Sample Index Page Assignment Help


5.2 Structuring and introduction

 

An introduction is like a guidebook to your whole assignment. It gives background information into your topic area and outlines all the ideas you are going to present. Remember that most introductions will be about 10% of the final essay and will include some or all of the following:

  • An introduction to the context or background of the topic (you could include interesting facts or quotations)
  • The reason for writing about this topic
  • Definitions of any complex terminology that will be referred to throughout the assignment (note that definitions are not always necessary)
  • Introduce the main ideas that stem from your topic/title and the order in which you will discuss them?

You may want to use the grid below to help you structure your introduction; you can use the right-hand column to jot down your own ideas.

 

Structuring an introductory paragraph

Introduce the context or background to the topic: Perhaps you could explain the title in your own words or use a quotation from an author who offers a supporting or contradictory statement about your topic area.                                                                     
What is the purpose of writing about this topic? Is there a problem or controversy with the topic?  
Definitions: Are you using any complex terminology or acronyms that need defining? Try to use a working definition from an expert in your subject area rather than referring to a general dictionary definition. 
Introduce the main ideas that stem from your topic: You cannot write about everything; for a 2,000 word assignment, select between 3-5 key ideas and introduce them in the precise order in which they will be discussed.  

 

Structuring a paragraph in the main body of your assignment

 

What is a paragraph?

 

Paragraphs in the main body of your assignment usually contain a number of sentences which develop new ideas or expand upon existing ones. You may also need to construct paragraphs which offer contrasting views on the ideas you have already developed. A succession of well-structured paragraphs can help to create a coherent and logical argument. You need to consider the purpose of each paragraph:

  • Is it developing a new idea?
  • Is it expanding on an idea already mentioned?
  • Is it offering a contrasting view on an idea already mentioned?

You may wish to use the grid below to record your ideas for each of your paragraphs.

 

Structuring a paragraph in the main body of your assignment

An introductory sentence (this is sometimes called a topic sentence): This tells the reader the purpose of your paragraph and introduces the main idea you are developing, expanding upon or contrasting with another.                                                                    
Examples/evidence/quotations: You will usually need to include evidence that develops/contrasts an idea. This informs and strengthens your argument. Try and introduce your evidence clearly and remember to reference the source (either as a citation in the body of your text or as a footnote/endnote). 
Evaluative sentence/s: You may need to offer some explanation on the relevance of your examples/evidence/quotations. Why is this evidence useful? What does the author say that supports the idea you are developing? Does this evidence have any limitations? 
Concluding sentence: This draws together the main idea being made in your paragraph. 

 

Structuring a conclusion

 

Your conclusion is the final paragraph of writing in an assignment. It must summarise (very briefly) every important idea you have discussed in your work as well as draw conclusions based upon the evidence you have presented. You need to make sure that you have directly answered the question. It is always useful to link your conclusions back to the essay title.

 

You can use the grid below to help you structure your conclusion. The right-hand column can be used for you to make a note of your own ideas.

 

Structuring a conclusion

Summarise each of your points in the order in which you have presented them..                                                                    
State your main conclusions based upon the evidence you have presented. 
Link your conclusions back to the title – make sure you have directly answered the question and that your reader finishes your essay with a clear sense of your viewpoint on the topic (you must do this without saying 'I').  

Tips to remember:

  • Your conclusion will be about 10% of the whole assignment
  • You should not include any new information in your conclusion.

Copyright:

Step-by-step guide to assignment writing

When you’re undertaking tertiary study there are often a lot of assignments and writing to do, which can be daunting at first. The most important thing to remember is to start - and start early.

If you give yourself enough time to plan, do your research, write and revise your assignment you won’t have to rush to meet your deadline. Once you've started, you’ll also have something down on paper or on screen that you can improve on.

Using the steps below will help your assignments to become do-able, interesting and even enjoyable.

Step 1: Plan

Step 2: Analyse the question

Step 3: Draft an outline

Step 4: Find information

Step 5: Write

Step 6: Edit and proofread

Step 1: Plan

Planning your assignment will help you get focused and keep you on track.

  • Check how much your assignment is worth and what percentage of the final mark it is. This will help you decide how much time to spend on it.
  • Check the marking schedule to see what your tutor will be looking for when they mark your work and how the marks will be assigned. This will help you know what to focus on. If there is no marking schedule check the assignment question to see if the information is there.
  • Think about what you need to do to complete your assignment (for example, what research, writing drafts, reference checking, reviewing and editing, etc). Break these up into a list of tasks to do.
  • Give each task a deadline, working backwards from your assignment due date.

