Essay tips and tricks for Arts Degrees – OurWarwick

Essay tips and tricks for Arts Degrees

Megan McElroy | English Literature Contact Megan
English, Going out, Halls, or something else!
Find out more about me Contact Megan

I am a second-year English student, and at the beginning of this year, my department cancelled all exams for the sake of clarity.

These exams were replaced by coursework, generally in essay form.

This means, for most of my cohort, we saw an increase in the number of essays we have to submit through Tabula.

Whether or not coursework suits you, here are some tricks I have picked up along the way to make those numerous deadlines seem slightly less scary.


Most people find referencing an arduous task, leaving a day or two after the completion of their essay to go through their referencing.

If you weren’t already aware, Microsoft Word has a handy referencing feature that allows you to reference as you go.

This saves you so much time in the long run, and means you never have to trawl through an essay at the end again, scanning for your reference points!

Simply go to the Word taskbar, go to references, and insert citation.

Before you do this, ensure that you have set the referencing ‘style’ (a button right next to ‘insert citation’).

The English department recommends MLA, but this may vary depending on your course.

Then, proceed to fill in the citation, with all of the information relevant, including the ‘Type of Source’.

This reference is then saved, and you can insert it quickly whenever needed!

Simply remember to click Bibliography, then insert a built-in bibliography when you are finished.

This saves so much time and means you can use less brain power remembering where your references come from, and more focussing on your essay!

Exporting your essay

My degree has changed slightly now that I am in my second year.

There is much more room for creativity in my assignments, often in the form of portfolio submissions or practical projects.

The essays related to this may sometimes include photos, diagrams, or charts.

Due to this, it is best to export my document as a PDF.

This means that the formatting will be the same for me and the marker, and you do not run the risk of the images distrupting your text.

Using quotes

In my experience, using short quotes is by far the best option in any essay.

It can be tempting to use longer quotes.

You might consider it a cheeky way to stretch your word count, or you might want to do it to make your life easier in terms of analysis.

Unfortunately, the marker tends to consider you lazy on this basis!

Including a short, well-selected quote simply looks better than having a clunky paragraph in your essay,.

A marker is inclinded to think that you have put much more effort in (even if you haven’t!)

Whilst it is tempting for the word count, save yourself the marks and put two or three short quotes rather than one long one.

I have done this in my own essays, and I can safely say that essays I have worked harder on but included lengthy quotes generally do worse than those I am selective about!

Megan McElroy | English Literature Contact Megan
English, Going out, Halls, or something else!
Find out more about me Contact Megan

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