How To Write an Analytical Essay

How do you write an analysis paper? What are steps in writing a good analytical essay?

These are popular questions asked by students who have been tasked with writing analytical essays or analytical research papers for school, college, and university but don't know where to start or end.

There are several steps that you can take to learn more about writing an analytical essay. First, it is important to understand why knowing how to write an analysis paper is important for academics. One of the best ways to learn how to write any type of paper is by following a step-by-step system or process.

Once you know why knowing how to write an analytical essay is important, the next step is to create a road map or plan so that you can organize your thinking and avoid writer's block. One of the best ways to do this is by creating an outline. An analytical essay requires research, so the next step is to conduct this research. You will then need to develop your argument or thesis statement, which is one of the final steps in writing an analytical essay.

This analysis essay writing guide provides more information about each of these steps and why they are important for creating perfect analytical essays.

What is an analytical essay?

An analytical essay tries to come up with an in-depth understanding of a film, article, book or piece of research. Therefore, it goes beyond providing a summary of the entire piece. An analytical essay analyzes some concepts that have been adopted and why. As a writer, the content is more than meets the eye; you must provide evidence to every claim you make. When writing this type of essay, you must understand the author’s thoughts and intentions. This way, you can produce a complete analysis as to why the writer adopted the methods. You must thoroughly evaluate the pros and cons of the piece you are analyzing.

How to write an analytical essay

Here are core steps in writing a good analytical essay: Topic selection, understanding the prompt, writing a thesis statement, creating an outline, actual writing, and finally editing and proofreading the paper.

Each of these steps is discussed below:

Coming up with analytical essay topic

Some professors and teachers will assign a specific topic while others will leave it to the students’ creativity. Choose an area that has not been explored from all angles. Look at the issues you have learned in class and write down essays that may arise from them. Take your time to go through books, websites and scholarly articles gathering information on that area. Which of all those fields can have enough material for a perfect analytical essay? As you narrow down the possible areas, you will finally settle on the most appropriate one. Choose it as your topic and create a suitable title for your work. Having started here, you will easily remain relevant throughout your analysis.

Understand what the requirements for your analytical essay writing prompt

Your professor may give instructions that you must follow as you write your essay. If it is a book analysis, you may be asked to focus on specific characters. If it is scientific research, you could be required to concentrate on a certain methodology. It is up to you to determine what exactly you will analyze regarding that particular issue. Before writing your essay, you must be sure that the instructions are crystal clear. You can use sample essays of similar nature to get a starting point.

Choose your path

You can analyze the same topic in a variety of ways and it will still be correct. Of all the possibilities available, choose one with which you are most comfortable. Since this essay requires an in-depth understanding, you must portray such ability in your essay. Ensure that your path is one that produces a strong and appealing essay.

Writing the thesis statement

Your thesis statement lets the reader know where you stand in the issue being discussed. Avoid an ambiguous thesis statement; make it as brief and concise as possible. Consider a statement like “from research conducted by Bella Communications, despite creating an avenue for cyberbullying, social media has created a great platform for friendships, marketing, and fast communication”.

Create an outline

Your draft creates the skeleton for your essay by helping you organize your thoughts. Conduct intense research on the area of focus and note down crucial points. Be keen to point out material from credible sources and if necessary, quote the author. With a good essay outline, you will find the thoughts flowing effortlessly in the actual essay. Identify what you will include in each paragraph, starting from the introduction down to the conclusion.

Writing an analytical essay

Start writing your essay once you are satisfied with the research materials gathered.


The introduction of your essay is your one chance to grab the reader’s attention; do not waste it. You can use a hook statement for this purpose, considering the type of work being analyzed and the audience. Emotional stories can start with a personal experience that will move the reader’s emotions. You can ask a rhetorical question that will leave the reader looking for answers. A shocking statistic that reveals unknown research can also be a great way of starting your essay. Give some relevant background information and then end your introduction with a well-crafted thesis statement.

Body paragraphs

Each paragraph in the body of your essay should relate to the thesis statement. You can identify at least three points of discussion for your topic and adopt the CEE criteria.

C- Claim: in the first sentence of each paragraph, identify the main point of discussion.

