5 Ways You’ve Been Doing Your Citations Wrong

Correctly citing the sources you used to write a paper, whether it is in MLA format or another style, is an important aspect of writing. It prevents plagiarism, gives proper credit to the appropriate people, and helps the reader of your work identify where they can find additional information on the topic. It is easy, however, to make mistakes when making citations, especially when your paper is due ASAP!

Let’s take a look at some of the most common errors made when making citations, and at some tips on how you can avoid making them in your next paper.

1. Incorrect Paraphrasing

Incorrect paraphrasing is an all too common way that students fall into the trap of committing accidental plagiarism. This usually occurs when the writer simply replaces only one or two words of the phrase they are paraphrasing, and puts it into their paper as if it was their own original idea. To prevent this from happening in your paper, you must be sure to write the idea in a new way. Two easy ways to ensure you do this effectively is to 1. Change the sentence structure of the phrase, and 2. Use synonyms for the phrase’s keywords. Then, follow the paraphrased text with a parenthetical citation.

2. Incorrectly Placed Periods

For in-text or parenthetical citations in virtually every citation style, the period follows the parenthesis. For example: (Brown, 1995). Be sure that you don’t accidentally include the period or other punctuation mark within the parenthesis.

3. Inconsistency in Citation Style Used

It is all too easy to slip into using various citation styles within one paper, especially if you are using one for the first time. Be sure to double check your citations at the end of your paper to ensure that they all conform to the same style and format. This is especially important if your professor does not specify which citation style you should use. To make your references clear to the reader, consistency is key.

4. Leaving Citations Out of the Reference List/Works Cited Page

Every in-text citation—like parenthetical APA citations or footnotes in Chicago style—in your paper must correspond to an entry in a reference list or works cited page. A common mistake is to overlook a parenthetical citation and therefore omit it from the reference list. One easy way to prevent this from happening is to make your reference list as you write your paper, instead of waiting until the end of the paper writing process. This will ensure that no citation gets missed.

5. Adding the Same Reference After Each Sentence

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as over-citing! If all information in one paragraph refers to the same source, you only need to provide a single citation at the end of the entire paragraph, not after each individual sentence. Just be sure to include the relevant author, date, or page number information, depending on which citation style you are using.

You can use BibMe Plus’s bibliography tools and grammar check to not only help create accurate citations for your paper, but also to see if there are edits that could make your paper stronger. It makes correctly citing your sources and turning in a great paper a much simpler, quicker and easier task all round.

Why Do I Need to Proofread?

Many of us write our papers and think we’re good to go. We’ve researched our topic, cited our sources, and even written a great thesis statement. BUT WAIT. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that spell check has caught all of your grammar and spelling mistakes. Doing that last read through and grammar check yourself could make all the difference. Read on for some real-life proofreading fails, and why proofreading is important.

Proofreading Fails

“A friend once wrote a letter to an ASL professor and accidentally wrote ‘Deaf Professor’, instead of ‘Dear Professor’.”
­– Iana, NYC
“Rachel Ray Finds Inspiration in Cooking Her Family and Her Dog.”
– Headline of October 2016 issue of Tails magazine
I have a friend whose autocorrect turned “I will show you” into “I will shank you.” And she sent it before catching that.
– Amanda, Texas
“With high hope for the Euture, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.”
– Misspelling of the word “future” on the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C.

Why You Need to Proofread

  • Proofreading makes sure that you haven’t left out any important information from your paper. You might be missing an important point you were planning to include!
  • It checks for spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. One great way to ensure you are proofreading effectively is to read your paper out loud. Chances are if it sounds weird, then something should be fixed.
  • It helps make sure you are presenting your argument clearly to the reader. It can prompt you to move things around and reorganize your thoughts if needed.
  • Proofreading shows your professor or teacher that you take pride in your writing and are dedicated to writing a quality paper. They can tell if you didn’t put in enough effort very quickly if they notice tons of typos!
  • It will help you receive a better grade on your paper.

If your paper includes a bibliography, don’t forget to make sure you mentioned all the sources you used. If you haven’t created a bibliography yet, BibMe can help you easily create in-text citations in MLA format, APA citations, references in Chicago style, and more!