Step 2: Analyse the question

Before you can answer a question, you need to know what it means. Read it slowly and carefully, and try to understand what's expected of you. Ask yourself:

  • What's the question about? What's the topic? 
  • What does the question mean?
  • What do I have to do?

To help you understand the question, try rewriting it using your own words using the format below:

‘This assignment is about ______________________ I have to___________________ ’

When you are analysing the question:

  • Look for words that tell you what to do (instructional words). For example, analyse, compare, contrast, etc. 
  • Check the meaning of the words used. 
  • Look for topic words, which tell you what you have to write about.
  • Look for restricting words, which limit the topic and make it more specific.

You can also check for additional information about the assignment and what’s expected of you in the course materials or on your course page or forums.

Tip: When you find something about the assignment on a course page or in a forum save a copy of it. If you save all the information you gather about the assignment in one file you will have all the information in one place when you start writing.

More about instruction words:

List of instruction words - Otago University website (opens in new window)

Question wording quiz - Language and Learning Online, Monash University website (opens in new window)

Step 3: Draft an outline

Drafting an outline will give you a structure to follow when it comes to writing your assignment. The type of assignment you are doing will give you a broad structure, but you should also check the question and marking schedule, as they will help you understand how the lecturer expects the topic to be structured, what must be included, and which sections are worth the most marks.

From there you can create your outline, using headings and gaps for the information you have to fill in.

Types of Assignments

Essay outlines

Most of the assignments you will have to do are essays, which generally follow the same basic structure:

  • Introduction (+ 10% of the assignment) – This is where you introduce the topic and the main points, and briefly explain the purpose of the assignment and your intended outcome or findings. It is a good idea to write the introduction last, so that you know what to include.
  • Discussion (+ 80% of the assignment) – This section is divided into a number of paragraphs. Decide what points you want to discuss and include a new paragraph for each main point. A paragraph usually starts with a topic sentence stating the main idea, followed by supporting evidence and examples. In your outline try and include draft topic sentences and a few ideas outlining what you want to include in each section.
  • Conclusion (+ 10% of the assignment) – Conclusions briefly restate your main argument, evaluate your ideas and summarise your conclusions. They don’t introduce any new information.

Step 4: Find information

Before you start writing, you need to research your topic and find relevant and reliable information. You will find some in your course materials and recommended readings, but you can also try:

Once you have found information, the next step will be to evaluate it to ensure it is right for your assignment. For more on how to researching and evaluating information go to:

Step 5: Write

Once you've found the information you need it’s time to bring it altogether and write your assignment.

Write your first draft

  • Use your outline and fill in the gaps, writing your main points for each section. 
  • Write freely, getting as much down as you can without worrying about the wording being 100% right. 
  • You may find it easiest to start with the conclusion so that you know which direction your writing is heading, or the background. 
  • The introduction is often the hardest to write, so leave that till last. 
  • Don’t spend too much time trying to make this draft perfect as it will change!

Fine tune

  • Revise your first draft, and check that it makes sense and includes everything it needs to.
  • Fine tune the wording, and make sure your writing flows well.
  • Make sure you keep different copies of your drafts as you may want to go back to them. 
  • Leave the writing for a day, read it, and fine tune again.
  • Compile your bibliography or reference list.

Academic writing

How to use APA referencing

Step 6: Edit and proofread

Once you've written your assignment, you can improve it by editing and proofreading, but before you do take a break. Even a short break helps you to get some distance from your work so that you can check your assignment with a fresh eye.

Look at the big picture

  • Have you answered the question you were set? Check your assignment against the marking schedule as well as the question.
  • Is the structure correct?
  • Have you included all relevant parts? For example, the title page, introduction, conclusion, reference list?
  • Is the content logically arranged?
  • Does your assignment read well, with each section flowing smoothly on to the next? A good way to check this is to read it aloud.
  • Have you used your own words and acknowledged all your sources?
  • Is your assignment well presented?

Check the details

  • Have you used academic English (if required)?
  • Check the grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Don’t just use a spell checker (it won’t pick everything up).
  • Check your referencing - have you acknowledged all work that isn't your own? Is your APA referencing correct?
  • Are your pages numbered?
  • Have you included your name, student ID, the assignment details and the date on each page?

Tip: If possible, ask a friend or family member to proofread your assignment, as it can be difficult to see mistakes in your own work. 

More about editing and proofreading:

Editing and proofreading - Massey University website (opens in new window)

Editing and proofreading - The Writing Center, University of North Carolina website (opens in new window)

Before you submit your assignment, print it out and check it one last time. It’s often easier to spot errors in print than on screen.

Once you’re happy, submit your assignment.

Submitting your assignment

Related information

Research and reading

Types of assignments

Referencing and avoiding plagiarism

Copyright and disclaimer information

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