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Not sure which path your essay should follow? Formatting an essay may not be as interesting as choosing a topic to write about or carefully crafting elegant sentences, but it’s an extremely important part of creating a high-quality paper. In this article, we’ll explain essay formatting rules for three of the most popular essay styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago.

For each, we’ll do a high-level overview of what your essay’s structure and references should look like, then we include a comparison chart with nitty-gritty details for each style, such as which font you should use for each and whether they’re a proponent of the Oxford comma. We also include information on why essay formatting is important and what you should do if you’re not sure which style to use.

Why Is Your Essay Format Important?

Does it really matter which font size you use or exactly how you cite a source in your paper? It can! Style formats were developed as a way to standardize how pieces of writing and their works cited lists should look. 

Why is this necessary? Imagine you’re a teacher, researcher, or publisher who reviews dozens of papers a week. If the papers didn’t follow the same formatting rules, you could waste a lot of time trying to figure out which sources were used, if certain information is a direct quote or paraphrased, even who the paper’s author is. Having essay formatting rules to follow makes things easier for everyone involved. Writers can follow a set of guidelines without trying to decide for themselves which formatting choices are best, and readers don’t need to go hunting for the information they’re trying to find.

Next, we’ll discuss the three most common style formats for essays.

MLA Essay Format

MLA style was designed by the Modern Language Association, and it has become the most popular college essay format for students writing papers for class. It was originally developed for students and researchers in the literature and language fields to have a standardized way of formatting their papers, but it is now used by people in all disciplines, particularly humanities. MLA is often the style teachers prefer their students to use because it has simple, clear rules to follow without extraneous inclusions often not needed for school papers. For example, unlike APA or Chicago styles, MLA doesn’t require a title page for a paper, only a header in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

MLA style doesn’t have any specific requirements for how to write your essay, but an MLA format essay will typically follow the standard essay format of an introduction (ending with a thesis statement), several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

One of the nice things about creating your works cited for MLA is that all references are structured the same way, regardless of whether they’re a book, newspaper, etc. It’s the only essay format style that makes citing references this easy! Here is a guide on how to cite any source in MLA format. When typing up your works cited, here are a few MLA format essay rules to keep in mind:

  • The works cited page should be the last paper of your paper.
  • This page should still be double-spaced and include the running header of your last name and page number.
  • It should begin with “Works Cited” at the top of the page, centered.
  • Your works cited should be organized in alphabetical order, based on the first word of the citation.

APA Essay Format

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This format type is most often used for research papers, specifically those in behavioral sciences (such as psychology and neuroscience) and social sciences (ranging from archeology to economics). Because APA is often used for more research-focused papers, they have a more specific format to follow compared to, say, MLA style.

All APA style papers begin with a title page, which contains the title of the paper (in capital letters), your name, and your institutional affiliation (if you’re a student, then this is simply the name of the school you attend). The APA recommends the title of your paper not be longer than 12 words.

After your title page, your paper begins with an abstract. The abstract is a single paragraph, typically between 150 to 250 words, that sums up your research. It should include the topic you’re researching, research questions, methods, results, analysis, and a conclusion that touches on the significance of the research. Many people find it easier to write the abstract last, after completing the paper.

After the abstract comes the paper itself. APA essay format recommends papers be short, direct, and make their point clearly and concisely. This isn’t the time to use flowery language or extraneous descriptions. Your paper should include all the sections mentioned in the abstract, each expanded upon.

Following the paper is the list of references used. Unlike MLA style, in APA essay format, every source type is referenced differently. So the rules for referencing a book are different from those for referencing a journal article are different from those referencing an interview. Here’s a guide for how to reference different source types in APA format . Your references should begin on a new page that says “REFERENCES” at the top, centered. The references should be listed in alphabetical order.

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Chicago Essay Format

Chicago style (sometimes referred to as “Turabian style”) was developed by the University of Chicago Press and is typically the least-used by students of the three major essay style formats. The Chicago Manual of Style (currently on its 17th edition) contains within its 1000+ pages every rule you need to know for this style. This is a very comprehensive style, with a rule for everything. It’s most often used in history-related fields, although many people refer to The Chicago Manual of Style for help with a tricky citation or essay format question. Many book authors use this style as well.

Like APA, Chicago style begins with a title page, and it has very specific format rules for doing this which are laid out in the chart below. After the title page may come an abstract, depending on whether you’re writing a research paper or not. Then comes the essay itself. The essay can either follow the introduction → body → conclusion format of MLA or the different sections included in the APA section. Again, this depends on whether you’re writing a paper on research you conducted or not.

Unlike MLA or APA, Chicago style typically uses footnotes or endnotes instead of in-text or parenthetical citations. You’ll place the superscript number at the end of the sentence (for a footnote) or end of the page (for an endnote), then have an abbreviated source reference at the bottom of the page. The sources will then be fully referenced at the end of the paper, in the order of their footnote/endnote numbers. The reference page should be titled “Bibliography” if you used footnotes/endnotes or “References” if you used parenthetical author/date in-text citations.

Comparison Chart

Below is a chart comparing different formatting rules for APA, Chicago, and MLA styles.

How Should You Format Your Essay If Your Teacher Hasn’t Specified a Format?

What if your teacher hasn’t specified which essay format they want you to use? The easiest way to solve this problem is simply to ask your teacher which essay format they prefer. However, if you can’t get ahold of them or they don’t have a preference, we recommend following MLA format. It’s the most commonly-used essay style for students writing papers that aren’t based on their own research, and its formatting rules are general enough that a teacher of any subject shouldn’t have a problem with an MLA format essay. The fact that this style has one of the simplest sets of rules for citing sources is an added bonus!

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What's Next?

Thinking about taking an AP English class? Read our guide on AP English classes to learn whether you should take AP English Language or AP English Literature (or both!)

Compound sentences are an importance sentence type to know. Read our guide on compound sentences for everything you need to know about compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences.

Need ideas for a research paper topic? Our guide to research paper topics has over 100 topics in ten categories so you can be sure to find the perfect topic for you.

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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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The Student Guide on the Short Essay Format

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Do you know what a best student does right when writing a short essay? Of course, he follows the right pattern or structure of writing one. And, this interesting blog post is your opportunity to learn the short essay format and chase down those nerdy kids in the academic run.

Following a good short essay format will enhance the readability of your academic piece. Plus, it will also help in conveying your idea well to the target audience. That being said,  our writers  always stick to the best formatting guidelines when dealing with a short essay task.

We know you are now in a hurry to know the fundamentals of a good short essay format. So let’s get started with them.

Table of Contents

What is a Short Essay?

A short essay is a brief piece of writing that’s all about presenting a specific argument, analysis, or viewpoint on a particular topic. It’s usually not as long as those regular essays you have to write for school. There’s no super strict rule about how many words it should be, but it’s usually around 250 to 500 words, give or take. It all depends on the situation or what your teacher wants.

A short essay is all about getting your point across in a limited space. Even though it’s short, it still needs to have a proper structure with an intro, body, and conclusion. You can write about anything, from your personal thoughts to academic stuff or analyzing specific problems.

Due to their limited length, short essays require precise and focused writing. They emphasize the importance of conveying information effectively and efficiently, making every word count. In a short essay, the writer aims to present a thesis or central idea and support it with succinct yet compelling evidence or examples. Overall, it could be a short task but nevertheless very challenging for some students, that’s why we advise consulting the best  paper writing service  available.

Anyway, let’s move to understanding the format of such an essay.

The Fundamentals of a Short Essay Format

A short essay format typically consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Despite its brevity, it aims to present a concise argument or viewpoint effectively. Here’s an in-depth breakdown of each section:

Introduction

Begin with a compelling hook to grab the reader’s attention. This could be an anecdote, a startling fact, a quote, or a rhetorical question.

Background Information

Provide brief context or background information on the topic to orient the reader.

Thesis Statement

Present a clear and specific thesis that states your main argument or opinion succinctly. This sets the tone for the essay and guides the reader on what to expect.

Body Paragraphs

Topic sentence.

Start each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence that supports your thesis and sets the focus of the paragraph.

Supporting Evidence

Present evidence, examples, facts, or statistics that support the topic sentence and, by extension, the overall thesis.

Explanation and Analysis 

Explain how the evidence supports your argument. Analyze and interpret the evidence to illustrate its relevance and impact on your viewpoint.

Transitions 

Use transitional phrases or sentences to smoothly connect ideas between paragraphs and ensure a coherent flow of thoughts.

Restate Thesis

Summarize your main argument or opinion by restating the thesis statement, albeit in different words.

Summary of Key Points 

Briefly recap the main points discussed in the body paragraphs, emphasizing their significance in supporting your thesis.

Closing Statement 

End with a memorable closing statement that reinforces the essay’s main idea or leaves the reader with something to ponder.

Avoid Introducing New Information 

Ensure that the conclusion does not introduce new ideas or evidence; it should serve to conclude the existing discussion.

Formatting Considerations

Conciseness.

Given the short length, focus on conveying ideas succinctly without unnecessary elaboration.

Clarity and Precision

  • Use clear, straightforward language to communicate ideas effectively.
  • Structure and Organization 
  • Maintain a logical structure with clear transitions between sections to enhance readability.

Proofreading and Revision

Ensure the essay is free from grammatical errors and typos. Revise and edit to refine the content and improve coherence.