CMoS 17 is Here! See What’s Changed

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) has been one of the most popular writing resources since its first publication in 1906. Earlier this fall, the University of Chicago Press presented their 17th edition of the official manual. Here at BibMe, we took a look and examined what has changed in CMOS 17. See below for our overview of what we think you need to know about the updated citation formatting rules.

CMoS 17: Notes-Bibliography Style

How to format titles for websites.

If the website you are trying to cite has a print counterpart, such as the website for a newspaper, the title should be in italics. If it does not, it should not be in italics.

  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Gizmodo

The use of “ibid.”

Instead of using “ibid” for repeated citations, CMoS 17 now prefers that a shortened version of the footnote is used.

  1. Henry, The Ambassadors, 401–2.
  2. Henry, 433.
  3. Gailbraith, The Silkworm, 37–38.
  4. Gailbraith, 201–2.

CMoS 17: Author-Date Style

Repeating the year in certain author-date citations.

It is now acceptable to repeat the year in citations where the month and day are listed.

Lin, Meng-Fen Grace, Ellen S. Hoffman, and Claire Borengasser. 2013. “Is Social Media Too Social for Class? A Case Study of Twitter Use.” New York Times, February 15, 2013. Accessed March 2, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/science/social-media.

For more information on CMoS 17, please visit the official Chicago Manual of Style website.

Need general citing your sources in Chicago or Turabian style? BibMe here, at your service! Use our citation services to easily create citations for websites, pictures books, online videos, and much more! In case you don’t need Chicago style, it should be mentioned that BibMe also supports citations in MLA format, APA citation format, and thousands of other citations styles.

If you’re nearing the end of your writing process, also check out BibMe Plus’s grammar check! It can help you catch unintentional writing mistakes and you can upload a paper for free!

Proofreading Checklist: The Best Way to Finish Up Your Paper

After finishing an essay, our first urge is to triumphantly close out of the document in celebration of a job well done—but before calling it a day, you need to proofread.

Everyone makes mistakes, regardless of how strong they are at writing, and these mistakes can drag down the quality of a work. Make sure to go through your piece with a finely toothed comb, looking for errors that wouldn’t come up on a simple spell check.

What specifically should you be looking for as you proofread your work? We’re here to help, with a handy proofreading checklist complete with all the questions you ought to ask yourself as you read through the essay.

For an easy grammar check online, check out BibMe Plus. Upload your paper to automatically scan for grammatical errors for free. Best of all, it’s there when you need it since it’s available 24/7.


  • Did I employ consistent verb tense throughout the paper? (past, present, future)
  • Did my pronouns (e.g. I, We, He, Her, They, Anyone, etc.) agree with their antecedents? Are my pronouns vague?
    • Examples:
    • No → The puppies were so active that itself spent the whole day running around the park.
    • No → The puppies were so active that she spent the whole day running around the park.
    • Yes → The puppies were so active that they spent the whole day running around the park.
  • Did I include unnecessary commas?
  • Did I add commas after introductory elements/compound sentences?


  • Did I run a basic spell check?
  • Did I do a basic read through on my own? We often miss small errors while we’re writing.
  • Did I make sure to hyphenate any words requiring a hyphen?

Sentence Structure

  • Did I write in active voice? Did I mostly use active verbs and rarely employ “to be verbs”?
  • Did I vary my sentence structure enough? By writing sentences of various lengths and structures, it keeps your writing more interesting.
  • Did I keep my writing concise? Did I steer clear of using unnecessary words?
    • Example:
    • No → The really cool trickster figure in Hawaiian mythology is pretty much Maui. After some research, I found that according to legend, he like created the Hawaiian islands using a totally weird magic fish hook.
    • Yes → The trickster figure in Hawaiian mythology is Maui. According to legend, he created the Hawaiian islands using a magic fish hook.

Word Choice

  • Did I avoid using jargon-y language that might be confusing to readers?
  • Did I use the precise word each time? Did I make sure I understand the definitions of all words used?
  • Did I consider the connotations of the words I used, in addition to the dictionary definitions?
  • Did I avoid using slang and other informal terms (eg. stuff)?


