The majority of degrees will culminate in a large assignment called a dissertation. But exactly what is a dissertation? And what does it involve?
The word dissertation is often used interchangeably with thesis. However, there are some important differences between dissertations and theses depending on where you are studying. In some areas of the world, the term thesis is reserved for a major assignment that marks the end of a PhD degree. However, in others, a dissertation and thesis are essentially the same.
For now, we’ll put the term thesis to one side and take a look at what dissertations are and what work they involve.
What is a Dissertation?
A dissertation is a research paper that is submitted as part of a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. The underlying purpose of the dissertation is to enable students to showcase their knowledge and research skills by answering a research question or exploring a proposal of their choosing.
Educational institutions set dissertations to put students’ independent research abilities and curriculum knowledge to the test. In the majority of cases, the dissertation will play a major role in deciding a student’s final grade.
Although your instructors will normally provide some assistance, the dissertation assignment is mostly a self-managed, independent exercise.
The dissertation will likely be the most time-consuming, challenging, and essential task you will complete at university. It can be a stressful experience that involves months of preparation and hard effort. Hint: If you’re putting in the right amount of effort Google Scholar will become your best friend (see our guide to essay tips for more useful tools).
However, if you allow yourself to look beyond the pain of long hours of study and research, you’ll recognize that you can gain a lot from writing a dissertation. It will enable you to explore a topic you are passionate about and, if you play your cards right, you may even be able to publish your research findings in a journal article. The best approach is to choose a research topic that really piques your curiosity.
Different Types of Dissertation
Depending on your degree of study and the topic you are studying, the type of dissertation you write will differ.
Studies typically conform to one of two potential types:
Empirical Dissertations (Typically Sciences)
This form of dissertation entails conducting a small-scale piece of original research. It comprises designing a research project, gathering and analysing primary data, and presenting the findings in a logical and systematic manner.
Non-Empirical Dissertations (Typically Arts and Humanities)
The simplest way to distinguish a non-empirical dissertation from empirical research is to think of it as a piece of scholarship in which the work of others is scrutinised rather than the collection of new, primary data directly through a practical research study. Basically, when you complete a non-empirical study, you are concerned with the work that has already been conducted by others. So, what’s the point? Non-empirical studies play an important role because they help to assimilate existing understanding and research findings. Furthermore, by studying the work of others, you can significantly increase your knowledge in your area of specialism.
Non-empirical studies extend beyond merely describing the work that has been done in a certain field. In fact, research questions for library-based studies must be as carefully planned for non-empirical studies as they are for any other type of study. The work may then be placed in a specified context, and a critical assessment of its importance, quality, and contribution to theory and application can be made. You must also analyse and assess the research methodologies utilised by the original researchers, make judgements regarding the validity of the studies, and recommend areas for further study.
The form your dissertation takes will depend on your focus and method of study. The table below presents a broad overview of basic differences you can expect between different types of dissertations.
Different Types of Dissertations
The Skills You Will Need to Write a Dissertation
Regardless of what form your dissertation takes, you’ll need to demonstrate a set of basic skills.
Defining and defining a study topic
Developing a research question to guide your study
Identifying the most important problems
Obtaining essential data and evaluating its credibility and legality
Considering both sides of the evidence
Arriving at a well-thought-out conclusion
Organizing and presenting the results of your study in a critical, compelling, and eloquent manner while adhering to all formatting rules (see our guide to APA formatting for more assistance).
How long should a dissertation be?
The word count for a dissertation depends on the level at which you are studying, the academic institution you are attending, and the subject you are studying. However, you can typically expect a dissertation to be around 10,000-12,000 words for undergraduates, 15,000-25,000 words for master’s students, and up to 50,000 words or more for PhD students. According to Harvard’s dissertation guidelines, when writing longer dissertations, it can be useful to organize your work in the form of chapters.
The Dissertation and the Viva
In some countries, you may need to complete an oral examination on your dissertation findings. This is known as a viva (short for viva voca, which translates as “live voice” from Latin). However, generally speaking, only PhD candidates are required to complete a viva.
The viva normally begins with you making a brief presentation of your work to two or three professors, followed by a question-and-answer session that can run up to two hours.
Don’t take shortcuts!
Finally, it should go without saying that paying someone to write your dissertation for you or cheating in any other manner is not a good idea. It’s not worth the risk because the dissertation is intended as a practical activity to show off your abilities. However, it is acceptable to ask for a friend or qualified proofreading service to review your dissertation for spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors.
An argumentative essay template and example argumentative essay outline to make writing argumentative essays a breeze!
If you’re anything like most students, it’s likely you skip the essay outline part of the research process and jump straight into writing the dastardly thing.
But taking the time to plan out the main flow and points of your essay can actually save you a ton of time in the long run.
Think about your essay outline as a roadmap that will guide you step-by-step through the process of writing the essay.
Beginner writers can undoubtedly benefit from an essay outline, but even seasoned writers use them. Take J.K. Rowling, for example. Here’s her outline for the plot of Harry Potter:
This method is so effective because it allows you to visualize the flow of your ideas and how they link together as the essay progresses.
It is very common for students to write their essays at the last minute. But if you don’t have a clear essay outline or plan by which you can answer the question, you may find yourself staring at a blank page as panic increasingly sets in.
My advice: Plan ahead with an essay outline. It’s easy to create one using one of our simple templates, and it will save you from that last-minute stress.
How do you write an essay outline?
The outline of the essay will vary according to the type of essay and format of the essay you are writing. In this post, we’re taking a look at a sample outline for an argumentative essay.
You can read more about how to write an argumentative essay here:
Now, one thing you should remember when compiling your argumentative essay outline is that it’s pretty much for your eyes only. Unless your teachers have specifically requested that you submit your essay outline, it’s something that you will use on a personal level to guide your thoughts. Even if your teacher has asked for a copy of your essay outline, it’s unlikely that he or she will be too critical in terms of how you have organized your ideas–it’s more about demonstrating that you HAVE put some thought into your essay. For this reason, don’t dwell too much on making your outline perfect; heck, if the odd grammar error slips in, it’s not the end of the world (it’s not often you’ll hear a proofreader saying that!).
Your main objective is to organize your thoughts quickly and efficiently.
The argumentative essay template we have provided below will give you with a great basis for composing your essay outline.
However, don’t feel constrained by them. If you want to make some basic adjustments, please feel free to do so. Whatever way you decide to write your essay outline is great–the main objective is to make sure you have one!
So let’s take a sample template for an argumentative essay in more depth.
Essay Outline Template for an Argumentative Essay
An argumentative essay is a valuable tool in academia because it offers learners an opportunity to formulate an argument and present it in a careful and measured way. Despite what many people think, writing an argumentative essay is not about getting angry. It’s actually quite the opposite.
Argumentative essays require you to present your opinions in a way that will persuade others to support your position.
Sample outline for an argumentative essay
Overview of the background to your topic
Body paragraph one:
Statement of argument 1 in support of your thesis
Supporting fact 1
Supporting fact 2
Supporting fact 3
Summary of how the three facts support argument 1.
Body paragraph two:
Statement of argument 2 in support of your thesis
Supporting fact 1
Supporting fact 2
Supporting fact 3
Summary of how the three facts support argument 2.
Body paragraph three:
Statement of argument 3 in support of your thesis
Supporting fact 1
Supporting fact 2
Supporting fact 3
Summary of how the three facts support argument 3.
Body paragraph four: Potential opposing argument 1 to your thesis and your response to this claim
Body paragraph four: Potential opposing argument 2 to your thesis and your response to this claim
Reiterate arguments made in the thesis statement
Specific why your points are of interest (prospects for future research, current relevance, potential future applications, etc.)