10 Expert Tips and Tricks on a Short Essay Format

Here are some expert tips and tricks for mastering the short essay format. Something you will get with the best  assignment writing service  when you opt to pay someone to write your essay.

Focus on Clarity and Conciseness

Use clear and specific language to convey ideas without unnecessary verbosity.

Every sentence should contribute directly to the argument or explanation.

Structure and Organization

Plan the essay’s structure before writing to maintain a logical flow.

Craft a compelling introduction to engage the reader and present a clear thesis.

Stay On Topic

Keep the focus on the main argument or viewpoint without drifting off-topic.

Resist the temptation to cover too many points; focus on depth rather than breadth.

Support with Succinct Evidence

Choose strong, relevant examples or evidence that directly support your thesis.

Keep analysis concise, linking evidence back to the main argument.

Transitions and Cohesion

Use transitional words or phrases to guide the reader through your points smoothly.

Ensure coherence between paragraphs for a seamless reading experience.

Effective Conclusion

Recap the main points briefly without introducing new information.

End with a memorable closing statement that reinforces the thesis.

Trim unnecessary words or phrases to maintain brevity.

Ensure that each sentence is clear and contributes to the essay’s purpose.

Practice and Feedback

Continuously practice writing within a limited word count to refine skills.

Get feedback from peers or mentors to identify areas for improvement.

Time Management

Allocate sufficient time for planning, writing, and revising the essay.

Focus on the most critical points to ensure they’re well-developed within the short length.

Read Examples and Study Structure

Read well-crafted short essays to understand effective structures and styles.

Explore diverse topics and styles to grasp the versatility of short essay writing.

problems that students face with a short essay formula

Writing Rules and the Short Essay Format

As you may know that APA and MLA writing rules follows a different short essay format or structure. Here’s how.

APA Short Essay Format

Here’s an APA short essay format example for you:

  • The title is centered in the middle of the page.
  • Student’s name, institution, course name/number, instructor’s name, and due date at the bottom center or bottom right corner.
  • No separate title for the introduction.
  • Begin with the introduction paragraph after the title page.
  • Include a clear thesis statement at the end of the introduction paragraph.
  • Use clear and concise topic sentences for each paragraph.
  • Support each point with evidence, research, or examples.
  • Provide in-text citations for all sourced information.
  • Ensure a clear transition between paragraphs.
  • No separate title for the conclusion.
  • Summarize the main points without introducing new information.
  • Restate the thesis statement in different words.
  • Offer insights or suggestions if appropriate to the topic.
  • Include a separate page titled “References” centered at the top of the page.
  • List all sources cited in the essay alphabetically by the author’s last name.
  • Follow the APA format for referencing (Author, Date, Title, etc.).
  • Use 12-point Times New Roman font.
  • Double-spacing throughout the essay.
  • One-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Include a running head on each page with a shortened title (not exceeding 50 characters) and page number in the top right corner.

MLA Short Essay Format

Here’s the MLA short essay format example for you: 

  • In MLA style, a separate title page isn’t necessary unless specifically requested by the instructor.
  • On the first page, include your name, instructor’s name, course title, and date at the top left corner.
  • Center the essay’s title below this information, but do not underline, italicize, or use quotation marks for the title.
  • Start with the introduction paragraph after the heading or title.
  • No specific heading is required for the introduction.
  • End the introduction with a clear thesis statement.
  • Use clear topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph.
  • Support arguments or points with evidence, examples, or citations where necessary.
  • Include in-text citations for all sourced information according to MLA guidelines.
  • Ensure smooth transitions between paragraphs.
  • No separate heading for the conclusion.
  • Summarize key points without introducing new information.
  • Restate the thesis using different words and offer concluding thoughts if relevant.

Works Cited

  • Include a separate page titled “Works Cited” centered at the top of the page.
  • Follow MLA format for citations (Author, Title of Source, Title of Container, etc.).
  • Include a header on each page with your last name and page number in the top right corner.

Final Thoughts

Overall, we have tried to answer what is short essay format and why it is crucial for effective communication within a concise space. Here’s the highlight of important points we have learned in this article:

  • Learning to convey depth of thought within a limited word count is a valuable skill.
  • Each sentence should contribute directly to the argument or explanation without excess.
  • A well-structured essay, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion, aids in presenting ideas effectively.
  • Ensuring seamless transitions between paragraphs enhances readability.
  • Using clear, specific language without sacrificing depth aids in effective communication.
  • Striving for clarity without oversimplifying complex ideas or arguments is essential.

Still, if you are confused with the format of short essay, don’t hesitate to contact our experts.

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what is a brief essay format

How to Write a Short Essay in English

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Writing clearly and concisely is one of the best skills you can take from school into professional settings. A great way to practice this kind of writing is with short essays. A short essay is any essay that has a word count of fewer than 1,000 words. While getting assigned a short essay might seem preferable to a ten-page paper, writing short poses its own special challenges. Here, we’ll show you how to write a convincing short essay in five simple steps.

What is a short essay?

A short essay is any type of essay condensed to its most important elements. There is no universal answer to what a short essay length is, but teachers generally assign short essays in the 250- to 750-word range, and occasionally up to 1,000 words.

Just because the essays are short doesn’t mean the subjects must be simple. One of the greatest challenges of short essays is distilling complex topics into a few telling words. Some examples of short essay topics are:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of social media
  • The pros and cons of online learning
  • The influence of music on human emotions
  • The role of artificial intelligence in modern life
  • The ways that climate change affects daily life

Why write short essays?

Short essays have a number of advantages, including effective communication, critical thinking, and professional communication.

Effective communication: In the short essay, you don’t have the space to wander. Practicing short essays will help you learn how to articulate your message clearly and quickly.

Critical thinking: Writing a short essay demands the ability to think critically and identify key points that support the central thesis. Short essays will help you hone your ability to find the most relevant points and shed irrelevant information.

Professional communication: Whether it’s writing a persuasive email, a project proposal, or a succinct report, the ability to convey information effectively in a brief format is a valuable skill in the professional world.

Developing writing skills: As with all writing practice, short essays provide an excellent platform for you to refine your writing skills, such as grammar, sentence structure , vocabulary, and coherence. The more you practice crafting short essays, the more your overall writing proficiency improves.

How to write a short essay

The tactics you use for longer essays apply to short essays as well. For more in-depth guides on specific types of essays, you can read our posts on persuasive , personal , expository , compare-and-contrast , and argumentative essays. Regardless of the essay type, following these five steps will make writing your short essay much easier.

Don’t be afraid of learning too much about a subject when you have a small word count. The better you understand your subject, the easier it will be to write clearly about it.

2 Generate ideas

Jot down key points, arguments, or examples that you want to include in your essay. Don’t get too wrapped up in the details during this step. Just try to get down all of the big ideas that you want to get across. Your major argument or theme will likely emerge as you contemplate.

Outlines are especially helpful for short essays because you don’t have any room for excess information. Creating an outline will help you stay on topic when it comes time to write.

You have to actually write the essay. Once you’ve done your research, developed your big ideas, and outlined your essay, the writing will come more easily.

Naturally, our favorite part of the process is the editing . The hard part (writing) is done. Now you can go back through and make sure all of your word choices make sense, your grammar is checked, and you have cleaned up any unessential or irrelevant information.

Short essay examples

Why small dogs are better than big dogs (209 words).

Small dogs are beloved companions to many, and their unique qualities make them a perfect fit for some pet owners. In this essay, we explore why a small dog might be the right choice for you.

Firstly, the compact size of small dogs makes them ideal for people living in apartments or homes with limited space. As long as you can get your furry friend to fresh air (and grass) a couple of times per day, you don’t have to worry about having a big yard.

Secondly, small dogs require less food, which can be advantageous for those on a budget.

Small dogs are also easier to handle and control. Walks and outdoor activities become less physically demanding, making them a preferable choice for children, the elderly, or those with limited strength.

If you travel a lot for work or family, small dogs are much easier to bring along than their larger counterparts. Some travel companies make dog carriers that tuck neatly under a bus or plane seat.

In conclusion, small dogs offer a multitude of benefits, from their limited space requirements and economic advantages to their ease of handling and portability. These charming qualities undoubtedly make small dogs a cherished choice for pet owners seeking a new companion.

Why big dogs are better than small dogs (191 words)

Big dogs, with their impressive presence and gentle souls, have captured the hearts of countless pet owners. In this essay, we explore why big dogs are better pets than their smaller counterparts.

Firstly, big dogs exude an aura of protectiveness and security. Their size alone can act as a deterrent to potential intruders, making them excellent guard dogs for families and properties. Their mere presence provides reassurance and safety.

Secondly, big dogs tend to have more energy and strength, making them suitable partners for various outdoor activities and adventures. Hiking, jogging, or simply playing fetch becomes an enjoyable experience, fostering an active and healthy lifestyle for both pet and owner.

Lastly, big dogs often have a gentle and patient demeanor, especially when interacting with children and other pets. Their calm nature can bring a peaceful or grounding presence to otherwise chaotic homes.

In conclusion, big dogs possess a captivating blend of commanding protectiveness, physical capacity, and gentle disposition. These qualities make them exceptional companions, providing both security and emotional fulfillment. Big dogs are a great choice for potential pet owners looking for an animal with majestic appeal and a loving heart.

