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The Ultimate Essay Checklist


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Essay writing: it might not be your favorite thing in the world, but the essay editing experts at Scribendi are here to change that by making it a little less scary and a lot more fun! (Okay—perhaps "fun" is a bit strong. How about "bearable"?)

While there are four main types of essays—expository, persuasive, analytical, and argumentative—the basic structure of any essay is the same:

  • An introductory paragraph
  • At least three body paragraphs
  • A concluding paragraph
  • A bibliography

Generally, the higher your level of education, the more complex your essay structure will be. While high school students typically stick with the five-paragraph essay, university and graduate students are expected to discuss topics that require more than five paragraphs to flesh out. Whatever type of essay you're writing, following this basic format will help you accomplish your intended goal.

This ultimate essay checklist will provide you with everything you need to unleash your knowledge and express your creativity while following standard essay-writing conventions. This essay checklist will show you how to write a stellar essay of any style, and it will give you the confidence to explore and write about any topic.

General Tips

  • Get an early start. It's much easier to come up with and organize your ideas when you're not pressed for time and are able to conduct proper research. The earlier you start, the easier it will be . . . so don't procrastinate!
  • Choose a topic. Your instructor will likely give you a handful of topics to choose from or a general topic area. Depending on the instructions you're given, you will have to select and refine the topic. You can choose something you're already interested in or something you know nothing about—either way, you'll be doing your research and learning along the way.
  • Use various sources of information. With the vast amount of information available today, you're far from limited when it comes to choosing your sources. Use books, websites, journal articles, research studies, interviews—the world is your oyster! Just remember to keep track of your sources so that you can cite them properly and add them to your bibliography. Also check what kinds of sources your professor wants: primary, secondary, or both?

A mind map about organizing information.

  • Do not plagiarize. Cite your work and give credit where it's due. Do not take credit for others' thoughts or ideas, and make yourself aware of the basic rules for avoiding plagiarism .
  • Create an outline. Make a rough outline of the sections and points of your essay. Writing your ideas down will help you organize your thoughts and see what you need to add, change, or rearrange.
  • Provide evidence. Use evidence from your research to support your ideas. Each body paragraph will contain an original idea, but you will need to back it up with evidence to make it credible.
  • Don't use "I" statements or make sweeping generalizations. Stay objective, and be specific.
  • Grab your audience's attention. Come up with an attention-grabbing title and introduction that will make your reader want more.
  • Use logic. Within each paragraph and throughout your essay, keep your ideas coherent and linear.
  • Use an essay style that complements your content (and is in accordance with your professor's guidelines). There are four main types of essays:
  • Expository : The writer explains an idea or issue to the reader.
  • Persuasive : The writer tries to convince the reader to take his or her position on an idea, issue, or topic.
  • Analytical : The writer examines and analyzes an idea, issue, or topic.
  • Argumentative : The writer tries to prove that his or her position is correct.
  • Answer what , why , and how . Regardless of the type of essay you write, it should answer each of these questions.
  • Don't feel obliged to write your first draft in order, from introduction to bibliography. It can be difficult to write a completely linear essay when you have lots of different ideas, so start by writing whatever you're ready to write—you can put all the pieces together later. This will make the process easier and less stressful.


The introductory paragraph broadly introduces your topic by giving your reader an overview of what your essay will be about and the points that will be discussed. It often starts with a general statement that acts as the topic sentence for the paragraph, and it provides a general discussion that leads to a specific thesis statement at the end of the paragraph.

  • Do not explicitly explain your intentions. For example, do not say, "The purpose of this essay is to . . ." Instead, allow the topic sentence to help your reader identify and determine your purpose. By the time readers get to the end, they will have a comprehensive understanding of your essay and its intent.
  • Choose a thesis statement that the body of your essay will be able to support. This thesis will be the "hook" of your essay, and it is often one of the last sentences in the introductory paragraph. A hook is a line that grabs the reader's attention—it "hooks" them, just like a fishing hook grabs a fish. The goal of the hook is to keep your reader interested and to clearly indicate the purpose of the essay.

