Writing An Essay: The Formula

When it comes to writing, claim = evidence + commentary. This simple formula will take you a long way. Keep in mind, it doesn’t always have to be in this order, but it definitely helps you learn to be a master writer. Once you’re a pro, you can do what works for you.

Your claim is also known as your thesis, stand, or position on a topic.

The evidence is a small quote, facts from the text, an example, data, expert opinion, and any other support that is text-based. Never quote more than one sentence from the text.

Your commentary is how you interpret the information. This is your evaluation, discussion, observation, examination, connection, or opinion of the text.

For every piece of evidence, you must also have commentary.

For every piece of evidence, you must also cite your source. Always state the author’s name, and the article in which you have found the information you’re using in your essay.

Think of each paragraph as a mini-essay. Each needs to have a beginning, middle, and end. The end of each paragraph needs to transition smoothly into the next paragraph.

A superb essay will have five paragraphs:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body #1
    1. Claim, evidence, commentary
  3. Body #2
    1. Claim, evidence, commentary
  4. Body #3
    1. Counter claim, concession, or opposition’s point-of-view with evidence and commentary
  5. Conclusion

The conclusion of your essay will look something like this:

Literal: What was your claim or central idea?  What did you say? Restate/summarize.

Interpretive: What are the personal connections? What is the reader to get out of the story/argument? What does it all mean?

Universal: What does the text reveal to the reader about people, life, and issues as they work together in the universe, or real world? Why does what you have to say matter?

Still have questions? Feel free to ask!

—Ms. Lowe

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