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What is an analytical essay and how to write it?


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Writing an analytical essay in a notebook

Most students face numerous challenges along the way to their dreamed degree, and these challenges often come in the form of diverse essays. While some appear simple and do not require you to research much, analytical essays may take you by surprise. If this is your first time working on such a task and you need some analytical essay help, do not worry! We have created a comprehensive guide covering everything you need to know to write a great essay!

What is an analytical paper definition?

To cope with the writing task successfully, you should understand analytical essay definition and how to handle the task successfully. Simply put, it is a type of custom academic assignment, in which a person puts forward an argument regarding a certain issue and provides supporting evidence for the stance taken on the problem.

The direction of analysis varies greatly - from literature to biology and, the analysis method is selected according to the specifics of the subject. The choice of topic is often yours to make, but it is recommended to settle on something that you can relate to or something that you are passionate about. The reasoning is crystal clear since writing about own preferences and passions is much easier than on a random boring subject.

How to write an analytical essay?

First, to create an interesting paper, you have to be extra careful and attentive when choosing a topic. As it was mentioned before, it is better to give preference to the topics you really like. Second, a good introduction for a critical analytical essay predetermines the whole line of research and, possibly, a conclusion as well. A bit of brainstorming is a normal thing when it comes to coming up with a good idea for the opening part.

It is crucial to note that university and college professors, as well as schoolteachers, have different requirements for academic works, and it is vital to keep up with them in order not to make a serious mistake in the number of words, pages, or even paragraphs used. Usually, analytical essays are required to be five-paragraph essays, but it is not a mandatory rule to follow.

Finally, remember that it is important to proofread your paper and check it for grammar and spelling mistakes to make it perfect. You will surely not get an excellent grade if the work has not been polished and proofread. Therefore, set the paper aside for some time after you finish writing and get back to it in a few hours or days to spot more mistakes and inconsistencies and correct them.

How to create an analytical essay outline

In order to write a high-quality essay, a student needs to look into the task details and research the topic to gather some factual information for the paper. Taking notes will be very useful, as well as making an outline of the paper. We didn’t want to bore you with a long text and decided to make an example of a good analytical essay outline:

  • Introduction (2-3 paragraphs)

Hook sentence, which intrigues the reader.

Tips from experts

Meet our advisors

Read the essay question carefully!

Look for these words:

  • Describe/summarize means give the facts
  • Explain means analyze the topic
  • Argue means to reject/accept a viewpoint
  • Discuss refers to presenting a point of view
  • Critique means give both positive/negative sides
  • Compare and contrast discuss similarities/differences

Structure an essay

Beginners use the five-paragraph structure with references. Advanced writers use a variation of this method.


Write the first ugly draft – using first/third person depending on the requirements. Know how to paraphrase and summarize. Don’t plagiarize – everyone checks if the essay is unique.

Editing & Formatting

I use the chainsaw and surgical methods. Chainsaw cuts material that isn’t relevant. Surgical involves fine-tuning spelling and grammar.

What is the formatting style? APA, MLA, or CMS? What is the word/page count? Follow the rubric.

Penny J. Larsen

College professor with 30 years of teaching experience

Thesis statement.

Supporting sentence.

  • Body of the essay

4-6 paragraphs in which you have to provide arguments and examples supporting your thesis statement.

  • Conclusion

Restating a thesis.

Reviewing the info you have covered in the body of the paper.

Making a decent analytical paper outline is important because this way, you will have a writing plan that will guide you and help you stay on track. Therefore, the more points you put down in the outline, the easier the analysis essay writing is going to be.

Thesis statement

Thesis statement is basically a key sentence of your introduction. Here, you have to formulate the main idea or problem that you are going to consider. There are a few things you should remember when creating a thesis:

  • A thesis statement should always be put in the introduction, preferably in the last sentence.
  • It should be written in a clear and concise manner as you will be able to add the details later in the body of the paper.
  • There shouldn’t be sentences like “The idea of this paper…” or “The main problem of this paper is…” – make it flow naturally

If you search for analytical essay examples, you’ll see that everything written in the body of the paper depends on a single sentence – a thesis. Thus, it is necessary to focus your attention on it when you start writing an analytical essay.


How to start an analytical essay?

  • Include some surprising facts or statistics so that your reader will be interested in.
  • Provide some context for your topic in order to help your readers understand it better.
  • Do not forget to cite the factual information or the background info that is not a common knowledge.


This part is the biggest one in your essay and you need to pay special attention to the way you structure it. Here are a few helpful tips:

  • All your arguments should be supported by good examples.
  • Each paragraph has to include introductory and conclusive sentences.
  • Each paragraph should be focused on one issue.
  • The size of each paragraph should not be less than 5-6 sentences.
  • Do not include factual information that should be cited in the last sentence of the paragraph.


Conclusion is no less important than any other part of your essay. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing it:

  • Note that your conclusion should not be too long and overloaded with excessive information.
  • Show how you managed to prove your thesis statement.
  • Leave your readers with some food for thought.
  • Remember that you should not include any new information in conclusion.

What about analysis essay format?

What analysis paper format to choose is one of the most frequent questions among students working on essays. Actually, formatting depends on the rules of your university. In general, the formatting style of choice is APA or MLA, with both being quite simple and easy to learn.

However, sometimes, teachers might ask you to format the paper according to Harvard or even Chicago styles. In this case, it’s best to ask you professor for a guide as there are a lot of contradictive instructions on the web. Moreover, the analytical essay writing process will largely depend on the formatting style you are asked to use as some will require you to add the page numbers to citations or create footnotes, which takes more time. Therefore, be sure to take this into the consideration when scheduling your homework.

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