Short essay FAQs

A short essay is any essay that is shorter than 1,000 words. Teachers often assign short essays to teach students how to write clearly, coherently, and concisely.

When do you write a short essay?

Short essays help students practice effective communication, critical thinking, and persuasive writing. While short essays are often assigned in school, they are also useful in professional settings for things like project proposals or reports.

How do you format a short essay?

Short essays should be formatted according to your teacher’s guidelines or the requirements of your workplace. Check your assignment for the word count and stick to it. Make sure your essay flows logically from one idea to the next by presenting a clear thesis, using strong topic sentences, and providing a concise conclusion.

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Learn the Standard Essay Format: MLA, APA, Chicago Styles

what is a brief essay format

Being able to write an essay is a vital part of any student's education. However, it's not just about linearly listing ideas. A lot of institutions will require a certain format that your paper must follow; prime examples would be one of a basic essay format like MLA, the APA, and the Chicago formats. This article will explain the differences between the MLA format, the APA format, and the Chicago format. The application of these could range from high school to college essays, and they stand as the standard of college essay formatting. EssayPro — dissertation services , that will help to make a difference!

What is an Essay Format: Structure

Be it an academic, informative or a specific extended essay - structure is essential. For example, the IB extended essay has very strict requirements that are followed by an assigned academic style of writing (primarily MLA, APA, or Chicago):

  • Abstract: comprised of 3 paragraphs, totaling about 300 words, with 100 words in each.
  • ~ Paragraph 1: must include a research question, thesis, and outline of the essay’s importance.
  • ~ Paragraph 2: Key resources, scope and limits of research, etc.
  • ~ Paragraph 3: Conclusion that you’ve already reached in your essay.
  • Table of Contents (with page numbers)
  • ~ Research question
  • ~ Introduction
  • ~ Arguments
  • ~ Sub-headings
  • ~ Conclusion
  • ~ Works cited (bibliography)
  • Introduction
  • ~ The research question is required
  • Bibliography (Works Cited)

This outline format for an extended essay is a great example to follow when writing a research essay, and sustaining a proper research essay format - especially if it is based on the MLA guidelines. It is vital to remember that the student must keep track of their resources to apply them to each step outlined above easily. And check out some tips on how to write an essay introduction .

Lost in the Labyrinth of Essay Formatting?

Navigate the complexities of essay structures with ease. Let our experts guide your paper to the format it deserves!

How to Write an Essay in MLA Format

To write an essay in MLA format, one must follow a basic set of guidelines and instructions. This is a step by step from our business essay writing service

  • Font : 12pt Times New Roman
  • ~ Double spaced everywhere
  • ~ No extra spaces, especially between paragraphs
  • Heading : Example of the heading on the first page of the essay (upper left corner)
  • ~ Your name (John Smith)
  • ~ Teacher’s / Professor’s name (Margot Robbie)
  • ~ The class (Depends on course/class)
  • ~ Date (20 April 2017)
  • Margins : One-inch margin on the top, bottom, left and right.
  • Page Numbers : Last name and page number must be put on every page of the essay as a “header”. Otherwise, it would go in place of the text.
  • Title : There needs to be a proper essay title format, centered and above the first line of the essay of the same font and size as the essay itself.
  • Indentation : Just press tab (1/2 inch, just in case)
  • Align : Align to the left-hand side, and make sure it is aligned evenly.

mla format

It’s important to remember that the essay format of MLA is usually used in humanities, which differs from other types of academic writing that we’ll go into detail later. For now, feast your eyes upon an MLA format essay example:

Essay in MLA Format Example

Mla format digital technology and health, mla vs. apa.

Before we move on to the APA essay format, it is important to distinguish the two types of formatting. Let’s go through the similarities first:

  • The formatting styles are similar: spacing, citation, indentation.
  • All of the information that is used within the essay must be present within the works cited page (in APA, that’s called a reference page)
  • Both use the parenthetical citations within the body of the paper, usually to show a certain quote or calculation.
  • Citations are listed alphabetically on the works cited / reference page.

What you need to know about the differences is not extensive, thankfully:

  • MLA style is mostly used in humanities, while APA style is focused more on social sciences. The list of sources has a different name (works cited - MLA / references - APA)
  • Works cited differ on the way they display the name of the original content (MLA -> Yorke, Thom / APA -> Yorke T.)
  • When using an in-text citation, and the author’s name is listed within the sentence, place the page number found at the end: “Yorke believes that Creep was Radiohead’s worst song. (4).” APA, on the other hand, requires that a year is to be inserted: “According to Yorke (2013), Creep was a mess.”

Alright, let’s carry over to the APA style specifics.

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How to write an essay in apa format.

The APA scheme is one of the most common college essay formats, so being familiar with its requirements is crucial. In a basic APA format structure, we can apply a similar list of guidelines as we did in the MLA section:

  • Spacing : Double-space that bad boy.
  • Margins : One Inch margins on all sides.
  • Page Numbers : Insert a header at the top left of every page that includes a shortened title of your essay, below 50 characters including punctuation. Slap a number in there too (top right corner).
  • Title Page : Title of the paper, author’s name, institutional affiliation. Additional information may be required, such as course title, instructor name and date.
  • Headings: All headings should be written in bold and titlecase. Different heading levels have different additional criteria to apply.

You can also ask us to write or rewrite essay in APA format if you find it difficult or don't have time.

Note that some teachers and professors may request deviations from some of the characteristics that the APA format originally requires, such as those listed above.

apa format

Note that some teachers and professors maybe have deviations to some of the characteristics that the APA format originally requires, such as those listed above.

If you think: 'I want someone write a research paper for me ', you can do it at Essaypro.

Essay in APA Format Example

Apa format chronobiology, chicago style.

The usage of Chicago style is prevalent in academic writing that focuses on the source of origin. This means that precise citations and footnotes are key to a successful paper.

Chicago Style Essay Format

The same bullet point structure can be applied to the Chicago essay format.

  • ~ Chicago style title page is all about spacing.
  • ~ Down the page should be the title, with regular text. If longer than one line, double-spaced.
  • ~ Next, in the very middle, center your full name.
  • ~ Down the page - course number, instructor’s name and the date in separate double-spaced lines.
  • Margins : Use one-inch margins apart from the right side.
  • ~ Double spaced everywhere.
  • ~ No extra spaces, especially between paragraphs.
  • Font : Times New Roman is the best choice (12pt)
  • Page Numbers
  • ~ Last name, page number in the heading of every page on the top right
  • ~ Do not number the title page. The first page of the text should start with a 2.
  • Footnotes : The Chicago format requires footnotes on paraphrased or quoted passages.
  • Bibliography : The bibliography is very similar to that of MLA. Gather the proper information and input it into a specialized citation site.

chicago style

Tips for Writing an Academic Paper

There isn’t one proper way of writing a paper, but there are solid guidelines to sustain a consistent workflow. Be it a college application essay, a research paper, informative essay, etc. There is a standard essay format that you should follow. For easier access, the following outline will be divided into steps:

Choose a Good Topic

A lot of students struggle with picking a good topic for their essays. The topic you choose should be specific enough so you can explore it in its entirety and hit your word limit if that’s a variable you worry about. With a good topic that should not be a problem. On the other hand, it should not be so broad that some resources would outweigh the information you could squeeze into one paper. Don’t be too specific, or you will find that there is a shortage of information, but don’t be too broad or you will feel overwhelmed. Don’t hesitate to ask your instructor for help with your essay writing.

Start Research as Soon as Possible

Before you even begin writing, make sure that you are acquainted with the information that you are working with. Find compelling arguments and counterpoints, trivia, facts, etc. The sky is the limit when it comes to gathering information.

Pick out Specific, Compelling Resources

When you feel acquainted with the subject, you should be able to have a basic conversation on the matter. Pick out resources that have been bookmarked, saved or are very informative and start extracting information. You will need all you can get to put into the citations at the end of your paper. Stash books, websites, articles and have them ready to cite. See if you can subtract or expand your scope of research.

Create an Outline

Always have a plan. This might be the most important phase of the process. If you have a strong essay outline and you have a particular goal in mind, it’ll be easy to refer to it when you might get stuck somewhere in the middle of the paper. And since you have direct links from the research you’ve done beforehand, the progress is guaranteed to be swift. Having a list of keywords, if applicable, will surely boost the informational scope. With keywords specific to the subject matter of each section, it should be much easier to identify its direction and possible informational criteria.

Write a Draft

Before you jot anything down into the body of your essay, make sure that the outline has enough information to back up whatever statement you choose to explore. Do not be afraid of letting creativity into your paper (within reason, of course) and explore the possibilities. Start with a standard 5 paragraph structure, and the content will come with time.

Ask for a Peer Review of Your Academic Paper

Before you know it, the draft is done, and it’s ready to be sent out for peer review. Ask a classmate, a relative or even a specialist if they are willing to contribute. Get as much feedback as you possibly can and work on it.

Final Draft

Before handing in the final draft, go over it at least one more time, focusing on smaller mistakes like grammar and punctuation. Make sure that what you wrote follows proper essay structure. Learn more about argumentative essay structure on our blog. If you need a second pair of eyes, get help from our service.

Read also our movie review example and try to determine the format in which it is written.

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How to Write a Short Essay: Format & Examples

Short essays answer a specific question on the subject. They usually are anywhere between 250 words and 750 words long. A paper with less than 250 words isn’t considered a finished text, so it doesn’t fall under the category of a short essay. Essays of such format are required for personal statements where you need to write about yourself. It might seem easy, but it’s not half.

