Leeds University Library

Essay writing

Essay writing

An introductory guide to writing an essay

What is an essay?

Essays are used to assess your understanding of specific ideas and your ability to explain these in your own words.

Essays are usually written in a discursive style, bringing together ideas, evidence and arguments to address a specific problem or question. However, different instructional verbs used in essay titles require different approaches to essay writing. What does your essay title ask you to do? Does it ask you to argue a point; discuss a variety of points; analyse a proposition; or make a recommendation?

Essays normally include:

  • An introduction where you set out your ideas and explain how you are going to respond to the essay question
  • The main body of your argument
  • A conclusion. 
Take a look at our handy quick guide to essay writing (PDF) for useful tips and techniques for you to apply.