6. COMMON MISTAKES IN ESSAY WRITING
Taking into account that you read this article, we have every right to suggest that your writing skills are far from ideal. Don’t worry: a lack of experience can be compensated with talent and efforts. Let’s look through the list of mistakes that you should avoid in your perfect essay.
- Talking about nothing
When you are not really interested in a topic and too lazy to provide profound research, you start making up stories, fabricate facts, and repeat your thesis statement, again and again, using different words. That’s not a good idea. Your teacher has read thousands of papers, and you can’t trick him or her with your eloquence. Pull yourself together, and you will pull through it!
- Lack of concentration
Focus on your question and don’t allow your thoughts to lose the right path. An essay is not a philosophical monologue that you can start with a poem and finish with a discourse about the origins of terrorism. Your writing has to be consistent and logical!
- Including unsupported ideas
Every statement in your writing requires one or two supporting details: facts, quotes, statistics, examples, etc. You will sound unreliable and thoughtless without these elements.
- Lexical tautologies
Come on, use a dictionary! Your vocabulary is not always enough, especially when the scientific terminology is required. Sometimes, it is better to consult the thesaurus in order to make your writing more complex and serious.
- Ignore the task
As said above, there are various types of essays. Every type has its own peculiarities, structure, and purpose. You shouldn’t mistake an argumentative essay for a persuasive or analytical essay.
- New information in the conclusion
A new idea in a concluding paragraph is a bad idea. The readers don’t want to be surprised by an unexpected detail. They are eager to see the logical finale of your reasoning.
- Absence of the thesis statement
Your thesis is the origin of the entire writing. That is why the foundation should be laid in the introductory paragraph. It establishes the structure, the logic, and the purpose of your narration.
- Informal language
Leave all words like “wanna” and “gotta” for your friends’ e-mails. An informal style is unacceptable for academic papers. Use high-level vocabulary and consult a dictionary if necessary.
- Length of the sentences
Balance is everything. You can’t develop an idea properly using four words. At the same time, lengthy constructions confuse your readers and hinder from following your reasoning.
- Misuse of words
Students frequently confuse words like “effect” and “affect,” “whose” and “those,” or “quit” and “quite.” Be attentive and proofread your paper two or three times.
- Neglect references
If you use a source, it is necessary to cite it properly. Plagiarism is a common problem of the modern educational system. The consequences of plagiarism can be very serious even if it seems to be accidental.
- Punctuation mistakes
Punctuation rules can be tangled and confusing. Anyway, you have to use proper punctuation in order to present your thoughts in a clear way and to make a good impression. Be especially careful with:
- Comma splice: you should use a semicolon or add a conjunction between two independent clauses.
- Missing comma before and, nor, but, or, yet, etc.
- Missing subject or verb.
- Unnecessary comma: you shouldn’t put commas between an independent clause and its dependent clause, verb and its direct object, or two elements with a conjunction between them.
- Missing commas around interrupters: on the other hand, fortunately, in fact, etc.
7. CREDIBLE AND DUBIOUS SOURCES FOR YOUR ESSAY
Every farmer knows that the harvest will be poor if you sow a field with meager soil. The same applies to the process of essay writing. If you use unreliable and untrusted sources, your work won’t be taken seriously. That is why the skills of searching trustworthy information are so important for every writer.
Journalists have a rule that any fact should be confirmed with at least three sources. This law is also true for essays. Although it is nearly impossible to abide by this rule, the mentioned principle should be your orienting point.
The internet is the greatest storage of data in our world, but the process of picking useful information often looks like digging through the trash. Below, we’ll give some directions so you won’t be totally lost in this chaos.
First of all, you should figure out what domain names you can trust. A domain name is an indicator that shows a website belongs to a certain realm. We will discuss the prominent domains such as .edu, .org, .gov, and .com:
.Edu This domain name points to different educational institutions. Usually, these websites are under control of educational specialists, so the published information is highly reliable.
.Org The non-profit organizations have this domain name. The best thing about these sites is that they don’t try to sell you anything or to trick you in any possible way. In few words, they are worth your trust.
.Gov This domain name is used by the governmental institutions. Here, the information is relatively reliable. However, some facts might be distorted and politicized, so you’d better be careful.
.Com You should be very attentive while searching information on these websites. The commercial organizations are not always conscientious about provided data. Although some commercial sources are great, they may contain a lot of hidden or evident advertisements.
Stay away from the thousands of personal homepages and the millions of blogs. They are called PERSONAL for a reason. The bloggers offer their own point of view, and they are unlikely to be professionals. Of course, these kinds of sources might be helpful if you are looking for various opinions on your topic. However, you shouldn’t count on their credibility.
What about printed sources? Let’s see how you can separate peer-reviewed and scientific journals from the plethora of magazines.