The picture provides introductory information about a short essay format.

Expressing and elaborating your idea within the given word limit is the most challenging part of the task. In this article, we’ll explain how to write a great short essay. If you’re working on one of your assignments and need help, keep reading to learn more!

  • 📚 Essay Format
  • 📝 Essay Template
  • ✨ Guide & Useful Tips
  • ✅ Essay Topics

🔗 References

📚 short essay format.

A short essay follows a standard essay structure : intro – main body – conclusion. You can be creative with the contents of your paper; however, it’s best to stick to the hamburger essay format when it comes to structure.

These are the benefits of having a standard essay structure:

  • You always have a template that can help you organize your thoughts.
  • You can estimate how many words each paragraph should include, making the writing process faster and easier.
  • You can get a high grade by simply following the instructions.

Below you’ll find more detailed information on how to organize each short essay section.

Introduction

An essay introduction aims to grab the reader’s attention and provide essential background information . It sets the tone for the paper and presents the thesis statement, outlining the essay’s central argument. Here are a couple of advice on how to make your introduction work: 

Body Paragraphs

In the body paragraphs, you present and develop the essay’s main points. Each section focuses on a specific idea related to the topic, providing evidence, examples, and analysis to support the overall thesis statement. Here’s the structure of a paragraph:

A summary aims to condense the key ideas and arguments presented in an essay, allowing readers to quickly grasp the essence of the paper without reading the entire content. A good summary should:

The picture provides a list of steps for writing a short essay.

📝 Short Essay Template

Use this easy template to quickly structure any short narrative, argumentative, or informative essay.

  • Hook: an intriguing fact, question, or statistic to grab your readers’ attention.
  • Background info: something that provides context.
  • Thesis statement: the purpose or central argument of your essay presented in one sentence.
  • Topic sentence: a paragraph’s opening sentence that expresses its main idea.
  • Supporting sentences: evidence, facts, and examples supporting the topic sentence.
  • Transition: phrases or sentences that ensure coherence and cohesion in the essay, allowing for a clear and logical progression of information.
  • Summary: a brief recap and conclusion to an essay.
  • Restated thesis: a restatement of the main ideas and arguments.

✨ How to Write a Short Essay: Useful Tips

Each essay format has different requirements. Below are some tips to help you ensure you’re on the right track with the short essay format.

1. Follow the Short Essay Format

Mastering the format requirements is crucial, especially when writing a concise argumentative essay. While the five-paragraph structure may not be commonly found in literature, it holds great significance in academic writing for several reasons:

  • Adhering to this standardized template makes the writing process more manageable.
  • The clear guidelines facilitate reading, checking, and evaluation.
  • This format accommodates various essay types, allowing students to excel in most academic texts .

Each paragraph in the short essay format plays a distinct role, making it essential to include all components for a cohesive and impactful essay.

2. Make Your Introduction Meaningful

Here’s how you can make your introduction work:

  • When writing the opening paragraph of your essay, be very specific about your topic. It will help you sharpen your argument and clarify your intentions.
  • To avoid a generic introduction, consider providing an example of the evidence you will use to support your point.
  • Lastly, make sure to place your thesis statement as the concluding sentence of the paragraph, signaling to your readers where they can find the main point of your essay.

3. Write a Strong Thesis

Much has been said about the importance of a thesis statement, but crafting a persuasive one can be challenging. In a short essay, a strong thesis statement plays a crucial role. It summarizes the argument you intend to defend in your paper, setting the stage for your essay. Your thesis statement should be specific, intellectually rewarding by presenting new information, and decisive in expressing your opinion . Let’s take a closer look at some examples to illustrate these principles:

  • Bad example: There is a vast diversity of opinions regarding abortions .
  • Good example: Every woman must have the right to control her pregnancy which means the right to control her own body, health, and life.
  • Bad example: Prisons can harm a convict’s further career.
  • Good example: Imprisonment deteriorates a convict’s self-confidence and motivation, lowering their chances for new employment.
  • Bad example: Orphans become the beloved children in some families, while in others, they never become natives.
  • Good example: This essay aims to confirm that the reasons why adopting families don’t accept children lie within the families’ unreadiness for change.

4. Keep Your Introduction & Conclusion Concise

In the realm of short essay writing, brevity is the key. While it may be tempting to use abstract statements as hooks or delve into distant considerations in the conclusion part, keep an eye on the word count. With a maximum of 75 words each, the introduction elucidates the topic and conveys its significance, while the conclusion reiterates the main claim and reinforces the supporting evidence .

5. Make Topic Sentences from Your Thesis

When it comes to short essays, brevity extends to the main body as well. Typically comprising only 3 to 4 paragraphs, each of them focuses on a distinct aspect of the overall argument. To ensure clarity, we suggest splitting the thesis into multiple parts and transforming them into topic sentences for each paragraph. This structured approach will help you avoid confusion and make the paper more digestible for your readers. Additionally, this method simplifies crafting a well-rounded conclusion.

6. Refer to Reliable Sources

When tackling a short essay, it’s crucial to avoid baseless claims and instead focus on substantiating your arguments. Pay special attention to the sources you cite, as even the slightest inconsistency can catch the reader’s eye.

Enhance your essay’s credibility by incorporating several quotations or research-based facts, demonstrating your awareness of the topic. Even in the case of an in-class essay where extensive research may not be feasible, include relevant information or paraphrase passages you have previously encountered. Use indirect quotations if you can’t remember the exact wording.

7. Revise Your Short Essay

With a 500-word count, every word counts! Here are a few tips you may find helpful:

  • Take a moment to assess the length of your essay and eliminate any unnecessary words to ensure a faster and more polished result. Consider using our convenient summarizer to streamline your writing further.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to spot your own mistakes while proofreading the essay. Our essay-to-speech tool feature can help you identify weak points by reading your paper out loud. This auditory perspective can help you quickly identify and rectify any areas that require improvement.

✅ Short Essay Topics

Selecting an engaging and captivating topic is vital if you want to showcase your writing skills in a single short essay. Below are some examples to inspire your creativity . They’ll help you brainstorm and find the perfect topic that aligns with your interests and allows you to demonstrate your writing skills .

Short Narrative Essay Topics

  • How I see a day in my adult life .
  • Personal Experience in the Covert Conflict.
  • A loss that will never be replenished.
  • The Author’s Personal Experience.
  • Describe how you would change the school program .
  • Higher Education: Personality and Academic Success.
  • What is the critical element of success?
  • Photography: Hobby of Millions Unique for Everyone.
  • My first love and lessons learned from it.
  • Mindfulness Practicing: Personal Experience.
  • The longest day of my life.
  • Writing: Personal Hobby Analysis.
  • A place to find peace in the hurricane of events.
  • The Sports Coaching Guidelines and Routines.
  • An eye-opening situation that changed the way I treat others.
  • Innovation in Operation Management – Personal Experience.
  • The worst trait of my character.
  • Chapter 8 of “Criminology Today” by F. Schmalleger.
  • How I met my best friend.
  • Importance of Friendships.

Short Argumentative Essay Topics

  • Social media can kill a relationship.
  • Smoking in Public Places: Should It Be Banned?
  • Animals should live in their natural habitats .
  • Should People Be Ashamed of Poverty?
  • Mandatory Overtime for Nurses Should Be Eliminated.
  • The third wave of feminism is about to end with a half-victory.
  • The Importance of Variability in the Food Industry.
  • Gender Stereotypes: Should Real Men Wear Pink?
  • Pharmacies: A big lie that costs a fortune.
  • Police Standards Should Be Modified.
  • Genetic cloning is immoral.
  • Should Smoking Be Illegal?
  • College Athletes Should Not Be Paid.
  • We will never be equal because we are all different.
  • Mandatory Job Drug Test Should Be Allowed.
  • The best economic system has not been developed yet.
  • Why Marriage Should Be Based on Love and Not Arranged?
  • Reasons Why Kids Should Not Play Tackle Football.
  • Owning a gun means you can be killed by chance.
  • Should Social Media Be Banned?
  • The non-family-friendly TV screen.
  • Why Immigrants Should Receive Social Services?
  • There’s a lot more sport about video games than we think.
  • Should Children Be Taught Sex Education in School?

Short Informative Essay Topics

  • How have video games affected modern technologies ?
  • Infidelity and Societal Impact on Family Values.
  • Meaning of Life in “Half a Day” by Naguib Mahfouz.
  • Sociological Research Evaluation: Effects of Parental Imprisonment on Children’s Social and Moral Aspects.
  • Climate Change Impacts.
  • Explain the importance of the Olympic Games for building intercultural links.
  • The Importance of Strategic Management and Planning.
  • The Network Strategy of USA Today.
  • A prominent artist and their masterpiece.
  • Organizational Vision and Its Importance for the Staff.
  • How to develop reading habits that last.
  • The Impact of Electronic Medical Records.
  • New and Old Media: Form, Impact, and Accessibility.
  • Declaration of Independence and Cultural Issues Today.
  • How does alcohol impact the way we behave?
  • The Importance of Diet Monitoring.
  • Personal Philosophy of Nursing Care.
  • Why do teachers need a study plan?
  • The Introduction of a Four-Day Work Week.
  • Journalist Profession, Its Pros and Cons.
  • The role of capitalism in shaping our idea of democracy .
  • Teju Cole Personality’s in Modern American Society.
  • The Importance of Medical Ethics.
  • Tell a story of a famous and successful startup.
  • Power of Advertising: Good and Bad Balance’ Importance.
  • Personal and Political Pacifism.
  • The cultural importance of divination.
  • Important Factors in Personal Investment.
  • My way of organizing my daily schedule and staying productive .
  • The Impact of “The Marrow of Tradition” on Future American Literature.
  • Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”: Themes and Importance of the Book.

