Whether you are a student in school or you are a professional working in some organization, writing is an important skill to hone because it is used everywhere. Analytical writing not only helps in sharpening analytical skills, but it also helps one in becoming a better writer.
As the name suggests, an analytical essay essentially analyzes a given topic. Whatever the topic might be, an analytic paper looks into it using a great deal of detail to draw meaningful information from it.
An analytical essay doesn’t have to be purely academic though it is most often written for school work; it may revolve around entertainment, history, art, political events, science, or anything else.
What classifies a piece of writing as “analytical” isn’t the topic rather, it is the structure. Although there aren’t any set rules about writing an analytical paper, as it depends a lot on the writing style and purpose, there are certain things to follow that can help shape the essay.
Writing an analysis requires you to ask a lot of questions, find answers to those questions, and then arrange it all together in a comprehensive manner. If you are interested in learning how to write an analysis essay or paper, read on ahead!
Steps to Write an Analysis
Know the Purpose
As the author, you must have a very clear idea of what it is you want to achieve through the analysis. Before you begin with the writing work, you should think about what you want to achieve through it.
Is the essay for school work? If so, you must take into consideration the instructions given by the teacher. If the essay is meant for you to educate your readers on a certain topic, make sure you include all the needed information.
You must know about your audience and their expectations as well. If it is a complex subject, the language and structure of the article should be simple enough to be grasped by the reader. The age group being targeted also plays a role in determining the readability index you follow.
Choose a Narrative
Although you can keep your arguments open-ended for the reader to choose their conclusion while writing an analytical essay, you should stick to one point of view. Otherwise, your words, no matter how accurately researched, will always seem to be a bit confusing and hence not captivating enough for the reader’s interest.
For example, if you are writing a paper on a mission statement for a business, perhaps in an attempt to educate students or young entrepreneurs, research will show you that there are many approaches one can take.
If you explain every single one, not only will the reader get bored, but too much information can be overwhelming. It would be much more beneficial to limit the discussion to a guided approach.
Research your chosen topic to have as much information on it as you need. At this stage, it doesn’t have to be in any particular order. It can even be more information than is needed because it can always be left out of the actual paper.
It becomes very annoying and time-consuming to look for information after writing every paragraph, so it is better to have chunks of it beforehand.
For instance, if you are asked to write a PESTLE analysis for your assignment or even for work to make an important decision, looking at the stock market and its metrics would be an excellent source to include in your work.
The company’s stock value will give a lot of insight into the economic factors being considered in the PESTLE analysis.
Moreover, make sure to gather points and citations that would help support the arguments you choose to work with. An analytical essay must have elements of credibility to it.
Once you have a direction in mind for your paper and you have all of the (or at least most of the) information you need for it, make some notes to help yourself. This is where the “analyzing” part actually starts happening.
You can write down points that you don’t want to forget while writing the paper. You can also write down comments and opinions against the pieces of information you have gathered so far.
It is during this step you should list down the questions you want to answer as well. After all, an analysis will raise a few questions relevant to the topic that the reader would want to know.
Introduction and Thesis Statement
Any piece of good writing must begin with a very gripping introduction. The intro does not have to be very detailed to make it interesting, nor should it be too short. The perfect introduction alerts the reader about what to expect in the paper, but it doesn’t give everything away.
To pique interest, start the introduction by asking a question or by coming to the main point or thesis statement at the very end of the intro. The thesis statement is the sentence that clearly tells the reader about the topic of the discussion.
If you are looking to find out how to write a SWOT analysis, for example, this is how you may want to write the introduction:
“Some businesses make it big, whereas others fail despite having the same amount of resources. What is it that sets the successes apart from the failures even when they belong to the same industries? While there is a lot that can contribute to a business thriving, some factors are more important than others. A SWOT analysis is one tool that helps us analyze business ventures in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.”
Before you start writing the main portion of the analysis, it would be very helpful to jot down the outline you want to follow. The data and information you collected earlier have to be presented in an organized format, so forming a table of contents or just an outline that will explain the analysis in a functional manner will be good.
It will make transitioning from one sub-topic to another easier as well. For example, if you are writing a lean business plan, your main body can be divided into the following outline:
i) What is a lean business plan
ii) Why do we need lean businesses
i) How is a lean business plan made?
ii) Examples of successful lean businesses
iii) Guide on how to make a lean business plan
ii) Final word
All of the arguments you want to make and support will go into the main body. Depending on how detailed of an analysis you want to make, at least one detailed paragraph should be dedicated to each argument. If you notice that the point you want to make is longer, then break the argument into multiple paragraphs instead of writing big chunks.
It is very taxing to the eyes to have to read huge pages that have not been organized into paragraphs.
Another thing that must be taken care of is transitioning to other points. You cannot talk about the importance of studying the dynamics of an industry in one paragraph and jump to the “don’ts” of how to write an industry analysis.
There should be a smooth flow when you choose to change topics. In the example above, you can first explain how an industry analysis is written before discussing the things to avoid. The reader should not have to piece your paper together, that is the writer’s job.
Another point to note is to craft strong sentences. An analysis should not make use of very casual language or colloquialism.
Keep your tone formal, free of prejudice, and limited to facts and information. Creative sentences don’t have to be the hardest; as long as they aren’t vague and they don’t take up too much space, you’re good to go.
When working on an analysis, citations and strong references are your best buddies. You can make very thought-provoking arguments in your paper, they may be exciting to read as well, but if they aren’t backed by any form of evidence, they won’t hold much weight.
For example, if you are wondering how to write a PESTLE analysis, you will break down all of the letters in the acronym to explain each. While writing about facts about each factor, such as the political events that are relevant in affecting the state of the business, there must be credible sources of information to back all of this up.
Otherwise, your word is as good as anyone trying to convince people of their point of view without any credibility.
Make sure that the sources you use are reliable and not false. Look for business articles or research papers while making claims instead of quoting a gossip magazine.
Write About Facts
While it is alright to chime in with your opinion in certain cases, especially when the paper’s purpose is to make personal commentary on a topic, it is better not to take any sides.
In an analysis, your job is to educate the reader with facts and realities from different angles on a certain topic without sounding prejudiced.
The readers are free to draw their own meanings from your writing. Mention all the facts that you have to explain all that there is to explain, but don’t guide people to a specific point of view.
If the paper’s purpose is to educate, it shouldn’t have any personal opinions. It should only have information relevant to the topic, so people learn.
Before you end the writing, give your work a read. Not only will you identify potential spelling or grammatical errors here, but you will also see how it all sounds together.
Often after reading the paper, you might think of expanding some portions or removing them. You might want to elaborate on a certain point because it doesn’t feel enough, or you may come across a few statements that seem irrelevant.
Whatever the case, take time to read through your paper, so you are absolutely sure about it. This will also help you draft the conclusion because everything is fresh in your mind.
The concluding paragraph should not be very long. This is the end of your paper, and it is supposed to give a very brief recap of the points being analyzed. Keep in mind that you don’t add any new information here, you only address what has already been discussed.
You may, however, choose to write a few words for your readers to consider or ponder upon as your final words. Think of the conclusion as the part that ties the entire paper together.
If you have read this guide to this point, then you are ready to start writing an analytical essay. Granted, this amount of information may sound a bit overwhelming, but it isn’t in reality.
In this article, we addressed what analytical essays or papers are and how one can write them. You are free to customize your writing in any manner, but by following the instructions and tips shared in this article, you will write a very good paper, if not a very great one. Remember, practice makes perfect so write as much as you can. You will be writing amazing analyses in no time!