How to write a short essay: key steps

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Short essays are common writing tasks assigned in almost all academic disciplines. A small size of the paper is often understood as an easy matter but it is more than meets the eye. The biggest challenge is to write directly on what is pertinent to the topic. If not, there won’t be enough space to mention all less important issues. Therefore, a short essay requires outstanding analytical and summarizing skills.

The guideline below is a perfect opportunity for everyone who is going to write a short paper for the first time.

Step 1. Given that your essay is short, the topic of it should be very specific. It must be both coherent and powerful, i.e. it should sound clear and striking so that to draw the reader’s interest immediately. That's why avoid topics that are too broad to cover, as a short format will not allow you to explore the issue to the full.

Broad topics require extensive research. They sound loose and generalized rather than specific. Too narrow topics are not the option too because they cannot be discussed in detail and are hard to research as there is little relevant information. Therefore, you are unlikely to finish the research successfully and get the required size of the essay.

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The topic is right if there is enough information on the subject to make it interesting and sensitive. If you cannot decide whether your topic is broad or narrow, you may ask your teacher or librarian for advice.

A manageable topic has 2 or 3 concepts. Topics with more than 3 concepts are narrow. For example, Business Leadership is too broad while Business Leadership inside Software Corporations in Asian Countries is too narrow. A good one will be Leadership in Corporate Relations across Indian Business Community.

Step 2. Focus on parameters. Your essay must include the information which is relevant to the topic. For instance, in researching the problem of corporate business, focus on the statements on administrative management in big companies. In other words, think of the statements that directly refer to the matter, otherwise, you will not be able to fit the parameters of a short essay.

Step 3. Outline the essay. Once the research on the essay issue is done, outline the main ideas dictated by the obtained data. It is the stage of writing a thesis statement, arguments and conclusion. Keep in mind that an outline is just a sketch of the future paper so your text should be scrupulously neat.

Step 4. Compose the first draft. Read it through by yourself and share it with someone else to have a fresh look on the paper. It would be perfect if your first reader is unaware of the topic; thus, he or she will have no preconceived opinions.

Step 5. Draft your essay for the second time. Make sure that all your findings are included and argued appropriately. If yes, think how coherent they are. That means you should give a Yes-answer to the following questions:

  • Does the thesis smoothly lead to the paragraphs?
  • Does the essay body describe the issue in detail following the thesis statement?
  • Does the conclusion recap your thesis statements and summarize the major findings?
  • Are there enough transition words that adequately suit the content of the paper?

Proofreading and editing is a must, therefore very often the second draft is not a final one. You may rewrite again and again to craft a perfect paper. But stay calm and learn how to write a short essay using this all-inclusive list of advice.

Basic short essay format

The short essay components are the same as in long papers. Normally, a short essay consists of 5 paragraphs which are: an introduction with a thesis statement, two or three body paragraphs and a conclusion.

The secret of an effective introduction is a good thesis that draws the attention of the readers and excites their curiosity from the start to the end. Do not make your thesis too detailed as it may bore the readers. To appeal their interest from the first sentences, use quotations. It is the best way to hint about the issue and save space for the arguments as quotes are the most forcefully and concisely-formulated expressions. Moreover, quotations always look solid and enticing. Compose the introduction of three sentences where one of them is a thesis.

Body paragraphs are the major part of the essay. This space is for opening the facts, arguing and providing supporting evidence. Everything is topped with your viewpoint on the issue. Arrange all the information coherently so that the readers could follow your claims easily. Keep their interest by acute sayings, weighty data and remarkable events. It is notorious that body paragraphs become more powerful if the discussion is supported with examples. They visualize many facts and make the ideas more vivid and true to life.

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Keep in mind that the paragraphs won’t work well if there is no logical connection between them, so think carefully to transit the final sentence of para 1 to the main idea of the next paragraph. To do this, always have the outline before your eyes and use a list of transition words.

A well-designed paragraph algorithm

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If you wonder how to write a short essay without a pain in the neck, you should master the standard paragraph pattern. Arrange you perfect paragraph in the following succession:

  • Topic sentence

You need this sentence to delineate the argument. Make it catchy to allow the reader access the message right off the bat. A topic sentence always goes first in the paragraph so do not leave it until the end.