  1. Did I make sure my sentences flow into each other smoothly?
  2. Did I connect my paragraphs to one another? Did I use transition words like although, however and therefore?


  1. Did I keep my font and font size consistent throughout the paper? Did I use an easy-to-read font like Arial or Times New Roman?
  2. Did I double-space my paper? Did I keep the spacing consistent throughout?
  3. Did I remember to indent before all new paragraphs?
  4. Did I properly cite all sources used within my paper? Did I use MLA format or whatever proper citation style my teacher asked for? Did I keep citations consistent throughout my paper?
  5. Did I include necessary footers and headers?
  6.  Did I add page numbers, if requested?

General Tips

Remember, we all make mistakes sometimes, so no worries if your essay requires further revision upon proofreading. If you don’t feel confident in your own ability to evaluate your work, consider asking a friend to look at your essay, keeping these specific checklist items in mind.

To assess the flow of your piece, try reading the whole thing aloud. If you find yourself stumbling over words as you read your own work—or find the words confusing—revisions are in order.
Did your teacher ask for APA citations, or citations in another style?  Visit BibMe to generate citations easily!

Four Tips on Using Transitions for a Better Essay

Odds are, you’re already familiar with a typical essay structure: introduction, body, and conclusion. These are essential parts of an essay, but did you know that well-crafted transitions can make these sections flow well, and make your arguments even stronger?

When writing an academic essay, it is important to remember that your goal is to provide clear and concise information that supports your argument (thesis). With that in mind, you can easily use transitions throughout your essay to help you guide your reader through the logic of your argument.

Often, students run into trouble when they write transitions that merely introduce a new topic, rather than with an intention to lead a reader through their argument. For example, say you are writing about why cheddar cheese is the best to use in a grilled cheese sandwich and you want to transition from a paragraph discussing the flavor of cheddar cheese to a new paragraph discussing its gooey texture when it melts.

A poor transition would read:
Cheddar cheese is also gooey when it melts.
A good transition would read:
While cheddar cheese’s sharp flavor makes for delicious grilled-cheese sandwiches, it is also the best cheese choice because of its gooey texture.
While both sentences clearly state that cheddar cheese has a gooey texture, the first sentence simply announces this statement without showing how it connected to the previous paragraph, and without showing how it relates to her overall argument.

While it is important to make sure you write strong transitions, that doesn’t mean that writing them should be a source of stress in your writing process. In fact, by spending the time to write strong transitions, you will find it easier to write strong body paragraphs in your essay.

Here are Four Tips for writing better transitions in your essay, and overall better essays.

Tip #1: Understand what transitions are

Transitions are not merely words meant to signal a change in a thesis point or body paragraph—they are words and phrases meant to articulate the logical relationship between the information that came before the transition, and the information that will come after it. Whether you are writing the first sentence of a new paragraph, a new section, or tying an outside quote to your own writing, when you choose a transition word, try to think of what connects your ideas together and how you want to portray that relationship to your reader.

You can think of the logical relationships between points, and their corresponding transition phrases, as falling into these categories

Example: for example, for instance

Emphasis: in fact, of course, indeed

Sequence/Order: first, second, third, … next, then, finally

Time:   now, then, after, afterward, immediately, before, currently, during, earlier, later, meanwhile, recently, subsequently,

Similarity: also, similarly, likewise

Contrast: still, nevertheless, while, despite, however, but, in spite of, nonetheless, in contrast, on the contrary, yet

Additional Support or Evidence: furthermore, moreover, additionally, again, also, and, as well,

Cause and Effect: so, therefore, accordingly, thus, consequently, therefore

Tip #2 Think beyond just the transitional phrase

While it is important to know which words serve as transitions in a sentence, it is equally important to avoid just relying on the transition word itself to do the work for you. Because, chances are, just using a transitional word is not enough to properly link your ideas together with logical coherence.

In order to avoid this habit, try writing the new information you want to convey first without using a transition word. This could be a thesis statement for your new paragraph, or merely an idea that you want to convey. Once you have that on the page, play around with transitional words to link this sentence to what you discussed before it.

Let’s return to the student writing about grilled cheese sandwiches. Say she wants to transition from discussing cheddar cheese’s gooey texture, to how cheddar cheese is available at most grocery stores.