Example completed argumentative essay outline
And that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Remember to dissect your argument into manageable chunks and present one idea per paragraph. Don’t be tempted to present only the ideas that support your thesis. Also take the time and effort to identify the counterarguments that someone may leverage in response to your claims and then present evidence to disprove these claims.
Yes, there can be a fine line between being helpful and doing someone else’s work on their behalf. However, the best editors know how to refrain from crossing that line to ensure your work is ethical, faithful, and something you can be proud to call your own.
When you start a university or college course, you’ll likely be asked to sign up to a set of rules about plagiarism, cheating, and false representation. That’s perfectly normal and to be expected.
But does essay proofreading break these rules?
It is not uncommon for academic editors to be accused of helping students to cheat. Ethical professional editors will be highly offended by this accusation.
Proofreading is no different from most jobs: It has an ethical aspect that needs to be respected. For instance, it is considered highly unethical for professors to tell students the answers to exam papers. The majority of professors wouldn’t dream of doing so; however, some do. Does that mean all professors are guilty of helping students to cheat?
Absolutely not. The majority of professors adhere to the ethical expectations associated with their profession. The same is true of professional editors.
So why is academic editing so closely associated with cheating?
One of the problems is that online services, such as Vappingo’s essay editing service, are relatively new. In the past, people were not able to access academic proofreading assistance with such ease.
What did they do instead?
They turned to friends and family members to ask them to proofread and edit their papers for them. Again, the odd student may have benefited from over-zealous editorial assistance from a well-meaning family member. However, the majority of students accessed what we would now perceive to be ethical editing assistance (i.e., help to find errors and recognize issues).
Here at Vappingo, we focus on helping students (and anyone else who orders our services) present their work in the best possible light. In many regards, it is helping to level the playing field.
We encounter many students who have performed fantastic studies in their area of expertise. However, their writing skills are letting them down. This can particularly be the case with speakers of English as a second language.
Professional editors can help these individuals to ensure that their written papers don’t hold them back.
When is essay proofreading cheating?
Essay editing or proofreading can be considered cheating if the editor does any of the following:
Performs any type of research on behalf of the student
Rewrites sections of text because they are factually incorrect
Answers the essay prompt on the student’s behalf
Significantly alters the content or meaning of the text
Changes the main ideas or arguments
Adds citations and references
Composes analysis for the student
Significantly restructures the whole essay
What does ethical essay proofreading involve?
Highlighting areas of the discussion that may require fact checking
Commenting on any arguments that do not make sense in the context of the rest of the paper
Correcting spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors
Pointing out any material/language that isn’t appropriate; for instance, use of slang terms or derogatory descriptions of the work of others
Identifying areas where the writing isn’t clear
Highlighting citation errors or lack of appropriate citation
Helping to ensure the paper is formatted in a professional and polished manner
Pointing out problems… but not solving them
The differences between ethical essay proofreading and cheating
Is essay proofreading cheating? What the universities have to say
So, what do the universities have to say?
The majority of universities actively encourage students to ensure their papers are edited and proofread. Here’s what the universities have to say:
“Third-party proofreaders are not expected to actively amend existing, or create new, content in draft work; instead, they should support the student by identifying errors and/or making suggestions relating to – but not creating – content. The University considers the role of the proofreader is more akin to that of a mentor rather than a content producer or editor of the work.” – University of Warwick
“A third party can be used to offer advice on: 3.1 spelling and punctuation; 3.2 formatting and sorting footnotes and endnotes for consistency and order; 3.3 ensuring the work follows the conventions of grammar and syntax in written English; 3.4 shortening long sentences and editing long paragraphs; 3.5 changing passives and impersonal usages into actives; 3.6 improving the position of tables and illustrations and the clarity, grammar, spelling, and punctuation of any text in or under tables and illustrations; and 3.7 ensuring consistency of page numbers, headers, and footers” (London School of Economics)
“Checking your writing before submitting it is an important part of the process. It can be challenging to proofread your own writing, and some people prefer to work with a proofreader. However, to avoid collusion, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is still your own work. Your responsibilities If you choose to work with a proofreader (either a professional or a friend), you will need to ensure that their suggestions don’t change your work so much that it’s no longer yours.” (Newcastle University)
“It is acknowledged that certain types of student texts are quite often submitted for proofreading to a third party, and that such assistance is at times actively recommended by supervisors. This is particularly the case for doctoral dissertations, which typically aim for publication standard in their presentation.” (Lancaster University)
In fact, the London School of Economics has gone as far as to set up its own proofreading company (Additional services).
Your professors are probably using academic proofreading services themselves
Here is something many students don’t know:
Your professors will use editorial services. No journal articles are ever published in reputable manuscripts without first being edited and proofread by professional editors. In fact, in most cases, it is a mandatory requirement for all submissions to be accompanied by a certificate of editing.
Around 70% of the orders for academic proofreading services we receive here at Vappingo are from PhD candidates and professors. There’s proof that academic proofreading is not cheating if ever you needed it.
How to avoid crossing the line between getting proofreading assistance and cheating
Make sure you read your university’s editing and proofreading policy in depth. Every university applies a different set of rules. Share these rules with your editor and ensure you operate within the realms of these laws at all times.
Include the name of the company that edited your paper in the acknowledgments section of any dissertation or thesis. Better still, request a certificate of editing. If the providing company refuses to provide documentation of this nature, it’s likely something’s amiss.
Ensure any proofreading or editing company you choose has significant experience with academic texts. General editors may not be aware of the ethics associated with academic editing.
Inform your supervisors that you intend to have your essay proofread. They will be likely to offer you good advice on what you can and can’t do.
Retain responsibility for your own work at all times. After your work has been edited by a professional, read through it yourself one final time to ensure there are no loitering errors or areas of misunderstanding.
Can I just ask a friend to help edit or proofread my essay?
Absolutely. If you have a friend or family member on hand who possesses a good working knowledge of written English and academic editing, it can be useful to elicit his or her help. However, you should bear in mind the following:
Some academic documents can be particularly lengthy, especially dissertations, manuscripts, and theses. Asking friends to proofread an extensive file places a significant burden on them.
You should avoid asking a student who is on the same course to proofread your essay. This could lead to misappropriation claims or version control issues that can potentially lead to academic misconduct.
A final word…
Academic editing and proofreading are not cheating, providing the editor adheres to basic ethical requirements. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the proofreader is aware of the standards expected by the university and adheres to them at all times and for revising your own essay.
You own the essay or academic paper. It needs to be your work. As such, you need to check each correction—however minor—and ensure it reflects your voice, intended meaning, and own research.
Confused about the differences between a statement of purpose and a personal statement? This article contains all the information you need to make sure you nail your admissions essay.
Every applicant to grad school will likely be asked to write some kind of statement to support his or her application.
In some cases, you’ll be asked to write a personal statement; in others, you will be requested to write a statement of purpose. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll be asked to write both (and maybe an additional admissions essay to boot!).
Off the bat, you need to know this: There is a difference between a statement of purpose and a personal statement.
In fact, there are several differences.
So now we’ve established that a statement of purpose is not the same as a personal statement, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which the two essays differ.
Differences Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement
SOPs and personal statements differ in three broad ways:
1) The purpose
While the fundamental purpose of your statement of purpose is to explain why you want to study a given subject, the purpose of the personal statement is to explain why you are the right candidate for the program.
2) The perspective
The statement of purpose is forward-looking. It is concerned with your overall purpose (clue in the title guys). In this case, admissions committees are looking for specific detail on your future career plans and research goals. The personal statement is more of a reflection; as such, it is predominantly backwards-looking. It is concerned with what you have done in the past to prepare for study or a career in your chosen field.
