What Does an Essay Look Like? Tips and Answers to Succeed

What does an essay look like? At a glance, the answer is obvious. An essay looks like a mere piece of paper (one page or several pages) with an organized text. It’s generally divided into five paragraphs, though there may be more. The essential essay structure includes:

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  • introduction;
  • 2-3 body paragraphs;
  • conclusion.

Yet, will this description help you write a good essay? We suppose not because this piece of paper “hides” many secrets inside!

Let our team give you more details and describe what a good essay looks like in reality. We’ll show the inside and out of this academic paper with a few tips on writing it.

📃 What Does an Essay Look Like on the Outside?

First of all, you should know that a good essay should look pretty. How can you do that? By following all the requirements set by your teacher or of a particular formatting style.

  1. What does an essay look like according to the teacher’s requirements?
    It is usually a paper with 1-inch margins on all sides typed using a 12 pt. standard font. Standard school and college essays have a five-paragraph format.
  2. What does an essay look like if it should be arranged according to a format?
    Depends on the format. MLA and APA are the most popular ones, but there are many more (Chicago, Harvard, Vancouver, etc.). Besides, each of them has different editions. Before writing an essay, ensure that you understand what format is required.
APA StyleMLA Style
You have to provide a separate title on the page. Also, remember that a cover page is required in APA style papers.It is not mandatory to provide a separate title on the page. The cover page is not required, either.
Bibliography in APA format is called “References.”Bibliography in MLA is called “Works Cited.”
For the in-text quotation within APA guidelines, a year, a comma after the author’s name, and the page should be included.For in-text quotations, MLA format does not require a year, a comma after the author’s name, or the page.
In APA, heading and subheadings are widely used.In MLA, headings and subheadings are not used.

You will also have to set up 1-inch margins, use a 12 pt. font and double spacing throughout the text. However, it is better to get a specific style manual for more details. You can also check our article about MLA or APA styles.

✒️ What Does an Essay Look like on the Inside?

What we mean is how the text itself should be organized. Its content relies on the task given and the paper’s type.

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We recommend you follow the instructions and understand clearly what the tutor wants from you regarding the task. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to clarify before writing. Checking out some examples of academic essay writing would be helpful too.

The essay type defines the contents of your assignment, considerably affecting the main body of your text. To identify it, make sure you read the task well, and understand what the tutor asked you to do.

In other words:

Not everyone knows that what makes a good essay is how precisely you follow your essay guidelines. First, underline the keywords from your assignment that will help you in doing that. Then, complete the task.

Here is the list of the most common keywords:

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  1. Agree/Disagree. Identify your position and think about a list of arguments that can support your point of view. It can help come up with an essay plan at this point because it will allow you not to deviate from your arguments.
  2. Analyze. Here, the college instructor or your school teacher wants to test your analytical abilities. They want to see if you can build bridges between the arguments and analyze the relationships between them.
  3. Compare. This keyword means that you need to demonstrate differences and similarities between problems, ideas, or concepts in your essay.
  4. Describe/Discuss. On a surface level, to describe is to examine an issue or an object in detail.
  5. Explain. Similarly, to explain is to tell why the things the way they are.
  6. Illustrate. Here, your teacher expects you to come up with some great examples to bring the topic alive.
  7. Interpret. If you find this keyword in your assignment, you should give your understanding of the matter. It should provide some interesting angles of looking at the topic.
  8. List/State. To write an essay with this keyword in the assignment, make a list of facts or points.
  9. Summarize. Your essay should focus on the main ideas and problems.

A typical essay structure is split into five paragraphs:

  • Introduction:
    The goal of an introduction is to hook your reader. It sets a tone and prepares for what is yet to come. It is done through your thesis statement. You can start your introduction paragraph with a quote, a short joke, a question, or a historical reference. Don’t try to bring complicated terminology and wording into this part of your essay. Use clear sentences that are engaging and catchy for a high-quality essay introduction.
  • Body Paragraphs:
    Think about this part of your essay as the essay base. Here, you are expected to prove your thesis and find an interesting approach to looking at it. You will have to restate your main idea again, provide evidence that proves it, analyze the evidence, and connect these ideas.
  • Conclusion:
    A conclusion is the last part of your essay, which summarizes the arguments and explains the broader importance of the topic. In a way, a concluding paragraph should answer a “so what?” question. To have a clearer vision of what a conclusion for your essay may look like, you can put its text into a summary machine and see what comes out.

It is a standard structure that allows disclosing a topic properly, logically expressing all your ideas. What does an essay look like if you want to make it original? In this case, it will look like a paper with a couple of pictures, diagrams, or maps.


It is always useful to check some examples before getting down to work. Here you can check how 9th-grade essays should look like.

Thank you for reading this article. We hope you found it useful. Don’t forget to share it with your peers!

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This article was developed by the editorial team of Custom-Writing.org, a professional writing service with 3-hour delivery.
Comments (6)

Michelle macias
Michelle macias

I would like an essay to be written for me about Accepting Immigrants as a Citizen

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Hello! Our experts will definitely help you with any task

Anna Bossard
Anna Bossard

I really don’t understand the connection been a topic and a thesis.

Custom Writing
Custom Writing

Hey Anna,
It’s our pleasure to hear from you. A lot of students have difficulties understanding the connection between a topic and a thesis statement. That’s why we’ve created a super useful guide to cover all your questions. Or, you may want to check out the best examples of thesis statements here.
We hope it helps. In case of any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

W. Q.
W. Q.

Wonder, what does an essay look like! Read the post, and you’ll find the answer to your question and many tips to use in your paper.

P. C.
P. C.

It is a common question among first-year students: what does an essay look like and how to write it? You answer all the questions in full! Thank you very much for this!

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