Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics with illustrations

Parts of an Essay

The parts of an essay are the introduction, the development, the conclusion, and the bibliography/references if they are necessary. Essays are short, non-fictional compositions that describe, clarify, discuss, or analyze a topic. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

Students can find essay assignments in any subject and at any level of school, from a personal experience “vacation” essay in middle school to a complex analysis of a scientific process in graduate school. 

Essays are generally written from an author’s personal point of view. The essays are not fictitious, but they are usually subjective. They can be of literary criticism, political manifestos, learned arguments, observations of daily life, memories and reflections of the author. Almost all modern essays are written in prose, but there are works in verse that have been called essays.

Questions to know if an essay has been developed correctly

As we have said, an essay consists of an introduction, a development, a conclusion and the references / bibliography. To know if it has been developed correctly, you can ask yourself the following questions:

– The introduction

– Does the essay have a good opening / introduction paragraph?

– Is the subject clear?

– Do you know what the intention is?

– The development

– Is the body of the essay ordered? Are the ideas in the best order?

– Does the writer present strong arguments / evidence?

– Are the writer’s arguments convincing?

– Does the writer give sufficient evidence?

– Do the paragraphs have a meaningful sequence?

– The conclusion

– Is the conclusion clear?

– Does the conclusion reaffirm the thesis?

– Does the conclusion give the reader closure?

– The references

– Have the sources and bibliographic references used for the essay been cited correctly?

Parts of an essay and their characteristics

– Introduction

An essay begins with a short introduction, which prepares the audience to read the essay. An effective introduction should: Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

– Capture the reader’s attention. This can be done for example by using a direct advertisement, a quote, a question, a definition, an unusual comparison or a controversial position.

– Introduce the topic of the essay. It is about informing the reader and providing a context for the topic covered.

– The idea to be explained is clarified. This can be done as a hypothesis. For example, one could say: “The steps of the scientific method  have been important for the reliability and validity of the investigations, however it is worth wondering if with the new technologies and the new society it would be necessary to review them”.

– Introduce the purpose of the essay. It can inform, persuade, argue, describe, narrate… Example: “With this essay I intend to describe how pollution is really affecting heart disease…”.

Introductions can explain a situation or give an opinion:

a) Status introductions

The current situation of a problem, event, investigations, etc. is explained, and it is discussed what will develop next.

It also can:

-Explain the situation in the past and today.

-Explain the situation in different places.

-Explain the situation in different people or under different conditions.

b) Opinion introductions

Opinion introductions explain what the author thinks about a particular topic. You can give different opinions, from different people, different moments …

Finally, if you have trouble thinking about an introduction, leave some space (enough for three or four sentences) and write it later after writing the body or conclusion, having a clearer idea of ​​the topic.

– Developing

The development paragraphs will account for approximately 70-75% of all text. In this part the main idea (thesis or statement) of the essay will be developed. An effective body paragraph should:

– Explain, illustrate, discuss or provide evidence to support the main idea (thesis or claim) of the essay.

– Correct division of the paragraphs. One paragraph leads to another in a fluid way, so that the reader understands more easily.

– Work together with the other body paragraphs to support the main idea of ​​your essay.

– Work together with the other body paragraphs to create a clear and cohesive document. Clarity and consistency can be achieved through the use of transitions. 

The body/development of the essay should always be divided into paragraphs. You should never write a single long paragraph, as the white space makes the essay easier to read. In addition, having paragraphs shows that the writer has the ability to relate the different ideas of the topic in a single essay.

During the development, the thesis/hypothesis is defended or the opinion/situation is clearly explained, providing research, references and other data. 

In order to correctly make the connection of ideas, and thus link the paragraphs of the body, there are the following examples of transition words: Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

To list different points:

  • First.
  • Second.
  • Third.

For contrary examples:

  • However.
  • Even if.
  • On the other hand.

For more ideas:

  • Other.
  • In addition to.
  • Related to.
  • What’s more.
  • Also.

To show cause and effect:

  • Therefore.
  • A) Yes.
  • As a result of.
  • Therefore.

– Conclusion

An essay ends with a short conclusion, which brings the essay to a logical end. An effective conclusion should:

– Provide closure for the reader by reviewing the main points, linking the main idea of ​​the essay to a broader topic, predicting an outcome related to the main idea, giving an opinion, or using a quote that helps to summarize an essential aspect of your main point.

– Remind readers of the main focus of the essay, which can be done by repeating the main idea in different words.

– Avoid introducing new ideas.

– Avoid apologies.

The conclusion is the end of the essay. It is a short paragraph of about three sentences. It often has the same idea as the introduction, just in different words.