- Scientific journals
- Terminology, formal language
- Absence of ads (usually)
- Lack of colors
- Published once in three months
- Experienced and licensed authors
- Other magazines
- Informal language, simple vocabulary
- Lots of ads
- Glossy paper and bright printing
- Published ALL THE TIME
- Almost anybody
We will clarify one more thing: fiction books are for leisure; non-fiction books are for research. Sure, you’ll have to use fiction as a source if you write a review of a book of fiction, but this fact is obvious.
You can’t rely on any Wiki-site. The explanation is simple: anybody can edit these articles, and the censors are not always there to delete all of the nonsense. Although Wikipedia is far from ideal, you should check out other online encyclopedias: World Digital Library, Britannica, Scholarpedia, and others.
Lots of library collections published online are a priceless source for your essay. You can also rely on information published online by well-known newspapers and news agencies: The New York Times, Daily News, The Washington Post, Reuters, Associated Press, etc.
No doubt, you can provide your research in an old-fashioned way and visit the library on your own. Yes, they still exist.
Remember that there is an exception to every rule. If you write an opinion paper, you may use any possible source in order to get acquainted with all existing points of view.
ALWAYS take notes about your sources. This habit will keep you safe from plagiarism accusations. Use proper citations and give credit to your sources.
Let’s summarize everything said above in this table.
- Websites that end with .edu, .org, and .gov
- Well-known online newspapers and news agencies
- Online encyclopedias
- Scientific journals
- Non-fiction books
- Public, academic libraries
- Most websites that end with .com
- Personal homepages and blogs
- Glossy magazines
- Fiction books
- Word of mouth
8. COMMON ESSAY FORMATTING STYLES
A formatting style is a particular approach to writing academic papers. As a rule, the formatting styles are standardized and accepted by the majority of educational and research institutions. Different disciplines require different approaches to citation and formatting, which is why there is no universal style. We will talk about three of the most widespread formats.
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is widely used for essays in humanities and liberal arts: literature, philosophy, music, etc. MLA style doesn’t require a title page. You type your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date in the upper left-hand corner on the first page of your paper. If emphasizing is necessary, you can use italics. A page where you mention all sources that you’ve used for your essay has the title “Works Cited.” We’ve mentioned the most significant peculiarities of MLA format. In order to get more detailed information, please, check out our presentation.
This style was created by the American Psychological Association, so it is commonly used for the essays on social and behavioral disciplines: economics, history, psychology, management, etc. Unlike MLA style, APA format requires a title page. At the top, every page has a so-called “running head” – a short version of your work’s title (50 symbols maximum). The page with sources is called “References.” This information is enough to see the difference between APA and MLA formats. Before you start formatting your paper according to APA style, consult our presentation
The title of this style comes from the Chicago Style Manual dedicated to American English punctuation, grammar, and style. It is widely used by students for formatting their papers on many disciplines. Chicago format allows writers to reference their sources with the help of footnotes and endnotes together with a bibliography page. That is the reason why this formatting style is preferable for the papers that focus on the source of origin. You’ll find more helpful information about Chicago format in our presentation.
9. GOOD TOPICS FOR VARIOUS TYPES OF ESSAYS
Finally, we would like to offer you a list of 30 interesting topics that you may use for your papers. In brackets, we have included the most appropriate type of essay for every topic.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST ESSAY:
Civilization vs. Animal Instinct.
Laptop vs. Desktop.
Why are dreams important for our lives?
Why can big indoor plants be dangerous?
Change of Perception Based on Attractiveness
Should photography exhibitions be censored?
Should cloning extinct species be allowed?
Are Beauty Contests a Good Thing For Young Girls?
Management and leadership are not the same things.
Animal experimentation has to be permitted.
Does computer gaming addiction lead to more dangerous consequences among children or adults?
Tyranny or democracy? Explain your choice.
1980s or 2000s? Explain your choice.
PROBLEM SOLUTION ESSAY:
How to guarantee justice for all in the USA?
How to impress colleagues at your new workplace?
Explain how writers can influence readers.
What symptoms does shopping addiction have?
Define the term “crowdsourcing.”
Define the term “Russian soul.”
CAUSE AND EFFECT ESSAY:
Did the Industrial Revolution Lead to a Sexual Revolution?
How does paternalism affect a child’s worldview?
What are the main causes of euphoria?
COLLEGE ADMISSIONS ESSAY:
Why is name of the university the perfect place to prepare you for your future career?
How do I imagine Earth of the 22nd century?
How to live through a boring lecture?
How to read a book in 15 minutes?
My worst nightmare.
My teenage diary.
Describe the time when you realized that Santa and unicorns don’t exist.
Why have I decided to move out from my parents’ house?
What role does religion play in the novel “The Kite Runner?”
On the “Wonder Woman” movie and feminism.
On “American History X” and propaganda of Neo-Nazism.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES ESSAY:
The pros and cons of being an outcast teenager.
Advantages and disadvantages of imaginative thinking.