5 Ways to Write a Better Essay  + Common Mistakes to Avoid

Want to write a better essay? Here are some common mistakes people make when writing essays, and suggestions to help you write an interesting and impressive essay.

5 Ways to Write a Better Essay and Common Mistakes to Avoid

This post does not detail every step on how to write an essay from start to finish, but it does present some useful tips and things to watch out for, to help you improve the final quality and make it something you're proud of! 

1. Use quotes effectively:

So the first tip on writing a good essay is to use quotes effectively. Quotes can be a great tool. They can make your writing more credible and show that you have a good understanding of the material you are writing about. However, over-using quotes or not using them properly can make you look like an amateur, so beware of that.

Try not to throw quotes all over your essay. Quotes are most effective when analysed, explained and used sparingly. More is less. Firstly, ask yourself why you have chosen the quote, and if it really supports the point you are trying to make. 

When you have chosen an appropriate quote, explain its meaning both literally and even symbolically. A quote is most valuable when you analyse its significance and how it relates to the main thesis of your essay. A quote that is a couple of words long is generally better than a quote that is many lines long.

2. Avoid padding.

If you have to write a lengthy essay, you might be tempted to use ten words when only one will do. Padding an essay with unnecessary words just to make it longer tends to water down and detract from the great point you are trying to make. Moreover, teachers and instructors love writing that is clear and articulate, so padding your essay won't gain you any extra marks.

In fact, padding can be obvious, and may demonstrate that you are desperately looking for ways to expand weak points. If you find this to be true, maybe you simply need to brainstorm to generate stronger ideas that you can develop properly. 

Instead of filling your essay with fluff, think about how you could better illustrate your point, perhaps using a relevant example or comparison.

3. Be original 

Think about how many papers your instructor has to mark alongside yours. Your teacher does not want to read another boring paper. To make your paper stand out, you've got to be interesting and original. Avoid the obvious scenes and scenarios that you know everyone else is probably going to write about.

Maybe you could take a different stance or put a unique spin on the issue at hand. Yes, it may take a few extra minutes to think about ways to distinguish your essay and make it more interesting, but it will be totally worth it when you find yourself with a draft that you're actually excited to get started on. Explore a wide range of perspectives and write the essay you would actually enjoy reading.  

4. Don't address the reader as 'you'

Try to avoid addressing the reader as 'you' when doing formal writing, especially with essays. In other, more informal types of writing, using 'you' is great, but with critical/analytical essays, using that direct pronoun could be a sign of inexperience. Writing an academic essay is not the time to get conversational with the reader. It's better to be objective and use more general ways of addressing them, such as 'we...' or 'many people...' or 'an individual...'. 

5. Only use words you know the meaning of

Another mistake people make when writing essays is using words they do not actually know the meaning of. Using sophisticated words can make your essay more impressive and enjoyable, but make sure you have a solid understanding of the meaning of those words.

You may  have to pull out your dictionary and thesaurus and do a bit of research on words you are uncertain about. This way you'll be able to pick the best word for the situation. On the other hand, be careful not to litter your essay with fancy words when a simple word would do the job better. You don't want to use language that just sounds awkward or would make the reader giggle. By reading examples of well-written essays you will be able to determine how you might effectively incorporate advanced vocabulary.

Thanks for reading these tips on a writing a better essay - an essay that will stand out from the rest. 

Do you know of any other common mistakes people make when writing essays?  Feel free to comment below. 

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