A good conclusion reformulates the question, summarizes the main ideas, gives the writer’s opinion (if not already), looks to the future (explains what will happen if the situation continues or changes), but never adds new information.

– Bibliographic references

The references  must carry the author of the publication, the title of the article or book, website, publisher or journal, date and sometimes the exact pages where the information was taken.

Parts of scientific essays

A scientific essay is characterized by seeking to disseminate information in a formal way, with an emphasis on the depth and objectivity of the content. The fundamental parts of a scientific essay are the following:

– Cover page

The cover of a scientific essay must include the title of the work, the name of the institution that endorses said research, the name of the author of the essay and the date on which it was published.

Regarding the title, in the case of scientific essays it should be as explanatory as possible, so that readers quickly understand what the topic is developed in the essay.

– Index

The table of contents should appear in the index, organized in a schematic way, to facilitate the reader’s search. This item may or may not be part of a scientific essay; When essays are published on the Internet, they often have no index.

– Resume

The abstract of a scientific essay is very important, since it offers abbreviated information on the most important aspects of the research. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

In the summary, the reader can quickly learn what the objectives of the research were, why it is important, what methodology was used, what were the experiments carried out or what were the results obtained. The abstract allows the reader to understand first-hand the importance of the content of the essay.

– Introduction

Sometimes it can be confused with the abstract; however, the introduction is a separate element that constitutes the presentation of the topic that is developed in the essay.

Through this element, the aim is to awaken the reader’s interest in the content of the essay, as well as to emphasize the relevance and influence of the information contained therein. That is, it is very important to contextualize the problem discussed, so that the reader understands that it is a subject that affects him, to a greater or lesser extent.

In the introduction, the main objectives of the research are briefly stated, as well as the hypotheses that are raised. The writing of the introduction should invite the reader to continue reading, without giving too much information that makes the reader feel that they no longer need to read the essay.

– Developing

This is the core of the essay. In the development, the intention is to expose the entire procedure carried out in the research work, emphasizing the objectives set and the theoretical framework used to support and validate scientific research .

In a scientific essay, the language used must respond to the characteristics of the field of science, but this does not imply that a way should be sought to make the content can be understood by different audiences.

To do this, a good option is to use similes and comparisons with other situations or everyday elements, so that readers can relate scientific concepts that may be complex with other more familiar scenarios.

In scientific essays, references to other legitimate sources that support the research carried out are very important. These references can be cited verbatim, placing the content in quotation marks or they can be paraphrased, generating an interpretation of what is stated by a specific author.

Although there are references to other works, it is important to remember that a scientific essay must be a text that provides new knowledge, based on the contributions or explanations of other academics, but generating new and original information.

– Conclusions

This is the most important part of the essay, as it represents the result of the investigation. At this point, it is advisable to go back to the problem raised at the beginning of the trial and respond with the solutions found.

The conclusion allows us to link the development of the essay with the conflict raised at the beginning of the investigation. Absolute conclusions may not have been reached through research; in this case, the conclusion will present those new questions that have arisen as a result of the experimentation.

– Research sources

This part is necessary within a scientific essay, since it is these documentary sources that will give more veracity and objectivity to the content of the essay.

The names of the books, articles, reviews or other elements that were used to carry out the essay should be listed, as well as the details of each work: name of the author, year of publication of the text, publisher, etc.


Below we will use excerpts from the essay entitled Allocate 1% of GDP to Science and Technology in Mexico , by Francisco Alfredo García Pastor, to identify the different parts of a scientific essay:

Cover page

Allocate 1% of GDP to Science and Technology in Mexico. The myth and the milestone. Francisco Alfredo García Pastor / Cinvestav Saltillo. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics


“For years it has been an unattainable goal. There are those who use its nonexistence as a justification. Still others use it as a negotiation tool. There is no shortage of those who compare it with the situation in other countries and end up heartbroken.

I imagine that for many people it will not mean something important, but for the scientific profession it is usually a recurring theme ”.


“The allocation of 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Mexico to research in science and technology seems to be, in effect, unattainable.

According to UNESCO data, in Mexico, from 2010 to 2015, the percentage has remained around 0.5%. A doubling of this percentage would make us all excited about research in this country.

Particularly because, as I said above, it is common to hear that developed countries invest more than 5% of their GDP in this activity ”.


The following is just one part of the development, where you begin to ask yourself the questions and then answer them.

“In these days when the presidential elections are so close, I remembered a text that I read some time ago.

In this text, Professor Stephen Curry of the Imperial College of the United Kingdom complained bitterly (in a pre-Brexit UK) that government investment in science and technology had fallen below 0.5%, something shameful in the European context .

