English 101 Essay Format

Write a brief phrase to explain how each main point makes a different contribution to the thesis.

Tip: Use content-independent terms—words that describe the essay, not the topic. These include verbs such as explain, prove, show, demonstrate, apply, analyze, define; and nouns such as thesis, topic, term, concept, analysis, definition, support. For example:

  • This section defines two key terms in the thesis and analyzes their relationship.
  • This section applies the analysis from the previous section to the main focus of the thesis.

The goal here is to see how an argument is a series of steps that leads the reader to the conclusion. Each step contributes something unique to the overall idea. You can also think of each main point as proving a different part of the thesis, or proving a point that has to be true if the thesis is going to be true. Stepping away from the content to focus on the essay makes it easier to see how these parts work together.

A finished analysis will combine content-independent terms with content-specific terms (words that refer to the topic of the essay). This step helps make it possible to do that.

If you selected "Paper 1" from the Schedule, why did you end up here?

You ended up here because it is essential that you read and understand all of the information below before setting up and submitting any of your essays to me. If you do not follow the correct format, your papers will not be accepted (they will need to be redone and will be docked the late penalty you read about on the class Home page); if they are not saved properly, then I won't be able to open and read them (which is a problem). If papers are too short, for example, then they will not earn points.

So, yes, I know this is dry stuff; I also know many of you already know this material, but don't just pass it by. The real link to Paper 1 is at the bottom of this page; links on the Schedule will actually take you to those other paper topics.

General Information about Essays

The essays are of varying lengths and values. The first two papers are relatively short (about 3 pages) and are worth up to 50 points each. The Research Paper (more on that below) is worth up to 200 points total). The final paper (about 4 pages plus a Works Cited page) is worth up to 100 points. All of the essays require you to develop typed papers in standard MLA format (see below) that adequately cover the topics. You get to the Paper 1, Paper 2, etc. assignment instruction pages by clicking the appropriate links on the class Schedule page. You will always want to use specific, concrete, detailed examples whenever possible. Content is most important with these essays, but I will look closely at the form of the essays as well, so you'll need to edit and proofread to eliminate as many of the spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax errors as possible to earn a high score.

NOTE: these are not just personal opinion papers.

These are, for the most part, argument essays. Even if you write a personal experience paper, you will be supporting a thesis (the central idea/point you are trying to develop/prove) with examples/evidence--that is the essence of an argument.

If you would like to see sample essays (a solid "B" paper that was revised and turned into an even more solid "A" paper), click here.

MLA Essay Format

All essays must be in standard MLA (Modern Language Association) format; this is the format you should have learned in English 101. College and university academic standards require that papers written in the humanities (there is a different format for scientific papers) be submitted in this format.

For complete information on what this format looks like, refer to your Rules for Writers. I have also included a copy of a sample MLA paper with some instructions that you can look at here (I've saved the files in two formats; you should be able to open at least one):

Sample MLA Essay in Word (.doc) Format
Sample MLA Essay in Rich-text (.rtf) Format

You can also find information on the MLA format and more general information on academic writing at the following web site:

Purdue OWL site (be sure to click on "MLA Guide").

Your English 101 handbook has further information on format, and you can visit the school's Writing Lab in the Learning Assistance Center for more help.

Please look over the format of your essay before you submit it. You will lose points for incorrectly-formatted papers; in some cases, essays will not be accepted if the format is too far from the MLA standards.

How to Submit your Essays

Your essays will be submitted to me as attachments to e-mail. Write the paper in standard MLA format in Word, save your paper on your hard drive or on a floppy disk, and attach the file to an e-mail addressed to me. When sending assignments, YOUR E-MAIL MESSAGE should include your name, the class, and the name of the assignment which is attached (this is in addition to the heading information that you'll have on the attached essay itself). Send your e-mail to me at jrcorbally@gmail.com.

NOTE: If you do not have Microsoft WORD (Word 365 is free; check the LAHC Student Portal) on your computer, you must save your file as either a Word (.doc, .docx, .rtf) file or as .pdf file before attaching it. My WORD software can translate files from a number of other word-processing programs, but there are many that it cannot. Gooogle Docs often will mess up the format, and I do not have various DRIVE accounts (such as OneDrive), so do not send those.

Submitting your Research Paper

The Research Paper (which is worth 200 points, total) has three steps (all noted on the class Schedule page). First, you must turn in a proposal for approval; until that has been approved, I won't grade what comes next. Second, you will be turning in a formal sentence outline and your annotated sources (these, together, will be worth up to 50 points). Finally, once all of that has been checked off, you will turn in the final Research Paper (worth up to 150 points. The actual "things" you will turn in for each step is explained on the assignment page for the step (you get to those by clicking the appropriate links on the Schedule page).

Late Essays

Try to get all work in on time. Late essays will always (unless there's some problem with my server on the day the work is due) be penalized. A late essay will lose 10% of the total score. NOTE: Any essay that is more than one week late will receive no credit! To avoid a late penalty (or a zero), it's a very good idea to submit work early. Always keep a copy of your work in case it gets lost in transmission.

Extra Credit and Revisions

The final discussion is extra credit (optional). There may be additional extra credit; if so, you will get an Announcement to that effect :)

We move at too rapid a clip in this class for revisions; however, you will be able to drop your lowest 50-point paper. You can use this to your advantage in a couple of ways:

  • If you, for whatever reason, have to miss a paper (maybe you're just not feelin' it; maybe you need to put in extra time on stats or chemistry), that's fine; you can drop that one. Just make sure you do all of the others.

  • If you just don't like the score you earned on a paper (maybe it was late and had that 10% penalty), you can do the rest of the papers, and the lowest score will be replaced by that last paper if it's a higher score.

  • If you reach the Google Projects paper and have already banked three grades that you are happy with, you can consider that fourth paper optional.

Link to the "Too Much Stuff" essay:

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