❓ Short Essay FAQ

A short essay is an academic paper typically ranging between 200 and 750 words, providing a focused topic exploration. This type of essay follows a standard structure: intro-main body-conclusion, usually presented in a five-paragraph format.

A short essay typically ranges from 200 to 750 words which can be covered in three to five paragraphs. This concise format translates to less than one page of typed content. However, it’s important to note that specific requirements may vary depending on the college, with some specifying a minimum of 150 words and a maximum of 650 words. Be sure to review the task instructions to ensure you meet the guidelines.

In a short essay, the number of words is more important than the number of sentences. It means you can use any number of sentences as long as you stay within the required word limit. However, most of the time, a short essay consists of around 20 to 25 sentences.

An introduction needs to grab readers’ attention and provide some background information. It’s best to start your essay with a hook. However, be careful and add only the necessary information since your word count is limited.

  • Writing short essays – Concordia University
  • Thesis Statements; The Writing Center – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • What Is an Essay Structure? (With 4 Types and Tips) | Indeed.com
  • How to Write a Thesis Statement: Writing Guides: Writing Tutorial Services: Indiana University Bloomington
  • Topic Sentences and Signposting | Harvard College Writing Center
  • Using Topic Sentences | Writing Advice
  • Beginning Proofreading – Purdue OWL® – Purdue University
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How to Write Short Essays

Stan Wright

Receiving an assignment to draft a short essay might sound easier, at least initially. However, writing a short 5 paragraph essay isn’t all as easier as it looks. You still need to follow all the instructions and abide by every principle to produce a high-quality short paper. Fortunately, mastering how to write this assignment is easy and possible.

This post discusses all the details of composing this essay type. Keep reading to perfect your writing skills.

Table of Contents

What Is a Short Essay ?

Let’s define a short essay before examining its related details. A short paper is a brief writing assignment that focuses on one idea or subject and requires brief coverage. You must focus on a single idea and provide further information supporting your arguments. A short essay can focus on any topic. For instance, you can describe an object, process, event, or person.

This essay usually ranges between 400 and 500 words. Your paper can be a minimum of half a page and a maximum of one page using single spacing.

A Short Essay Format

This paper’s format doesn’t significantly differ from its longer counterpart. An average brief essay can have between two and five paragraphs, depending on your teacher’s instructions. Also, the essay’s word count determines its exact number of paragraphs. While it’s short, you still must write it to convey your topic’s essence and meaning clearly.

Succeeding in this essay type requires you to sharpen your summarizing skills. You should be able to be brief without denying your readers clarity. Thus, hone your ability to explain issues clearly and briefly. Learning how to select data and facts to include into, or exclude from, your short assignment would be best.

Writing A Short Essay : How to Go About It

We stated that composing a short paper doesn’t overlook any general academic writing rules. You should follow the same process you do when drafting other long papers. Below are the steps to follow when writing a brief paper that fetches excellent grades.

  • Read the prompt

Start by reading the paper’s question to understand what you should do. This stage ensures you don’t miss any instructions that define and confine your assignment. Don’t fear consulting your tutor for clarification if you don’t capture anything.

After being sure of what you must do, start brainstorming for a relevant topic unless your instructor provided one. This stage allows you to determine appropriate and exciting topics you can write about. Once you find the best topic to write on, move to the next stage and start researching.

Researching is necessary for drafting a successful short assignment. Find out all the relevant sources and take notes. This essay type doesn’t require many sources, and two or three are enough to help you advance in the writing task. You can research it using articles from reputable journals or books.

While researching, please pay attention to the sources’ dates to ensure they’re as current as possible. The most recent academic references are always the best support for any topic. If you use academic journals, ensure that the articles are peer-reviewed.

Outlining is the next step you need in your writing process because you have all the details to include in your brief essay. You must outline your ideas to give them a logical flow and structure while writing. This step helps you focus your thoughts and know where to place the right ideas. Otherwise, you could lose some of your most powerful arguments and misplace others.

After completing these steps, write your short essay. You can begin from anywhere you want. For instance, if you aren’t sure what to include in your intro, you may write it last. This approach is excellent because you will know what to include in the body sections and conclusion by then. Thus, telling the reader what to expect in the paper’s subsequent sections becomes easier.

Editing is just as important as writing. The first draft should be your thoughts’ space holder. That means your editing process can chop whole sentences or introduce new ones. You may also rewrite chapters or sentences to make them flow well. In short, you can remove or add whatever is necessary.

Your editing process must also remove all grammar imperfections. All awkward renderings, repetitions, poor styling, and sloppy punctuations should be ousted. Besides, edit your paper with correct referencing and formatting in mind to ensure it abides by your instructor’s styling requirements.

Don’t forget to double-check whether you wrote the paper according to your professor’s full list of instructions. Lastly, check out for spelling errors your word processor didn’t detect. The spell check should come last because you can make other spelling mistakes while editing the paper.

Parts of a Mini Essay

A standard short essay has three main components: the introductory paragraph, three main body paragraphs, and one concluding paragraph. Let’s get the details below.

The Introduction

This section helps you make your first lasting impression. It should attract and retain your reader’s attention by capturing your audience’s interest. So, spice it up with something that will achieve this initial goal. Your hook can be relevant humor, stats, a quote, or anything that welcomes your readers on board.

Your introduction should also provide your audience with your paper’s context and what to expect from it as the story unfolds. However, keep it informative and brief to avoid telling your readers everything at once. Instead, let it only tell them what you want to say to them. We can summarize this section as follows:

  • Go straight to your points.
  • Introduce your thesis statement to give readers a strategic direction.
  • Include a sentence that summarizes the ideas you intend to discuss.
  • Shorten everything.
  • Be specific.
  • Provide minimal contextual details.

The Thesis Statement

This statement comes at your intro’s end. It should focus on the main thought you want to drive home. Your thesis should also be debatable because your entire essay will focus on proving it. It should also allow your opponents to debate your stand on a matter. So, make it as clear as possible so that anyone reading your short paper can easily detect it.

The Main Body

An average short paper has between two and five paragraphs. Using the five-paragraph format requires three paragraphs to prove your thesis. These sections must include the necessary evidence and facts to defend your thesis. Your first paragraph must contain your strongest argument, and your last one should have the weakest idea. This way, you are better placed to neutralize all opposition from the start.

The Conclusion

Your paper will also need a closing paragraph. This final section shows how your main body paragraphs defended your thesis statement. It should synthesize your work and answer the question you raised in the introduction. This closing part seeks to give your readers a fresh perspective on your discussion. It must make readers satisfied with what they read.

Tips for Writing a Great Short Essay

Here are tips to help you write an A+ short assignment.

  • Analyze the question

Take enough time to analyze your assignment’s question because your essay should be a response to a specific question. Thus, ensure you fully understand what your tutor expects of you.

  • Define your argument

You also have to define your argument before writing. Consider what this argument will be. Thus, take an informed position on the question you received. This way, you will be better positioned to define and present a specific argument.

Planning is critical to your essay’s success. Take time to brainstorm and organize your ideas for easy writing. You should research your paper to get sufficient materials to write about. Also, outline your paper to enjoy smooth writing.

  • Make a strong thesis statement

All your essay’s arguments will be as weak or strong as your thesis statement. Thus, make it as strong as possible.

  • Utilize evidence and reasoning

It would help if you bolstered your assignment with reasoning and evidence. These two are necessary for convincing your readers to buy into your main argument.

  • Cite sources 

Sources make your essay look more resourceful. So, cite the most authoritative references to prove to your readers that you did your homework well. Your sources must be the most recent and authoritative. You should also pay attention to the referencing requirements your instructor gave.

If the instructions require using a specific citation style like APA, you should follow it to the dot. But irrespective of your style, follow the guidelines and stick to them.

The final step is polishing your short essay through thorough and ruthless editing. The process must ensure your paper abides by all its styling requirements and guidelines, and you address all grammar issues to correct spelling or punctuation errors. If you fail here, you can rest assured that you will fetch low grades.

We hope you are up to date with all the details you need about writing a short essay. The ball is in your court to use them to advance your writing skills in this niche.

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How to Write an Essay in APA Format

Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

what is a brief essay format

Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.

what is a brief essay format

What Is APA Format?

Apa essay format basics.

  • Steps to Follow

Frequently Asked Questions

If your instructor has asked you to write an APA format essay, it might at first seem like a daunting task, especially if you are accustomed to using another style such as MLA or Chicago. But you can master the rules of APA essay format, too.

An essay is one type of paper that can be written in APA format; others include lab reports, experimental reports, and case studies. Before you begin, familiarize yourself with some of the basic guidelines for writing a paper in APA format. Of course, it will also be important to follow any other formatting instructions that are part of your assignment.