Of course this puzzled me. Did the UK really spend less than 0.5% of its GDP on scientific and technological research? So we weren’t so bad in the international context?

How is it possible then that the UK is a powerhouse in terms of producing top-notch scientific research and we are not? Furthermore, the article showed that the average in the Eurozone was 0.73% and in the G8 0.77%, percentages not so far from our 0.5%. Where was the error? ”.


“I want to start by saying that it is certainly important to increase government participation in science and technology.

Considering the differences in population and GDP, the total cash allocated to this item in Mexico is well below that of other OECD countries. However, it is clear to me that increasing this participation is not enough to try to improve our situation in the scientific field ”. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

Fonts used

“All the data were obtained from the Unesco Institute for Statistics website ( with information from 2014, consulted between February and May 2018”.

Parts of argumentative essays

Unlike scientific essays, in argumentative essays the opinion of the author is very evident, since it is his arguments for or against a specific topic. The main parts of an argumentative essay are as follows:

– Qualification

The title should be eye-catching enough to capture the interest of the reader, and should summarize the author’s overall approach in a suggestive way.

– Introduction

This section introduces the content of the essay; The idea is to show the context in which the topic developed in the essay is framed and to emphasize the reason for the relevance of that particular topic.

The introduction should seek to relate the topic to the areas that influence people on a daily basis, so that the reader perceives its importance.

– Thesis

The thesis corresponds to the specific approach made by the author. At this point, the central argument that the author will defend within the essay should be indicated; therefore, the author’s opinion is clearly present in this section.

– Body

The body, also called development, corresponds to the area in which the author presents all the arguments on which he is based to generate his central thesis.

The reasoning offered by the author serves to string together the elements that will eventually lead to his main thesis. Since an argumentative essay has a place for opinion, in these arguments the intention of the author to persuade can be observed.

Although the opinion of the author is evident, in the body of the essay other scholars of the subject should be cited, which will give a more truthful and academic character to the essay. In addition, the author will be able to anticipate the possible criticisms that may be made of his thesis, and thus offer the arguments that respond to these future detractions. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

– Conclusions

In the conclusions, the author must summarize the most important elements that give substance to his thesis, and emphasize how it is related to the context that it directly affects.


To explain the parts of an argumentative essay, we will use excerpts from José Ortega y Gasset’s essay La rebellion of the masses :


The rebellion of the masses, by José Ortega y Gasset.


“There is a fact that, for better or for worse, is the most important in European public life at the present time. This fact is the advent of the masses to full social power ”.


“As the masses, by definition, should not and cannot direct their own existence, let alone run society, it means that Europe is now suffering the gravest crisis that peoples, nations, cultures can suffer.

This crisis has occurred more than once in history. Its physiognomy and its consequences are known. His name is also known. It is called the rebellion of the masses ”. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics


Only one part of the body is presented below, where he begins to make his arguments:

“For the intelligence of the formidable fact, it is convenient to avoid giving the words” rebellion “,” masses “,” social power “, etc., an exclusively or primarily political meaning.

Public life is not only political, but, at the same time and even earlier, intellectual, moral, economic, religious; it includes all collective uses and includes the way of dressing and the way of enjoying ”.


“The mass is the group of people not specially qualified. Therefore, do not understand by masses, only or mainly ‘the working masses’. Masa is the “middle man.” Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

In this way, what was merely quantity — the crowd — becomes a qualitative determination: it is the common quality, it is the social show, it is man insofar as he does not differ from other men, but repeats in himself a generic type ” .

Parts of literary essays

A literary essay is one in which the rigor is relaxed a bit and more emphasis is given to the exposition of the arguments with special dedication to the style of writing.

The most important parts of a literary essay are as follows:

– Qualification

As in the previous cases, the title must be attractive and generate interest. In this case, it need not be entirely explanatory in the first instance; in literary essays the author is allowed the license to give rise to rhetorical elements and ornaments above those more direct statements.

– Introduction

It is about presenting the topic to be developed within the essay. Always with an emphasis on the writing style, the presentation of the topic may include some elements related to the opinion that the author has, and that will be defended by this in the course of the essay. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

– Developing

It is the central point of the essay. In the development, the author can present his arguments trying to convince the reader or, on the contrary, simply stating his vision on a certain topic.

Given that all essays must be truthful, in the literary essay the author must also use informative elements such as specific data, dates, references to other authors or verified information related to the subject matter.

– Conclution

In this section, the author must restate the arguments that support his point of view. The author should avoid repeating information, but should emphasize the importance of his vision and why it is relevant to the group.