3) The focus
The focus of your statement of purpose should be firmly placed on your credentials, qualifications, and interests. The SOP should explain why you are the right candidate for a program of study and why the institution is right for you. The focus of your personal statement should be on the person you are today. Explain how your personal and academic experiences have shaped you into a unique, exceptional candidate.
While both essays share the same ultimate objective—to secure your admission to the university by convincing the admissions committee that you have the potential to be a success on the program to which you are applying for admission—the expectations differ. It is imperative that you know what these expectations are to ensure you give the admissions committee members the information they are looking for.
Quick note: Need your statement of purpose to be as strong as it can be? Ivy League editors are here to help. Our college essay experts can help you shine. Check out our SOP editing services now.
So, now we’ve provided a high-level overview of the differences between a statement of purpose and a personal statement, it is worth looking at some of the features these two essays have in common.
Similarities Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement
Regardless of whether you are writing a statement of purpose or a personal statement, you will need to ensure you meet six basic requirements.
1) Suitable length
Unless the specific school states otherwise, both types of admission essay should be between 1-2 pages (single-space pages in 12 point font). Some schools will provide a word limit. In those cases, you should strictly adhere to the requirement. In other cases, you may be given free rein. Brevity is key. While you may be tempted to write a four-page monologue that gives extensive details of your suitability for the program, this approach is typically ineffective and will not maintain the reader’s attention.
Bear in mind that admissions committees receive thousands of applications for every place on a given program. They appreciate concise, well-written essays that focus on your uniqueness. Think of it as an elevator pitch. You only have a couple of minutes to persuade the reader that you will bring value to the program. Make every word count.
Even if you do not go the whole hog and engage the services of an expert SOP editing service, you should enlist the services of a third party to proofread your final essay. Mistakes are unforgivable and will result in your well-crafted personal statement or statement of purpose being tossed on the reject pile.
Don’t try to use words you don’t understand or flowery language that would rival a Shakespearean sonnet. Just be you. Write in your natural voice and be true to yourself. This approach will ensure that your personal statement of SOP is much more relatable to the reviewers.
Do not tell lies in your admissions essays. Admissions committee members are experts at weeding out the truth. Any white lies could cost you the place at the university of your dreams.
5) Adheres to instructions
Follow all the provided instructions to the letter. Don’t try to be smart or creative by circumventing the requirements. The reviewers will initially screen your essay against these requirements; if they have not been met, your admissions journey will come to an end.
6) Demonstrates by example
Show, don’t tell. Instead of claiming that you are a strong communicator, for instance, provide a solid example that demonstrates your strong communication skills in action.
Objectives of a Personal Statement
Your personal statement should achieve four broad objectives:
1) Tell a story
Regardless of whether you actually format your personal statement in story form, it should lead the reviewers through a journey by which they learn about you as a unique candidate.
2) Outline your motivations
Your task is to convince the admissions tutors that you understand the course and are a good fit for what they have on offer. Thoroughly research the program and the university and use your personal statement to demonstrate that you have taken the effort to find out about the school and the course of your choice.
What do you love about your chosen subject so much that has motivated you to choose it above anything else? Demonstrate your passion, intellectual curiosity, and enthusiasm.
3) Be succinct and compelling
The story you tell needs to be compelling and remarkable. By adding concise detail, you can catch the reviewer’s heart and leave a lasting impression.
Regardless of what story you choose to tell, make sure it is unique. Write as though you are talking directly to the reader.
4) To explain any weaknesses or challenges you have overcome
If there is an elephant in the room; i.e., something that you are concerned will have a negative impact on your application, the personal statement is the place to mention it. You may be tempted to ignore your weaknesses completely. However, if there is a chance the admissions committee will ask questions about something—for example, your grades, a gap in your work experience, or a health issue—you should use your PS to explain these weaknesses.
For instance, let’s say your GPA dropped significantly during your freshman year because you experienced an issue with your mental health. You can use your personal statement to discuss the adversity you encountered, how you overcame it, and most importantly, what you learned from the experience.
Regardless of the weakness or challenge you describe, make sure you present the story in a positive light. This will help the admissions committee to recognize that you are tenacious and have the potential to strive in the face of challenges.
1) Explain why you want to pursue this graduate degree
As we previously described, the most important part of your statement of purpose is the purpose. You need to clearly and succinctly explain why you want to pursue a given program of study.
Do you want to transition from the corporate world to academic but need to study your subject of expertise at a higher level to make this move? Or perhaps you want to complete an MBA to enable you to progress within the company you work for?
Regardless of what your goals are, you need to very clearly explain what is motivating your interest in pursuing a graduate degree.
2) Explain your interest in a given subject of interest
It’s not enough to simply state why you want to study a given discipline. You need to convince the admissions committee that you are dedicated to that particular field of study.
Briefly provide an outline of the experiences that have stimulated and maintained your interest in the subject. For example, work experience, voluntary work, internships, etc. If a mentor has inspired you or provided expert guidance that has fostered your motivation, talk about the impact the individual has had on your goals. Ensure you clearly communicate your preparedness for study.
3) Outline your strengths and suitability for the program
In this section of your SOP, you need to clearly outline any experience you have that will enable you to be successful on the program. Be it academic, professional, or internship experience, describe the skills and knowledge you have gained that have added to your understanding of the subject of interest and solidified your intention to study it at a higher level.
Ensure you explicitly spell out how your strengths will enable you to be successful on the program. This will help you to demonstrate that you have a clear understanding of what the program involves and will be a positive addition to the class.
4) Outline your medium and long-term goals
Clearly outline your medium- and long-term goals. What do you hope to achieve after completing the program of study?
What is your ultimate objective? For example, in the medium-term, you may wish to progress to become a team leader in the organization at which you work before ultimately becoming a division head. Or perhaps you want to dedicate your career to research to facilitate developments in your field of interest. Be specific.
5) Define your research interests
This section of your statement of purpose is particularly important. Describe what specifically you would like to research if you are admitted to the program. Most importantly, highlight how these research interests are aligned with the ongoing studies of the current faculty members.
Name the professors at the school who you are interested in working with and explain how their studies fit in with your objectives. This section will need to be tailored to each school. Although that means extra work for you, it reassures the admissions committee members that you understand the nature of the program and will bring value to the school.
6) Highlight why you are a good fit for the school
As stated earlier, thousands of applicants apply for every place on a given course of study. So why should the school choose you? Your goal is to convince the reviewers that you are the right candidate for them.
Specifically highlight how your values and motivations are aligned with those of the institution to which you are applying.
What unique strengths will you bring to the faculty? How will you add value? Discuss the knowledge, skills, and experiences you anticipate accessing from the program and highlight how these will enable you to achieve your medium- and long-term goals.
7) Detail why the school is a good fit for you
Demonstrate that you have thoroughly researched the program on offer and the unique benefits of the school to which you are applying. Again, this section will be different for every application. Describing the attributes of the program and school that have attracted you will help you to craft an informed statement of purpose that the faculty members who are reviewing your application can relate to.
An impressive statement of purpose should demonstrate:
Why you want to pursue this graduate degree
Your interest in a given subject of expertise
Your strengths and suitability for the program
Your medium and long-term goals
Your research interests
Why you are a good fit for the school
Why the school is a good fit for you
Remember: Once you have written your first draft of your personal statement or statement of purpose, you will need to ensure it is thoroughly proofread. Our statement of purpose editors can help you to refine and perfect your SOP. In addition to correcting any spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors, they will help you identify any gaps in content, provide advice on how you can improve your statement, and identify any irrelevant content.