To link these two ideas, she first writes the idea she wants to guide her reader towards…
Cheddar cheese is one of the most accessible cheeses—most grocery stores stock at least one kind of cheddar cheese.
Then, she adds a link from that sentence to her previous point. Because she wants to indicate additional support, she chooses to say
Furthermore, cheddar cheese is the best cheese for making grilled cheese as it is one of the most accessible—most grocery stores stock at least one kind of cheddar cheese.

By using this process, you will ensure that you are focusing on the ideas you want to express, and avoid relying on the transition word itself to do the heavy-lifting in your essay.

Tip #3: Go Back Through Your Introduction and Thesis

Sometimes, it might not be obvious, even to you the writer, what logical connection links two paragraphs within an essay. And that’s okay! Your ideas tend to evolve as you develop them on the page, and sometimes you will find that once you have fully fleshed out one idea, you don’t know how to move towards a new idea. Just take a break from the actual writing and go back to read your thesis.

Ask yourself what do you want to argue in the whole of the essay. This will help you to focus on what you want to argue in this particular paragraph or section of your essay in order to support your overall argument. If you can clearly articulate your new idea, and how it supports your overall thesis, you will find it easier to say how it connects to your previous paragraph or idea.

Tip #4: Write an outline and move the pieces around

If you still find yourself staring at the page, struggling to connect the previous idea to the new idea you want to guide your readers through, take a step back. When in doubt, make an outline. Whether you like to use an outline template on your word processor, or write one out on paper, make an outline that includes your thesis statement and the main points you want to use to support it. Once you have the outline mapped out, move the pieces around. Sometimes, the order in which you started out writing your paper doesn’t flow logically once you have developed your ideas further. By moving things around, you might find you have an easier time transitioning between different paragraphs.

Although transitioning seamlessly from one paragraph to another in an essay may feel challenging, you can write clear and concise transitions by focusing on the thesis of your essay, and the logical connections that tie your ideas together. Once you have gone through these tips, writing transitions will come naturally to you.

Transitions are not the only thing you should pay attention to! BibMe Plus’s grammar check can help you check your paper for grammar and unintentional plagiarism before you turn it. Also, BibMe’s classic citation tools can help generate APA citations (or citations in other styles like MLA format) for your bibliography. Give a go today!

What is an Anthology?

Some of the world’s best known and most well-respected written works are not books themselves, but rather sections or parts of anthologies. An anthology is a collective work that is completely made up of material from other authors. Anthologies can contain numerous poems, shorty stories, essays, and other documents. The person who puts together all of this information into one anthology is called a compiler.

Often, anthologies contain works that are all aligned around the same central idea or theme. For example, 100 Best Love Poems contains work that are all poems about love. Some anthologies, however, contain not just one type of writing, such as poetry. Web of Deception: Misinformation on the Internet, for example, can contain essays, studies, and even collections of photographs.

So how are anthologies included in works cited pages and bibliographies? Let’s look at a few examples of how to cite an anthology in your paper.

Typically, if you are interested in citing an anthology as an entire work, you would follow similar guidelines to citing books. If, however, you are citing just one work within an anthology, follow a similar format to citing book chapters.

How to cite an anthology in MLA format

Complete work:

Editor(s) Last Name, First Name, editor(s). Anthology Title. Publisher, Year Published.

Work within anthology:

Author Last name, First name. “Title of Section.” Anthology Title, edited by Editor’s Name(s), Publisher, Year, Page range of entry.


Edmonson, Dwayne, editor. Beyond Science Fiction: A Complete Anthology. Dark Star Publishing, 2016.

Davy, Laura. “An Average Citizen.” Beyond Science Fiction: A Complete Anthology, edited by Dwayne Edmonson, Dark Star Publishing, 2016, pp. 13-24.

How to cite an anthology as an APA citation

Complete work:

Editor Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Ed.). (Year Published). Anthology title (Volume number or edition info). City of Publication, State: Publisher.

Work within an anthology:

Author Last Name, First Initial. Middle Initial. (Year Published). Title of section. In Editor First Initial. Editor Middle Initial. Editor Last Name (Ed.), Anthology title (Volume number, edition info, or page numbers). City of Publication, State: Publisher.


