Analytical essay writing guide

Writing is defined as a focused expression of thoughts. Better writing comes with studying and practice. So, effort is necessary for you to learn how to write a great analytical essay. Aside from the good grades that every student wants, your commitment to writing an outstanding analytical essay can be rewarding.

First, your perceptions will improve so fast that you won't believe it. Second, writing an outstanding analytical essay will challenge your critical thinking capabilities, which enhances your overall thinking capabilities. Third, you'll perfect your writing skills which gives you an edge when it comes to other subjects.

Aside from the author, readers also benefit from well-written analytical essays. How? Experts in different fields like architecture, politics, art, e.t.c. often publish their original articles.  Once made accessible to the general public, the pieces can be sources of essential information.

Therefore, it's a significant gain to learn how to write the best analytical essay--It's one of the lifelong skills you can learn in school.

What's an Analytical Essay?

When analyzing something, the idea is always to find the finer details. Similarly, an analytical essay is a paper that goes beyond providing a summary. The assignment is about using facts to support your main idea (essay topic).  Also, you not only look at the positive side of issues, but you also explore and provide the negative aspects of the topic in detail.

Analytical papers are common assignments in college and university. However, that doesn't mean that high school students are exempted. They can also be requested to write an analysis paper. Note that analysis essays are slightly different from other academic papers.

For one, analytical essays strive to answer the question of what, where, and when besides answering the when and why questions. In addition, analytical writing isn't attempting to pull readers into agreeing with you. That's why analytical essays are often devoid of strong persuasive language, which commonly features in other types of research papers.

In most cases, you'll be asked to analyze a film, non-fictional work, or it could be an analysis of a piece of artwork. Whichever the case, critical thinking is essential in order to evaluate the information and present your ideas in an easy-to-understand manner.

How to Write an Analytical Essay

Like any other academic paper, an analytical essay should have the following components:

  • An appropriate analytical essay topic

  • A brief but detailed and catchy analytical essay introduction

  • A strong thesis statement that supports the main idea

  • Relevant examples that support and provide detailed information about the main idea

  • An analysis that links back to the thesis statement

  • A conclusion

How to Start Writing an Analytical Essay

The title comes before anything else. If the tutor assigns a topic, make sure you understand the prompt before you start writing your analysis. Otherwise, it means you'll have to find an appropriate analytical essay topic. The thumb rule is to find a title that's neither too broad nor overly narrow.

If you choose a broad topic, you'll be having too many ideas to write about. Consequently, research will be an uphill struggle. On the other hand, a narrow analysis topic might be easy to research. Nonetheless, you'll run short of ideas. That makes it difficult to write even a 500-word analysis. So, make sure to brainstorm on several ideas, find out the available information, and then choose the best out of the list.

Analytical Essay Ideas for Your Inspiration

  1. Analyze the mood of a specific book

  2. Should high school students wear uniforms?

  3. Is it necessary to control the price of medicines in the US?

  4. What are the qualities of effective leadership?

  5. Do subordinate staff members suffer physical burnout than the management team?

  6. Is equality a realizable goal?

  7. Do parrots really talk?

  8. Is love a chemical reaction?

  9. Why are people afraid of animals?

  10. How can learning institutions tackle bullying?

  11. Why do romantic relationships fail?

  12. Why do people suffer from insomnia?

  13. An analysis of LGBTQ in the Christian world

  14. Do cats make better pets than dogs?

  15. Analyze trends in gender roles.

  16. Are school assignments necessary?

  17. Access to certain books can promote immorality

  18. An analysis of the reasons behind the growing number of zoos

  19. Why can't we fly?

  20. Why do we have many strong people and few weak people?

  21. Is fashion harmful to young people?

  22. Can't parents shape the future of their kids?

  23. The effects of pets on a child's life.

  24. An analysis of the effects of insurance on health

  25. Should the poor be exempted from paying taxes?

  26. Elementary school students should or shouldn't watch news broadcasts

  27. An analysis of the causes of substance abuse

  28. Why do people steal?


Now you already have an interesting topic. The next step is to brainstorm. Brainstorming is taking advantage of your brain's untapped energies to come up with ideas. It's a crucial stage of writing an analytical essay.