The body of the essay develops the argument that was outlined in the introduction.

  • Use topic sentences. The topic sentence of each paragraph provides a brief summary of what the paragraph is about.

Support each claim with sound evidence.

  • Set up the transition to your next point. The concluding sentence of each paragraph should function as a hook and transition into the next paragraph.
  • Discuss and support a different idea in each paragraph. Limit each paragraph to one main idea. The topic sentence of each paragraph will help you organize your own thoughts and let the reader know what that paragraph is about. If you're writing a five-paragraph essay, follow this general outline:
  • The first paragraph contains the strongest argument and ties into the hook at the end of the introductory paragraph. Discuss your first point, elaborate on it, and provide evidence in support of it. Close with a transitional hook.
  • The second paragraph contains a more neutral argument, and it ties into the hook at the end of the first paragraph. Discuss your second point, elaborate on it, and provide evidence to support it. Close with a transitional hook.
  • The third paragraph contains another strong argument and ties into the hook at the end of the second paragraph. Discuss your third point, elaborate on it, and provide evidence to support it. Close with a transitional sentence that leads smoothly into the concluding paragraph.

In contrast to the introductory paragraph, the concluding paragraph starts out specific (by reintroducing the thesis) and becomes more general. It ties your ideas together and brings your paper to a culmination.

The concluding paragraph provides a general discussion of your findings and shows the reader that you have accomplished what you intended to at the outset.

  • Restate your thesis (though not necessarily using the exact same words). In contrast to the introductory paragraph, the concluding paragraph starts out specific (by reintroducing the thesis) and becomes more general. It ties your ideas together and brings your paper to a close.
  • Discuss your findings based on your research and evidence. Has your thesis been proven?
  • Don't introduce any new ideas. The point here is to sum up and wrap up your essay, not to confuse readers by providing new information.
  • End on a high note. You can finish the essay in a variety of ways. For example, you might provide suggestions for future research, state a call to action, share a quote, or ask a question. Depending on the topic and purpose of your essay, choose a closing line that will fit well with the rest of your essay's structure and leave readers thinking " Wow! "

Bibliography/Works Cited

The Bibliography or Works Cited page is a list of all the references you used throughout the paper. It can be alphabetized or numbered depending on the style guide you are using. While a Bibliography includes every resource you consulted when preparing your essay, a Works Cited page includes only the resources cited in your essay. Find out which is required by consulting the style guide assigned by your professor.

Style Guides

  • To make creating your reference list easier, use citation software . There are many different options out there, and several of the software programs are free (especially if you're enrolled in a university that has a subscription to one of the services). These citation software programs essentially create your bibliography for you, making the process fast, easy, and accurate.

Review, Revise, Rework

  • Give yourself a day or two before rereading and revising your essay. This way, you will have a fresh set of eyes, making it easier to catch any mistakes.
  • Don't be afraid to rearrange paragraphs, delete sentences, or add information. Reading through your essay a few days after writing it makes it much easier to see where and how the structure needs to be changed.
  • Correct any errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Check the essay yourself, have a friend review it, or better yet, have your essay edited by a professional editing service .
  • Avoid colloquialisms and contractions. ('Cause it just ain't professional in an academic setting. Lol.)
  • Analyze the flow of your essay , and make sure that your ideas and paragraphs flow smoothly from one to the next.
  • Cut out any extraneous information or fluff. We've all done it, but adding extra words to make a word count requirement doesn't fly with most professors, and it will definitely detract from the strength of your essay.

Now, it's Time to Write!

It may seem overwhelming, but writing an essay doesn't have to be stressful. After coming up with a topic, doing some research, and creating a basic outline, you're ready to start filling in the gaps. Using primary and/or secondary research, back up your ideas and support them with credible sources. Just don't forget to cite those sources! Once you've written your first draft, take a day or two away from your paper so you will have a clear head when you come back to revise it. As suggested, you may even want to have your paper edited by the professionals at Scribendi , who will not only correct any surface-level errors but will also check for consistency, clarity, and cohesiveness, providing comments and suggestions along the way.

