Writing Essays

General points on presentation

  • Give the whole, exact title
  • Write in continuous prose, without headings or sections
  • Word-process if possible
  • Keep to the required word length
  • Use wide margins or double line spacing
  • Only write on one side of the paper
  • Write in a formal way without slang, abbreviations or contractions

Guidance on structure


  • Aim to make the introduction 3 to 5 per cent of the total essay
  • Set the scene – why does the subject matter? (Is it topical? Is there a growing problem?)
  • show how you are going to deal with the title – in which order will you discuss the various aspects?
  • Your essay plan should help you to write the introduction

Main Body

  • Aim for this section to be about 80 per cent of the whole
  • Write in paragraphs which are linked together.  Each paragraph should contain a distinct topic or idea, usually “announced” in the opening sentence
  • Information should not just be described, but analysed and argued.  The relevance of the point to the tittle of the essay should always be clear.  Phrases such as “this shows that…” or “this conflicts with the argument that…” show the reader the direction you are taking


  • This should be about 13 to 15 per cent of the essay – longer than the introduction
  • Restate the main points covered in the essay
  • Do not introduce any new information in the conclusion
  • Make sure that you have comprehensively dealt with the essay title


  • Show here the sources of information you have used
  • List in alphabetical order of author with surname, initial, publisher and date


  • There are a number of different ways of showing exactly where quotes and references have come from – find out from your tutor which method they prefer