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Information & Advice

...for Students

...for Staff

...on Assistive Technology

Planning An Essay

The following steps are intended to help to break down the task into manageable ‘chunks’ This may help with:

Step 1.Analysing the title

1. Circle process words;

2. Highlight or underline content words;

3. Pick title to bits;

4. Try to establish exactly what you are being asked to do;

5. Look at list of action words

Step 2. Summarise the title

Put the title in your own words to sum up or break down the title into a list of aspects to cover.

Step 3: Organising and planning

  1. Look at the essay title and your plan;
  2. List what content you need to cover or do a mindmap [for an example mindmap and an essay mindmap template, see links to other docs]
  3. Look at what you already have (for example lecture notes, reading notes)
  4. Add these into your plan;
  5. Note where gaps are to find more information;
  6. Take each issue in turn and try to find more information. This should enable you to be more focused in both finding the information and in your reading of it. (see steps 4 and 5 for more on this)
  7. Write a rough essay plan (this may be done in mindmap format);
  8. Allocate a word limit for each section - you won’t need to write much for each aspect!


Step 4: Sources of information

Useful, initial sources that may give you a more general picture and for those who wish to delay the more in-depth reading!

Sources to provide an overview of a topic:


Choosing material



Look out for reliability and bias

Recording details

Step 5: Reading for meaning



Step 6: Making notes

There are many different means of recording information from texts. The following are just some suggestions that you may wish to try: