If you're writing an analysis paper - and the chances are you will be sooner or later - it's absolutely vital to get the structure right. You're going to have to demonstrate that you understand a topic, can analyze information about it and are able to reach a well thought out conclusion, and you won't be able to do that if your essay isn't properly laid out.
Start your outline by noting down four headings. Every essay needs these and there's certain information that each one has to include. Here they are:
Now we'll look at each of these in more detail and go through exactly what it has to contain.
The introduction is the first paragraph of your essay and its job is to catch the reader's attention and make them want to read on. It needs to cover a number of things:
- What the essay is about. This should be a quick outline, and it should be written to be as exciting as possible.
- How the issue will be examined. If you're going to compare two films, say that here. Don't go into detail, though. All you have to do is make clear what you'll be doing.
- Your conclusion. Again, don't go into any detail. One sentence is enough.
- The thesis. This is the last part of the introduction, but it's important enough to get a heading of its own in your outline.
Your thesis is the central idea behind your essay. It needs to be clearly worded and unambiguous, or your essay will be difficult to understand. It can take the form of comparing two things - books, say, or political systems - or exploring one aspect of a work of art.
This is the largest part of your essay. It's where you present your evidence and discuss it point by point. It needs to be laid out logically, so as you work on your outline list all the issues you want to discuss and put them in an order that you think makes sense.
In this section you explain what you think the discussions in the body show. Make sure that your conclusion follows logically from the discussion and that you don't introduce any new ideas at this point.
The more detail you can add to your outline the better. If you cover everything you want to discuss and make notes about what you want to say the actual writing process will be simple, so it's definitely worth spending time on the outline.