Essay writing is so much easier if you're equipped with the right tools, and that's what we hope we've given you with this ultimate essay checklist. Now that you know how to write an essay (regardless of the style), we're confident in your ability to write an essay about any topic that your instructor might have in store for you. Happy writing!

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College Essay Checklist: Are You Ready to Submit?

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The college admissions process is a human process. An admissions committee filled with real people will evaluate your application, and these people will choose whether to advocate for you to gain admission to the university. So in order to be accepted, you need to stand out from the other applicants and persuade the admissions committee to choose you over students with a similar academic profile. Luckily, college essays are specifically designed to be your tool to stand out in the admissions process. 

Given that college essays are so important, it’s important to make sure that they are absolutely perfect before you submit them. How do you make sure your college essays are ready to send to colleges? Make sure you’ve gone through this checklist before you hit that “submit” button! 

Why Are College Essays So Important? 

A college application has many components – test scores, grades and coursework, your extracurricular profile, recommendation letters, interviews, and, of course, your essays. So why are the essays such an important part if there are so many other components of your application to consider? 

Well, most colleges receive thousands of applicants, many of whom have similar academic and extracurricular profiles. In fact, for every spot in a selective university’s admitted class, there are at least four outstanding applicants with similar grades and test scores. So how do admissions committees choose among so many students who have such strong potential? They use their essays to decide who would best fit in with the campus community. 

For this reason, your college essays aren’t just about showing off your abilities and accomplishments. It’s about showing who you are as a person, what your values are, and what you’re passionate about. That’s no small task for a short essay. Every word is going to count, so follow the checklist below to make sure that your essay is as strong as it can be. 

College Essay Checklist: Before You Submit

1. does your essay share who you are and what you care about.

Your essay needs to be personal. It should share your personality, goals, and voice. Even if a prompt doesn’t explicitly ask you who you are and what you care about, you should use it as an opportunity to showcase your personal qualities. For example, take the following supplemental essay prompt from the University of Chicago’s 2020 Application: 

What can actually be divided by zero?

At first glance, this prompt may seem confusing. After all, didn’t we all learn in elementary school math classes that nothing can be divided by zero? More abstract, philosophical prompts like this one are actually ripe opportunities for students to showcase who they are and how they think. 

So if you answered a prompt like this very practically, e.g. explaining that the laws of mathematics prove that no real number can be divided by zero, you’re missing out on a key opportunity to show the admissions committee your capability for creativity and abstract thought. Instead of answering a prompt like this literally, you ought to think critically about your own life and see if you can metaphorically or rhetorically link the question to something you have gone through or accomplished. 

Alternatively, if you’re more of a logical person and want to answer the question analytically, make sure that you are showcasing your knowledge of various theorems and strategies, and be sure to cite where you learned them. Either way, you are showing the admissions committee how your brain works and how you go about solving problems. 

Remember: the goal of an essay is, first and foremost, to showcase yourself. There are no right or wrong answers in college essays, so as long your essay tells the committee something important about you. 

2. Do your essays form a portfolio that accurately represents you?

While having to write so many essays is a lot of work, there is an upside. Having multiple essays means you can use each essay to display a different aspect of yourself and your accomplishments. That way, holistically, your application will give a very representative picture of who you are, and you won’t have to leave anything out. 

So when you’re evaluating your essays, ask yourself: do your essays depict as many facets of yourself as possible? Specifically, have you repeated a story, experience or quality about yourself in any of the essays you’re going to send to the same college? If you have, then consider editing one of the essays to highlight something that you haven’t yet shared with the admissions committee. The more you can share with them in a limited amount of space, the easier it will be for the admissions committee to imagine how you would fit in at their university. 

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3. Did you answer the prompt? 

Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about making sure that your values, passions, and accomplishments are showcased in your essays, even if the prompt is more abstract. This is certainly important, but it’s also important to make sure you’re showcasing yourself in the context of the essay prompt that was given to you. In other words, you should be sure that at some point in your essay, you answer the essay prompt clearly. If you don’t, you risk coming across as a student who doesn’t know how to follow basic directions. 