How do you write an essay in APA format? The basic elements you need to include are:

  • A title page
  • An abstract
  • An introduction, main body, and conclusion
  • A reference section
  • Proper APA formatting with regard to margins, layout, spacing, titles, and indentations

This article discusses how to write an essay in APA format, including the basic steps you should follow and tips for how to get started.

Whether you’re taking an introductory or graduate-level psychology class, chances are strong that you will have to write at least one paper during the course of the semester. In almost every case, you will need to write your paper in APA format, the official publication style of the American Psychological Association . It is also used for academic journals.

Such rules are generally the same whether you are writing a high school essay, college essay, or professional essay for publication.

APA format is used in a range of disciplines including psychology , education, and other social sciences. The format dictates presentation elements of your paper including spacing, margins, and how the content is structured.

Most instructors and publication editors have strict guidelines when it comes to how your format your writing. Not only does adhering to APA format allow readers to know what to expect from your paper, but it also means that your work will not lose critical points over minor formatting errors. 

While the formatting requirements for your paper might vary depending on your instructor's directions, writing APA essay format means you will most likely need to include a title page, abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, and reference sections.

Your APA format essay should have a title page . This title page should include the title of your paper, your name, and your school affiliation. In some instances, your teacher might require additional information such as the course title, instructor name, and the date.

  • The title of your paper should be concise and clearly describe what your paper is about.
  • Your title can extend to two lines, but it should be no longer than 12 words.

An abstract is a brief summary of your paper that immediately follows the title page. It is not required for student papers, according to APA style. However, your instructor may request one.

If you include an abstract , it should be no more than 100 to 200 words, although this may vary depending upon the instructor requirements.

Your essay should also include a reference list with all of the sources that were cited in your essay,

  • The reference section is located at the end of your paper.
  • References should be listed alphabetically by the last name of the author.
  • References should be double-spaced.
  • Any source that is cited in your paper should be included in your reference section.

When writing in APA essay format, the text will include the actual essay itself: The introduction, body, and conclusion.

  • There should be uniform margins of at least one inch at the top, bottom, left, and right sides of your essay.
  • The text should be in Times New Roman size 12 font or another serif typeface that is easily readable.
  • Your paper should be double-spaced.
  • Every page should include a page number in the top right corner.
  • The first word of each paragraph in your paper should be indented one-half inch.

For professional papers (usually not student papers), every page of the essay also includes a running head at the top left. The running head is a shortened form of the title, often the first few words, and should be no more than 50 characters (including spaces).

Steps to a Successful APA Format Essay

In addition to ensuring that you cite your sources properly and present information according to the rules of APA style, there are a number of things you can do to make the writing process a little bit easier.

Choose a Topic

Start by choosing a good topic to write about. Ideally, you want to select a subject that is specific enough to let you fully research and explore the topic, but not so specific that you have a hard time finding sources of information.

If you choose something too specific, you may find yourself with not enough to write about. If you choose something too general, you might find yourself overwhelmed with information.

Research Your Topic

Start doing research as early as possible. Begin by looking at some basic books and articles on your topic to help develop it further. What is the question you are going to answer with your essay? What approach will you take to the topic?

Once you are more familiar with the subject, create a preliminary source list of potential books, articles, essays, and studies that you may end up using in your essay.

Remember, any source used in your essay must be included in your reference section. Conversely, any source listed in your references must be cited somewhere in the body of your paper.

Write Your Rough Draft

With research in hand, you are ready to begin. Some people like to create an outline to organize their argument prior to drafting. You may want to start with a very rough outline, and then add details.

Once you have a detailed outline, the next step is to translate it from notes to complete sentences and paragraphs. Remember, this is a first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect.

As you write your paper in APA essay format, be sure to keep careful track of the sources that you cite.

How do you start an APA paper? Your paper should begin with an introduction that includes a thesis statement that presents your main ideas, points, or arguments. Your introduction should start on the third page of your paper (after the title page and abstract). The title of your paper should be centered, bolded, and typed in title case at the top of the page.

Review and Revise

After you have prepared a rough draft of your essay, it's time to revise, review, and prepare your final draft. In addition to making sure that your writing is cohesive and supported by your sources, you should also check carefully for typos, grammar errors, and possible formatting mistakes.

When citing information or quotations taken from an interview, APA format requires that you cite the source, how the information was collected, and the date of the interview. They should not be included in the reference section, however, because they are not something that can be located by a reader in any published source or searchable database.

Instead, the information should be cited parenthetically in the main body of the text. For example: “There was an increase in the number of college students who screened positive for depression/anxiety” (R. Heathfield, personal communication, May 9, 2021).

If the essay is in a chapter of a book, edited collection, or anthology, APA format states that you should cite the last name, first name, title of essay, title of collection, publisher, year, and page range. For example: Smith, John, "The Light House," A Book of Poems , editing by Peter Roberts, Allworth Press, 2005, pp. 20-25.

According to APA format, a two-part essay is formatted the same as an essay, however, you'll need to create two title pages.

If you're including a short direct quote in your APA-format essay, you will need to cite the author, year of publication, and page number (p.) or page number span (pp.). Quotations longer than 40 words should omit the quotation marks and be put in the text using block quotation formatting, on its own line and indented 1/2 inch from the left margin.

The cover page or "title page" in APA essay format should always include the title of your paper, your name, and school affiliation as well as the course title, instructor name, and date, if requested by your teacher.

Nagda S.  How to write a scientific abstract.   J Indian Prosthodont Soc.  2013;13(3):382-383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x

American Psychological Association.  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  (7th ed.). Washington DC: The American Psychological Association; 2019.

By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."

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How to Format an Essay

Last Updated: August 26, 2022 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Carrie Adkins, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Aly Rusciano . Carrie Adkins is the cofounder of NursingClio, an open access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog that connects historical scholarship to current issues in gender and medicine. She completed her PhD in American History at the University of Oregon in 2013. While completing her PhD, she earned numerous competitive research grants, teaching fellowships, and writing awards. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 85,596 times.

You’re opening your laptop to write an essay, knowing exactly what you want to write, but then it hits you—you don’t know how to format it! Using the correct format when writing an essay can help your paper look polished and professional while earning you full credit. There are 3 common essay formats—MLA, APA, and Chicago Style—and we’ll teach you the basics of properly formatting each in this article. So, before you shut your laptop in frustration, take a deep breath and keep reading because soon you’ll be formatting like a pro.

Setting Up Your Document

Step 1 Read over the assignment’s guidelines before you begin.

  • If you can’t find information on the style guide you should be following, talk to your instructor after class to discuss the assignment or send them a quick email with your questions.
  • If your instructor lets you pick the format of your essay, opt for the style that matches your course or degree best: MLA is best for English and humanities; APA is typically for education, psychology, and sciences; Chicago Style is common for business, history, and fine arts.

Step 2 Set your margins to 1 inch (2.5 cm) for all style guides.

  • Most word processors default to 1 inch (2.5 cm) margins.

Step 3 Use Times New Roman font.

  • Do not change the font size, style, or color throughout your essay.

Step 4 Change your font size to 12pt.

  • Change the spacing on Google Docs by clicking on Format , and then selecting “Line spacing.”
  • Click on Layout in Microsoft Word, and then click the arrow at the bottom left of the “paragraph” section.

Step 6 Put the page number and your last name in the top right header for all styles.

  • Using the page number function will create consecutive numbering.
  • When using Chicago Style, don’t include a page number on your title page. The first page after the title page should be numbered starting at 2. [4] X Research source
  • In APA format, a running heading may be required in the left-hand header. This is a maximum of 50 characters that’s the full or abbreviated version of your essay’s title. [5] X Research source

Step 7 Use a title page with APA or Chicago Style format.

  • For APA formatting, place the title in bold at the center of the page 3 to 4 lines down from the top. Insert one double-spaced line under the title and type your name. Under your name, in separate centered lines, type out the name of your school, course, instructor, and assignment due date. [6] X Research source
  • For Chicago Style, set your cursor ⅓ of the way down the page, then type your title. In the very center of your page, put your name. Move your cursor ⅔ down the page, then write your course number, followed by your instructor’s name and paper due date on separate, double-spaced lines. [7] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 8 Create a left-handed heading for MLA Style essays.

  • Double-space the heading like the rest of your paper.

Writing the Essay Body

Step 1 Center the title of your paper in all style formats.

  • Use standard capitalization rules for your title.
  • Do not underline, italicize, or put quotation marks around your title, unless you include other titles of referred texts.

Step 2 Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) for all styles.

  • A good hook might include a quote, statistic, or rhetorical question.
  • For example, you might write, “Every day in the United States, accidents caused by distracted drivers kill 9 people and injure more than 1,000 others.”

Step 4 Include a thesis statement at the end of your introduction.

  • "Action must be taken to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving, including enacting laws against texting while driving, educating the public about the risks, and giving strong punishments to offenders."
  • "Although passing and enforcing new laws can be challenging, the best way to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving is to enact a law against texting, educate the public about the new law, and levy strong penalties."

Step 5 Present each of your points in 1 or more paragraphs.

  • Use transitions between paragraphs so your paper flows well. For example, say, “In addition to,” “Similarly,” or “On the other hand.” [12] X Research source

Step 6 Complete your essay with a conclusion.

  • A statement of impact might be, "Every day that distracted driving goes unaddressed, another 9 families must plan a funeral."
  • A call to action might read, “Fewer distracted driving accidents are possible, but only if every driver keeps their focus on the road.”

