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Features of Writing an Essay: Become an Exceptional Essay Writer

Miriam likes writing. To become an exceptional writer, a huge investment in learning is mandatory. She has studied various writing courses.


An essay is an evidence-based, persuasive argument of the writer’s claims. It is a short piece of writing (approx 500-5000 words). They are common in universities. They involve skills used across types of academic writing. There are different types of essays and all follow the same rules. It has three core parts namely introduction, body and conclusion.

Features of essay

  • Formality
  • Basis in evidence
  • Objectivity
  • Precision
  • Cautiousness

Following these features will solve a lot of problems. You will be on the safe side.


Academic writing involves a formal style of English. The rules are as follows;

  • Avoid using contractions.

Example avoid using wasn’t, he’s, it’s.

  • Avoid wh- questions.

Example: “What has been the focus of research in recent years?

Instead: The focus of research in recent years has been…..

  • Avoid the use of exclamations

  • Avoid beginning sentences with the conjunctions and, but, so, or.

For example, the evidence is interesting. But it is not representative. And detail is lacking.

  • Avoid constructions such as etc., and so on, and so forth.

For example, many factors were involved, such as hasty decision making, poor preparation etc.

Instead: many factors were involved, such as hasty decision making and poor preparation.

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  • Avoid informal vocabulary.

For example a lot of people.

Instead: many people

Example: The student got an A in the exam.

Instead write: the student received an A in the exam

  • Avoid sentence fragments (incomplete sentence; common in newspapers for emphasis)

Example: perhaps not the best approach. (no verb)

Instead: This approach is perhaps less effective than the others discussed.

  • Avoid using ‘you' to refer to people in general.

Example: To reduce pollution, you need to reduce the number of cars on the road.

Instead: use passive: To reduce pollution, the number of cars on the road must be reduced.

Basis of Evidence

  • Use relevant evidence to support claims

Avoid claims without evidence

Types of evidence: Facts, statistics, logical reasoning, analysis findings from previous studies

  • Use a scientific approach to advancing knowledge
  • Avoid relying on opinions/institutions.

For example, the theory is interesting. In my opinion/ I feel that/ my intuition is that it would be better to….

Use evidence. Example: The theory has several problems: X, Y and Z. For these reasons, it should be rejected.


Academic writing is objective/ impersonal. It is information focus not write/ reader focus.

  • Avoid using the first person pronoun ‘I’

Use impersonal subjects.

Do not use: I find this view problematic.

Instead: This view is problematic

  • Use the passive

Example: In conclusion, I think/believe that Smith’s (2000) view is correct for the reasons given above.

Instead: In conclusion, several arguments, have been presented in support of Smith’s (2000) view is correct.

  • . Avoid addressing the reader directly.

Example: do not use ‘you’, as you can see from table 1, this behaviour is very common

Instead: As table 1 shows, this behaviour is very common.

  • Do not use direct commands.

Example: Do not adopt this approach

Instead: This approach should not be adopted.


More precision is required in academic writing.

  • Avoid vagueness about facts

Example: Surnames have been used in England for hundreds of years.

Instead: The surname has been used in England since the 11th century.

Example Most participants in the study disliked the new approach

Instead: 56/100 participants in the study disliked the new approach

  • Avoid vague citations

Example: Some/ Many studies claim that…..

Instead: Jones (1999), Smith (2000) and Roberts (2001) claim that……

  • Avoid vague vocabulary

Example: In his youth, he was an excellent sportsman

Instead: As a teenager, he was an excellent sportsman.

Instead: As a young child, he was an excellent sportsman.


Academic writing requires a high degree of cautiousness.

  • Strong claims require more evidence

Taxi drivers are always polite to customers.

  • Avoid over-generalizations

Regional English dialects are disappearing

  • Very strong claims are often inaccurate because exceptions often exist.

Example: This is certainly not the case

Instead: This may not always be the case

Example: The theory must be completely changed

Instead: The theory must be substantially changed

These are the five features that must be followed to write an essay or any other form of academic writing. Start applying them from today and you will become a better writer.

© 2021 Miriam Syombua Mutisya


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on August 25, 2021:

Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

Miriam Syombua Mutisya (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on August 25, 2021:

Become an exceptional essay writer

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