Statement of Purpose vs Personal Statement: Which Do You Need to Write?
Hopefully, you now have a clear understanding of the main differences between a personal statement and a statement of purpose.
But which one do you actually need to write?
The answer to this question will be down to which school and program you are applying for admission to. Some schools require either a personal statement or a statement of purpose, while others require both.
In some cases, the school may require an essay that is a combination of both a personal statement and a statement of purpose. For instance, the London School of Economics requires a specific format for some programs of study.
In the worst-case scenario, you may encounter a school that uses the terms statement of purpose and personal statement interchangeably.
In this case, you should take into consideration the nature of the program for which you are applying. Generally speaking, research-based programs will expect an academic, formal statement of purpose (especially at PhD level), while undergraduate or scholarship applications typically require a personal statement.
If there’s any doubt, clarify the requirements. You should be able to find the details on the application itself or the school’s website. If this information is missing, contact the school directly to double-check the expectations.
Conclusion: The Difference Between a Statement of Purpose and a Personal Statement
There are major differences between a personal statement and a statement of purpose and its imperative that you know what these are.
Although both essays share the fundamental goal of securing you a place on the program of study of your choice, the information and requirements associated with the two statements are vastly different.
At a high level, the SOP is the more formal essay. It highlights your academic and professional background and what you have achieved. However, its biggest focus is on your purpose. As such, you should invest significant effort in defining your goals and how the program and school will help you achieve those goals.
The statement of purpose is typically less formal. It is heavily focused on you as a unique candidate. It should include some form of story that sets you apart as an exceptional individual who will add value to the program.
Regardless of whether you are writing a statement of purpose or a personal statement, make sure you do the following:
Read the instructions carefully
Use specific details and examples
Edit and proofread your final statement of purpose or personal statement!
Essay hacks can make the process of writing a great essay just that little bit easier.
Here are some tried-and-tested tricks and hacks that will help you write a grade-A paper.
14 Brilliant Essay Hacks
1) Use Wikipedia… But Smartly
Our online essay editors will be quick to tell you that Wikipedia isn’t exactly the most reliable or credible source for essay material. However, if you’re a bit smart about it, you can use Wikipedia to get great results.
The hack is to use Wikipedia to find useful sources as opposed to citing it as a source in itself.
Let’s say you’re writing an essay on Kant’s Theory of Freedom. Simply perform a search on the Philosophy of Freedom on Wikipedia and scroll down to the bottom. You’ll be presented with a ton of relevant sources you can then target in your research. Suddenly, finding useful sources became so much easier!
2) Use Google Scholar
Don’t use the standard Google browser for your academic work and essays; use Google Scholar instead.
Google Scholar is an index of scholarly and peer-reviewed publications. By using the Google Scholar search engine, you limit the search results to academic works and, as such, avoid reams of irrelevant or unreliable sources.
Unfortunately, many of the articles that are indexed on Google Scholar are not free to access; however, it can help you find the titles of articles and papers that will be useful for your essay, and you can subsequently look them up in your university library.
3) Conduct Backward Searches
So now you’ve got with the program and are using Google Scholar instead of the standard Google search engine, you can exploit this essay hack to its maximum potential by using the backward search function.
Let’s say we’re writing an essay on the theme of time in Romeo and Juliet.
Simply perform a search on the topic of interest, “theme of time in Romeo and Juliet,” and you’ll be presented with a list of clickable links you can reference to find content and articles that have cited that source.
This provides a really useful way of finding sources that have been used for similar research purposes to your own, which can be useful for two main reasons. First, it can help you find additional information sources. Second, it can give you confidence that a given source is relevant to your paper.
4) Use Google Scholar’s Cite Function
So, we’ve already established that Google Scholar is a great search engine for finding useful information sources for your paper. But did you know you can also use it to help you compile your bibliography?
Simply click on the cite button (currently denoted by double quotation marks) that appears below the listing you want to add to your bibliography, and a new window will open with a range of citation options.
Choose the style guide you wish to follow, and the correct citation format will be generated for you. You can then copy and paste this into your reference page.
5) Manage Your Time Using the Pomodoro Technique
Don’t attempt to write a full paper in one sitting. In addition to being incredibly mind-numbing, focusing on one task for a long time without taking a break will lead to poor output.
Set a timer for 25-minutes. Once that point is reached, take a five-minute break from your computer or reading to stretch your legs, get something to drink, use the bathroom, or fix yourself a snack.
After five minutes, get back to work for a further 25 minutes.
Rinse and repeat until your essay is finished.
6) Nail the Introduction
The introduction is quite possibly the most important paragraph in your entire essay.
If you get that right, you’ll be a long way toward your goal of writing a great essay.
For practical tips to help you master the fine art of the introduction, check out our guide to writing an introduction.
7) Remove Distractions
If you’re easily distracted by applications such as Facebook and Instagram, try using an app that will prevent you from accessing the sites you regularly waste time on so you can concentrate on your paper. ColdTurkey (for Windows) and SelfControl (for Mac) will block the websites you list so all distractions are automatically removed.
8) Nail the Thesis Statement
If you want to write an essay that impresses, make sure you write a succinct and compelling thesis statement. Check out our guide to writing a thesis statement for further information.
9) Work in the Cloud
There’s nothing worse than your computer breaking hours before a deadline or a power cut, meaning you suddenly lose all your work. Work in the cloud using applications such as Google Office Docs 365 or iCloud and you’ll never have to run the risk of suddenly losing all your work again. What’s more, using a mobile device, you can work from anywhere in the world at any time.
10) Make Zotero Your Best Friend
If you’re a student, Zotero could well be the best essay hack you’ll ever discover. You can use it as a Firefox plugin to find and store references or as a Word plugin that automatically interacts with all the information you have saved in Firefox to insert automatic citations in your paper at the click of button. Another click, and Zotero will even create your bibliography for you. Referencing and citations simply couldn’t get any easier.
11) Use Evernote to Keep Track of Things
If you’re writing a large essay or performing an extensive study for your dissertation or thesis, you can use Evernote to take ongoing notes, keep track of your diary, and store important articles that you may want to access at a later date. The app automatically updates on an ongoing basis, so everything you write will be stored in the cloud. What’s more, as Evernote automatically syncs the stored content across your devices, you can quickly and easily pick up where you left off, even if it’s on a different computer.
12) Avoid Meaningless Words
If you want to ensure your essay reads well and comes across as scholarly and succinct, make sure you avoid using meaningless words in your paper. Check out our guide to words you shouldn’t use in an essay.
13) Talk, Don’t Type
If your typing skills are not quite up to the mark, Dragon voice recognition software can help you to efficiently translate your thoughts into text. Simply dictate the words you want to use, and they will be translated into text-based language. Dragon can be particularly useful when you want to quickly and easily get your thoughts down in text form.
14) Ask Someone to Peer Edit Your Paper
When you have spent hours working on an essay, you may no longer be able to see the wood for the trees. That’s where peer editing can come in handy. Ask a friend or family member to peer edit your essay and he or she will be able to spot any errors you’ve missed, provide constructive feedback on how it can be improved, and even point out any areas you haven’t taken into consideration.
Got any useful essay hacks to share? Leave a comment and let us know.
Yet it seems very few students have truly mastered the art of writing a great introduction. In the majority of cases, the essay introductions our editors come across have been sloppily jammed in place at the last minute and completely ruin the rest of the essay.
Failing to invest that last few minutes crafting an effective opener makes no sense whatsoever.
We all know that top essay writing tip: Write the introduction last. However, just because you may write the essay introduction last does not mean it’s the least important part of your essay.