E- Example analysis: after introducing a claim, you must provide evidence that backs it up.

E- Evidence explanation: having presented a piece of underlying evidence, provide supporting facts, statistics, quotes, and so on.

These three parts of your essay must flow freely and relate to the thesis statement. You can quote or paraphrase your evidence, depending on the length. When the supporting words are few, quote them using the appropriate referencing format. However, when there is a long piece trying to prove a certain point, you can paraphrase to create a summary. Avoid quoting too much work within your essay. Your body paragraph should be rich in relevant and credible sources since they determine the strength of your arguments.


Your conclusion is a reinforcement of your thesis statement. Provide a summary that shows the reader how well you supported your thesis statement. Let the reader experience a smooth transition from the paragraphs to the conclusion. If you have arranged your work properly, this should not be a problem. End your work with some concluding thoughts or a question to the reader. Your end thoughts may be specific to the topic or extend to wider, yet relatable issues. Do not introduce new ideas while concluding your work.

Review your analytical essay

Take some time off before you can read what you have written, to allow you to view it from the audience’s perspective. Watch out for any errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. How is the overall flow of your essay? Are the points as clear as you intended them to be? Also, ensure that you have used the proper styles for the in-text citations. Most professors will require students to use APA, MLA or Chicago. If you have mentioned characters, ascertain that you have correctly spelled their names. Ask someone else to read your essay and give their thoughts on the piece. Are they struggling to understand what points you are driving home?

Additional Tips on how to write an analysis paper effectively

Here are some tips on how to write an analysis paper perfectly.

Typically, you need to begin an analysis paper with a thesis. This is what you are trying to prove, and the rest of the paper will be spent arguing for your viewpoint.

A successful analysis paper will have strong support for this viewpoint. You should try to use many different kinds of sources in order to give your work breadth.

Here are some broad categories of sources that can help you to support your thesis:

  1. Primary Sources - These are writings that either the author has done or information that is first hand.
  2. Secondary Sources - This is someone else interpretation of primary sources, for use in analysis paper writing.
  3. Quotations - Using someone else's opinion of the topic to support your paper. This is known as a paraphrase.

You do not need to use all three types of sources, but you should try to use at least two in order to have a successful analysis paper.

The writer needs to give their personal thoughts and opinions about the evidence they find and how this applies to the topic.

The first sentence of each paragraph needs to give a transition between what was used as evidence and how it affects the topic at hand.

Remember, your job is not prove that you are right; instead, your job is to show why you are right. You need to be more open minded about the evidence and sources than the reader might be.

Tips in writing an analysis paper perfectly:

  1. Develop a thesis that is narrow enough to defend with the information you've found, but broad enough so it isn't the only thing that fits your topic. The thesis should also include what you think is important about this topic, such as what makes it the most important.
  2. Find three to five sources that are relevant to your topic and support your thesis.
  3. Draft your paper by putting sources in order of relevance (primary, secondary, quotations) and using them in paragraphs that start with a transition sentence that explains how the evidence relates to your thesis.
  4. Edit your paper for clarity, coherence, and word choice.
  5. Type your paper if possible or hand write it neatly.
  6. Include a bibliography of sources used in the format required by your professor or teacher. Write an introduction of 2-3 sentences that introduces the reader to the topic of the paper.
  7. Write a thesis statement in the introduction of your paper, and make it clear where you are going with this.
  8. Transitions: A reader should be able to read through your paper and understand why they are reading each paragraph and how one paragraph relates to the next. These transitions need to help introduce new ideas, provide a summary of what was said, and lead to a new paragraph.
  9. Conclusions: Give the reader an indication of where you are headed with your topic by providing them with some sort of closure at the end. This can be done through several means, such as giving the main points again, summarizing your sources or providing personal thoughts and opinions on the topic.
  10. Edit and proofread your work so that it is clear and free of errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, use of quotations, citations, page numbers, etc...
  11. Format your paper according to your teachers requirements (APA, MLA).
  12. Double check the formatting before submitting your paper.

Those are 12 key points in writing an analysis paper that gives you a good grade. If you still have questions on how to set up an analysis paper from start to end, click here to ask your question.

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