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Basic Guide to Writing an Essay




Begin your outline by writing your topic at the top of the page.

Next, write the Roman numerals I, II, and III, spread apart down the left side of the page.

Next to each Roman numeral, write the main ideas that you have about your topic, or the main points that you want to make.

If you are trying to persuade, you want to write your best arguments.

If you are trying to explain a process, you want to write the steps that should be followed. You will probably need to group these into categories. If you have trouble grouping the steps into categories, try using Beginning, Middle, and End.

If you are trying to inform, you want to write the major categories into which your information can be divided.

Under each Roman numeral, write A, B, and C down the left side of the page.

Next to each letter, write the facts or information that support that main idea.

When you have finished, you have the basic structure for your essay and are ready to continue.

Slide 8

Composing a Thesis Statement

Composing a Thesis Statement

Now that you have decided, at least tentatively, what information you plan to present in your essay, you are ready to write your thesis statement.

The thesis statement tells the reader what the essay will be about, and what point you, the author, will be making.

You know what the essay will be about. That was your topic. Now you must look at your outline or diagram and decide what point you will be making. What do the main ideas and supporting ideas that you listed say about your topic?

Slide 9

Thesis Statements

Thesis Statements

Your thesis statement will have two parts.

The first part states the topic.

Kenya's Culture

Building a Model Train Set

Public Transportation

The second part states the point of the essay.

has a rich and varied history

takes time and patience

can solve some of our city's most persistent and pressing problems

Once you have formulated a thesis statement that fits this pattern and with which you are comfortable, you are ready to continue.

Slide 10

Writing the Body Paragraphs

Writing the Body Paragraphs

In the body of the essay, all the preparation up to this point comes to fruition. The topic you have chosen must now be explained, described, or argued. Each main idea that you wrote down in your diagram or outline will become one of the body paragraphs. If you had three or four main ideas, you will have three or four body paragraphs. Each body paragraph will have the same basic structure.

Start by writing down one of your main ideas, in sentence form. Next, write down each of your supporting points for that main idea, but leave four or five lines in between each point.

In the space under each point, write down some elaboration for that point. Elaboration can be further description or explanation or discussion.

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