For one, it's what you need when you've too many ideas, and narrowing down is the only option. Critically looking at what you have helps you to isolate the most appropriate points. That's the recipe for writing a good analytical piece.

It could also be a case of too few ideas. Brainstorming will enable you to find more ideas. Alternatively, you can use it to expound on what you already have. Bottom-line is to make sure each point adds value to your essay.

So, how do you go about it?

Break down the main ideas: This option works in several ways. Take an essay example like The Relationship between Colonial Powers and Tropical Fruits. You'll brainstorm the title in general or approach it holistically.

The second option is to break the title into sub-headings. Still on the above essay topic, you can brainstorm by asking questions like:

  • How many colonial powers were trading in the Caribbean islands, and when was that?

  • Which types of tropical fruits were available?

  • How did the availability of the different types of tropical fruits affect competition between the various colonial powers?

Third, identify a term you've overused when brainstorming the title or the subtitle and think about it critically. For instance, you might realize you used "tropical fruits" or "colonial powers" more times than other terms. Focus on those and find relevant information to write about.

Bulleting/Listing: Research words and phrases related to your title, then write them down. It's alright to include words that don't support the main idea. Remember, you'll formulate a thesis statement during the actual paper writing process. Controversy and a debate-like mood is your ticket to writing a good thesis.  It also helps to have several lists or bullets from which you'll pick the best ideas and be on your way to writing an excellent analytical paper.

Strictly 3 and not 8 perspectives: When using this approach, see to it that you explore matching and mismatching relationships. Besides fetching more ideas, it helps create the much-needed controversy. So, make sure to map it, describe it, and trace it.

  1. Mapping it - So, who's influenced by the main idea, and how does it happen? What's related to your argument? Who's involved in the argument and why? What's the scope of your arguments and why? Who has analyzed a similar topic, and how did they do it?

  2. Describe it - Some guiding questions to ask include—what's the main argument and its puzzle? Which exciting and unique features are related to the main idea? How does the topic differ from others?

  3. Trace it - Brainstorming here means researching the history of your main idea. Identify important events and any changes that happened over time. What sparked the said changes and why?

Cubing: A cube has six sides. Similarly, the cubing technique comprises six brainstorming approaches. Here are prompts to guide you through:

  • Describe it

  • Compare it

  • Associate it

  • Analyze it

  • Apply it

  • Argue for and against it

You might know the components of an analysis essay in and out. Nonetheless, coming up with an easy-to-understand piece is a different ballgame. That's because students often mix up their ideas, making it difficult to follow their arguments. To overcome that common challenge, it's best to create an outline of your analytical essay. It's the only way to arrange your ideas coherently.

An Analytical Essay Outline/the Structure of an Analytical Essay

Creating the outline (draft) is the first step of writing an analysis. Sadly, most students consider outlines as time-consuming, unnecessary academic procedures. How wrong. The structure helps you to arrange your ideas clearly and sensibly. Therefore, it's an essential part of learning how to write a great analytical essay.

Here's how to structure your analytical essay:

The Introduction: Finding attention-grabbing but relevant words is the best way to write an analytical essay introduction. A provocative question or startling statement works well. However, ensure you link your introduction to the main essay idea. A well-written analysis introduction features:

  • The essay hook

  • A few sentences to explain your main idea

  • Transition sentence

  • The thesis statement

As the word hints, the hook helps to grab a reader's attention. So, it must be interesting enough to achieve its purpose. It's also advisable to have a short hook—a sentence or two is OK.  In addition, ensure that the hook links back to your analytical essay topic. Here are suggestions that can help you formulate an excellent hook:

  • Find a relevant joke (anecdote)

  • It can be an interesting fact

  • Fetch interesting statistics

  • Use a rhetorical question

  • Use literary terms like metaphors or similes

  • Quotable quotes by famous people

  • An organized combination of any of the above

The thesis statement forms the basis of your arguments. Its primary function is to help you back up your claim (main idea). It also reveals to a reader what your main idea is about. Featuring statistics, research findings, facts, and examples can help you write a strong thesis statement.

