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Sample essay topic, essay writing: How To Write An Essay - 2591 words
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.. ost of the writing you've done has been for people who are paid to read what you've written. They have no choice: they have to do it. After you leave here, most of the writing you will do (in the course of your working lives) will be writing you are paid to do for other people. They won't, on the whole, have to read it: if they don't follow it or feel offended by its scruffy presentation or even are having an off-day and are not instantly seduced by its beauty and clarity, they will just throw it away and do something else instead. University teachers are somewhat in between these two classes.
On the one hand, they are in fact paid to read your essays. On the other, if you can imagine the sheer labour of having to read a large number of long assessed essays on the same topic, you can imagine that no-one really likes doing it. It's extremely hard work, and they would normally rather be doing something else. Therefore, if they're not immediately seduced by the clarity and beauty of the thing they're reading, they may get irritated. If this happens they won't be able to throw it away and do something else, so they will get even more irritated. The end product of this will be: a lousy mark
Or at least, a worse mark than you would otherwise get, even if the ideas are good. This is a good thing, in fact, because because you can use it to train you toALWAYS PUT THE READER FIRST.Therefore, make your essay as beautiful, compelling, and as professionally presented as possible, is my advice. Here are some guidelines.6.1. The list of works consultedEvery essay without exception should end with a list of books and articles used. Often a marker will look at this first, to see what kind of work you've done: where, as it were, you're coming from. On the whole and within reason, the longer this is, the better.
As long, that is, as you can reasonably show that you have indeed used the works on the list.6.2. Styling referencesThis list should be set out in a particular and consistent way. The way I use is like this:Horace Hart, Hart's Rules for Compositors and Readers at the University Press, Oxford , (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983) Main Library General Reference 1 Z 253A.S. Maney and R.L. Smallwood, MHRA Style Book, Notes for Authors, Editors and Writers of Dissertations , (London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 1981) Main Library General Reference 1 Z 253 Main Library Lang.
& Lit. Ref. 1 Z 253MLA Handbook for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations , (New York: MLA, 1977) Gen. Ref. Z 253and, appropriately enough, these are the books that tell you how to do it properly.
There are various ways of styling (as printers call it) references (ie book and article titles) and it doesn't matter which you adopt, but you should learn one and adopt it. Hart's Rules is a beautiful little book, the printer's bible and ultimate authority, and it's very nice to own a copy; the MLA f16 Handbook is more use for students (it has a chapter on how to do indented outlines, for instance--see section 8 for more on this.) I have both, right by my desk, all the time. These books will tell you how to style your references and how also to lay out quotations in an essay, how to refer to a book or an article in the body of an essay, how to punctuate, and so on. I would buy one of them, if I were you, and use it. I very rarely look at mine now: I more or less know what they say.
So should you: it's the essence of professionalism in writing.Note (1997). The English Department has now published its own ideas about how to do styling. There are here. My advice is, start using this document NOW!Check also the method for arranging references in the text. They should be indented on each side and separated from the rest of the text with a white line above and below, if they are longer than a line or so.
And they should have a reference: author, title, and page number.6.3. Type it if at all possibleNo, you don't have to type it. But if you do then it will be far easier for the reader. And rule (iv) is? Right: put the reader first. In any case, studies have shown that particular kinds of handwriting influence (without their knowing it) readers of literary essays such that they get lower marks.
I would guess that typed essays tend to get higher marks, but this is just a guess. But it is my honest and truthful opinion that if you hand in an assessed essay (that is, an essay written for marks that will count towards your final degree) and it's not typed, you would be making a foolish mistake.If you are using a word processor, take some time to get the layout right. Double space, with an extra space between paragraphs. The first line of a paragraph should be indented. Number the pages, and put in a header with the short title of the essay and your name in it.
A4 paper. If you want to beautify it with illustrations, drop capitals, a beautiful title page, hand illuminated or gold leaf embellishments, that's fine, though it's not expected. (I should perhaps stress that the gold leaf is a joke.) And: make sure you use the spelling checker, before you print it.A note on safe computing. While you are actually working on a document, it is held in RAM. All that you need to know about this is that RAM is volatile. This means that if a passing friend trips over the power cable, pulling it out of the wall, the computer will go down, and everything in RAM will vanish utterly for ever.
What you will lose is everything you created since you last saved to disk. Moral: save to disk frequently. At least every ten minutes. Secondly, you should develop the feeling that whenever you switch the computer off, you are doing a dangerous thing. Dangerous to your data, that is.
When you switch it on again, there is no guarantee whatsoever that it will come up and present you with your work. It might crash. It probably won't, it's quite unlikely that anything bad will happen, but nonetheless this is the time of maximum danger for your essay. I have been working with computers equipped with hard disks since 1987, and in that time so far I have had three hard disk crashes. Wipeout. Obliteration. Everything gone for ever.
I have also had computers stolen twice, from burglary: end result: once more, all the data on the hard disk gone for ever.As a result, I never switch off the computer without making sure that all the data on it that I don't mind losing is backed up. Never. Ever. This means that whatever I've worked on since the last time I switched the machine off gets copied on to floppy disks or zip disks. If it's creative writing, like your essay, I usually make two or even three copies. If I feel really nervous about losing it, I print the file out on to paper, as a final security.
I really advise you to do the same.One final point: the last time I had a computer burgled, I was immaculately backed up, and I still lost some data. Why? I left one of the backup disks inside the machine..6.4. One side of the paper onlyWhen I tell students to write on one side of the paper only, they give me the same look that I frequently get from my cat: 'Is this man totally out of his mind?' it says. Look: it makes it easier for the reader. A lot easier. Rule (iv) is? If that doesn't convince you, try sending any piece of writing whatsoever to any form of publication whatsoever, written on both sides of the paper, and see how long it takes for them to send it back.
