Application essay writing tips: how to be coherent

An effective writer is always clear. The main goal of writing, after all, is communicating ideas to a wide array of potential readers. It does not matter how much research you have done or how long you have labored over your paper;

if your prose is not coherent and easy to follow, your reader will lose your point and be unimpressed with what you have to say.

Fortunately, writing coherently is a skill that can be easily taught. If you want to write well, you need only follow a few basic principles. Here are some tips for making your papers and other written works more clear and simple.

  1. Keep your sentences short. Whenever possible, break long sentences into multiple sentences.

  2. Avoid unnecessary words. Adjectives, adverbs, and long, decorative clauses are often unnecessary and may cause reader confusion or boredom.

  3. Eliminate complicated grammar. Do not write sentences that are loaded with extra clauses and strange verb constructions, as these may be unfamiliar to some readers.

  4. Use accessible language. Every word in your paper should be understandable to your entire audience. When in doubt, assume an eighth grade reading level.

  5. Avoid using jargon or terminology that your reader may not know. If you can, replace jargon or complex terminology with simpler synonyms.

  6. Do not bog your paper down with extra information that is not relevant to the main thesis. You may find certain facts fascinating, but if they aren’t germane to your central point, you should keep them out of the document.

  7. Write clear, explicit transitional sentences. When you are moving on to discuss a new point or advance an additional argument, say so explicitly so the reader knows what to expect.

  8. Use your introductory paragraph to provide the reader with a general outline of what you will be discussing. Help your reader to anticipate the coming paragraphs and the facts and ideas you will be presenting.

  9. Summarize your statements in a short, punchy conclusion. Do not introduce new facts in your final paragraph.

  10. Edit your prose so there are no syntax errors or grammatical flaws. A poorly written paper is incoherent, even if the flaws are simple, honest mistakes.

  11. Try reading your paper out loud as if it were a speech. You will notice that long sentences and complex ideas are actually quite hard to communicate in inflected speech. Change sentences that sound awkward.

  12. Be internally consistent. Do not make arguments or claims in your paper that disagree with your central thesis or hypothesis.

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