How to Write an Essay


The following guidelines will help you write better answers or essays, and will also be very helpful in writing business and workplace reports.  

Clearly state the topic of your answer or essay at the beginning.   (Eg. This essay examines major factors affecting the movement of refugees across the globe. For a short answer: The major factors affecting the movement of refugees across the globe are…).

Present each main point and clearly relate it to the topic..

(Eg. In recent years, the most important factor contributing to the formation of refugees who seek to leave their home has been war or military activity. The second main reason has been ethnic conflict…). 

Present information to support each main point, if needed to complete the task. (Eg. The second main reason has been ethnic conflict. For example, in Africa, the conflict between …).

Note your sources. It is important to state where you got your information in the following situations:

  • When giving information that might be questioned;
  • when quoting from another source;
  • or when giving an experts’ opinion. (Eg. Smith, 1999, p.45).   *See referencing, below

Use main headings and sub-headings to break up large pieces of writing. They also make it easier to read and to understand.

Include a bibliography for large assignments, reports or essays. For short pieces, add a list of references at the end, under the heading: Bibliography or References. *See referencing, below.



 Writing a bibliography

A bibliography or list of references must include all books, articles, phone conversations, internet articles, and other sources of your information. The information must be presented in alphabetical order, and with a heading, usually, Bibliography or References.

Books are listed with: author’s last name, first name, year of publication, title in italics, publisher.


Harrison, Annette, 2003, Macquarie Student Guides: Basic English Grammar, Macmillan, Melbourne.

Articles are listed with: last name, first name, year published, article title in single quote marks, magazine or journal title in italics, other details, page numbers.


Zaritan, Ali, 1999, ‘Cross-cultural perspectives on child care’, Parenting International Magazine, Vol. 12, pp. 3-7.

Internet sources should be listed in a similar manner, where possible.

Eg. Beltzer, A, 2002, ‘ESL and Learning Disabilities’, Web site www..................