The UVic Writer's Guide

An Introduction To Essay Writing

The word "essay" comes from the French essai, a try or attempt. The essay is an attempt to communicate information, opinion, or feeling, and usually it presents an argument about a topic. In the university context, an essay is an exercise that gives the student an opportunity to explore and clarify thoughts about a subject. In the larger world the essay appears in newspapers as opinion articles, editorials, reviews, and the more thorough commentary on news.

If at times the essay form seems a little artificial, or removed from the kinds of writing you expect to produce when you leave university, remember that the skills you learn in thinking, organizing, researching, and writing will be required in almost any career. There will always be expository reports to write and arguments to present.

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated Sept 20, 1995