For example, you'll consider the scientific methods when writing an analytical essay about scientific research. On the other hand, you'll mention the external factors like manuscripts and books that inspired you to analyze historical events. Rightly so, research is mandatory when crafting your thesis statement.

Also, a good thesis statement is debatable and controversial. That means that the kind of details you'll provide is crucial when writing the thesis. Remember to avoid vagueness or an overly long thesis statement. Brief and to the point is the way to go.

Unless otherwise stated in the prompts, avoid a three prongs thesis statement. Besides sounding mechanical, the three-prong approach inhibits your creativity.

There's no specific format for writing an analytical essay introduction. However, make sure to avoid filler words and sentences. They really add no value to your piece.

Also, steer clear of the first-person narration that expresses your opinions. Examples include of such phrases include "according to me…" or "In my opinion…" Since you're analyzing a specific subject, sharing your opinion weakens the paper. Lastly, remember to include the title, author, and publication date of what you're analyzing.

The Body Paragraphs

Often the length of the paper. Will determine the number of paragraphs an analytical essay will have. However, a five hundred word analytical essay will always have three body paragraphs. Longer papers may mean having additional paragraphs.

Like other essay assignments, the sentences in each paragraph must link to each other and the main idea. The structure of your paragraphs matters. Here's how to arrange the sentences:

  1. Topic sentence: This is the first line of each paragraph. It points the reader in the direction of what to expect in that paragraph.

  2. Analysis: Use no more than three sentences to support your evidence. Ensure you link back to the thesis statement.

  3. Evidence: Add facts and data to support your argument. Depending on the context of your analysis, you're free to fetch appropriate backup from primary or secondary sources. For example, you can decide to quote a portion of the text you're analyzing to support your claim. That's a perfect example of a primary source.

If, however, you opt to fetch information from journals, websites, and different books, those are secondary sources of evidence. Most importantly, ensure that your evidence links to the analysis you provided. Also, use endnotes and footnotes appropriately.

  1. Concluding sentences: Restate your main argument, and point the reader to its significance once more. You can also add an appropriate transition sentence to link one paragraph to the other. However, adding transition sentences isn't a mandatory requirement when writing an analytical essay.

The CEE (Claim-Evidence-Explanation) is a formula that can help you to write clear and engaging paragraphs. Alternatively, you can use the PEEL paragraph structure (Point-Evidence-Elaborate-Link.) While at it, ensure you understand when to quote and when to paraphrase.

Quotation is using the exact words as it appears in the text. Ensure you use quotation marks in your paper. Also, make sure to format accordingly—adhere to MLA, Chicago, or APA formatting guidelines.

On the other hand, paraphrasing is rewriting the idea presented. Often, paraphrasing provides a summary of the original text you're analyzing. It's an excellent option whenever you want to compress a significant amount of information without leaving out essential details.

The Conclusion

Lastly, your essay must have a conclusion. Just like the introduction, a well-written conclusion provides a summary of what your analysis is about. However, the one difference is that introducing a new idea in your conclusion is prohibited. An ideal analytical essay conclusion comprises:

  • A clearly paraphrased thesis statement

  • A summary of the main ideas captured in the analysis

  • Final thoughts that connect to a bigger issue in order to reveal the importance of the analysis

Summary of the Format of an Analytical Essay


  • Reader orientation

  • Stating the purpose of the paper

  • Outlining the scope

  • Stating the thesis statement

Essay paragraphs

  • Topic sentence 1

  • Supporting details

  • Concluding sentence 1


  • Topic sentence 2

  • Supporting details

  • Concluding sentence 2


  • Topic sentence 3

  • Supporting details

  • Concluding sentence 3


  • Reinstating the thesis statement

  • Summarizing the analyzed ideas


Editing and Proofreading

Did you know that professional writers also proofread and edit their work? Sometimes, these experts can even request their peers to help them identify areas of improvement. Similarly, your analysis is still incomplete if you skip this last step.

