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Top 10 Mistakes in Writing Essays

Essays are used for a variety of purposes and are quite important in many areas of life.  From grade school and college to the workplace these types of papers are meant to provide information in a clear way that the majority of people can understand.  That being said, it is not uncommon for people involved in essay writing to make certain mistakes that are considered quite common.  Below are the top 10 mistakes regularly found in written essays.

  • Inconsistent Tenses:  Either the past or present tense needs to be chosen.  Once it has been established, it should remain consistent throughout the entire document.  Switching back and forth is not acceptable.
  • Incomplete Sentences:  All thoughts need to be complete and include a verb and a subject.
  • Using Quotes instead of Simply Paraphrasing:  Quotes should only be included in an essay when there is no possible way to say the phrase better.  Otherwise, the thought should simply be paraphrased and put into unique words.
  • Use of the Second Person:  “You” should be avoided as much as possible in an essay.  Instead, the use of “one” is more appropriate.
  • Use of Dangling Participles:  A participle is a verb that usually ends in “ing”.  A dangling participle is a participle that has no real connection to any other word.  This is commonly seen when thoughts change direction within the same sentence.
  • Contractions:  As a general rule of thumb contractions such as “don’t”, “can’t”, “won’t”, etc. are not acceptable in essay writing.  Take the time to write out both words.
  • Indenting and Using Single Spaces:  When quoting material that is more than one sentence long, single space the text and indent it from the rest of the body.  Some form of citation should be included but quotation marks are not necessary.
  • Spelling:  There is simply no excuse for spelling errors today.  Take a bit of time to read through your work and always run spell checker.
  • Summarizing instead of Analyzing:  Most essays require some form of personal analysis, but many writers summarize events or issues already well known instead of providing new analytical content.
  • Titles:  Take the time to give your essay a proper title.  This does not have to be long or elaborate, but it should give a bit of insight into what the paper is about.