or concise statements of the author's ideas; it will NOT usually cite the author's examples or supporting details unless they are central to the main idea. Most summaries present the major points in the order that the author made them and continually refer back to the article being summarized (i.e. "Damon argues that ..." or "Goodman also points out that ... "). The summary should take up no more than one-third the length of the work being summarized.

      An effective way to make your introduction more appealing and engaging is to include some quotations that will provide some hint about the topic of your essay and how it can be developed.

      Essay Body Paragraphs

      Yet, the major part that the essay revolves around is the body, which should open all the facts, arguments, supporting evidence, and viewpoints on the subject. All information needs to be appropriately and coherently listed so that readers could enjoy smooth reading and actually understand your claims.

      The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.

      If in the course of your research and preparation of your essay you found nice quotes, dates, names that could help you discuss the topic better, use them in the main body section to illustrate the facts and provide examples.
      A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").

      However, keep in mind that all the paragraphs in the body of the short essay should be logically connected, thus use transitions for smooth flow of the text. In case you feel that your paragraphs do not follow the general flow of your thoughts, you may want to go back to the outline for your essay to get a better perspective on how you can fix some things.

      Essay Body: Paragraph Structure

      In order to be understood by the readers, you need to keep your arguments separate and develop each one of them in different paragraphs. In fact, such division will help you stay focused without losing the line of thought. Thus, you need to try making each argument objective, narrow, and specific. Although there are no strict guidelines on how to write each body paragraph, you may use some advice from the experienced writers:

      • First things go first - you need to discuss the strongest points in the first paragraph of the essay body.

      • Arguments with less strong supporting evidence should be presented in a descending order.

      • The weakest arguments should be discussed and presented in the closing paragraphs of the essay body.

    Such organization of arguments from the strongest to the weakest will help your readers better understand your point as well as it will convince them in to take your side on the issue/topic.


    The main body is the largest part of your essay, but when you are done with that it doesn’t mean you are done writing. Now you need to provide a clear summary of all points and arguments in a concluding paragraph. The conclusion should contain the restatement of the thesis statement, the summary of the discussion, and the wrapping up point.

    Thank you for using ASK US. For more information contact your campus librarians.

    A clear conclusion will make your readers think and analyze what they have learned from your essay.

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