The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.
Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2018-02-09 12:42:48
This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help.
The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Therefore, it is wise for the student to become capable and comfortable with this type of writing early on in her training.
Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing and are often assigned either to be done in class, which requires previous planning and practice (and a bit of creativity) on the part of the student, or as homework, which likewise demands a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. However, students can avoid the discomfort often associated with essay writing by understanding some common genres.
Before delving into its various genres, let’s begin with a basic definition of the essay.
What is an essay?
Though the word essay has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere, which means "to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out." Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic.
Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.
The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose; the writing must be deliberate and interesting.
This handout should help students become familiar and comfortable with the process of essay composition through the introduction of some common essay genres.
This handout includes a brief introduction to the following genres of essay writing:
All Essentials in an MLA Essay Format Example
Nowadays different academic institutions require different types of text formatting. So, if you are supposed to create an essay in MLA format, but not even sure where to start, stick to our MLA format example essay and you will easily get through the writing process.
Your title page
First of all, MLA format for essays expects the author to locate the following on the title page:
- the student’s name
- the instructor’s name
- the class or section
- the date.
As you can see in the presented MLA format essay example, it is necessary to use certain system of citation in MLA format essays. For example, you have to use double spaces through the entire text of the work and write the last name of the author and the page number on every page. For example, if the author’s name is Jane Smith, you have to write Smith 10 on the right side of the tenth page, half an inch from the top.
Be extremely attentive to citation. There is a certain way of doing it while writing an essay, MLA format. In case of an in-text reference, the look of the citation depends on such factors:
- type of the cited source (magazine, book, etc.)
- source’s entry on the Works Cited (bibliography) page.
In essay format MLA, you should put the name of the author and the number of the cited page after the sentence. You also have to put a complete reference in the end of the work, at the bibliography page.
For example, you need to cite Carl Jung in your psychology essay. Put it this way:
Doctor C.Jung touches this phenomenon in one of his researches. (C.Jung, 1940).
If the reader needs more information, he goes to the Works Cited page and sees this:
Jung, C. G., & Dell, S. M. (1940). The Integration of the Personality. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Some general guidelines on MLA format for essays on an MLA format essay outline
- an author is free to select any font, but it is recommended to choose the one where regular text and italics are easily distinguished. The font size has to be 12 pt;
- make sure you leave only one space after period and signs alike as it is set by the MLA format for essay, unless otherwise is required by your tutor;
- the margins are expected to be 1’ on all sides;
- start every new line of a paragraph half-inch from the margin line. By doing so, you will both observe the MLA rules and make it easier for a reader to perceive the text;
- if you decide to add endnotes, locate them on a separate page, before the Works Cited page. Entitle the page “Notes”.
More sources to consult
Usage of the example of MLA format essay can doubtlessly be of great service to beginners.
At the same time, it is better to consult MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.) in order to ensure that the formatting is completely right.
Feel lost despite the MLA format essay outline? Still not sure how to write an essay in MLA format? Let our experts do the job. Whatever the research topic is, our team is glad to start straightway.