Write essay: In 9 + 1 steps to the perfect text

Whether you’re studying or at school – you rarely get past an essay during an academic career. Although you have a lot of freedom with this type of text, there is a lot to consider for a successful essay. We’ll tell you how to find your topic, what elements to include, and what stylistic devices you can use to reinforce your arguments.

The essay – a text species with many freedoms

The word essay has different origins. It can be derived from the French “essai” or “essayer”, the Spanish “ensayo” and the Italian “saggio”. Depending on the context, the translation of these words may be attempted, reviewed or assessed. An essay is also called a thought experiment. For the first time, students in high school, ie in their last years, come into contact with this type of text. In some federal states there is the possibility to compose an essay on a given topic in the German Abitur examination. Depending on the field of study at the university, it is common for students to write one or the other essay. The formal conditions are different. At school, an essay usually has up to five pages, at the university, the essay should sometimes even have ten pages.

The author usually has great freedom in the essay. Unlike housework, you do not have to show that you can work scientifically correct. An essay is a witty treatise that looks at phenomena from science, culture and society. Compare this type of text with a column and the journalistic text types such as gloss or comment.

Literary essay vs. explanatory essay

There are generally two types of essays. In the literary essay you are completely free. You should just look at the topic of the essay from different perspectives and develop your thoughts in front of the reader. In an explanatory essay, which is usually common at universities and at school, you should reflect the chosen theme, work out your own perspective and take a stand. You mainly bring in your ideas, arguments and considerations. It is important to not only reflect the positions of others in the essay. In essays you will find rather few to no quotes.

By writing an essay, you will learn to develop your own ideas from other opinions and situations. Sometimes, there is little information on the Constitutional theme so you need to be inspired by it and derive your own arguments. You also learn to evaluate academic positions that you acquire in the previous literature research. In addition, writing an essay can be helpful in developing a precise and understandable way of expressing yourself and demonstrating your arguments. Mastering these skills is very important in later life situations. For example, if you have to write an opinion in your future job or write an opinion after an accident.

An essay is not as formal as a housework. Even with an essay for the university you have many stylistic liberties that you should use if possible. In order not to exaggerate, you should agree in advance which stylistic liberties you have.

Of course, the language has to be authentic and fit the theme. At the beginning you can decide on which level you want to write. Rather casual or formal? Rather spoken or written? Also switching between levels during the essay is a stylistic device. If you change the language level in certain places, this can clarify or reinforce your reasoning.

In general, stylistic devices help clarify your arguments. Therefore, you should use them in appropriate places, for example if you want to reinforce the meaning of a point. Some stylistic devices are absorbed by the reader rather unconsciously, yet they show effect. You should use the stylistic devices rather sparingly. Otherwise, the reader may get the impression that you are not writing authentically. Thus, your text loses credibility. At the beginning it is probably still difficult to assess whether the stylistic devices are used appropriately, but who has already written some essays, gets over time a feeling for it.


Also, the choice of words and sentence structure are crucial, as your arguments arrive at the reader. You can work with diminutives, for example. These are forms of diminutive such as “duckling” instead of “duck” or “town” instead of “city”. Sometimes it also makes sense to use euphemisms or dyphemisms. This means to choose euphemistic or devaluing paraphrases for a word. For example, a euphemism is “asleep” rather than “dying,” a dyphemism is “mutt” rather than “dog.” Archaisms can also be a good stylistic device. This means outdated words. Instead of “uncle” you then write “uncle” or instead of “golden” you use “gold”. Depending on the topic, vulgarisms are also conceivable: for example “slut” instead of “prostitute”.


The rhetorical stylistic devices come from antiquity. Therefore, the names are mostly from the Greek or Latin. At that time, they were mostly used for speeches, and in the course of time they used many poets in their works. There are many stylistic devices, some are only suitable for poetry or poetry. Here is a list of style characters that can help you with an essay:


In an adynaton, you say something will not happen under any circumstances. But you only express that indirectly, the words “never, by no means” will be rewritten.


You probably already know it from advertising: “buy clothes cleverly” or “play, fun, excitement, chocolate”. In an alliteration, two or more consecutive words have the same initial sound. Alliterations also exist within a word: “sparkling” or “tiny”. Such succinct expressions remain in the mind of the reader.


To emphasize important passages, you can use the same word at the beginning of the sentence in two or more consecutive sentences: “I think that’s wrong. I think we should think differently. “This is called anaphora.


You probably use ellipses very often in colloquial language: “First the work, then the pleasure” is a shortening and therefore imprints faster. Actually, the sentence is “First comes the work, then the pleasure comes.” The only rule in the use of ellipses is that they can be reconstructed from the linguistic context.


The word comes from the Greek and means “one by two”. Meaning that you use to describe a fact two words with the same or similar meaning. This reinforces the overall message. An example: “fat and fat” instead of “very fat.”


Hyperbole exaggerates your argument. “Start-ups are like sand by the sea.”

Irony and sarcasm

To joke about your essay, you can use these stylistic devices. However, it should be really clear that it’s ironic. The problem is that fewer and fewer people understand irony. Basically, irony is the opposite of what you mean. For example, if someone receives a termination, there is an ironic response to it: “That’s what you did!”

Climax and anti-climax

“Veni, vidi, vici” – the saying of Caesar is probably the most famous Klimax. In a climax, you increase the statements stepwise. This reinforces your argument. An anticlimax is the opposite and is for example: “That is bad; the world is going to be bad, very bad! “from Woyzeck by Georg B├╝chner.


In everyday life, you probably also use Litotes. Specifically, this is the double negation: “I do not deserve a little.” So you make it clear that you are more likely to belong to the better-off.


The metaphor is probably one of the most well-known rhetorical stylistic devices: If you use them, you create an image in the reader’s mind. For example: “treetop” instead of “top of the tree” or “a heart of gold”. A metaphor can also be like a comparison, just without the word “like”. An example: “Hercules, the lion” instead of “Hercules is as strong as a lion”.


Neologism means to create a new word. It can either emerge completely new (“sitt”), an old word can get a new meaning (“mouse” as a computer mouse) or combinations of words can result in a new expression (“egg shell breakpoint cause”).


An oxymoron uses two words that have opposite meanings. “Love-hate” or “eloquent silence.”


To draw attention to an important passage, you can build several sentences or phrases in sequence. “He is rich, she is poor.”


With a parenthesis, you can insert words or phrases to further reinforce your statement. “The politicians say – it’s no surprise – that unemployment is rising.

Pars pro toto

The expression comes from the Latin and means translated: One part stands for the whole. Journalists often use pars pro toto in the news, saying “Berlin,” but mean “Germany.”


Through this style means the reader images in the head. In a personification animals, objects or other things are attributed human characteristics. “The wind is playing with the leaves” or “The sun is laughing.”


To amplify a phrase, you can use a pleonasm. You use words that have the same meaning in the same context. “The black horse” or “the old seniors”. Everyone knows that black and old seniors are black.