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?


Time Is Money

One of the main issues I continuously encounter with being a parent and studying is time management. As you can see in one of my previous posts I don’t have a lot of spare time in my everyday life. With having a toddler,  starting to do my own agency work and studying full time,  my life can get pretty hectic.  As exams and deadlines just around the corner I’ve decided to put together a list (because my life is ruled by lists) of my Top 5 Ultimate Awesome PR Related Time Saving Tools (the title is a work in progress).

5. Google Drive

Got to love the Drive

So Google Drive isn’t specifically a PR tool, but it’s so versatile that it needs to be included. Not only can you store your own word documents, spreadsheets, slideshows, photos, videos, PDFs,  etc. You can create separate folders for each of your projects, share individual documents of folders with collaborators and edit them online in real time.  I find Google Drive ideal for group projects, at university and in my agency work.

4. Basecamp


Although this next tool isn’t free, it’s similar to Google Drive but streamlined specifically for project management.  You can add members of your team, start an open message thread and share files.  Instead of using email the message thread is particularly useful for making sure everyone has access to the same information and is on the same page.

3. Mention

images (1)

Mention is a program that allows you to track social media mentions, even when your client hasn’t been tagged.  You can set up alerts directly to your email to receive updates in real time. From a PR perspective this program is great for monitoring reputation and responses to campaigns as well as crisis management.

2. Hootsuite

Twit Twoo

Hootsuite has been around for years, and for good reason. I might be a bit biased here, but for me it’s the best choice for managing social media accounts.  You can schedule posts and tweets, create analytic reports for evaluation and give co-workers permission to access and post without divulging the company’s passwords.

1. PR Stack


PR Stack is a crowd – sourced project that allows you to find the right tool for your needs. Say you were working on a project and needed a tool to analyse website clicks. All you need to do is select the options from a drop down list and the site will generate a list of all of the available options so that you can pick the tool that best suits your needs.  Let’s face it, a time saving tool to help you find the best time saving tool is always going to be a winner in my book.

Although not all of these programs are free, most of them include a free trial period and different price packages to suit your needs. Personally, I don’t see an issue with paying for help when you need it.

After all, time is money people.