Heron Publishing: All About Reading

Essay Writing

Essay writing will help you read better, and good note-taking skills will help you write better essays. As with reading and note taking, essays are easy to write in elementary school. As a student learns to tell good stories with a beginning, middle and end, writing them down becomes simple. During high school and in adult life, you will need to write long memos or on complicated issues. Use the following tips to improve your skills, and explore the suggestions in College Countdown and 101 Tips on Essay Writing.

For help in starting a paper, click here.

For help in editing a paper, click here.

For help in organizing and outlining your notes, click here.


Starting Your Paper

  • Read a very simple encyclopedia article to get an accurate overview of your topic. Then brainstorm ideas to develop creative new ways of discussing your topic.
  • Focus precisely on the set topic and write a detailed outline, then your first draft.
  • Set aside your draft for a few days before you revise it.
  • Revise your paper for a logical sequence of ideas and to be sure your facts and details are appropriate. Add information or delete unnecessary repetitions.
  • Evaluate your grammar, especially the subject-verb agreement, tenses, sentence structure and the pronouns. Check your punctuation, capitalization and spelling, using a computer if at all possible.
  • Read it aloud to someone to smooth out the language and give the paper a final polish.

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Editing Your Paper

  • Evaluate your grammar, especially the subject-verb agreement.
  • Use a consistent verb tense. Don’t jump around among the present, past and future. History makes most sense in the past, since the personages are dead, but some teachers prefer it written in the present. Please your teacher, no matter what you think.
  • Be sure you name persons before using a pronoun such as him, her, he or she. You want the reader to be certain what you are trying to say. Don’t make it a guessing game!
  • Compose your paper on the computer, or transfer your draft to it as soon as possible. Then you can use the grammar check for slips you may have made. Please not sometimes the computer’s suggestions are not correct!
  • Check your punctuation, and capitalization. Again, your computer will catch many of your typographical errors.
  • Finally, use your spell check. Remember your computer is not reading for sense, and will accept words that are correctly spelled, even if that word is not what you meant to say.

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Organizing and outlining (also read about Note Taking here)

  • Work from an outline for greatest efficiency. Outlines can range from simple lists of information, to an analysis of the information under the main concepts or ideas. If your reading, essay, or teacher is comparing two things, divide the paper down the middle vertically, and write one point of view on the left side, and the other point of view on the right side.
  • Gather your information using the suggestions on the Research Skills page, and then organize your paper with a beginning, middle and end. The outline will reveal areas of missing information
  • Keep your information with its bibliographic information. If you write out the Bibliography correctly before you start reading and taking notes, your information will be perfectly organized. Remember to keep your footnotes with your information so you won't lose your references!
  • Paraphrase, or put the information you find in your own words. Avoid quotations unless you are writing about lines in poems or literature. Use footnotes so someone else can find that interesting bit of information and read more about it.
  • Transfer your notes to your computer so you have them handy when you start writing your paper or speech.

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