Au contraire… it’s pretty much the most important.
It introduces the essay topic in a clear and specific way.
It captures the reader’s interest and makes him or her want to read the rest of the essay
So what exactly should you be looking to achieve in your introduction?
Things You Should Include in an Essay Introduction
Commences with a hook that is relevant to the essay topic and draws the reader in.
Highlights the topic that will be discussed (underlined or italicized if it is the title of a long work—a play, a novel, a really long poem; in quotation marks if it is the title of a short work—a short poem, a short story, an article).
Presents a reasoned, yet questionable, thesis claim about the concept of interest.
Provides an overview of how the essay will prove the thesis.
Summarizes key learning.
Okay, at this point, you may be feeling slightly overwhelmed.
However, here’s some good news: While the introduction is one of the most essential parts of your paper, it is also one of the easiest to write.
Thankfully, you can put your days of churning out lame and meaningless essay introductions behind you with our very simple recipe:
Introduction to topic and context +
Thesis statement +
How you will prove thesis statement +
What the key learning will be.
Let’s expand on this slightly with some useful phrases:
Quotation, thought-provoking question, unexpected statement, or simile- or metaphor-rich description. +
“I am going to make the argument that…” +
“I am going to substantiate this claim with <number> threads of argumentation that are based on the theories of <name of theorist one>, <name of theorist two>, and <name of theorist three> who claim <main idea of theories>” OR
“I am going to substantiate this claim by reviewing data related to <concept one>, <concept two>, and <concept three> <number>” +
“I am going to conclude with some reflection on this idea and how it can better inform our understanding of <phenomenon of interest>.”
That’s it. It’s that simple.
Of course, you will need to use your own words. However, you are essentially following a simple template that will help you nail the introduction every single time.
Let’s look at some examples of this formula in action.
Examples of how to write an essay introduction
A paper About Drink Driving
At the age of 17, James had a promising life ahead. A popular and bright student, he was studying hard to pursue a career as a lawyer. However, one fateful night, his light was extinguished, and the lives of his parents were shattered when he was hit and killed by a drunk driver. Sadly, James’ story is not isolated. Every day, an estimated 69 people are injured or killed as a result of drink-driving incidents in the United States, and an overall increase in the number of incidents has been observed over the past five years. This paper puts forward the argument that drunk driving laws need to be adjusted to enforce stricter penalties for those found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol. This claim will be substantiated by exploring how drunk driving incidents lead to premature deaths, life-changing injuries, and/or billions of dollars spent on medical expenses. It will conclude with an overview of how stricter penalties can deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol.
An Essay Introduction to a Paper About Obesity
What is the true cost of eating that extra donut? Obesity continues to represent a significant problem in the United States. At present, an estimated 36.5% of adults in the US are overweight (CDC, 2019). The issues that lead to obesity can differ from individual to individual. However, this paper argues that it is the government’s failure to address the problem that sits at the root of America’s demise into a nation of overweight citizens. This essay examines how addressing food cultural issues, providing better opportunities for people to pursue an active lifestyle, and tackling the conditions that lead to poverty will enable the government to significantly reduce the prevalence of obesity in the US. It concludes that government actions to address the antecedents of obesity will substantially mitigate the issue.
An Essay Introduction to a Paper about Disney’s Little Mermaid
The image of a half-human, half-fish creature has emerged time and time again in many myths and fables. These mermaids, nymphs, and sirens take multiple forms, from sweet and innocent to dangerous temptresses. This essay argues that the mermaids of the contemporary era, as exemplified by Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid, are typically embodied in a sanitized adaptation of the merfolk that characterized classic folklore, which were predominantly bloodthirsty, dangerous creatures that lured innocent people to their deaths. This paper deconstructs ancient folklore and contemporary fantasies to explore how the evolution of the mermaid from a femme fatale to an innocent fairy-tale character mirrors the evolution of society’s perceptions of women. By examining the theories of Paskin (1999), Wollstonecraft (2011), and Grande (2015), it draws a surprising conclusion about the unknown women of the sea.
An Essay Introduction to a Paper About Monster
Is it just for the U.S. courts to offer criminals a reduced sentence in return for giving evidence against other people? In Monster, Walter Dean Myers dramatizes this phenomenon by presenting a trial that is heavily dependent on the testimonies of convicted felons. By examining the deceptions, omissions, and inaccuracies that are evident in the testimonies of Osvaldo Cruz and Bobo Evans, this paper argues that criminals do not represent reliable witnesses. It concludes that practices that involve offering reduced sentences in exchange for evidence should be abolished.
Sample Essay Hooks
The introduction to an essay can use different types of hooks. The five most common hooks are presented below.
Type of Hook
A little inaccuracy can sometimes save a ton of explanation – H.H Munro
It is dangerous to be right, when the government is wrong – Voltaire
I’ll never forget the day I learned a life-changing lesson: Always expect the unexpected.
As I stared down at the last ten dollars in my hand, little did I know that my next purchase
would change my life.
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without religion?
Did you ever stop to think about what steps you could take to make the world a better
China recently announced plans to invest $850 billion over the next ten years to clean up its
Humans generate an estimated 2.01 billion metric tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) per
Comparing China to the United States is like comparing apples and oranges.
The high suicide rate in Japan is the country’s elephant in the room.
Useful Phrases to Use in an Essay Introduction
It is generally agreed today that…
In order to explore these issues in more depth, this paper…
In approaching this issue, one should…
This essay argues that this phenomenon can be attributed to three main issues:…
Increasing numbers of people are…
There is an overall trend toward…
Over the past five year, the media have increasingly reported…
Recent research in this area has found…
This raises the question as to whether…
While many people will typically agree that…, few would deny claims that…
Hardly a week goes by without another report of … appearing in the media.
Ever hoped to get the Cliff Notes guide to editing an essay? You know, the type that tells you precisely what to do to edit your papers in the quickest, simplest way without wasting your time on anything else?
Well here’s what you’ve been waiting for!
Let’s start with the news you may not want to hear:
Whether you’re a freshman who is about to submit your first major essay or a seasoned PhD scholar who is hoping to publish your work in a journal, it’s critical that you comprehensively edit and proofread every essay you write.
Yep. Every Single One.
Otherwise, you’d be wasting all the hard effort you’ve invested in writing the essay in the first place and accepting average grades when you could have achieved GREAT grades.
If you’re new to the essay writing lark, need to refine your skills, or are just fed up with mediocre grades, the editing process is crucial.
But what exactly is essay editing, what does it involve, and how can you do it with minimal effort?
This fantastic guide to editing an essay will introduce you to the following:
What essay editing is and the process editors follow to refine, polish, and perfect academic papers, dissertations, and theses.
The four key components of a great essay and the role they play in the essay editing process.
Critical strategies for essay editing that have been proven to work every single time.
Top tips for editing an essay with minimal effort.
A whole ton of free printables, checklists, and templates that will make editing an essay a walk in the park.
So, let’s get on with it.
Part One: An Overview of Essay Editing
What is Essay Editing?
Essay editing involves refining a draft document to improve cohesion, flow, and readability while also ensuring that any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors are corrected.
What Does Essay Editing Involve?
On a high level, essay editors perform four tasks to make your essay better:
Structural editing: Looking at the paper as a complete unit to identify and address any significant structural problems.
Substantive editing: Finding and addressing any issues associated with the organization, readability, clarity, and flow of the paper.
Copy editing: Significantly improving the mechanics of the manuscript as a whole.
Proofreading: Fixing any remaining spelling, grammar, punctuation, and style errors in the document.
Let’s look at each of these essay editing types in more depth.
What are the Different Types of Essay Editing?
