How to Write an Academic Essay

With deadlines fast approaching and the stress of Christmas looming near, I thought I’d do a short post on essay writing. 

It’s been a while since I’ve written an essay and this week I’ve struggled to get back into the swing of things. So this post is to remind myself of what I’m meant to be doing, and if anyone else finds it useful then that’s a bonus (please let me know by commenting). 

So, in my usual listed format (why do I like lists so much?), here are my top 5 tips for writing an academic essay:

1. Don’t leave it until the last minute 

It’s easy to put off doing your work until the last minute, especially coming up to Christmas when there are so many other things going on. But don’t forget, there is a lot of work that goes into an essay, and if you’re anything like me then you’ve probably underestimated how long it’s going to take you. 

2. Do the research, then form your arguement 

The foundation for any good essay is solid research. Once you have a good understanding of your topic you’ll find it much easier to write. You should also remember that you’ll need a central argument or point to relate back to the question. The best essays are those that are founded in solid, relevant research, so read around your topic as much as you can.

3. Use academic language

Writing academically is much different from writing press releases or blog posts. There’s a tendency to write in more complex language, but just remember that you’re writing for your audience and in this case longer words and specific terminology are the most appropriate.

But, don’t make the mistake of using long words just for the sake of it, if you don’t understand what you’re writing then your lecturer won’t either. 

It goes without saying that text speak is an absolute no-no.

4. Reference

Plagiarism is a big deal. You wouldn’t like someone else trying to pass off your work as their own, would you? So make sure you reference any direct quotes or paraphrasing. This will also show your lecturer that you’ve done (or gone beyond) the recommended reading.

The most common type of referencing is Harvard, but different lecturers might prefer different styles of referencing. It’s always best to check with them.

My own experience has taught me that referencing tool kits aren’t always reliable and often lose people marks. It’s much quicker and easier just to write the references yourself, once you’ve done one it’s easy to do the rest.

I’d also recommend doing references as you go to save time and prevent you from missing any out.

5. Proofread

This should be obvious, but it’s surprising how many students don’t proofreading their essays, either through over confidence or bad planning.

It’s not just spelling mistakes you should be looking out for, you need to check and make sure that what you’re writing makes sense and flows in a logical order.

I find it best to come back to my essays a few days later and re-read them, the distance helps you look at them with fresh eyes and see which bits you need to re-word or re-structure.

I hope you’ve found my top tips helpful, it’s been a great reminder (and a bit of procrastination) for me before I get stuck into my next assignment.

I narrowed the list down to 5 but there’s so many more things I could’ve included, what would you put on your list?

Blogging 101: How to Write a Blog Post

It’s been a little while since I posted anything. Partly because I’ve been on holiday, and partly because I’ve been busy with other projects (like PR Stack).

So,  to get back into the swing of things I thought I’d take it back to basics and remind myself of how to actually write a blog.

What’s Your Angle?

Although my blog is PR related, I mostly write about being a mature student and how my experiences as a parent help or hinder my studies.

There are lots of blogs about PR campaigns,  crisis management and PR issues,  so what is it that makes your writing stand out? What is your unique selling point and how are you going to position yourself to stand out against the white noise of PR blogs?

As you can probably tell by my earlier posts,  it took me a little time to figure out who I was as a blog writer. After a bit of experience,  and lots of abandoned drafts, I’ve found my niche.

Make It Personal 

Nobody wants to read a regurgitated textbook, we get enough of that in class. Make your posts personal, relevant to you and engaging to your readers by drawing on your own opinions and experiences.  After all, what’s the point in rewording someone else’s content? Create something original by being yourself, which brings me to my next point…

Hone Your Writing Style

Now I’m not going to say my spelling and grammar is perfect, but one thing that really turns me off reading is lots of errors.

As well as checking your work thoroughly, blogs should be written informally, almost like you’re telling a story to a friend.  This makes your writing more accessible and engaging to the reader. Personally, I think my blend of quasi-lists and self depricating humour reflects my personality and using this makes it easier to write my content.

Sharing Is Caring

Don’t forget about social media. After all, what’s the point in posting content if no one can find it? Use any and all social media sites to promote your writing and find new followers. I use Facebook for my friends, Twitter for my colleagues and blogging networks and LinkedIn to reach out to potential employers and clients.

Now that I’m back in the swing of things and getting settled into my final year of study, you can look forward to many a blog post about how stressed I am and find out about the progress of my McDonald’s job application. So until next time remember that sharing is caring and I’ll see you round the Twitterverse.