Moreover, you need to make sure that you answer every part of the essay prompt given. Some essay prompts will just have one part. Some will have many. If you have to answer an essay prompt with multiple parts, be sure you address all of them. Take the following essay prompts from the 2019-2020 College Application Cycle: 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology , 2019-2020: 

Tell us about the most significant challenge you’ve faced or something important that didn’t go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words)

University of California : 

What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time?  (350 words)

In both of these prompts, you are asked to respond to two related questions. If you were to answer the MIT prompt, you would need to not only describe a significant challenge but explain how you overcame it. For the University of California prompt, you’d not only need to explain your greatest skill but outline how you’ve cultivated it over time. If you miss any of those parts in your response, you will not have fully answered the prompt. 

4. Did You Stay Within the Word Count? 

Most main college essays (like the Common App essays) have a word limit of anywhere from 250-650 words. Supplemental essay prompts generally have word limit of 100-400 words. Either way, you need to make sure that you stay very close to the upper word limit in your response. 

As a general rule, you should try to stay within 10% of the upper word limit. So if the word limit for one of your essays is 650 words, your essay shouldn’t be fewer than 585 words. Keep in mind that most online applications will cut off your essay at the word limit, so try not to go over the word count. However, on the other extreme, you don’t want to make your essay too short, as it may make it seem like you don’t care about the application. After all, every extra bit of space in your essays is an opportunity to further impress the admissions committee, so you should take advantage of it. 

For some more details on how long your college essays should be, check out our previous post entitled How Long Should Your College Essay Be? What is the Ideal Length?

5. Did You Proofread? 

Here are some things to look out for as you look over your essay:

Incorrect grammar and spelling mistakes. These can make a well-thought-out essay seem subpar in the eyes of an admissions committee. 

Awkward or formal wording. Read your essay aloud and listen to how it sounds. If it doesn’t sound natural, then you’re likely not displaying your authentic self to the admissions committee. Consider shifting some of the wording to sound more like something you would actually say, even if it means you have to take out a bit of the advanced vocabulary and complex sentence structure.

Instances of telling, instead of showing. One of the biggest mistakes students make is to tell, instead of show. Here’s an example of telling: “It was a rainy and gloomy day.” Here’s an example of showing: “The gray clouds hovered ominously above the lake. I felt a drop. Then another. And another. It began pouring, and I frantically tried to row the canoe back to shore.” It’s much more engaging to read the second example, as you feel as if you’re there with the writer. 

Repeated sentence structure and vocab. Do you use the same word over and over again? Do you begin lots of sentences in a row with “I”? As you’re reading your essay, make sure that you’re using varied language to keep things interesting.

Inconsistent style. While your language should be varied, your style shouldn’t. If you use contractions or acronyms, use them throughout the essay. If you begin the essay in past tense, keep it that way, or make sure there’s clear demarcation when you shift tenses.

Also, if you’re reused an essay from another school’s application, give it an extra read-through to make sure that you’ve replaced all of the mentions of and references to the other college. You don’t want the admissions committee from UC Berkeley reading about how thrilled you are to take advantage of the opportunities that Tufts has to offer. It would not bode well for your likelihood of acceptance to Berkeley. 

Of course, it is okay to reuse essays if the prompts are similar, but just be sure to double and triple-check that it doesn’t seem like you’re reusing an essay meant for another college. Also, if you’re answering the famous “ Why This College ” essay, we at CollegeVine recommend that you not reuse another essay. This essay should include specific resources and opportunities that you plan to take advantage of at each university, so you shouldn’t be able to use the same essay for two different schools. In fact, if you’re able to reuse a “Why This College” essay, that’s a sign that you need to rework the essay and make it more specific to the college. 

6. Did You Get a Second and Third Set of Eyes on Your Essay?

It’s important to get another person or two to read your essay before you submit. The best people to look at your essays are those who are well-versed in creative essay writing, but also people who know you well. Older peers who have gone through the admissions process successfully can offer some of the best advice. English or Communications teachers who know you well also make great proofreaders, as do writing-proficient friends and family. 

