Essay Writing

Below is some guidance, some notes, links and examples, which I hope will help you with essay writing (with thanks to Gillian Beattie-Smith for sharing these resources).
Written and spoken language
First of all, it’s important to remember that spoken language and written language are quite different from each other. Knowing the differences between spoken and written language is an important basis for successful essay writing.
When people speak there is usually someone listening. The listener and the speaker give each other signals, such as facial expressions, or other non-verbal communication (NVC), for example, ‘Yeah, mm, but…,’ which provide positive or negative feedback to the speaker.   As the speaker receives feedback from their listener, they adapt the language they use in response. As a result, spoken language can contain corrections, changes of direction, hesitations and contradictions. These are normal in spoken communication.
However, when people write more time is needed to plan the language we use, to review it and to correct it, to make sure that what we are writing can be understood by the reader.   Written language, therefore, needs far more words than spoken language because we don’t have all the NVC to support understanding and communication.   Written language also has to be much more tightly organised than spoken language, so that we can keep our reader’s interest.
Formal language
When we’re talking to each other we might use informal language, and we’ll certainly say ‘I’ or ‘we’, and use contractions, like, can’t, it’s, don’t.   In formal, academic writing, however, that’s not at all appropriate.   We have to use formal language; write impersonally, not using the first person, I or we; we must write all words in full with no abbreviations; and we have to write in grammatically accurate sentences, in paragraphs and in a structure that will retain our reader’s interest.  
A tour of key points
An academic essay is like giving your reader a...