Edmonson, D. (Ed.). (2016). Beyond science fiction: A complete anthology (Vol.2). Paterson, NJ: Dark Star Publishing.

Davy, L. (2016). An average citizen. In D. Edmonson (Ed.), Beyond science fiction: A complete anthology (Vol. 2, pp. 25-26). Paterson, NJ: Dark Star Publishing.

How to cite an anthology in Chicago format

Complete work:
FOOTNOTE: Footnote number. First Name Last Name, ed. Title of Anthology (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication), page numbers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Last Name, First Name, ed. Title of Anthology. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.

Work within an anthology:
FOOTNOTE: Footnote number. Author’s Name, “Title of Essay/Chapter/Article,” in Title of Anthology, ed. Editor’s Name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication), page numbers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Essay/Chapter/ Article.” In Title of Anthology, edited by Editor’s Name, pages of essay/chapter/article. Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.

Examples (whole anthology):
1 Dwayne Edmonson, ed. Beyond Science Fiction: A Complete Anthology (Paterson, NJ: Dark Star Publishing, 2016), 25-26.

Edmonson, Dwayne, ed. Beyond Science Fiction: A Complete Anthology. Paterson, NJ: Dark Star Publishing, 2016.

Examples (section of anthology):

1Laura Davy, “An Average Citizen,” in Beyond Science Fiction: A Complete Anthology, ed. Dwayne Edmonson (Paterson, NJ: Dark Star Publishing, 2016), 13-24.

Davy, Laura. “An Average Citizen.” In Beyond Science Fiction: A Complete Anthology, edited by Dwayne Edmonson, 13-24. Paterson, NJ: Dark Star Publishing, 2016.

What is an Argumentative Essay?

Argumentative essays are a common assignment given by educators and are an exciting opportunity for you to practice the valuable skill of persuasion. Argumentative essays are, at their core, pieces of writing that aim to convince the reader of the writer’s own opinion. Let’s look at the elements that form argumentative essays, and some tips on how to write the best one possible.

Example thesis: Tobacco products should be made illegal, as they present severe and well-documented health risks to the public.

Elements of an Argumentative Essay

Position: This is the side of the argument that the author is taking. In this case, the author is arguing that tobacco products should be made illegal.

Reasons: These facts or points make up the why of the position. Without reasons, a position is baseless and a weak argument. In this example, the reasons for the position are that tobacco products are known to be damaging to people’s health.

Evidence: This is the opportunity for the writer to cement their claim or position by providing factual substantiation from outside resources. In this element, it is critical for the writer to provide citations and references on where they gathered their evidence. Without this, there is no proof that the evidence is factual or indeed evidence at all.

For the provided example, the writer may choose to cite health studies or scientific papers related to the effects of tobacco products on peoples’ health.

Counterarguments: The most effective argumentative essays display the counterargument, or the opposite argument from the author’s own point of view. After stating the counterarguments, a persuasive writer would state why that counterargument is false or ineffective, using further evidence.

How to Format an Argumentative Essay

To construct an effective argumentative essay, you need to follow several important steps. These are vital to ensuring that the reader is convinced of your argument and understands your topic.
Almost all essays should be broken into four parts:
Introduction, Body, Conclusion, and Citations.

  • Your introductory paragraph should serve to frame the rest of your paper in the reader’s mind. Think of it like a preview; you want them to move forward from here with a clear understanding of what the central argument of your paper is.
  • In order to frame the central idea, many essays contain a thesis statement, which is a one or two sentence phrase that captures the theme of the paper. These should be as specific as possible, and should be included as the last part of your intro paragraph.

  • The body of your essay is where your evidence is presented and tied in to your argument. Each body paragraph should seek to further prove the central theme you put forth in your thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs should each begin with a topic sentence that drives the rest of the paragraph, and relates back to the thesis statement.
  • Be sure to include transition sentences between paragraphs to ensure a nice flow to your writing.
  • Within each paragraph on a specific idea, present any outside evidence that you have used to formulate your idea. Here is where you should be sure to include any necessary in-text citations, whether they be in APA format, MLA format, etc.

