2 Tips to Help You with Writing an Essay in College

When youΓÇÖre writing an essay, itΓÇÖs essential to be able to express yourself clearly and present your points in a way that fully engages your audience. This article discusses two primary ways to make your essays more interesting to your audience using sentence length variety and visual-textual devices.

1. Sentence Length Variety

Sentence length has a subtle but strong effect on your readers. If your writing tends to have sentences all the same length, it can make your writing look monotonous, and your readers feel unable or disinclined to engage with your work fully. If you write sentences that are too short, it will make your work sound childish and boring. Here is a simplistic example to prove a point:

Jane went to school. She rode her bike there. She had class. She had lunch at noon. She came home at 6:00 PM. In the evening she took her dog for its walk.

An edit to make this series of sentences flow better could be:

Jane rode her bike to school. She had class before going to lunch at noon. She cycled home at 6:00 PM so as to be home in time to take her dog for its evening walk.

As you can see, the edit took the information from sentences of nearly identical length and varied them, which immediately looked more interesting to the eye and made for a more natural flow of ideas.

Conversely, to demonstrate the point about longer sentences, if you write sentences that are too long, they can become complicated for the reader, who may either lose the sense of what you mean or lose the will to read your work altogether, as you may well see from this sentence.

This lengthy sentence is cumbersome and tiring to read. A better way of writing that long sentence would be:

Conversely, if you write sentences that are too long, they become complicated for the reader. Lengthy sentences make it more difficult for the reader to digest your points. Additionally, they may lose the will to read your work altogether.

People make a commitment subconsciously to read material based upon a quick glance. The structure of your writing needs to be visually inviting. When youΓÇÖre writing an essay, varying the length of your sentences will make things look more appealing to the eye and create more impact. Short sentences can strengthen a point among longer ones. Longer sentences can be used to offer additional details and present a more powerful description. If you are in any doubt about your sentence lengths, itΓÇÖs always a good idea to read your work aloud to yourself and get a sense of the rhythm of how it sounds.

2. Visual-Textual Emphasis Styles

Nowadays, computers allow student writers to visually emphasize words in everyday writing by utilizing a variety of means including capitals and bold fonts which may or may not be acceptable in writing an essay in college. The older, more established styles of visual emphasis that are acceptable in academic writing are underlining and italics.

You can incorporate underlining for subheadings and sparingly for emphasis where necessary. You can include wording in italics in essays to provide emphasis on certain words when necessary and for citing the titles of longer works using MLA style formatting.

Ultimately, if you have concerns about ensuring that you meet all of the guidelines for APA or MLA style formatting, you can utilize formatting products that will be of immense help, saving you time and points on your papers.

David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. 

Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).


For more information about MLA or APA writing templates, contact us by email

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