How to Write a Synthesis Essay Step by Step

The fundamental purpose of how to write a synthesis essay is to explore a particular question by analyzing, synthesizing and, comparing several sources. The main essay argument cannot be based solely on your own opinion — you’ll need to find some sources to explore the question. Depending on the essay topic, you will need to comment on them, criticize them, and agree or disagree with their authors’ position. You can also cite some stuff from them but do keep in mind the correct citation format. Consequently, this synthesis essay guide provides you with instructions on how to write an essay based on your own interpretation of the sources you are going to use.

What is a Synthesis Essay?

Before you start writing, make sure you know what type of academic paper you’re going to be dealing with. What should a synthesis essay definition look like? Generally speaking, synthesis is a paper based on several sources, in which the author attempts to infer relations between them. Writing a synthesis essay would be impossible without actually understanding what the sources are all about. In other words, before you start writing, you should spend some time studying the sources you are going to be using. You can briefly describe each source before determining a connection between them. However, simply making a summary of each source cannot be considered synthesis writing. You should draw a conclusion concerning each source and evaluate them critically to be able to make judgments.

Synthesis Essay Format Standards

The format of a synthesis essay depends on the style chosen by your professor, so be sure to follow their recommendations to the letter. The field you are researching also impacts the style, and if it is Education, you may be asked to write in APA academic style. You can also find more info about each style by going online and googling the three basic formats – APA, MLA, and Chicago. Do keep in mind that each of them has their own unique features.

Synthesis Essay Structure

Now let’s focus on how to start a synthesis essay. You should begin your writing process by reading the sources you’ve been provided with and making notes. Once you’ve gained enough knowledge of the sources, you can try to come up with a topic idea (unless your professor gave you one). If you already have a topic, you can start making an outline and composing a thesis statement. Your essay should have at least five paragraphs, the first and the last ones being an introduction and conclusion respectively. The paragraphs in between them will be what they call the ‘body paragraphs’ or ‘central’ paragraphs.

Introduction Features

How to start a synthesis essay introduction?
There are multiple introduction techniques you can use to write an essay. The choice of them may depend on the topic and the field of your study. First of all, you should understand what topic you want to write on so you could come up with relevant topic ideas. Here are some cool tricks you can use when writing your next essay:

  • Tell an anecdote or story related to the key idea of the essay.
  • Express a provocative idea related to the essay topic.
  • Provide a quotation. Apart from citing your essay sources, you can also quote the books you’ve read, or your friends and relatives. However, you need to make sure that the quotations you use are somehow connected with your essay’s topic.
  • Present a commonly known statement in a new and unexpected way
  • Start with a question you will be answering in the essay.

Where should I put my essay thesis?
The thesis should be written after you ‘hooked’ the readers and provided them with a brief topic outline.

Do I need to cite sources in the introduction?
Try to avoid any quotations in the introductory part (unless, of course, you provide quotations to hook the readers and lead them to the topic).

Body Part General Points

What about body paragraph for synthesis essay?
Each of the body paragraphs in your essay should develop your essay’s main idea. When writing the body paragraphs, you need to make sure that they contain all the necessary info, such as facts, data, and specific examples, that supports your thesis and your stance. If you feel that either of the above falls shorts of supporting your essay’s idea, you should rewrite it.

Is it OK to have more paragraphs in the body part?
Of course, if you feel that your essay could do with a few more paragraphs, you can safely do so. However, you should always keep in mind the formatting requirements and word limit.

How do I start each paragraph?
That’s a good question! First of all, try using link words and phrases to connect ideas. Your paragraphs should be coherent and smooth. A topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph would be the best strategy. You should also make sure that the topic sentence supports a thesis statement, while the subsequent paragraphs cover the idea conveyed in the topic sentence.

A Сonclusion of an Essay

How to write a conclusion for a synthesis essay?
The last part of the essay (or conclusion) pretty much summarizes everything you’ve written so far. To write a solid conclusion, you should reiterate your essay’s central message, as well as restate the thesis and main arguments. You also can identify possible directions for future research.

What is the length of the conclusion?
As a rule, it could have the same length as the introduction. Just don’t make it either too long or too short.

Synthesis Essay Outline Example

We won’t really know how to write a good synthesis essay without learning how to write an outline! The good news is that it follows the basic outline structure, so it won’t be difficult to cope with it even if you’re a beginner. An outline is helpful in structuring your paper, so prepare one even if your professor didn’t require you to do it.

A typical essay outline can look like this:

  • Essay introduction
    • Thesis statement
    • First argument/topic sentence
    • Second argument
    • Third argument
  • Body text
    • First argument
    • Evidence
    • Analysis/Reflection
    • Second argument
    • Evidence
    • Analysis/Reflection
    • Third argument
    • Evidence
    • Analysis/Reflection
  • Conclusion
  • References (Works cited)

Useful Synthesis Essay Tips

Keep in mind that writing essay is not an easy task, so be prepared to edit and proofread your paper a lot, especially if your goal is to submit a top-scoring work. Consider using these tips for writing a synthesis essay:

  • Sentence length ideas. Do you know that one or several short sentences placed among a bunch of longer ones can be a smart way of grabbing your readers’ attention?
  • Avoid unnecessary words. Proofread the paper and delete all ‘blank’ and hollow words which make your essay sound inferior.
  • Replace the linking word “to be” with action verbs, especially if you want your writing to become more dynamic.
  • Use figures of speech to make your writing more engaging. Avoid using complex language and words you’re not familiar with. It is better to consult the dictionary than use the wrong word.
  • Ask a friend of yours to read your essay to you so you can listen to what it sounds like.

Relevant Synthesis Essay Topics

  • Evaluate the factors affecting the quality of school education. Which of them do you think are the most important ones?
  • “Mobile phones have killed photography,” says filmmaker Wim Wenders. Do you agree with his claim? Use relevant sources to convince your readers.
  • Can a person with no experience become a good leadership role-model? Give specific examples.
  • Can money buy friends?
  • Homework has nothing to do with the student’s success. Evaluate sources to support your point of view.

Follow our synthesis essay guidelines and come up with an assignment that will impress your professor!

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