The process that an editor will follow to edit an essay will vary from paper to paper depending on the standard of the written English, the effectiveness of the document structure, and the clarity of the argument.
What do I mean by this?
Some essays may need a lot more work than others.
However, generally speaking, four different types of editing are involved.
The Four Types of Essay Editing
1. Developmental/Structural Editing
Looking at the paper as a holistic whole to assess the effectiveness of the structure
Developmental editing involves looking at the big picture. For example, when editing a dissertation, the editor will take a step back and consider what the dissertation is about and what the main topics of interest are. He or she will then help the author to develop a broad outline to support the flow and structure of the dissertation.
Typically, by the time you have produced the first draft of your dissertation, you will have developed a clear hypothesis, structured your main ideas, and developed an overall direction for your writing. If your first draft is not yet clearly structured, it is highly likely that you will require a rewriting, as opposed to editing, service.
• Reorganize the structure to ensure the main arguments flow in an effective manner
• Remove any repetition or redundancy
• Highlight any areas of inconsistency or flaws in logic
2. Substantive Editing
Comprehensively editing the content of the document to ensure it meets its objectives
Substantive editing is a form of heavy editing that includes reviewing the overall structure, style, grammar, and spelling of an academic document. During the substantive editing process, the editor will identify and fix problems associated with the clarity, organization, readability, and flow of the document. In some cases, some high-level rewriting may be required to make sure that the overall hypothesis and associated arguments are clear and that the main points are presented in a logical and accurate manner.
Clarify main concepts
Improve paragraph transitions
Assess quality of argument and logic of discourse
Restructure text where required
3. Copy Editing
In-depth assessment of the manuscript mechanics
Copy editing is imperative when finalizing an academic document. It spans several functions including identifying and fixing word usage, grammar, punctuation, spelling, and syntax errors in the text while also ensuring that the author’s original message and voice are maintained. During this stage of the editing process, the editor will also ensure that a coherent style and consistent format are preserved throughout the file. He or she will also check for clarity, highlight any inconsistencies in the argument, and verify references to pictures, tables, and figures.
Ensure a consistent style and voice is maintained throughout
Find and fix issues with clarity and accuracy
Improve flow and readability
Highlight flaws in logic
Final check for any minor grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation mistakes
Proofreading represents the final stage of the academic editing process. During this phase, the editor will perform one last check for any minor spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors that have been missed during the previous editing stages. In addition, the editor will address any outstanding formatting and referencing issues.
Correct grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes
Verify word usage and diction
Check referencing, formatting, and general style against style guide requirements
Are Editing and Proofreading the Same?
No. Editing and proofreading are entirely different processes. To put it simply, editing is improving the overall quality of the writing, while proofreading is fixing all remaining minor mistakes.
Editors and proofreaders use completely different skillsets:
Professional essay editors are seasoned essay experts who know exactly what it takes to craft the perfect essay.
Editors can specialize in developmental editing, substantive editing, copy editing, proofreading or a combination of all three.
Vappingo’s essay editors follow a three-step process that spans the developmental, copy editing, and proofreading functions.
Three-step Essay Editing Process
So, now you know what editing is.
I can’t stress this enough: When it comes to your final grade, every essay counts. As such, editing is imperative.
If you don’t want to use an academic editing service to help you edit your essay effectively with the least amount of effort, you’re going to need to perfect the art of editing for yourself.
How can you go about this?
Part two of this guide to editing an essay contains all the top editing tips you need to make your essay better.
Psst: Our native English editors have reviewed thousands of essays and know what it takes to create papers that get top grades. Order our editing services now, and we’ll help you stand out from the crowd.
Part Two Essay Editing for Better Grades
When you’re editing your essay, you will typically have one objective in mind: To get the best possible grade.
Aside from hiring an academic editing service to assist you—which is always the best option—there are several editing strategies you can use to make sure your essay shines.
How do I Make my Essay Better?
Before we dive in, let’s quickly review the four factors that contribute to a great essay.
Structure and organization: Your paper should be well structured, be easy to read, and flow well. A clear red line of thread should be apparent from the introduction through to the conclusion.
Language and formatting: It’s not just about putting all the words together to argue your case; it’s about using the right words in the right voice and tone. A single word in the perfect place can transform an essay from a reasonable effort into a great paper. Likewise, a silly error can undermine your entire credibility. The fonts you use and the way the citations, references, general layout of your essay are formatted will all have a direct impact on the credibility of the final paper.
Coherence, content, and analysis: Are the key facts and arguments you’re presenting useful, relevant, and succinct? Are your claims supported by evidence?
Purpose: After reading your essay, the reader should be able to summarize your major position using just a couple of sentences. Have you answered the question correctly?
Strategies for Editing an Essay
So, we now know why essay editing is important, what it involves, and what high-level features editors are interested in.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and look at the specific editing strategies you can use to make sure your essays are effective, powerful, and memorable.
Here are five essay editing strategies that students frequently use:
Following an essay editing checklist
Using essay editing tools
Following general tips to make an essay sound better
Looking out for common mistakes
1. Peer Editing
Peer editing can be a useful essay editing strategy that involves asking a friend or colleague to read your essay before giving you useful input and guidance on how it can be improved.
It’s a great way to get a second set of eyes to spot mistakes and point out any flaws in the argument. It can also be a mutually beneficial process that helps the peer editor to identify how his or her writing can be improved.
Peer editing can be helpful in four main ways:
It helps you to view your essay from a reader’s perspective
It allows you to gain insights into what’s working well and access to suggestions as to what can be improved
It gives you a chance to revise the essay, dissertation, or manuscript with the target audience in mind
It provides you with a solid list of actions you can take to revised and enhance the essay
This will help you to familiarize yourself with some of the errors that have a habit of rearing their ugly heads.
Once you become a more experienced editor, you will start to get a feel for the mistakes that you have a propensity to make on a regular basis. For example, in my rush to churn out copy, I frequently mistype “then” instead of “than.” Its shockingly easy to do yet can completely change the meaning of a text.
When I proofread the final draft, I always double check for this minor error.
5. Following top tips for editing an essay
You can also follow some great essay tips to make sure your paper shines.
Don’t edit as soon as you finish the first draft of the paper
I get it. It’s business as usual for students to be writing essays on the last minute, and you may not have the luxury of a few days to take a break from the essay writing process.
However, if you can, you should.
The reason for this is simple: Your brain will be too familiar with the content of the essay. As such, you’ll be tricked into seeing what you think is in the essay, not what’s there.
The human brain is very easily tricked.
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at the following:
See any problems? Are you sure? Keep looking and you’ll see it eventually.
The best essays are those that keep the argument concise and to the point.
I hear ya! You have a word count to meet.
But brevity is key.
Get rid of fillers and redundant words, phrases, and terms. Filling the paper with mindless jargon is not the right thing to do.
They dilute the argument presented in your essay.
They waste the reader’s time. If the reader is your professor, he or she isn’t going to appreciate that!
They make the essay more difficult to understand.
If you have included words to meet the word count as opposed to adding value to your paper, give them the chop.
I have developed a list of 17 words or phrases that typically serve no purpose whatsoever other than to use up words. Let’s have a look at them.
Words and Phrases You Shouldn’t Use in an Essay
Very, Basically, Totally, Essentially, Really
Basically, these are filler words that don’t really add any value. Swap them out for more descriptive language.
Instead of this: I am really tired after playing basketball.
Try this: I am shattered after playing basketball.
Then and That
These are words that you should only use if you’re trying to clarify something. If you can remove the word without affecting the expression, then you can leave it out.