If you’re not sure who to ask, you can also use our free peer essay review tool . You can get feedback on your essays, and improve your own writing skills by reviewing others’ essays.

7. Did You Revise and Proofread Again?

Once you’ve read through your essays and had others give suggestions, make the necessary edits and corrections. Then, be sure you proofread your essays one more time before you hit submit. You should try not to submit an essay that hasn’t been read at least a few times all the way through, without any changes. Consider even reading your essay out loud and printed out (have a pen at the ready!), as you may catch things you missed when reading silently.

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

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10 things to do before you submit your essay

Final draft checklist.

You have finished your essay and you think it is ready for submission. Now go through the checklist below, as it should help you spot possible flaws in your essay before submitting it. You are also strongly advised to have the essay ready between 24 and 12 hours before the final submission deadline (ideally, if not earlier), as some of the “things” in this checklist require reading the essay a few times.

Read your essay for references

1.  check you have referenced every idea that is not yours.

Your marker will look for your own individual voice and original ideas as well as engagement with secondary sources. You have to be particularly careful in differentiating what you have quoted or paraphrased from somewhere else, and what is actually your own opinion. It also has to appear clear to the marker whether you are paraphrasing a source or quoting directly from it.

2. Check your references are accurate and correct

Whether you choose to use MLA or Chicago (footnotes and bibliography), make sure you are following your referencing style closely. If you are in doubt, you should ask one of your tutors.

Is your bibliography in order?

3.  Check you have referenced primary sources as well

This may appear obvious, but make sure you have referenced primary sources too, and the editions you are using. If you are quoting from a play, indicate where in play that particular line is from (eg Act I, Scene II, ll. 123-38); if from a novel, the page number will suffice.

It may be useful to divide your bibliography in “primary” and “secondary” sources, and have the primary sources listed first.

Read your essay for style

4. edit for grammar and spelling.

Look for mistakes in sentence construction, and typos.

5.  Edit for syntax and punctuation

Do the sentences flow as you read them? Is the connection between sentences and also that between clauses clear? It may help to read your essay out loud, or only the sentences that look dubious. Your argument will appear much weaker if the logical links between sentences are not clear. If they are not clear to you, they will not be clear to your reader either.

Is a semi-colon really the punctuation mark you need to separate those two clauses?

6. Edit for style and vocabulary

Avoid vague words and broad, banal generalizations, ie ‘Sappho’s poetry is beautiful’, ‘ The Odyssey is the most famous book in the history of Western literature’, ‘No woman was free to act in Ancient Rome’. Consider whether the words you have picked at central moments in your argument are the best possible words you could use.

Is the register you have used similar to what you would see in scholarly essays? Check if you have used any colloquial words or phrases, as those are generally not appropriate for a university essay. 

Read for argument and structure

7. edit for structure.

Is any paragraph in your essay longer than a page? If so, it may need cutting or re-formulating. Most of the times, long paragraphs read better when they are split into two shorter ones.

8. Check the flow of your argument

Does your argument flow naturally from one paragraph to the next? Is your argument clearly laid out from the beginning? Are you making it clear when you are disagreeing with a source or an interpretation?

9. Re-read your introduction

Your introduction should be neither too short nor too long; ideally, you would aim it to be around 300-500 words (NB: this will depend on the overall length of your essay). Make it sound interesting: your introduction is the first thing your marker will read and it will shape their judgement of your essay as they go on reading it. Of course, an academic essay is not a catchy blog post, but there are many ways in which you can make the first paragraph interesting, such as using a nice quotation from the primary source or one of the secondary sources you have read, or for example engaging actively with the essay question/title. The other thing that the introduction should do is give a sense of what is going to happen in the actual body of your essay: this should not be a summary of your arguments (you do not want to give too much away from the very beginning!), but it should give the marker a good grasp of your essay theme and argument.

