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Writing essay drafts

Writing the first draft

Write a first, rough draft of your essay, using the points made in your plan as the basis for paragraphs or sections.

  • Always try to keep to one main point per paragraph: make the point at the outset, then support it with arguments, evidence, or discussion.
  • You may not keep strictly to your original plan since your thoughts will develop as your writing proceeds, but make sure that you have an introduction, a main section (or body), and conclusion
  • Once you have written a first draft, you might find it helpful to read it through quickly to check that you have addressed all the points raised by the question and that you have not wandered off the subject.
  • Do not worry about grammar, punctuation, and spelling at this stage: these are matters to be addressed at the end of the essay-writing process.
  • Put your first draft aside for a day or so (if you’ve planned enough time to do so). This will give your mind a rest and allow you to look at the essay with a fresh eye later on.

Preparing the final draft

This is essentially an assessment, redrafting, and checking process.

  • Look at your first draft critically: think of your reader, and rewrite or sharpen up passages that seem unclear, rambling, or badly worded. For guidance on language and choosing the right word, read our top tips for word choice.
  • Assess the essay’s structure for logical order and coherence. Make sure your sentences and paragraphs are linked and make sense.
  • You may wish to reconsider the beginning and end of the essay in the light of what you have written or revised in the main body of it: does the introduction still clearly state your approach and does the final conclusion incorporate and sum up your key arguments?
  • Check your facts and evidence. Have you provided all the relevant supporting data and referenced all your sources in a consistent and accurate way?
  • Write a Bibliography or References section.
  • If you have been asked to keep to a particular word count for the essay, then now is the time to count the words and reduce or expand your text as necessary.

When you have finished writing and refining it, read the whole essay once more for clarity, logical structure, and relevance to the question.

Final checks

The final stage of the essay-writing process should be a thorough proofread.

  • This is the point at which you must check your grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting very carefully.
  • You should read the essay more than once for such mistakes, and might find it useful to ask a friend to proofread your essay as well if they have time: another person can often spot errors that you might have missed.
  • Lastly, check that you have attached any supplementary or supporting material, such as graphs, tables, or diagrams, and that you have put your name, the date, the essay question or title, and any other necessary information (such as a module or course title) at the top.

 

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