Guidelines for designing essays

How do you write an essay?

Step 1: critical analysis of the given topic / task

Step 2: research

  • Sources: Discussions in seminars and lectures, articles, books, lectures, Internet, own remarks
  • Evaluation of the sources: key words, sounding for the found material by topic (for example, an organization chart / mind map)

Can you answer the following questions after reading the source text?

– how is the text structured? / which arguments?

– What are the requirements and conclusions of the argument?

  • Schedule a framework for your essay or outline: main arguments, subordinate arguments using the numbering or mind map.

Step 3: Structure and structure of an essay


The introduction presents the HOW and the WHAT. It refers to the topic and the problem to be investigated.

  • Take a critical look at the question or topic and consider how the wording of the topic could contribute to the structure of your argument.
  • Problem: Introduce the problem to investigate, formulate your research approach, or present your hypothesis.
  • Arouse the reader’s interest by briefly introducing your own thoughts on the topic and then further expanding it in the main part of the essay. You can also indicate by what means, with which methodology you want to examine the topic. You can also formulate questions that you then have to answer later.

Main part: The main part is to take up all questions in the introduction and to develop a logically structured argumentation. Formulate clearly and not too laxly.

1) Refer to a thought in each section. If you want to subdivide, you should have several outline points. Always keep an eye on the topic.

2) Name the main idea in the first sentence of the section. If you give several side thoughts or examples, the last sentence should summarize the main idea again.

3) If you make a statement, you must give a proof (= an example).

4) Think of transitions from one section to the next, supporting the logical sequence and coherence of your argument, e.g. Connection words such as “from which one can recognize”, “additional”, “besides”, “however”, “it follows that” … “shall be shown as follows”, etc.

3) Avoid personal evaluations as much as possible, since they usually replace a logical argument and do not complement it, and rather show that the writing is not well thought out.

4) Do not claim that something is logical or obvious when you have no evidence, as the following phrases indicate: “It is obvious that” “Everyone thinks that,” as we know today, is “,” As a teacher with 30 years of experience, I know that ”

5) Avoid nonsensical phrases like “This phenomenon is good / interesting / instructive” unless you explain why, how, where or when something is good / interesting / instructive.

6) Generalize only if you have already mentioned enough individual examples.

7) Make sure that your conclusion (s) are well-founded and also relate to your hypothesis and problem definition.

8) Formulate clear sentences, not too many subordinate clauses, so that the main message is not lost in complicated sentence constructions. Always try to think in the language in which you write, i. E. If you write in English, try to think in English immediately, not in your native language (for example, Afrikaans, German, Xhosa, etc.).


The conclusion or summary summarizes the results and refers to the initiation / problem formulation by providing a solution or answer.


  • Summarize your findings and main arguments to demonstrate how you came to your conclusion.
  • No new ideas should be expressed.
  • If you have not come to a clear conclusion, explain why and how further research could possibly help resolve the problem.

Step 4: bibliography.

Include all sources used in a bibliography. You can also use the Harvard method or the MLA system. The important thing is that you are consistent and consistently use a method.

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