Using References

Step 1 Create parenthetical citations...

  • In MLA format, citations should include the author’s last name and the page number where you found the information. If the author's name appears in the sentence, use just the page number. [14] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • For APA format, include the author’s last name and the publication year. If the author’s name appears in the sentence, use just the year. [15] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • If you don’t use parenthetical or internal citations, your instructor may accuse you of plagiarizing.

Step 2 Use footnotes for citations in Chicago Style.

  • At the bottom of the page, include the source’s information from your bibliography page next to the footnote number. [16] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • Each footnote should be numbered consecutively.

Step 3 Center the title of your reference page.

  • If you’re using MLA format , this page will be titled “Works Cited.”
  • In APA and Chicago Style, title the page “References.”

Step 4 List your sources on the references page by author’s last name in alphabetical order.

  • If you have more than one work from the same author, list alphabetically following the title name for MLA and by earliest to latest publication year for APA and Chicago Style.
  • Double-space the references page like the rest of your paper.
  • Use a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) if your citations are longer than one line. Press Tab to indent any lines after the first. [17] X Research source
  • Citations should include (when applicable) the author(s)’s name(s), title of the work, publication date and/or year, and page numbers.
  • Sites like Grammarly , EasyBib , and MyBib can help generate citations if you get stuck.

Formatting Resources

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  • ↑ https://www.une.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/392149/WE_Formatting-your-essay.pdf
  • ↑ https://content.nroc.org/DevelopmentalEnglish/unit10/Foundations/formatting-a-college-essay-mla-style.html
  • ↑ https://camosun.libguides.com/Chicago-17thEd/titlePage
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/page-header
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/title-page
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
  • ↑ https://www.uvu.edu/writingcenter/docs/handouts/writing_process/basicessayformat.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/cruzmayra/basicessayformat.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://library.menloschool.org/chicago

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Essay Writing Guide

Essay Format

Nova A.

Essay Format: A Basic Guide With Examples

10 min read

essay format

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Are you having trouble making your essay look just right? Lots of students find formatting tricky, so you're not alone. 

This guide is here to help you figure out how to format your essay. We've got examples of essays in APA, MLA, Chicago, and other styles to make it easier for you to learn.

So, keep reading – we've got you covered!

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is an Essay Format?
  • 2. How To Format Essay in MLA Style
  • 3. How to Format Essay in APA
  • 4. How to Format Essay in Chicago Style
  • 5. Formatting In-Text Citations: APA, MLA, and Chicago Styles
  • 6. How to Determine What Format to Follow

What is an Essay Format?

An essay format refers to a set of guidelines that decides how the elements of your paper should be arranged. No matter what type of essay you’re writing, formatting is an essential step in the essay writing process.

The format guidelines cover the essay structure, title, citations, and the basic outline of the essay. 

When formatting a paper, there are certain things that you need to pay attention to. These include the structure of an essay, title page, works cited page, and citation styles . 

Here is a basic essay format template:

How To Format Essay in MLA Style

Formatting an essay in MLA style is a common requirement in many academic settings, particularly in the humanities. 

MLA provides guidelines for various aspects of your essay, from font and margins to citations and bibliography. Here’s an essay format MLA you can use as a reference:

MLA Essay Format Template

  • Title Page: MLA does not typically require a separate title page. Instead, place your title at the top of the first page, centered, and do not use bold, italics, or underline for the title. Below the title, include your name, the instructor's name, the course name and number, and the due date, each on a separate line, left-aligned.
  • Header and Page Numbers: Create a header with your last name and page number in the upper right corner of every page, half an inch from the top, and flush with the right margin. For example: Smith 1.
  • Margins and Spacing: Set all margins to 1 inch, and use double-spacing throughout the essay.
  • Font and Size: Use a legible font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12.
  • Indentation: Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches, which can be done automatically using the "Tab" key.
  • Paragraphs: Leave only one space after periods or other punctuation marks within sentences.
  • Title: Place the title of your essay (centered) at the top of the first page. Do not use bold, italics, or underlining for the title. Capitalize major words.
  • Citations: MLA uses in-text citations to acknowledge sources. When quoting or paraphrasing, include the author's last name and the page number (e.g., Smith 45).
  • Works Cited Page: At the end of your essay, include a separate page titled "Works Cited." List all sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Follow the specific MLA citation style for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.).

Sample MLA Essay

MLA Format Paper - MyPerfectWords.com

How to Format Essay in APA

Formatting an essay in APA style is commonly used in the social sciences and psychology. 

APA provides a set of guidelines for various elements of your essay, including formatting, citations, and references. Here’s how to format essay in apa:

APA Essay Format Template

  • Title Page: The title page in APA includes: Title of the Essay (centered, bold, and in title case) Your Name (centered) Institutional Affiliation (centered) Running head: [Shortened Title] (flush left, in uppercase) Page Number (flush right)
  • Header and Page Numbers: Create a header with the title of your essay in all capital letters, followed by a colon and a shortened version of the title (up to 50 characters), in the upper left corner of every page. The page number should be in the upper right corner.
  • Font and Size: Use a clear and readable font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12.
  • Paragraphs: Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches. Use a hanging indent for references on the reference page.
  • Citations: Use in-text citations to acknowledge sources. Include the author's last name and the publication year (e.g., Smith, 2023) when quoting or paraphrasing.
  • Title: Use bold and title case for the title of your essay on the title page. On subsequent pages, use a shortened version of the title (in uppercase) as the header.
  • References Page: At the end of your essay, create a separate page titled "References." List all sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Follow the specific APA citation style for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.).

Sample APA Essay

APA Format Paper - MyPerfectWords.com

How to Format Essay in Chicago Style

Formatting an essay in Chicago style, often used in history and some other humanities disciplines, requires specific guidelines for citations and formatting. Here are the guidelines to format your essay in Chicago style:

Chicago Essay Format Template

  • Title Page: The title page in Chicago style includes: Title of the Essay (centered, in headline-style capitalization) Your Name (centered) Course Name and Number (centered) Instructor's Name (centered) Date (centered)
  • Margins and Spacing: Set all margins to 1 inch. Use double-spacing throughout the essay.
  • Page Numbers: Number pages in the upper right corner of each page, beginning with the first page of the main text (usually page 1). Page numbers should be in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
  • Paragraphs: Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches. Use a block paragraph style with no extra space between paragraphs.
  • Citations: In Chicago style, you have two citation options: footnotes and endnotes. In your text, place a superscript number (e.g., ^1) at the end of the sentence containing the cited information. Corresponding footnotes or endnotes should provide full citation details.
  • Title: Use headline-style capitalization for the title of your essay (e.g., "The History of Ancient Civilizations").
  • Bibliography: At the end of your essay, include a separate page titled "Bibliography." List all sources alphabetically by the author's last name. Follow the specific Chicago citation style for different types of sources (books, articles, websites, etc.).

Sample Chicago Essay

Chicago Format Paper - MyPerfectWords.com

Formatting In-Text Citations: APA, MLA, and Chicago Styles

An in-text citation is a brief reference within the body of your essay or research paper that indicates the source of information you have incorporated into your writing.

Each of the formatting style have a unique way for adding in-text citations:

In APA style, remember to include the author's last name, the publication date, and the page number (if applicable) within parentheses.

Example: "The impact of climate change on biodiversity is a growing concern (Smith, 2020, p. 27)."

In MLA style, provide the author's last name and the page number without any punctuation between them.

Example: "The impact of climate change on biodiversity is a growing concern (Jones 42)."

Chicago Style Format

The Chicago Manual of Style offers two distinct options for in-text citations:

  • Author-Date Style: In this approach, you place your citations within parentheses directly within the text. This style involves citing the author's last name and the publication date within the body of your text. Example: (Smith 2021) or "According to Smith (2021),..."
  • Notes and Bibliography Style: This style utilizes numbered footnotes or endnotes to provide citations. Instead of placing citations within the text, you include a superscript number at the end of the relevant sentence, which corresponds to a full citation located in a footnote at the bottom of the page (or endnotes at the end of the document). Example: Johnson argues that "the data is unconvincing."¹ Nevertheless, Smith contends that the study makes "a compelling case" for this plan of action.²

Each of these Chicago citation styles has its unique advantages and is chosen based on the requirements of the assignment or the preferences of the writer.

How to Determine What Format to Follow

Selecting the appropriate citation format for your academic writing is essential to ensure that your work meets the expected standards. To make an informed decision, consider the following factors:

Subject and Discipline

  • APA Style: Primarily used in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, and education. It is also common in business and nursing disciplines.
  • MLA Style: Commonly employed in humanities disciplines, including literature, languages, and cultural studies. It's widely used for papers related to literature and the arts.
  • Chicago Style: Used in history, some social sciences, and certain humanities disciplines. Chicago offers both author-date and notes and bibliography styles, making it versatile for various subjects.

Professor's Instructions

Always adhere to your professor's specific instructions regarding citation style and writing convention . Professors may have preferences or requirements based on the nature of the course or assignment.

For instance, an English professor might prefer MLA for literary analysis, while a psychology professor may opt for APA to encourage familiarity with research norms. However, when formatting styles are not specified by the instructor, you can follow whatever is appropriate for your subject.

Institutional Guidelines

Your educational institution may have established guidelines or standards for citation formats. 