Each and every
People frequently use these filler words to express a feeling of frustration. However, you only need one or the other. Watch out for this error each and every time.
Again, this is another unnecessary filler word. If your sentence works just fine without it, you can just leave it out.
As a Matter of Fact
We all love a bit of drama, and people frequently use this phrase in spoken communications to stress a point. However, as a matter of fact, there is no place for it in an essay.
Past history/past experience
Our past experience tells us that this one is very common. By their nature, history and experience are in the past. Delete the word past.
As to whether/whether or not
All you need, is “whether” or “if.” It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re writing a formal or informal document.
For all intents and purposes
If you have a point to make, make it. You don’t need to add fluffy phrases such as these, which for all intents and purposes add no value whatsoever.
Due to the fact
You can ditch this phrase due to the fact “because” will do.
In terms of
Another non-value adding phrase. Use of this indicates that your writing is weak. Be more specific in terms of what you are saying. Instead of saying, “…in terms of cost, the food was expensive,” you can say, “the food was expensive.”
In my personal opinion/It is my opinion
When you’re writing an essay, you are inherently expressing your opinion. Not that of your friend. You should get rid of this in my opinion; it’s much better to keep things simple.
In the process of
While in the process of writing an essay, don’t bother referring to the process, just get straight to the point of describing it.
With the possible exception of
Why use five words when you can use one: “except.”
Even though this word is used quite often, it doesn’t add any value. There are many more powerful alternatives available.
Ditch the ambiguity: Many professors prefer specific details.
During the course of
You can drop this during the course of writing because it adds zero value.
When you’re writing an essay, maybe you want to come across as confident and knowledgeable.
Getting rid of these words and phrases will automatically lead to better, more concise essays.
Of course, if brevity is causing you word count headaches, you can always insert these words and phrases to increase the word count without committing a major grammar sin 😉
The very last thing you should do before submitting your essay is to proofread it one final time.
Yes, you will have picked up some errors while you were editing the essay. However, at the time, you were not fully focused on finding grammatical, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling mistakes.
Once you have completed the editing process, go back through the essay with the sole intention of finding those last remaining pesky errors.
Take a look at our guide on how to proofread an essay for some top tips that are guaranteed to help you find even the most minor mistakes in your writing.
As the following pie chart shows, you should invest as much time in the process of editing an essay as you do in writing it.
If you go that extra mile and follow these strategies and tips for editing an essay, you will take your papers up a few notches and really impress your professor.
If you’re stuck in that “write it and submit it” habit, now is the time to change. Use these simple techniques, and your essay will be massively transformed… for the better!
What strategies do you use for editing an essay?
Be honest: How much time do you invest in editing your essays?
A super simple APA checklist that covers all the APA rules you need to know for your essays and dissertations.
The news that an essay or dissertation has to be formatted in APA can come as a big blow to a sleep-deprived student.
It’s not enough that you have to research a paper, try and put it all together in a format that makes sense, and proofread the dastardly thing… now you are being asked to apply some cultish APA formatting rules that seem so complicated they make Steven Hawking look simple.
With so many APA rules to follow, it can be extremely challenging to make sure you have covered them all in your essay.
It gets worse: The official guide is updated on a regular basis, which only adds to the confusion.
Here’s some good news:
When you’re asked to write an APA essay or edit a dissertation, all you need is our handy APA checklist. Yup, for real!
We’ve trawled through all the APA rules for you and extracted the most important requirements to create this handy APA checklist.
The cherry on the cake:
It’s completely free for you to print out and keep!
Here’s a breakdown of what our APA checklist contains. You can go right ahead and jump to the section that is most relevant to you.
APA Checklist: A Really Simple Guide to APA Rules
APA Rules: Title Page
Running head: SHORT ALL CAPS TITLE. This is flush left, 1/2 inch from the top. Title should match the title of the paper. However, it can be shortened if required (recommended length is less than 50 characters including spaces).
Page number, flush right on the same line as running head.
Full title in title case. Double spaced, centered, upper half of the page. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
Name. Double spaced, centered under title. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
Name of university. Double spaced, centered under name. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
Plagiarism statement (where applicable).
APA Rules: General Requirements
The header on each page after the title page contains the title in all caps, starting from the left margin. The Header matches that provided on the title page. However, the words “Running head” only appear on the title page.
Page number, flush right on the same line as running head.
Entire document double spaced.
Spacing between sentences is two spaces.
Margins are 1 inch on all sides, top, bottom.
Paragraphs in the body of the paper are indented 5-7 spaces or one tab stop.
APA Rules: Headings
Level 1: Centered, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Headings.
Level 2: Left-aligned, Boldface, Uppercase and Lowercase Heading.
Level 3: Indented, boldface, lowercase heading with a period.
Level 4: Indented, boldface, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.
Level 5: Indented, italicized, lowercase heading with a period.
APA Rules: Abstract Page
Not all academic papers require an abstract.
The abstract appears on Page 2 of the paper, after the title page.
The title, Abstract, is centered, 1 inch from the top of the page. It is not in bold. Times New Roman standard 12 pt. font. The abstract is 150-250 words and is block style aligned to the left.
APA Rules: Lists
Lists can be enumerated or bulleted.
For short lists, use the format, (a), (b), etc., in a single sentence. For a list of longer sentences, use a list format:
Bullets can be used if they better represent the contents of the list.
APA Rules: In-text Citations
All sources cited in the paper text are also in the “References” list with the exception of classical works and personal communications.
Direct quotations are followed the name of the author (or title if no author), date of publication, and specific page or paragraph number of source (Moore, 2019, p.6).
All quotations < 40 words are enclosed in quotation marks. The parenthetical phrase comes before the closing punctuation.
All quotations > 40 words are shown as an indented block quote with no additional beginning paragraph indenting or punctuation marks. The parenthetical phrase comes after the closing punctuation.
Paraphrased in-text citations include the author name (or reference title if no author), the date of publication and, preferably, the specific page, paragraph, or section of the source that was paraphrased.
The names of those that contributed to multi-author sources with > 3 and < 6 authors are all provided on the first instance. Thereafter, the first author is noted followed by “et al.” (Moore et al., 1998).
When more than six authors contributed to the source, the first author is noted followed by the Latin phrase et al.
If the in-text citation is included in the body of text and covers multiple authors, the word “and” is spelled out: Moore, James, and Holmes (2018). When an author name is repeated within a paragraph, with no other sources used in between, the date can be omitted from the in-text citation.
APA Rules: References
The page title, References, is centered, 1 inch from the top of the page on a new page. Times New Roman 12 pt. font. No other formatting (bold, italics, or underlining).
All sources listed in the References section have at least one corresponding in-text citation.
References are listed in alphabetical order.
All lines are double spaced.
Each entry commences with a hanging indent. For digital articles, a DOI is provided at the end, if available. This takes the form of either doi:10.xxx/xxx.xxxx OR http://dx.doi.org/10.xxx/xxx.xxxx. If there is no DOI for digital articles, the publisher’s home web site is provided.
Initials are only provided for first and/or second names of authors. There is a space between initials, e.g., Moore, S. E. If there are multiple authors, they are listed in the order in which they appear in the original source.
Author names are separated by commas (even for two authors) and an ampersand is used before the last name. Titles of books, journals, and technical reports are given in italics, as are journal titles and volume numbers.
Titles of books, journal articles, websites are in lower case except for the first word after a colon and any proper nouns.
The title of article that is extracted from a webpage on a larger website is not italicized. Likewise, journal article titles and book article titles are not italicized.
If a citation ends with a URL, all hyperlinking (blue, underline) is removed and there is no period at the end of the hyperlink.
Issue numbers are enclosed in parenthesis and not formatted with italics.
