Academic writing tips: creating an essay

Every student is going to be faced with writing at some point in their educational career. Following a organized and consistent process will help you focus and create an excellent essay every time.


Some classes will give you a very specific topic. Other classes will leave the topic open to you with only minimum guidelines. Either way, you need to spend some time brainstorming what topic you want to do and what you want to get out of that topic. With the instructor's criteria in mind, simply start writing down words, phrases, or even pictures that pop into your mind. Spend at least a few minutes doing this. Once you have all your ideas in place, review the brainstorming and narrow down your ideas to a manageable single topic. It may include combining several of your ideas. At this point, you want a topic that is interesting to you.

Gathering Data/Information

With topic in mind, it is time to start researching and gathering the data and information you need for your essay. Libraries, online databases, and websites are all great places to look for information. Make sure to either copy or take good notes on the location of the information to make citations easier down the road. Give yourself a limit on how much you research – there comes a time when you have to stop the researching and get to writing.


Once you have your information, create a skeleton of your paper. There are several ways to do this including note cards, drawings, or simply roman numerals on a page. This is the time to really organize your thoughts and plan your paper. Don't skip this step – it will make the writing process so much easier.

Rough Draft

This the step where the essay is really created. Take your outline and flesh it out into complete sentences and ideas. Makes sure to keep linking ideas together and note where you need citations as you write. Don't focus too much on fine tuning at this step, that will come with the final review – just get your ideas on paper. Once you are done with the rough draft, put it aside for a while. Take a break from it before you move on to the final review.

Final Review

Once you have stepped away from the paper, you can now review it with fresh eyes. Re-read your paper, looking for spelling and grammar errors. Make sure it flows properly and make sure your citations are all properly documented. This is the final sweep of your paper and will help you catch any errors and make corrections.

By following a plan and structure for creating an essay, you will consistently draft highly quality and successful academic writing.

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