11 Typical Essay Writing Mistakes
and How to Avoid Them

See also: Essay Writing

Writing is not an easy task. However it is a part of our lives, especially when it comes in the form of an obligatory academic assignment.

We all know basic rules of writing an essay, starting from the thesis statement and ending with an amazing, unforgettable conclusion. But is it all that simple?

Of course, it is not. People still dread showing their work to others because they are uncertain of their own abilities to identify all parts of the essay that need to be changed. The truth is there is no universal template you can learn in order to solve all your essay writing mistakes.

This is why we decided to assist you in becoming your own editor of the essays you write.

We are sharing with you a carefully crafted checklist of the 11 typical essay writing mistakes, including a guide on how to avoid them.

Neglecting a Thesis Statement

A thesis statement should be a part of both your introduction and the essay in general.

A common problem is when people forget to add this statement in the most engaging part of the essay – the introduction. If you do not reveal the statement as the main idea of your essay, you are unable to tell the readers what your writing is all about.

How to Avoid

  • Make sure that your thesis statement is both clear and engaging. Remember, this is a part that should entice readers to continue reading the essay.
  • It is a good idea to place the thesis statement at the end of the introduction. In this way, it can blend with the main body of the essay

Repeating the Introduction

People often repeat the beginning of their essays in the ending.

The last paragraph of your essay, i.e. the conclusion, is not the place to repeat the introduction in different words. Instead of being a place of restatement, this part of the essay holds great importance and should not be neglected.

How to Avoid

The only way to prove that you have made any kind of progress throughout the paper is to demonstrate this in the conclusion.

  • A successful essay ending should consist of an engaging statement on what the essay proved or concluded, leaving the reader with some new ideas.
  • Raise questions, explore additional implications or end your essay with a relevant, intriguing quote.
  • Never start your conclusion with the phrase ‘In conclusion’. When people see that this is your last paragraph, it will be clear to them that this can only be the essay’s conclusion.

Too Much Information and Too Many Facts

Even though you were taught to create detailed and meaningful essays, this does not mean that you shouldn’t filter the information you provide. Your aim is to present the topic to the reader while giving them sufficient, but narrowed information.

How to Avoid

  • Stick to the prompt of the essay. If it is complicated, make sure you analyze the final draft before you submit the writing
  • Make sure to include the key information your essay needs
  • Exclude all unnecessary information and facts

Crafting a Hard-to-Read Essay

Many students mistake the competence of writing an essay with creating a complex structure. When instructors ask students to write a topic that will adhere to the style guidelines, this does not mean that the essay should be hard to read. It simply means that the students need to present the message, but in a clear way.

How to Avoid

  • Do not use extra phrases and words
  • Stick to the main idea of the essay
  • Use clear constructions in the essay
  • Use simple sentences to include the information you want to present

Wrong Formatting

The essay is not all about the content. No matter how you craft the content, you should never neglect the formatting details. If you do, it won’t really matter how well your content is written. If an essay looks bad, it can be seen as a bad one.

How to Avoid

  • Choose proper style and format
  • Pay attention to paper size, font size, paged numbers, margins and spaces
  • Follow the general rules and instructions

Too Many Typos

You may have heard that typos are not an indicator of your grammar knowledge or language proficiency and they can be found in every writing. However, submitting your essay without proofing it is a pointer to you not being attentive enough.

How to Avoid

  • Revise your writing thoroughly prior to printing it out
  • Look for typos, spelling mistakes and incorrect construction
  • Do not solely rely on spell checkers


Plagiarism is cheating and no professor or instructor will allow this. Also, today’s advancement in technology allows us to easily detect plagiarism.

How to Avoid

  • Reference the sources you are using
  • Cite examples from literature, scientific work etc.
  • Make sure to rephrase the idea you are using from another source
  • Never use a quotation as your own sentence.

Lack of Citations

Using proper citations is crucial when it comes to academic essay writing. It shows that you have done your research, and provides a reference to where your information came from. Without citations, you could be marked down on your paper and your work could lose credibility.

How to Avoid

  • Make sure you conduct thorough research for your paper
  • Use credible sources for research
  • Make use of an APA citation generator for accuracy

No Transitions Between the Paragraphs

Paragraphs are separate thoughts and should be formatted as such. However, this does not mean that they should sound like separate pieces of two different essays.

How to Avoid

  • Make sure that you use transitions between the paragraphs
  • Make your essay coherent and smooth
  • Use phrases such as: To put it briefly, regarding this, speaking about this, despite/according to the previous arguments/statements etc.

Too Many Topics in the Essay

Including too many subjects and topics in the essay will most certainly defeat the statement’s purpose. Your essay must have a topic that fits the idea only.

How to Avoid

  • Make sure that your topic answers the essay’s question
  • Focus on the question of your essay and its answer
  • Do not stray from the main idea

Using Wrong or Generic Titles

The title of the essay should be a reflection of its content. When a person reads the title, they should be aware of what the essay will capture. If you present them with a topic that is not related to the essay, they may be enticed to read something you do not have and this cannot result in good impression. Also, try not to use a generic title.

How to Avoid

  • Do not use big words in your title
  • Do not make your title too long. Make it concise and unique.
  • Never steal another author’s title
  • Make sure to proofread your title, too

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

The Skills You Need Guide for Students

Skills You Need

Develop the skills you need to make the most of your time as a student.

Our eBooks are ideal for students at all stages of education, school, college and university. They are full of easy-to-follow practical information that will help you to learn more effectively and get better grades.

Essay writing is a key factor in every student’s education.

Following the guidelines of the instructor in crafting a good piece is a key factor in succeeding and learning how a proper essay structure should look like.

Learning the basic guidelines for writing an essay can come in very handy in combination with good writing skills. This is something every student should know and be willing to implement in their writing.

About the Author

Julie Petersen is a private English language tutor and a blogger, who shares educational trends and writing tips in her articles.