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Center for Writing and Academic Achievement: Composing an Essay

A general guide to common questions about writing and grammar

Writing Rules

"Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague."


-William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"

Basic Information

Although the specific structure of an essay varies depending on the subject, many forms of academic writing possess similarities at a basic level. There are typically three fundamental parts to an essay: 

1. Introduction 

2. Body Paragraphs

3. Conclusion

Other Typical Components include: 

4. Thesis Statement (typically the last sentence of the introductory paragraph)

5. Counter-Argument (addresses potential criticisms of your main point)

All of these critical essay elements are discussed in more detail by the resources provided in the "helpful links" section on this page.

Composing an Essay Instructional Video

Helpful Links

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