How to Write Formal Essay: Best Tips and Guide in 2022



A formal essay is a type of writing that includes not only essays, but letters, reports, and job applications written in a formal style with the usage of a strong vocabulary. In a formal essay, all rules of punctuation and grammar are observed. Essays of this style are specific, focused on facts, and include a standard, template language.

An informal essay is a type of essay written more for enjoyment with the use of vivid expressions and abbreviations. Grammar rules and punctuation are not always strictly observed.

How to Write a Formal Essay – Structure

The structure of a formal essay is standard and consists of the following parts:

Title – the name of the essay, reflecting the theme of the narrative.

Introduction – 2-4 short sentences that cover the topic of the essay.

The main body – 2-3 paragraphs, describing the essence of the work. In them, you need to fully and competently open the topic, give arguments, and argue them.

Conclusion – 2-4 sentences summarizing everything that has been said before. In this part, you make a general conclusion on the topic of the essay.

Each of the paragraphs in the main part of the essay begins with an introductory sentence (topic sentence); this is the “introduction” to the paragraph. Subsequent sentences develop and confirm the thought expressed in the topic sentence.

Steps for Writing a Formal Essay

1. Choose a topic. Basically, there are two options here: you are assigned a topic by the teacher, or you choose a topic on your own. If you need to come up with your own topic, then find the one that will be the most interesting to you. Of course, it’s a formal essay and, probably, you will not be allowed to write an essay on all enjoyable themes, but, nevertheless, you should like the subject.

2. Write a thesis statement. It should be your opinion or claim that presents the main idea of your essay. It should answer the question that you state in your paper. Usually, a thesis statement is included in the first paragraph of your essay – the introduction.

3. Write an introduction. How to write a formal essay introduction in the right manner? It should consist of brief information about what you are going to write in the body paragraphs. Don’t forget to include a thesis statement in the last sentence of the introduction. Make this part interesting to grab the reader’s attention and make them read further.

4. Write body paragraphs. Each point or idea that you want to present in your essay should be disclosed in a new single paragraph. The first sentence of each body paragraph should be a topic sentence. The body paragraphs should address the thesis statement that you have presented in the introduction.

5. Write a conclusion. Don’t include any new information in this section. You should show that the thesis statement was proven fully. If you look at the introduction that you have composed, it will be easier for you to write a conclusion.

Differences Between Formal and Informal Essays


If you compare two essays that are identical in content but written in different styles, then the informal one will be shorter. Do you know why? Because the formal style often involves the use of longer words.

Unlike the informal style, phrasal verbs are not used in the formal style, except those that cannot be replaced by a longer equivalent. The same should be done with nouns: if you have a choice between a simplified word and its longer, technical variant when writing a formal essay, choose the longer one.

The use of passive voice

In the informal style for writing essays, the use of active voice prevails over the use of passive. Informal essays are more personalized, while formal essays speak about facts.

Appeals and stereotypes

A characteristic feature of the informal style is a first-person appeal, with the use of “I.” An informal style makes it possible to improvise, and a formal style is more structured with a particular template. Typical for the formal style is the use of the pronoun “we.”

Slang expressions

Slang expressions are not used in the formal style. The same goes for most idiomatic expressions. The formal style uses the language of specifics and a formal vocabulary, so the use of slang is unacceptable.


An informal style, along with slang expressions, allows the use of abbreviated forms of verbs “to be,” “have,” “has,” “would,” “will,” and others as well: “I’m,” “we’ve,” “he’s,” and so on. In the formal style, no abbreviations are ever used, as all forms must be written completely: “I am,” “we have,” “he is,” “they will,” “she would,” and so on.

Specific appeals and impersonal structures

Formal essays are impersonal and are not addressed to anyone. Imperative constructions informal essays are replaced by passive ones.

As you can see, formal and informal styles are radically different from each other. Thus, when starting to write a formal or informal essay, remember the differences in the formatting, and follow the vocabulary, grammar, and other language tools so that your essay maintains one consistent style.

How to Write a Formal Letter Essay: Phrases to Use

The peculiarity of writing a formal essay is that it is necessary to use certain common phrases. And in this article, more complex formal expressions are collected, which are used mainly in formal essays and allow you to get a high grade. Let’s look at them. Let’s start with the phrases, with which you can:

  • Express disagreement with a given topic or some statement. “It would seem that …”
  • Contest the point of view or statement. “It could be argued that …”
  • Give an additional argument in favor of your opinion. “This supports the idea that …”
  • Express partial agreement with this or that statement. “It must be acknowledged that
  • …”Summarize everything that you wrote about earlier. “In view of all that has been mentioned so far, one may suppose that …”

We examined various formal phrases that you can use to express your opinion in an essay. Reading through the next section you will learn how to express your opinion if you have already substantiated it.

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Formal Essay
How to Write Formal Essay

To make the text structured and logical, it is important to first give arguments and evidence, and then express your point of view. Below you will find phrases with which you can do it.

– “This suggests that …” Instead of “this,” it is possible to give the results of the conducted studies. For example, data from surveys of public opinion (a survey) or statistics (statistical evidence).

– “This proves that …”

– “It leads to the conclusion that …”

– “It can thus be suggested/assumed that …”

– “It follows from the above that …”

Knowledge of formal expressions is useful not only when writing academic essays and passing exams, but also in many other life situations. After all, sometimes simple phrases and a vulgar style are unacceptable, and their use can spoil the opinion about you.

Review and Editing of a Formal Essay

It is very important to reread an essay several times after finishing it, even if you do not have to correct much. If you feel that you can’t find all of your mistakes (finding errors in your own text is more difficult), read the text to an outsider. Getting a friend’s help, especially if he or she is a linguist, allows you to identify a significant percentage of poorly constructed sentences, as well as many grammatical and logical errors.

Note: you can dictate an essay to a sound recorder and listen to it. Often, in this way, it is possible to detect the inconsistency of grammatical constructions or inconsistencies in the logical course of things.

Be sure to use spelling in a text editor, but do not forget to read the text yourself. For example, Microsoft Word sometimes misses curious mistakes that can greatly spoil the impression of your essay.

If you are not sure about something, look in the dictionary. And one more useful trick: before you finish the work, put it off for a couple of hours (even better, for a day), then return to it with a fresh look. This is another reason why you should start writing essays in advance, having enough time in reserve.

Related FAQs

1.How do you start off a formal essay?


  1. Attract the Reader’s Attention. Begin your introduction with a “hook” that grabs your reader’s attention and introduces the general topic.
  2. State Your Focused Topic. After your “hook”, write a sentence or two about the specific focus of your paper. …
  3. State your Thesis. Finally, include your thesis statement.

2. How do you structure a formal essay?

All formal essays should be at least five paragraphs and include an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Some common types of formal essays include the illustration essay, the compare and contrast essay, the cause and effect essay, and the argument essay.

3. What is the purpose of formal essay?

In contrast to the familiar or personal essay, the formal essay is typically used for the discussion of ideas. Its rhetorical purpose is generally to inform or persuade.

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