  • Your conclusion paragraph should neatly wrap up your argument and evidence, calling the reader back to your original thesis statement.
  • A good way to conclude your writing is to restate your thesis statement or central idea in a different way, making sure to include the main points you made in your paper.
  • If you are having trouble formulating your essay’s conclusion, read through your paper and then say to yourself “So what?” This helps to summarize the main idea of your paper in your mind.
  • Make sure that your reader is left with an impression or something to think about in relation to your topic. This a sign of a very strong argumentative essay.

  • Depending on what citation format your teacher prefers (APA citation style, Chicago citation style, etc.), you should include a reference list at the end of your essay, which lists the outside sources where you attained information while creating your paper.
  • The citations in your reference list should include any sources that you have referenced within the body of your essay using in-text or parenthetical citations. For help with creating citations, check out the citation guides on BibMe.com.

Finally, always remember to proofread your essay before handing it in to your teacher! If you’re looking for help, BibMe has a grammar check service you can try.

What Source Type Should I Choose?

Technology has changed the way students and teachers alike conduct research. With so many ways to digest information, it can be difficult to decide what category a source fits into. For instance, if you access a magazine article on a website, do you cite the source as a magazine article, or as a website? What about a photograph of a sculpture? Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when you are struggling to determine the proper format for your source:

1. If you get stuck on how to cite your source, always keep in mind what the source actually is. It is almost always better to cite a source by following its original form.

For example, you have an online magazine article. How do you cite it?

If you have a magazine article that you found online and can’t decide how to cite it, it is better to cite it as a magazine article, as that type of citation will always provide the reader of a clear understanding of where you conducted your research and found your information.

2. You should also consider citing the container of the source (see MLA format). A citation for an online magazine article, for instance, could contain information on both the magazine article and the website that reprinted it. See your citation style manual for more information on this topic.

If you still can’t tell what type of source you are dealing with, see the following info.

If you have a hard copy of your source:

If you can hold a copy of your source in your hands, such as a book, you should cite the source according to that source type’s rules. If, however, you have a printout of a section of a larger source, remember the following hints:

  • Look at the bottom of the page for a full or partial URL.  If you see one, use that to track down the original source.
  • If no URL is present, find an important sentence and copy it into a Google search. The search should let you know what type of source your material is.
  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between journal articles and book chapters when you only have a printout. To tell the difference:
    • Journal articles usually include a lot of information on the first page. Look for full citation information, contact information for the author(s), or information about when the article was submitted, revised and accepted.
    • Journal articles will (sometimes) provide more information on interior pages, such as the author’s last name or an abbreviated article title or journal title.
    • Book chapters usually include only the author’s name and chapter title on the first page of the chapter.

If you found your source in a database:

Most databases and research tools will identify the proper source type for your piece of material. You just need to know where to look. Two things to keep in mind:

  • The databases rely on information from the publishers to identify the source type. This information is not always accurate.
  • There is no consistent vocabulary used to describe source types. Look for keywords like “print” or “article.”

If you found your source on a website:

These days, most traditional print sources, such as newspapers, also have a website. Those websites can replicate print content or provide unique, web-only content. Therefore, it can be difficult to differentiate between original and reprinted writing. For example, is a blog post on a newspaper’s website a blog post, or is it a newspaper article?

  • First, look to see if you can find an “about us” page on the website. This could hold a lot of valuable information about the publisher, which could lead to more clarification on what the source is. For example, if the about us page shows that the publisher is a news agency, then you know you’re dealing with a source related to newspapers.
  • You can also try going to the site’s homepage. This should give you more valuable information about the publisher.
  • Type the organization’s name into a Google or Wikipedia source. The history of the organization or publisher should let you know what kind of works they typically publish.

  • Still confused? Your librarian should be able to answer any question you may have regarding citing sources.

    Need APA citations? Or a Works Cited page in MLA, Chicago, or another citation style? Go to BibMe to generate citations quickly!

What is an Expository Essay?

Students of all disciplines and subject areas are tasked with writing expository essays at some point in their studies. So what is an expository essay, and how do you write a great one? Read on to find out!