  • Supporting statements

Your essay is short so try to limit the number of sentences that back up your argument. Have one sentence rather than two or three. This sentence can be presented as an anecdote, a story, or an example. If you find it difficult to adjust the supporting evidence into one sentence, you may combine two examples within one statement. The best way to avoid long explanations is to choose a narrow topic for the essay. Thus, you will not have to provide extensive commentary on the problem.

  • Introspective statement

It is very important what a writer has made of the examples provided in the paragraph. Writing introspectively means to answer the questions “So what?” Or “What have we achieved by illustrating the idea?”

  • Closing paragraph

Definitely, each component of the essay should be flawlessly crafted. So whether you present the topic or provide the evidence, you have to get all your writing skills and techniques together. No less important is the conclusion in which you summarize all the arguments and viewpoints provided in the paragraphs above. The formula of a perfect concluding part is to restate a thesis, give a summary of the ideas and wrap them up. In the conclusion, you are to make the readers understand what they have finally learned. They may not agree or disagree with you but they should get involved in the issue, start to analyze it and draw their own conclusions.

So when writing a paragraph you should act like this: present the idea in the topic sentence, provide the supporting facts and illustrations and finally introspect.

Imperative rules

These are essentials that will help you not to lose the line of thought and prioritize the ideas. So to stay specific and objective follow these rules:

  • Discuss the strongest points first and present the weakest arguments in the closing paragraph of the essay.
  • Make the title sound strong by using a verb. Look through any newspaper and you will see that every headline has a verb.
  • Make your title or thesis provocative to involve your readers in the discussion.

Here are a few eye-captivating titles:

  1. Bitcoin will soon replace half of the conventional currency
  2. AIDS: exists or not?
  3. Who does South Korea face off against?
  4. Expect to lose weight by suggestive therapy
  5. The religion loses its power on citizens
  6. How the French revolution affected the political system of the country
  • Do not skip the error-correction and editing stage. A great deal of essays has failed because of one-eyed proofreading.
  • First, choose a topic and then centre your ideas on it. However, you may always review it when the essay is finished to see if it still sounds effective.
  • Avoid vague words, slang, colloquial language and complex structures.
  • Follow the appropriate style, punctuation and format as the wise saying goes: “First impressions are most lasting”.
  • Use reputable sources so that not to include inauthentic data in your essay. It is not good to overuse the Internet resources as many of them may be unreliable.
  • Cite everything you find, otherwise, you will be accused of plagiarism.
  • Omit empty sentences such as “I consider”, “Some people say that”, “It is interesting to mention”, “It is clear that” as they do not follow the academic format.
  • Say "No" to generalizing phrases. Even if they look grand and substantial, the instructor will easily identify your trick.

How to make a long paper short

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Most people lack the skill to present the information briefly and to the point. Some individuals may also struggle writing any kind of the essay due to various reasons. However, everyone may come to this task sooner or later.

In fact, both students and business people can face this challenge throughout their everyday life or career. Short essays, brief reports, summaries or short speeches are the types of oral or written presentation in many spheres of life so they should be ready to cope with this task competently. There is hardly one who is able to present the topic briefly at the first attempt. So have patience and be diligent at every step of the writing process.

If it happens you cannot make your essay short regardless of all the advice given above, we offer you to implement these cut-a-long-story-short tips:

  • Condensate technique

Look through your writing carefully to make sure that every statement contributes to the essay topic. If you have two sentences that similarly convey one idea, try to combine them by using dashes, semi-colons, or compound clauses. Check the text for wordy sentences. For example, there may be sentences starting with “It is”, “It says”, “It seems to me that”, etc. It is necessary to get rid of such redundant words. Experiment with the sentence structure more than once and you will learn to rephrase lengthy statements without changing the meaning.

  • Highlight the ultimate messages

A key point of this method is using a highlighter or a pencil to mark out only most important parts of the essay. Leave out everything that does not provide evidence or introspection and you will notice how your essay is getting shorter. Once finished, ask your friend or parent to do the same procedure.

  • Weak sentence test

Another way to shorten the essay is to extract every sentence and test whether the message has become less strong without it. If you do not see any difference after taking out the sentence, you can remove it safely.

  • Simplify the thesis

A short essay assumes a thesis which is a bit broader than in long discussions. That means you will need only a couple of examples to develop the thesis. Thus, your essay becomes shorter.

Your total victory over a short essay is guaranteed if you follow the recommendations from this guideline. If you are still in doubt that your writing piece is OK, think of hiring a professional editor from a reputable essay writing service. We encourage you to consider our writing team who will serve your needs and complete any essay assignments in due time.

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