Pages numbers are given as a range (e.g., 45-56) without using p. or pp. except for newspapers or magazines without a volume and issue number.
Publication information (books) includes the state two-letter code with the city and country written out in full for all international cities. All other sources, e.g., media, books, etc., are referenced according to the APA 6e Guide.
APA Rules: Figures
Figures are numbered with Arabic numerals (Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3) below the figure, flush left and in italics.
Captions that describe the content of the figure are placed next to the figure number immediately below the figure and are not italicized.
The figure is referenced within the text; e.g., “As shown in Table 1.”
APA Rules: Tables
Tables are numbered with Arabic numerals (Table 1, Table 2, Table 3) at the top, flush left.
The table title is below the table label (e.g., Table 1) and is in italics.
The table is referenced within the text; e.g., “As shown in Table 1.”
Horizontal rules (lines) are limited. There is always a rule under the heads and before any notes.
Any explanatory notes should be proceeded by the word “Note.” in italics, flush left.
Reference to the source should be included in the note.
APA Rules: Proofreading
Of course, it isn’t enough to just follow all the rules. You need to make sure your essay or dissertation doesn’t contain any minor spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors. If proofreading really isn’t your thing. Leave it to a professional! Check out our dissertation proofreading services. Our native-English experts will meticulously check your dissertation to make sure it doesn’t contain any errors that detract from the quality of your research.
If you do insist on proofreading your essay or dissertation for yourself. Take a look out for the following:
Personal pronouns and rhetorical questions only appear when absolutely necessary.
Sequence of paper is Title Page > Abstract (where required), Body of Paper, References > Tables > Figures > Appendices.
Contractions and slang are not used.
Numbers below ten are spelled out in full.
Numbers above ten are in Arabic numerals.
Paper has been proofread by a professional proofreader.
And there we have it. A complete guide to all the APA rules you need to take into consideration within academic documents in one handy little checklist. You can download a free printable PDF version of the APA checklist by clicking on the image below.
Don’t let that essay beat you. Our top essay tips will get you on track and churning out essays Harvard students would be proud of.
That essay deadline is looming.
It’s the early hours of the morning, and you’ve still yet to formulate a decent thesis statement, let alone research an argument, find suitable sources, and stick it all together in a coherent form. And then there’s the essay editing to deal with.
Temptations lie everywhere. And all distractions are extremely welcome.
But, as much as you may feel like quitting school for good right now and turning on the television, YOU HAVE GOT THIS!
Okay, maybe not just quite yet… but there are some great tools out there that will certainly make your life easier. In fact, some of them may even make writing and editing an essay a little bit of fun.
Here are 18 great ideas that could well help you increase your grades without the blood, sweat, and tears.
18 Top Essay Tips That Will Change Your Life
When performing academic research, use Google Scholar instead of the standard Google search engine. You’ll get much more relevant results that will impress even the pickiest professor.
Can’t think of the right words to get your point across? Visit Word Hippo to find the words you’re looking for. It’s a nifty little tool that you can use to find definitions, synonyms, antonyms, and translations for words.
If you have the opportunity to choose your own topic for a paper, write about something that really gets your goat. You’ll be able to rant on and on, and before you know it, you’ll have achieved the word count.
Compiling the bibliography according to style guide requirements can be a real headache. Let BibMe do it for you.
If you can’t choose between different variations of the same word or are struggling to decide whether to use a hyphenated or compound adjective, use Google Ngram to find out which usage is more common.
This is by no means the most groundbreaking essay tip you will read, but it really does work. Once you have finished your essay, take a break. It will help you to see the content with fresh eyes when searching for errors.
Haven’t written enough pages but run out of ideas? Change the font size of all periods from 12 pt to 14 pt. Sneaky… but it may just help you meet the page requirement.
Need continual motivation? Try Written? Kitten!It rewards you with pictures of kittens every 100 words. What more can you ask for?
Try the Pomodoro method for maximum essay writing efficiency. Take a five-minute break every 25 minutes. Every third break should be 20 minutes long.
If you’re struggling to organize tons of different ideas, try Coggle. It’s a tremendous mind-mapping tool that will inject a bit of fun into the essay planning process.
If you’re struggling to structure your essay, list five main points you wish to make and then write a paragraph for each topic. See our guide to essay formatting for more top ideas.
Once you’ve finished your essay, copy and paste the text into Google Translate and click on the listen icon to hear it read aloud. You’ll have a much better chance of spotting any errors and identifying areas for improvement when you listen to the text being read. See our guide on how to proofread an essay for more great essay proofreading tips.
Make sure you use effective transitions; they can transform the flow and coherence of your essay. Take a look at our free transitions cheat sheet for some great ideas.
Rushing to get your essay finished ahead of a deadline? Significantly reduce the time it takes to research relevant articles and papers by only reading the introduction and conclusion of each document. You’ll get the gist of the topics covered in a fraction of the time and can then summarize the main ideas in your own paper.
Finding it difficult to concentrate? Try Brain, a research-based online application that uses artificial intelligence to identify what music will enhance your focus.
Create an essay writing checklist to make sure you have covered all the main points. Check out our free printable version here: Essay writing checklist.
If all else fails… check your lecture notes and simply reword what the professor said in class. He or she will think you’ve understood the material 😉
Need help getting your main points across in your essay? Let our essay editors do it for you.
Of course, spending a lot of time on an essay and meticulously planning it in advance will always result in the best possible grades (and a big pat on the back from your parents).
But everyone strays from the path of perfection every now and again.
If you’re on the last minute, suck it up and get on with it. One advantage of starting your essay the night before is that the whole miserable ordeal will be over so much quicker!
But a great thesis statement and a well-researched argument are not enough to create a compelling essay.
You also need to take your reader on a journey as you progress through your essay in a clear and structured way.
This is where essay transitions come in.
Transitions are words or short phrases that prepare the reader for a mental shift in the argument and guide his or her thought process.
You’ll typically find transitions in the following places:
At the start of a paragraph: “To begin with…”
At the beginning of a concluding statement: “In light of this analysis…”
To extend an argument: “Pursuing this further…”
At the beginning of a sentence that introduces a new idea within a paragraph: “Another reason why…”
It sounds simple enough. So why do so many students struggle to use transitions effectively?
One of the biggest issues our essays editors regularly encounter is lack of imagination and variety.
All too often students revert to the same set of standard transitions: first, then, to conclude…
For a tutor who has a pile of thirty papers to grade, this isn’t going to cut the mustard.
As such, you should be trying to make your essays, dissertations, and other academic papers much more interesting by using engaging transitions.
Think this sounds difficult? It’s actually really easy.
In fact, thanks to our free essay transition cheat sheet, it couldn’t be simpler!
How to use the Free Essay Transitions Cheat Sheet
Print the sheet by clicking on the image above. This sheet was first developed as part of our guide to essay formatting.
Once you have finished writing your essay, go through and review all the transitions you have already used. If you encounter a word or phrase that sounds repetitive or boring, consult the cheat sheet, find the category in which the transition best fits, and identify a better substitute.
Read through your essay again. Check to see if there are any places in which you should have a transition but haven’t used one. Similarly, if you have used the same transition more than once, replace it with a viable alternative. This will give your work more pizazz and seamless appeal.
Simply print out this one-page PDF and refer to every time you’re writing an essay or want to improve the flow of an existing paper.
You’ll be surprised how simple it can be to take your writing up a notch.
Looking for more ideas? Check out our essay tips for some really great tools that will help you through the process of writing an essay.
Need a bit of extra help?
Check out our essay editing services now. Our expert editors know exactly what to do to transform your essay from good to great.