An expository essay requires the writer to research and investigate an idea, gather supporting evidence, and present a point of view or argument on the topic. This can be done through multiple methods, including compare and contrast, cause and effect, or examples. Simply put, and expository essay is a research paper.

How to write a great one:

There are many ways to write a great essay, however all expository essays follow the same basic steps. One effective method of writing is known as the POET method.

P for Purpose

  • Every expository essay has a purpose. Sometimes the topic is selected by your teacher. Other times, it is up to you to select a topic to write about.
  • If you are selecting your own topic to write about, be sure to choose one that is specific enough to tackle within the confines of an essay.
  • If your teacher has chosen the purpose or topic for you, be sure to pay attention to the verbs in the prompt. Look for words such as analyze, compare, connect.
  • Strong essays are consistent throughout, never deviating from the central purpose.

O is for Organization

  • Start your essay with an introductory paragraph. This should set the stage for the rest of the paper and include your thesis statement, which we will discuss later. The introductory paragraph is your opportunity to grab the reader’s interest and attention for the rest of the paper.
  • A good essay should be well organized into body paragraphs, with each describing a certain supporting piece of evidence and how it connects to your purpose.
  • Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, which demonstrates to the reader what the paragraph will be focusing on. Be sure to focus on how each body paragraph supports your thesis.
  • End your paper with a conclusion paragraph. This should not simply be a re-statement of the thesis statement. Instead, think of how each piece of evidence you presented ties back to your thesis. Be sure to avoid introducing new ideas in the conclusion.

E is for Evidence

  • Great essays do more than simply make claims. Instead, they present an idea that is backed up by evidence found in outside sources.
  • Your evidence should be from reputable and well-respected sources.
  • Be sure to cite each source that you use to form the evidence of your paper. This is very important, as it demonstrates your commitment to research for your topic, and will prevent accusations of plagiarism. BibMe has citation services that can help you create a bibliography in MLA format, APA format, or other citation styles.

T is for Thesis

  • Your thesis statement is the driving idea for the rest of your paper. It is the point of your paper, and is what each body paragraph and piece of evidence attempts to support.
  • Generally, your thesis statement should be the last sentence of your introductory paragraph.
  • Be careful not to simply re-state the purpose or prompt. Instead, it should preview what your thoughts on the topic are, and how you plan to solidify your claim. Be as specific as possible.
Example prompt: Describe how the use of digital devices effects children’s development. What are the pros and cons of digital devices being used by young children?

Weak thesis: Too much time spent on a digital device is bad for children.

Strong thesis: Although electronic devices can provide educational content, parents should regulate the amount of time children spend on digital platforms, as they can inhibit social interaction, shorten attention spans, and cause unhealthy sleeping habits.

Before turning in your paper, don’t forget to do a final proofread of your paper. It’s a good practice to review your final draft for spelling, formatting, consistency, and other grammar considerations. There are also online grammar check services that automatically scan and proofread our paper for you.

These steps will create a more robust, well-thought-out essay. Now that you know the basics, go out and begin writing with confidence!

Need APA citations? Or citations in MLA, Chicago, Harvard, or another style? Try BibMe’s citation services.

BibMe Feature Spotlight: Source Type Options for Easier Citing

Have you ever struggled to identify what source type you are using for research, or to figure out how to format a citation for a particular source? With so much information on the Internet and in the world, it’s not always an easy task. That’s why BibMe offers citation services for several different source types!

BibMe supports citing not only books, journals, and websites, but also materials such as federal bills, artwork, and even maps. Basically, if your teacher has assigned or helped you find it, BibMe can help you properly cite it.

With BibMe you can use a variety of reliable sources to make your paper more well-researched and stand out from the crowd. Using documents such as maps, letters, and the like could also help when you are searching for primary sources to use in your paper.

Say that you need an APA citation. Go to www.bibme.org, select “APA” as your citation style, and our full list of source types will be displayed, as follows:

bibme source types

Want to explore all of the source type options BibMe has to offer? Visit our homepage and start citing today! Citation services are offered in MLA format, APA format, and more!

Done citing and writing? BibMe Plus offers both a plagiarism and grammar check via a single upload! It will review your paper and help you identify potential issues. Try it today!