How to Write an Essay Proposal

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Many teachers and professors require their students to compose essay proposals, in which students outline what they intend to cover in their upcoming written work. By composing an effective essay proposal, you can increase the likelihood that your instructor will allow you to write on the topic that most interests you. Writing a winning proposal requires time and effort, but putting your energy into the proposal will save you time when you finally sit down to compose your actual essay.

1 Review your instructor's proposal guidelines

Review your instructor's proposal guidelines. Each instructor wants something slightly different in an essay proposal. Before you begin preparing your proposal, look at your instructor's guidelines to ensure that you cover what he wants.

2 Select a topic

Select a topic. Pick a topic that is relevant to the subject area and one on which you can find adequate information. Also aim to select a topic you care about, as you will likely enjoy the essay process more if you are writing about something that is important to you.

3 Gather your research

Gather your research. Look for online and print resources. Doing this before you finalize your topic selection ensures that you don't accidentally select a topic about which little has been written. Many instructors require you to list your intended resources in your proposal.

4 Compose a concise explanation

Compose a concise explanation of the topic you intend to explore. Write several sentences that elaborate upon your selected topic. Provide a sentence or two explaining how the topic you have selected is related to the subject as a whole. Tell the instructor what you intend to show in your paper.

5 Provide a short summary

Provide a short summary of your research findings. Outline the information that you have gathered that supports your topic. Provide a brief explanation of how each will help you prove your argument. You do not need to include direct quotations, but instead provide a paraphrase of the relevant information in each source.

6 Conclude with a bibliography containing your references

Conclude with a bibliography containing your references. Follow whichever citation style your instructor prefers when composing this bibliography. Place a listing of all sources that you intend to use at the conclusion of your proposal.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.