In the conclusion it is very useful to place in context that argument made by the author; This will help the reader to perceive the real importance of the approach in its direct context.


We will use for this example fragments of the essay El hombre mediocre , by José Ingenieros.


The mediocre man , by José Ingenieros.


“When you put your visionary bow towards a star and spread your wing towards such elusive exaltedness, striving for perfection and rebellious against mediocrity, you carry within you the mysterious spring of an Ideal. It is a sacred ember, capable of tempering you for great actions.

Guard it; If you let it turn off, it never comes back on. And if she dies in you, you remain inert: cold human slop. You only live for that dream particle that superimposes you on the real thing. She is the lily of your coat of arms, the plume of your temperament ”.


The following is a fragment of the development of the essay:

“The immense mass of men thinks with the head of that naive shepherd; He would not understand the language of someone who explained to him some mystery of the universe or of life, the eternal evolution of everything known, the possibility of human improvement in the continuous adaptation of man to nature.

To conceive perfection a certain ethical level is required and some intellectual education is indispensable. Without them you can have fanaticism and superstitions; ideals, never ”.


“There is something human, more lasting than the superstitious phantasmagoria of the divine: the example of the high virtues. The saints of idealistic morality do not perform miracles: they perform magnificent works, conceive supreme beauties, investigate profound truths.

As long as there are hearts that encourage a desire for perfection, they will be moved by everything that reveals faith in an Ideal: by the song of poets, by the gesture of heroes, by the virtue of the saints, by the doctrine of the sages, by the philosophy of thinkers ”. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

Parts of academic essays

Academic essays are characterized because they are also written in prose, and seek to analyze a specific topic. This is also a space in which it is sought to resolve a question through an argumentative thread.

In this case, it is necessary to write in the third person, using formal language and presenting own arguments supported by research or studies of qualified characters. The parts of an academic essay are as follows:

– Qualification

The title of an academic essay should be formal, direct, and revealing of the topic at hand. It should not be adorned with rhetorical figures, but rather it is intended to be well informative; the more direct and simple, the better. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

– Introduction

In this part the author must present the topic to be discussed, always focused on supporting his initial arguments with bibliographic or other references. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

In the presentation of the subject, the aim is to make known the reasons why such analysis is necessary, as well as the context that is affected by the subject to be discussed.

This topic must be sufficiently limited so that it can be treated in depth and can arouse the interest of the reader, since they will see it as something that affects them directly.

– Developing

Academic essays usually start from the most general and contextual arguments, to culminate with the more specific statements, which correspond to those developed by the author of the essay in question.

In addition to concentrating on exposing the subject, the author must do so in a well structured and coherent way, so that the reader can understand the subject and, also, enjoy reading.

– Conclusions

Within the conclusions it is necessary to make a brief reference to what is stated in the body of the essay, but above all it must emphasize the solution obtained in relation to the initial approach. This answer to the question at the beginning is the essential element of a good conclusion.

– Bibliography

In an academic essay it is essential to include a special section to list the documentary sources used; This will give the essay more authenticity.

The enumeration can be done in different ways, depending on the author’s preference or the one required by the institution in which the essay is framed. In any case, these descriptions must contain at least the name of the author and the text consulted, the publisher and the year of publication.


We will take excerpts from the Essay on the Present Situation of Comparative Education: A Western Point of View .


Essay on the Current Situation of Comparative Education: A Western Point of View , by Max A. Eckstein.


“All fields of study are related in one way or another to the search for truth and, as they develop, each successive phase of growth contains knowledge and clear perceptions, elements that over time can be considered as more or less confusing, contradictory and even incorrect.

However, each generation of scholars relies on the efforts of their predecessors. Knowledge (or truth) advances thanks to the combination of efforts: the gradual growth of those who partially know each other and the occasional irruption into new territories ”.


A fragment of the development of this essay is presented below:

“In recent decades the literature on comparative education has been reviewed and the different influences to which it has been subjected have been studied: interest in the introduction of useful and applicable educational practices from other countries; the demands of nationalism; the growth of international communication and the possibilities of gathering the vast amount of information that accompanies it.

Likewise, the growing sense that international tensions between nations could be alleviated with the flow of knowledge and people favored by international organizations after the first war ”.


“Comparative educators must keep in mind both theory and what is really important. Regarding theory, the liveliness of this field is demonstrated in the extensive debates on methodology, research strategy and problems of significance in the different fields of knowledge.

It shows that professionals can make generalizations from particular cases, respond to the thinking of fellow professionals in the social sciences and other fields, and keep their own field within the mainstream source of scholarship and progress. Parts of an Essay and Their Characteristics

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