10. Re-read your conclusion

Do not think of your conclusion as the moment when you submit your essay in sighs of relief (well, it may be that too!), but rather as the culmination of your argument, when the whole of your essay comes together. It is not enough to write “In conclusion” to conclude. Your conclusion is also not the same as your introduction, although you may want to draw on what you mentioned there and create connections. Similarly as with your introduction, your conclusion is ultimately the last thing your marker will read and you should want to impress them a little. Especially, you want them to feel you have reached a conclusion, rather than simply found one.

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Evaluation Checklist for Essay Writing


I. Introduction

II. Body A. Topic One (the first reason/example why you believe what you stated in your thesis)

B. Topic Two (the second reason/example why you believe what you stated in your thesis)

C. Topic Three (the third topic is only necessary if you need to provide additional support for your thesis)

III. Conclusion

IV. Overall Structure


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50-Point Essay Checklist: How to Write an A+ Essay

Essay writing can be manageable if you take a strategic approach to the process. Yet it still requires your close attention. The variety of requirements, including the format intricacies and language peculiarities, can make your head spin. It’s easier to forget something than not.

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However: This will never be the case if you use the following all-inclusive essay checklist made by our custom writing service for you. It covers everything, from structure to formatting with examples. Learn how to write an A+ essay right here. Or even print the practical checklist out! And remember, you can always ask “ Write my essay, Custom-Writing ,” and we’ll help you right away.

  • 📄 Structure
  • 📝 Essay Style
  • ⚠️ Punctuation
  • 📰 Essay Format

1. 📄 Structure

Let’s explore the organization as the first section of our checklist for writing an essay. The logical structure is the first thing you should start editing. Ignore it, and everything is lost. Nail it, and it’ll be a perfect start for an ideal essay for you.

2. 🔤 Grammar

Grammar should not be disappointing for a reader. What’s more, it shouldn’t be an issue for your paper. This part of the essay writing checklist illustrates the top 10 points about grammar. They deserve your attention!

3. 📝 Essay Style

Style is like your face as a writer. It can make all the difference between a Facebook post and an A+ paper for you. So, make sure you’ve polished it with our checklist for essay writing.

4. ⚠️ Punctuation

Punctuation matters as well—don’t avoid it while revising. Hold on; just a few final touches will bring you one big step closer to your super quality academic essay.

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5. 📰 Essay Format

The format is the last but not the least step to an A+ paper for you. The essay checklist below will show you which features are to consider while editing.

So, that was a quick but comprehensive self-editing essay writing checklist for you. We hope now you understand how to write an A+ essay . Please let us know if it helped you eliminate some errors from your papers.

Learn more on this topic:

  • Useful Revising and Editing Checklists
  • Common Mistakes in Essay Writing
  • Effective Writing Strategies for College Students
  • How to Control Words per Page
  • Basic Writing Rules – Common Mistakes & Fixes
  • 200 Powerful Words to Use Instead of “Good”
  • List of Credible Sources
  • An Ultimate Punctuation Guide

🔗 References

  • Write Your Essay: UNSW Current Students, UNSW Sydney
  • Writing in an Academic Style, Academic writing: LibGuides at University of Reading
  • Nine Basic Ways to Improve Your Style in Academic Writing: Student Learning Center, Berkeley University of California
  • How to Proofread, Basic Grammar and Punctuation: LibGuides at St. Petersburg College
  • Proofreading: The Writing Center, the University of Wisconsin-Madison
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Are you struggling with the attention-getter for your motivational speech about school? Or maybe you need to add some humor to your creative essay on learning? Don’t hesitate to use funny quotes about education! We are sure you will impress everybody with your creative ideas and our funny sayings.

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Narrative Essays

Narrative: The spoken or written account of connected events; a story

Narrative Introductions

The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more.

Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the reader into the story immediately, as shown in examples 1, 3, and 5 below. Other effective introductions briefly provide background for the point of the story—often the lesson learned—as in 4 below and the first example on the reverse side.

Below are some strategies for writing effective openings. Remember your introduction should be interesting and draw your reader in. It should make your audience want to read more. If it's a person , begin with a description of the person and then say why that person mattered. If it's an event , begin with the action or begin by reflecting back on why the event mattered, then go into the narrative.

