Very few people are able to write the final version of their assignment straightaway. It is likely that you will need to make some amendments to your first version to make sure your arguments are stated clearly and that you have answered the question. You will also need to keep an eye on your word count and add or delete content if necessary.
However, done properly your first draft should put you well on the way to completing your assignment. Your aim is to produce a concise, coherent and logically structured piece of work.
You should word process your first draft which will make it a lot easier for you to make amendments later. If you need help with using Microsoft Word which is installed on all University computers contact one of the Digital Services Student Help Desks or Academic Skills Tutors.
You may also wish to print out a copy of your draft, as many people find it much easier to read and amend a paper copy, rather than on screen.
When putting together your draft there are a few key things to consider:
Whilst writing your draft you might find it useful to use the Heading Styles in Word to add headings for each of the main ideas/concepts you want to include. This will help you keep track of these and make sure you include all you need to. Use the navigation pane in Word to get an overview of your structure. You must, however, delete these before you hand in your essay, as essays should not normally include headings.
We have created a number of guides relating to producing a written assignment which you
Depending on what type of assignment you have been given you may be required to write it up in different ways. Essays and reports have different purposes and therefore different structures. While essays generally require a discussion of a particular issue/theoretical statement or quote, reports generally focus on a specific problem or case study.
The sections below provide some tips on how you should structure your essay. However, you should check the exact requirements with your tutor.
An essay will typically include the following sections:
Introduction (5-20% of essay length)
It is important to make your introduction a clear and limited statement. This is where you should try to grab the reader's attention and make them want to continue reading!
Body (60-80% of essay length)
Conclusion (5-20% of essay length)
What you say in your conclusion should match what you said in the introduction: it should re-state (but not repeat) your idea or argument, ideally showing more fully what you have been saying. Remember the conclusion is the last thing the reader looks at, so it needs to leave a good impression! Do not allow a strong essay to fizzle with a weak conclusion. Always end with a definite statement.
For more guidance on essay writing see the Academic Skills Essay Writing guide.
Our Academic Writing guide has more tips to help you write appropriately.
When you come to write up your essay, there are a few common problems you may encounter. The tips below should help with some of the most common of these.
Sometimes you may not be able to decide how to start writing. Don't sit staring at a blank piece of paper or screen. Just start writing something even if it is just notes and ideas. You'll be surprised once you start how the ideas start to flow. You may need to go back and edit what you have done later, but at least you have something down.
The recently introduced Dictate feature in Word can also be helpful. This will type up what you say and although it may not get every word correct can be a greet way to get something ion a page. You will find the Dictate button under the Home tab. There is more information on using Dictate on the Microsoft website.
This may be because you do not know enough about the subject. Go back and look at your initial plan and maybe do further research and reading.
One thing you must not do to pad out your words is to repeat yourself, or use long, complicated sentences and phrases with lots of adjectives. It is obvious to the reader of your essay when you have done that. These superfluous words will not contribute to you getting a good mark.
If this is a problem, then you may have padded out your sentences too much. Read through and see if you can phrase things more concisely. Or you may be trying to cover too much material. Read through your plan again and try to focus on a narrower range of issues that you can discuss fully, or if more appropriate cover the same range of issues but at a broader level.
For more information on writing up your assignment have a look at the following links:
You can use this checklist to help you ensure you have completed the steps needed to understand how to use your research to complete your assignment.