Check your institution's style guide or consult with academic advisors to ensure compliance with their specific requirements.

By considering the subject matter, your professor's preferences, and your institution's guidelines, you can confidently choose the appropriate citation style to enhance the clarity and professionalism of your academic writing.

Now that you've gained a solid understanding of the basics for three major formatting styles, you're well-prepared to tackle your essay formatting with confidence. 

Whether you're crafting an essay, a research paper, or any academic document, these formatting principles will help you present your ideas professionally.

If you find yourself in a time crunch, our expert writers are here to help you tackle your academic challenges in no time. 

With our essay writing service , you get reliable help with any type of assignment, even with tight deadlines. Our writers are sure to deliver you 100% original papers that meet your requirements. 

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Examples

Short Essay

what is a brief essay format

Essays usually become a channel for a person to express emotions and ideas about something or someone. A writer can be creative in presenting topics that he/she thinks is relevant and from which people can infer important lessons in life. Thus, there are many ways to write an essay .

Some of the few types of essays are informative essay , analysis essay , concept essay , reflective essay , and many more. These are all different in the way that they are written as well as their objective. Each is unique in its own way. An essay could also be written short or long, which of course, depends on the writer.

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What Is a Short Essay?

A short essay is any literary essay piece with the objective of either presenting an idea, exposing a topic, or persuading a reader. It is called short essay in the sense that the way that a certain topic is presented is congested but still focuses on the goal of making the audience understand the whole point of the essay.

Short essays still follow the pattern of having the introduction, the body, and the conclusion are parts of an essay although compared to a normal formal essay , it is shortened. The body of a short essay could be limited to a paragraph but should contain the whole presentation of the topic.

How to Write a Short Essay

Short essays are still take the form of formal essay because the parts need to be included in it.

1. Write the introduction.

The introduction of a short essay should be brief yet effective. With two to three sentences, you should be able to catch the reader’s interest. You may also see what are the parts of an essay?

2. Compose the body.

The body of your short story should be limited to one paragraph. You can write a maximum of ten sentences, but short ones, and it should not be a minimum of three. Once you think you have presented enough explanation, then you can consider going to the next step. You may also like personal essay examples & samples.

3. Draw a conclusion.

Write a two to three sentence essay conclusion . This should be enough to restate your main point.

Persuasive Short Essay Example

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Tips for a Short Essay

When you write a short essay, you need to remember that there are no elements to be sacrificed. Short essays draw more impact to readers because the topic is presented straightforward. You may also see essay writing examples & samples.

1. Be direct to the point.

Remember that you need to be able to make your reader get the whole point of your essay without having to say too much words. You may also check out analytical essay examples & samples.

2. Create a mind-map.

Mind-mapping helps you easily present your thoughts. Try to practice it and use to your advantage.

3. Do your research.

The key to an effective essay writing is short essay to have a substantial amount of information. Research about your topic so you can select the most important ideas to write.

Importance of Short Essay

A short essay is usually contained in just a page and not lengthy words or explanations in necessary to express the main point of the topic. Short essays are important when one is trying to present an important topic without having to write a lot of words or using multiple pages. You may also like concept essay examples & samples.

It presents just the right amount of data or knowledge necessary to feed a hungry mind. As scientific researches has put it, the mind can retain more data when the details are presented in a brief and concise manner. Some people have short attention span so you need to have the writing skills to make your point with just a few words.

Short Essay Generator

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How to Write a Short Essay?

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What is a Short essay?

The short essay definition is an academic written assignment that requires a writer to formulate their thoughts and opinions according to the proper structure and within 500 words. Sometimes the assignment gets even shorter and requires only 200 words. Just like regular essays, it can be of different types: narrative, argumentative, expository, descriptive, etc.

The point of such assignments is to teach expressing thoughts in the shortest form. Students must avoid repetition and stick to being laconic. The paper doesn’t require cliché phrases, slang, and vague information. Only an opinion and facts, strong arguments, statistics to prove it.

How Many Paragraphs is a Short Essay?

When learning everything about the paper’s volume and style, it’s important to remember how to write a short essay according to the precise structure. The text must be subdivided into three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. While the opening and closing paragraphs are quite short and simple, the main part – the body – can contain several paragraphs. Each argument you use to prove your point of view must be singled out into a separate paragraph. So, depending on the essay’s length and content, the text could have between three and five paragraphs.

Keep in mind that sometimes the new assignment you receive from the teacher already mentions how many paragraphs there should be. Keep an eye on such details to create the best text.

Short Essay Format

When reading a sample short essay, you’ll notice that being clear is essential. It’s better to avoid complicated phrasing and sentences since they often confuse the readers and make the text hard to comprehend.

Choosing the proper terms and words is also significant. Stick to the academic vocabulary to make your paper sound convincing. When editing the paper, make sure you have the most crucial bits of information that are structured according to their relevance.  Furthermore, even short texts require references and quotes. Make sure to avoid plagiarism or copy/paste as well.

How to Start a Short Essay?

Before you begin the short essay writing, you should do some research. Look through the topical literature on the given theme, pick the best ideas, and strong facts to support your point of view. The preliminary stage serves as a proper foundation for the high-quality paper. It could be reasonable to make a mind map or draw the scheme of how each argument is connected to the other one. Such a visual representation will help you find where to start your text and how to present the rest of the data.

Giving the paper an extraordinary start is the best way to attract readers’ attention. There are plenty of ways to do that:

  • Pick a quote from a book or famous person;
  • Begin with a rhetorical question;
  • Use an unexpected statistical fact;
  • Describe the theme without revealing the arguments (since you’ll need them later in the text).

A strong and comprehensive beginning is a foundation for an excellent paper. However, it’s better to keep it simple and laconic. Too complicated or confusing introduction and ruin the impression from your paper.

However, a strong beginning doesn’t guarantee the rest of the text will be equally impressive. Dedicate enough time to the rest of the paper and deliver relevant information to support your ideas.

7 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Essay

Writing essays is always time- and energy-consuming. It requires good writing skills, enough knowledge about the subject, and attention to detail. In case you don’t feel confident about writing the paper, you can learn more about the writing process beforehand. Discover the list of the most helpful tips on how to write a short essay. It is sure to help you do the best job and write an outstanding essay.

Select an exciting topic you feel passionate about

In case the teacher hasn’t provided a specific topic and gave only general recommendations, do your research. Discover the latest news related to the subject and brainstorm the possible ideas you can dwell on. Pick the topic you are interested in to create a high-quality paper that will inspire others to learn more on the subject.

Mind the readers

It’s not always crucial to know how many paragraphs in a short essay but who will read the paper. Take into account their possible opinions, background knowledge on the topic, and other factors. Use proper stylistic devices to maintain their attention and comprehensively deliver your idea.

Make sure you have enough expertise before writing the text

Read on the chosen topic and learn as much as possible. It’s the most significant thing one should do in the shortest possible time to succeed with the essay’s content. Choosing relevant resources and respected scholars as a foundation for the paper increases readers’ trust and openness to the given information.

Focus on writing, eliminating every distraction

Many students are used to writing while listening to music, watching TV shows, or hearing others talk in the background. Such distractions can impact the text quality a lot. Moreover, it takes more time to write the text. So, to present the facts and arguments properly, it’s better to get rid of all distractions and temptations and focus solely on the topic.

Stick to the given requirements

In case a teacher/instructor/professor has a list of requirements and guidelines, make sure to address the given aspects. Ignoring such details can reflect poorly on the grades. Mark the essential details you must include in the paper and reread the text afterward to verify each requirement was accounted for.

Double-check the paper before submitting

Read the finished text several times to enhance clarity and remove all sorts of possible mistakes: typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes, stylistic issues, etc. There are lots of websites that offer free proofreading software and premium services. Select the most helpful assistance and improve the paper before submitting it.

Delegate the job to professional

Writing a good essay requires lots of time and patience. If you don’t feel like writing the paper and following all the tips above, you can simply hire professional writers who will take care of those assignments for you. You are sure to receive high-quality texts on time and save time for other important things in your life.

Short essay examples

In case you prefer to write an essay on your own, reading some samples is always a good idea. These are free essays on various topics that anyone can download here and use to their benefit for at least two reasons.

First of all, good samples give an insight into how a high-quality essay looks like: what structure it has, how the arguments are arranged, what stylistic devices are used, etc. Such technical details can help learn the proper structure, formatting, and other key features.

Secondly, they can serve as an inspiration on what topic to pick, which aspects to focus on, and how to keep the readers interested in the content. Discover some excellent samples and create equally great papers using them. No charge necessary. They are free to use as you please but remember that others have access to them as well. Submitting them as your own is not the best solution.

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How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips

Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.

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Table of contents

When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.

You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.

The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.

Argumentative writing at college level

At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.

In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.

Examples of argumentative essay prompts

At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.

Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.

  • Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
  • Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
  • Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
  • Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
  • Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
  • Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.

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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.

There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.

Toulmin arguments

The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:

  • Make a claim
  • Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
  • Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
  • Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives

The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.

Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:

  • Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
  • Cite data to support your claim
  • Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
  • Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.

Rogerian arguments

The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:

  • Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
  • Highlight the problems with this position
  • Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
  • Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?

This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.

Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:

  • Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
  • Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
  • Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
  • Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.

You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.

Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .

Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.

The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.

In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.

Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.

This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.

Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.

A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.

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An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.

No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.

Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.

An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.

In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.

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