Step 1. Decide on a topic.
This may seem obvious, but choose a topic that you know about and enjoy writing about. If you can't explain something in your sleep, that's usually a bad sign! Think about topics you've covered in previous papers for class, or find an interesting news story to write about. You don't have to decide on one right away; start brainstorming so you have plenty of ideas when it's time to start researching.
Step 2. outline your essay
Go to your teacher's office during class or try to brainstorm in a quiet place. The idea is to get all your ideas down on paper before you start writing. An essay should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Your intro should be about 5 paragraphs long, your body should be 5-6 paragraphs long, and your conclusion should be 1 paragraph long. This will ensure that you don't skip any steps when writing a quality essay and that you stay on topic! Keep in mind that not every college requires essays to be double-spaced, so it can't hurt to ask your professor if they prefer single or double line spacing for their papers.
Step 3. Write your first draft
Now that you have divided your topic into its main sections, it is time to write your first draft. Jot down everything that comes to mind about your topic. Just get those first thoughts down on paper - don't stop editing or making changes just yet. You can do this in a later step. As you write, don't worry about the order in which you should arrange things or how they should be worded. Just let yourself go with what comes naturally. This will help you avoid getting stuck on an idea or stuck because of writer's block.
Step 4. edit and proofread your essay.
Editing and proofreading are two different but equally important parts of writing an essay. While editing deals with structural problems in your essay, proofreading is about fixing mistakes and inconsistencies. As you edit, look for typos, grammatical errors, and nonsensical sentences that need to be eliminated. Try to eliminate as many errors as possible before you start proofreading to focus on finding big problems with your writing rather than addressing smaller ones. When you're done editing, read through your essay again and correct any remaining errors. You should now have a well-written essay ready to submit!
Step 5. References Section.
The "References" section is probably one of my favorite parts of any paper or book. It's a mix of names, pictures, and numbers ... it's data. Since I like data, I really enjoy writing reference sections. What makes them enjoyable? Because nobody cares about them! They're just there to give you credibility as a writer (or maybe they care?). In any case, when you include references in your papers, make sure they are properly formatted according to APA style guidelines.
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