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Organize the supporting points in your essay

You can either scroll down or select a link to a specific topic. Almost all assignments, no matter how complicated, can be reduced to a single question. Your first step, then, is to distill the assignment into a specific question.

Topic Sentences

Brainstorm the topic. You find that you are interested in the amount of sugar Americans consume. Instead, it simply indicates a general subject. Narrow the topic. Your readings about the topic, however, have led you to the conclusion that elementary school children are consuming far more sugar than is healthy. This fragment not only announces your subject, but it focuses on one segment of the population: elementary school children.

Furthermore, it raises a subject upon which reasonable people could disagree, because while most people might agree that children consume more sugar than they used to, not everyone would agree on what should be done or who should do it. Take a position on the topic.

After reflecting on the topic a little while longer, you decide that what you really want to say about this topic is that something should be done to reduce the amount of sugar these children consume. More attention should be paid to the food and beverage choices available to elementary school children. This statement asserts your position, but the terms more attention and food and beverage choices are vague.

Use specific language. You decide to explain what you mean about food and beverage choices , so you write:. Experts estimate that half of elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar. It merely reports a statistic instead of making an assertion. Make an assertion based on clearly stated support. You finally revise your thesis statement one more time to look like this:.

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Because half of all American elementary school children consume nine times the recommended daily allowance of sugar, schools should be required to replace the beverages in soda machines with healthy alternatives. Your thesis changed to reflect your new insights. Remember that your thesis needs to show your conclusions about a subject. For example, if you are writing a paper for a class on fitness, you might be asked to choose a popular weight-loss product to evaluate. Here are two thesis statements:. This is a weak thesis statement. First, it fails to take a stand.

Second, the phrase negative and positive aspects is vague. Because Banana Herb Tea Supplement promotes rapid weight loss that results in the loss of muscle and lean body mass, it poses a potential danger to customers. Your thesis should indicate the point of the discussion. If your assignment is to write a paper on kinship systems, using your own family as an example, you might come up with either of these two thesis statements:.

This is a weak thesis because it merely states an observation. While most American families would view consanguineal marriage as a threat to the nuclear family structure, many Iranian families, like my own, believe that these marriages help reinforce kinship ties in an extended family. This is a strong thesis because it shows how your experience contradicts a widely-accepted view.

How to organize your essay (The Machine)

A good strategy for creating a strong thesis is to show that the topic is controversial. Readers will be interested in reading the rest of the essay to see how you support your point. Readers need to be able to see that your paper has one main point. An outline is the blueprint of your paper and a common organization technique.

Traditional outlines use Roman Numerals to note paragraphs, the alphabet to note main points, and numbers to note supporting points. You can include as much or as little detail as you need in your outline. Use it show the relationship between the thesis and the supporting paragraphs, as well as the relationship between the supporting paragraphs.

Organizing an Argument

Here is an example of an outline:. Department of Health and Human Services. Connect your main and supporting ideas using a bubble map — a great, graphic technique for visual learners. Start with your main idea in one bubble. Brainstorm ideas for supporting points, using additional bubbles, and so on. This technique helps show you how random thoughts may actually connect. Here is an example of a bubble map, using the same information utilized in the previous vaccine example:.


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Overcome writer's block by trying the brainstorm technique. Detail all your ideas, both the good and the bad, on paper. Next, review them to whittle or cross off the ideas you don't like. Essentially, you're left with your best ideas. These ideas will serve as your main points. You may want to utilize an outline or bubble map to flesh out your main ideas.

Organizing Your Paper

Here is an example of the brainstorm technique, using the same information utilized in the previous vaccine examples:. Think of your paper as a conversation between you and your reader. Imagine how you'd describe the content to a friend on the phone. How would you start? What ideas would you present to defend your argument? What examples would you describe?

Related Topics

These main points are likely the same main ideas you'd use in a paper. Don't let a page length requirement or looming deadline overwhelm you.

Before you write, take time to organize your thoughts by utilizing one of the strategies listed or a combination of the three. You'll find that your time spent researching and writing is more effective and your paper is more focused. The ultimate payoff will result in a good grade. A useful general approach to organizing is this: First, explain to the audience what you're going to tell them. Next, tell them.