  • "Potter...take off!" my coach yelled as I was cracking yet another joke during practice.
  • Why do such a small percentage of high school athletes play Division One sports?
  • It was a cold, rainy night, under the lights on the field. I lined up the ball on the penalty line under the wet grass. After glancing up at the tied score, I stared into the goalkeeper's eyes.
  • My heart pounds in my chest. My stomach full of nervous butterflies. I hear the crowd talking and names being cheered.
  • Slipping the red and white uniform over my head for the first time is a feeling I will never forget.
  • "No football." Those words rang in my head for hours as I thought about what a stupid decision I had made three nights before.
  • "SNAP!" I heard the startling sound of my left knee before I ever felt the pain.
  • According to the NCAA, there are over 400,000 student-athletes in the United States.

Narrative Story

  • Unified: Ensure all actions in your story develop a central idea or argument.
  • Interesting: Draw your readers into your scene(s), making them feel as if they're experiencing them first-hand.
  • Coherent: Indicate changes in time, location, and characters clearly (even if your story is not chronological).
  • Climactic: Include a moment (the climax) when your ending is revealed or the importance of events is made clear.
  • Remember the 5 W's : Who? What? When? Where? Why?
  • Write vividly : Include significant sensory information in the scene (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) to make readers feel they are there
  • Develop " Thick Descriptions "

Clifford Geertz describes thick descriptions as accounts that include not only facts but also commentary and interpretation . The goal is to vividly describe an action or scene, often through the use of metaphors, analogies, and other forms of interpretation that can emote strong feelings and images in your readers' minds.

"The flatness of the Delta made the shack, the quarters, and the railroad tracks nearby seem like some tabletop model train set. Like many Mississippi shacks, this one looked as if no one had lived there since the birth of the blues. Four sunflowers leaned alongside a sagging porch. When the front door creaked open, cockroaches bigger than pecans scurried for cover [...] walls wept with mildew."

—from Bruce Watson's Freedom Summer

Narrative Checklist

  • Does the story have a clear and unifying idea? If not, what could that idea be?
  • If the story doesn't include a thesis sentence, is the unifying idea of the story clear without it?
  • Is the story unified, with all the details contributing to the central idea?
  • Is the story arranged chronologically? If not, is the organization of ideas and events still effective and clear?
  • Do the transitions show the movement from idea to idea and scene to scene?
  • Are there enough details?
  • Is there dialogue at important moments?
  • Is there a climax to the story—moment at which the action is resolved or a key idea is revealed?

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  1. The Complete 8-Point Essay Checklist for Students [With Template]

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  2. Academic Writing Checklists

    College admissions essay checklist 0 / 12. I've organized my essay prompts and created an essay writing schedule. I've done a comprehensive brainstorm for essay topics. I've selected a topic that's meaningful to me and reveals something different from the rest of my application. I've created an outline to guide my structure.

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  5. The Beginner's Guide to Writing an Essay

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  9. The Writing Center

    Check for complete sentences: Starting from the last sentence in your paper, read it backwards, one sentence at a time. This helps you focus on a single sentence. Double-underline the subject and underline the verb for each independent clause. Make sure each subject has a verb. A sentence that starts with for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so ...

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    Supplemental essay prompts generally have word limit of 100-400 words. Either way, you need to make sure that you stay very close to the upper word limit in your response. As a general rule, you should try to stay within 10% of the upper word limit. So if the word limit for one of your essays is 650 words, your essay shouldn't be fewer than ...

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  12. Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

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  13. 10 things to do before you submit your essay

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  15. Checklist: Academic writing

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  16. Evaluation Checklist for Essay Writing

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  19. 50-Point Essay Checklist: How to Write an A+ Essay

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  20. PDF B2 First improve your writing checklist

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  22. Narrative Essays

    The introduction of a narrative essay sets the scene for the story that follows. Interesting introductions—for any kind of writing—engage and draw readers in because they want to know more. Since narratives tell a story and involve events, the introduction of a narrative quite often starts in the middle of the action in order to bring the ...

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