How to Write a Formal Essay – Get your Sophistication on!
First, to Define Formal Essay Writing
The formal essay is, above all, objective and impersonal. It is a piece of writing that explains, that informs, that compares and contrasts, and that may also attempt to persuade. These type of essays are contrasted with such pieces as a narrative (telling a story) or a personal statement essay that a student might write for college or graduate school admissions. Think of the difference between using the pronoun “I” and the pronoun “he” or “one.” That is perhaps the simplest method of differentiating between formal and informal essays. The other difference between formal writing and informal writing is usually that formal types are based upon factual evidence and data, while informal types are based upon emotion, stories, and un-supported beliefs/views.
The Formal Essay Format
A formal essay must be at least five paragraphs long and consist of an introduction, at least 3 body paragraphs and a conclusion. This probably sounds familiar to you; however, remember, that a personal statement essay also has the same format. Again, the difference is being personal or impersonal and objective.
The Introduction: Obviously, this is the opening paragraph of your essay. It begins with some type of highly engaging sentence – a startling statistic, a quotation from a related famous expert on the topic, or a question that piques interest. The introduction must also state the topic and the thesis. Any formal essay must have a thesis statement, which provides the point you are trying to make. The thesis is usually the final sentence of the introduction.
The Body: These are the paragraphs that will provide the information, evidence, etc. to prove your thesis statement. There may be any number, but there must be at least 3, and each must begin with a topic sentence.
The Conclusion: Wrap up your points to demonstrate that your thesis is valid.
Writing a Formal Essay of Various Types
The structure and format for a formal will always be the same, no matter what type of essay you are writing. Here are some examples of formal essay topics based upon purpose/type:
- Expository: Explain the life cycle of a virus once it enters the human body.
- Definition: Define justice as it relates to our current court system in the U.S.
- Analysis: Analyze the poem, “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe
- Comparison/Contrast: Contrast the health care systems in the U.S. and Germany.
- Process: Explain the process by which ocean water is de-salinized
- Persuade: Convince an audience that prison privatization is a bad idea
Contrast these topics with the following topics that are personal and informal.
- Describe a significant event in your life that impacted your belief system.
- Recall a time when you met with failure. Describe how and why you think you failed. What did you learn?
Learning how to write a formal essay is not difficult – you already know the format. The key is to keep it objective – just the facts!