Essential Elements of Academic Writing

A. Structure


    • Includes a thought, question, quote, or other literary device to spark interest in the topic for readers

    • Introduces the essay’s topic/purpose clearly and concisely (called thesis statement)

    • Communicates the relevance and importance of the topic

    • Previews the major points to be covered in the body of the paper

    • How to Write an Essay Introduction by

    • Body Paragraph, by


    • Includes two or more major points which develops the topic of the essay

    • Uses an organizational structure which is easy for readers to follow in developing the major points (e.g. chronological, logical, or other approach)

    • Major points are organized in paragraphs. Paragraphs are at least 3 sentences in length

    • The body of the paper communicates an argument – major points develop and reinforce the thesis statement (i.e. topic and purpose of the essay)

    • The rule of three for writing effective paragraphs and essays, by

    • The Introductory Paragraph, by


      • Transitional words and sentences connect the various parts of the paper into a unified whole. Transitions are used effectively to guide readers from one section of the paper to the next

      • Writing transitions by Purdue Online Writing Lab

      • Transitions by


    • Repeats the thesis statement – topic and purpose of the essay

    • Reviews major points presented in the essay

    • Presents concluding thoughts or ideas on the topic

    • Challenges readers – inspires readers to take a different perspective, change behaviors, or take action based on the information presented on the topic

    • How to write a conclusion by

B. APA Style and Formatting

    • Includes a separate title page with paper title, student name, department, university, course, faculty name, and due date. An abstract is not required for 100 and 200 level courses

    • Paper is double-spaced, has 1” margins, and utilizes one of the follow fonts

      • 11-point Calibri

      • 11-point Arial

      • 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode

      • 12-point Times New Roman

      • 11-point Georgia

    • Identifies sources used with ‘in-text’ citations and includes a ‘References’ page at the end of the paper

    • Basics of APA style tutorial

    • Download an APA template

C. Avoiding Plagiarism