General Essay Guidelines

Allow yourself time to generate ideas for your essay.
Why? Allowing yourself some time to discover what you want to say will make the entire writing experience more enjoyable. Many students become discouraged because they think they do not have anything to say, but for many, the real problem is not that they have nothing to say but rather that they have not taken the time to discover what they want to say.
Include a topic sentence in every body paragraph. The most common position is at the beginning of a paragraph.
Why? Stating your topic sentences helps you limit paragraphs to a single idea, and it makes it easier for your reader to identify the main points of your essay.
Provide examples and/or an explanation for all general statements.
Why? Providing examples and/or an explanation helps you develop your essay and also helps you persuade your reader that your position and/or information is valid.
Include an introduction and a conclusion.
Why? Writing an introduction will help you "ease" the reader into your essay, and a conclusion will provide the reader with a sense of completion.
Include a title for your essay. Make sure that the title is NOT a sentence.

Write more than one draft of your essay.
Why? Writing more than one draft allows you to see your essay as the reader might; it gives you the opportunity to improve the content, organization, focus, and development of your essay.
Edit your essay carefully.
Why? Editing your essay (correcting the punctuation, spelling, and format) makes it easier for the reader to focus on the content of your essay; when an essay contains grammatical, mechanical, and/or format errors, the reader becomes distracted.