Unread. (They'll also send it back unread if you don't type it, incidentally.)6.5. Spelling and punctuationThere is a simple but unpleasant rule about this.(v) If you produce work that is mis-spelt and/or badly punctuated and/or ungrammatical, however good the ideas are, people will tend to think that you are stupid.They will be wrong; it will just mean that you can't spell, or can't punctuate, or don't know some of the grammar rules. Nonetheless, that's what they will think. Since it will almost always be in your best interests to show that you are intelligent, rather than stupid, if you have a problem in any of these areas you should do something about it.
If you have a word processor, get a spelling checker. Persuade someone you know who can spell, punctuate, etc. to read over your work first and check it: learn the sort of mistakes you make, and don't make them again.There are very good suggestions on how to manage punctuation in the Oxford Guide to Writing. If you have a problem with punctuation, I strongly suggest you get hold of this book.Another much cheaper and also excellent book is Plain English, by Dian'e Collinson et al. (book details and current price) (Library reference).A wonderful web site for all sorts of writing problems, including punctuation, is here.There is one particular error that is very common, students quite often are in the habit of running two or more sentences together and joining them with commas, it is really a very bad idea to do this, a marker when he or she sees it will become very irritated, I hope you are by now with the strange breathless quality of this sentence.
Don't do it. A sentence is a sentence. It should end in a full stop. Putting two sentences together with commas between them is becoming acceptable in creative writing, but it's still a bad idea to do it in an essay.6.6 Handing it in.Controversy rages over the best way to bind the thing. My own view is this. It should be simple, cheap, and easy for the examiner.
The pages should not be stapled, clipped, or in any way fastened together. They should not be bound! Some people like to bind them in a presentation folder, often designed by the same person who invented the rat trap, featuring spiked and sharpened strips of brass. Sometimes the essays come back with the examiner's blood on them. This doesn't necessarily guarantee a lower mark, but there's always that possibility. I accept that the motivation behind this kind of presentation is good, and appreciate it as such, but it's really not a good idea.
Go for loose sheets, each page numbered, your name at the top of each page, of course written on one side only, and held together in a simple plastic sleeve: the kind with punched holes down one side and an opening in the top only. This keeps the essay clean and coherent, is unlikely to lacerate the examiner, and takes up no extra room, so the essays can be stacked without them falling all over the place.7. How to writeStyle is not something I can prescribe in a set of notes like this. Write well: if you have any problems in this direction, it is for your tutor to tell you about them. But here are a few random points instead.RegisterThis is what linguists call a style appropriate to the occasion.
Be aware: a certain scholarly gravity is called for. Not too heavy so that it's uninteresting. But avoid colloquial abbreviations: should not, not shouldn't. Jokes are hazardous: if they don't [do not follow my practice as regards don't] work, they can cost you a lot. Avoid them, on the whole: or at least don't be jokey.
Don't for goodness sake imitate the way I'm writing here, either the rather flippant colloquial style or the somewhat overbearing tone, or the numbered subheadings. This is an essay on how to write a literary essay, not a literary essay.QuotationsFirstly, quote sufficiently but not too copiously. Not more than a third of a (handwritten) page at the very outside, and usually just a few lines at a time. It's your thought, not the quotation, that is the point. On the other hand, never forget that your ideas should be tied firmly into the text, and that you should demonstrate this by quotation.
Secondly, always give page numbers for your quotations: you will need to know where to find them again.Short paragraphsNo short paragraphs.LengthA non-assessed essay should be about six sides of handwritten or four sides of typed A4 at least.Copy itAlways make a photocopy of any essay you do before you hand it in. Academics are very unreliable, and not uncommonly lose essays.8. Getting it backHere is a summary of things to keep in your mind about writing an essay. When I mark an essay, they are the things that I particularly look out for:Use of critics (ie don't slavishly agree with them) Range of reference to literary texts, including obscure ones Clear and perceptible structure Interesting ideas tied in to quotations The paragraph: 1. Length2. Topic sentence3.
First sentence, last sentence4. First paragraph (sets out themes)List of works consulted (properly styled) Quotations properly laid out, and references styled properly One side of the paper only Spelling and punctuation 9. Two how-to-do-it booksMLA Handbook for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations , (New York: MLA, 1977) Gen. Ref. Z 253.This is the most useful text to buy.
It has notes on everything you need, including how to do indented outlines. It's not as full or as easy to understand as the next title below, but it's all there.Update (27/3/99): you don't have to buy it any more. It's here, in a really helpful frame format. This is wonderful. All students should use this site all the time.Kane, Thomas S, The Oxford Guide to Writing , (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983).This book has it all: how to make an indented outline, how to spell, how to punctuate, how to write a paragraph, how to take notes, how to sharpen your pencil--everything.
The bad news is that (a) it's rather American, and (b) it's out of print. Go and look at the short loan copy and photocopy anything you find useful. It's of particular use if you have any punctuation problems.10. Useful LinksHere is a wonderful set of documents on how to write essays; here, from the same source, is a full set of links about writing of various kinds.Here, courtesy of Voice of the Shuttle, are a whole set of links about how to write, think, look things up, and so on. Wonderful.11. Read a different poem every day.Finally.
One of the key attributes of success in an English course is knowledge of a wide variety of styles, periods, and topics in English Literature. Here is a painless way of learning this. Subscribe to this site and they will email you a different poem every day. Take time every day to read the poem, think about it, and post a short comment on their bulletin board. The site is frustrating and often bizarre, but the exercise is the most useful single thing I can think of at the moment for an English student to do.
Research paper and essay writing, free essay topics, sample works How To Write An Essay
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