Simple, clear structure
A good structure to your assignment is key to ensuring your reader can follow your argument. If you are writing an essay, your overall structure will be an introduction, main body and conclusion. Our Essay structure guide gives a good overview. Each of these sections has an important role.
Your reader should know from your introduction how you are going to answer the question. This is the major signpost of your essay and should introduce the topic briefly and identify the key points that you will address. It should be around 5% of your word count. Find out more information in our guide: How to write introductions.
The main body of your essay is the bulk of your work, about 80% of your words. Here we should see a logical progression of your argument and references to literature that you have read. Use paragraphs to separate your key ideas and group related paragraphs together. This will avoid your essay jumping around and make it flow.
Finally, a good conclusion will reiterate the main points or revisit the key themes that you have discussed in the main part of your essay. All the points you mention in your conclusion should have already been discussed in the main body of your essay. This should be around 15% of your word count. We have more detail in oure handout: Structuring a conclusion
You may have heard that the most important feature of a paragraph is that it is one 'big idea'. That means that you should check each paragraph and make sure that all content relates to one topic.
Paragraphs are the building blocks of your essay. Although they might vary according to your subject area and type of essay. Each one should have the same core elements. Look at our Paragraph structure handout for more information. You should also think about organising your topics in a logical order, ensuring that they all relate to your question and learning objectives. Try to make connections between your paragraphs by using linking words and phrases.
It is a myth that academic writing has to consist of very long, complicated sentences. If you write in this way, your reader will forget what you said at the beginning of your sentence and will soon become lost. Your job as a writer is to present your information and argument to your reader clearly so they are not left wondering exactly what you mean. Each of your sentences should be able to stand alone as a sub point to the ‘big idea’ of your paragraph. A good strategy to check for clarity of phrasing, sentence length and punctuation placement is to read your work aloud.