Writing an Essay - Guide

Writing an Essay - Guide

anythingChott's Words about 500-Word Essays


A basic requirement of any essay assigned in my classes is that it must fulfill the assignment: it must be on the assigned topic (or on one of the assigned topic options), and it must be within a the assigned length limits (a "500-word essay" in this class means 400-600 words). If in my judgment the essay is not on the assigned topic, or if the essay is either less than 400 words or more than 600 words, then the essay does not fulfill the assignment and does not qualify for a passing grade. In such cases, a student may have the opportunity to revise or repeat an assignment once in order to submit an essay that does fulfill the assignment.

PROPORTIONS OF ESSAY intro: body: conclusion = 1:3:1

Essays in this course must follow a conventional pattern of organization and development for short (500-word) academic essays: an introductory paragraph, a body (usually two or three paragraphs), and a conclusion paragraph. The relative lengths of these three essay parts are roughly 1:3:1. In other words, the body should be the largest section of the essay--at least twice as long, and probably three times as long, as either the introduction or the conclusion

The introduction (one paragraph) should be relatively short: an introduction is, after all, a set-up, a preliminary element intended to prepare the reader for something else: the rest of the essay.

The body (usually two or three paragraphs) should be the longest part of the essay--because it is in the body that support for the thesis (evidence: facts, examples, details, quotations) is presented. Naturally, such evidence, if it is to be convincing, requires a lot of space.

The conclusion (one paragraph) should be relatively short. Even though any set of data or presentation of facts can support multiple conclusions, the conclusion in a...

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