Determining Keywords

An essay’s structure should be guided by its purposes. Just as architects must pay attention to the activities that will take place in the spaces they design, writers must be attentive in the design of their work to the purposes of that work.


Instructors’ assignments usually establish at least a general sense of purpose for a writer; and thus, it is important that you read assignment instructions carefully to insure that you understand what you are being asked to do.

To describe, to connect, and to argue or analyze are common purposes adopted by writers of academic essays. Click the buttons below to view suggestions about structure in relation to each of these purposes.

Whatever the purposes of your writing, clarity will be required to achieve them. Clarity is enhanced by structuring an essay to emphasize its main points. Twists, turns, and disconnects are to be expected when drafting an essay, but revisions should lead to a paper that gets straight to the point and stays focused on what the reader needs to know in order to understand that point.