Aside from identifying typos and correcting them, proofreading helps you to identify open questions. By answering any unclear arguments, you'll be able to hand in a coherent piece. That sets you on the path of scoring excellent grades.

An Example of an Analytical Essay

Why marijuana should not get legalized

Why should marijuana not get legalized? This is a question that requires an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. Marijuana is a mixture of cannabis plant parts consumed through various techniques, including smoking and taking with food or drinks. In recent times, the marijuana legalization debate has been predominant in the mainstream. The debate is relevant since marijuana raises public health concerns from its abuse. Based on the various adverse effects of legalizing marijuana that outweigh its pros, marijuana should not get legalized based on its harmful effects.

                Marijuana use has several adverse effects. Marijuana abuse has significant negative outcomes. According to Paschall et al. (par 1), marijuana abuse in adolescence has negative consequences such as the increased risk of motor accidents, respiratory illnesses, and psychotic disorders. Marijuana is also harmful since it impairs cognition and brain development, and it leads to adulthood problems such as reduced educational attainment, crime, and drug dependence. These adverse effects validate the argument that marijuana should not get legalized. Legalizing marijuana is also risky since illegal drug dealers take advantage of the legalization of medical marijuana to peddle recreational marijuana.

                However, marijuana legalization has health benefits. Legalizing medical marijuana is crucial for its medicinal value if its use is solely for medicinal purposes. Legalizing medical marijuana has no significant impact on the beliefs about it. Paschall et al. (par 3) argue that statistics from a 1991-2014 study reveal no significant changes after passing medical marijuana laws. The scholars, Tanco et al. (1214) argue that US cancer patients have various beliefs on the usefulness of legalizing medical marijuana. Medical Marijuana is crucial for cancer therapy.

                To conclude, marijuana has more negative effects than its benefits, calling for the campaign against its legalization. Marijuana has adverse effects such as addiction, cognitive effects, accidents, and other health effects. The positive benefit of marijuana is its medicinal value in cancer therapy. Based on the more negative outcomes, marijuana should not get legalized.

Works Cited

Paschall, Mallie J., Joel W. Grube, and Anthony Biglan. "Medical Marijuana legalization and marijuana use among youth in Oregon." The Journal of primary prevention 38.3 (2017): 328-341.

Tanco, Kimberson, et al. "Attitudes and beliefs about medical usefulness and legalization of

Marijuana among cancer patients in a legalized and a non-legalized state." Journal of Palliative Medicine 22.10 (2019): 1213-1220.

In Summation

Learning how to write an analytical essay gives you an edge in your academic journey. Analytical skills are also helpful in different real-life situations. You want to reap the benefits. Right?

Further, you also don't want to confuse an analysis with other types of papers, say an argumentative research paper or a descriptive essay. So, ensure you have all the aspects of writing an outstanding analytical essay at your figure tips.

Lastly, there's no shame in asking for help from your tutors or professional academic writers if the need arises.


How do you write an analytical paragraph?

Analytical essays are no different from other academic papers essays. The CEE (Claim-Evidence-Explanation) or PEEL paragraph structure (Point-Evidence-Elaborate-Link) are two formulas to help you write excellent analytical paragraphs.

How do you end an analytical essay?

At the end of your analytical essay, ensure you don't introduce a new idea. Instead, provide a summary of what your analysis is about. Remember to point out the reader to the main argument too.

Here is a video detailing howto write an analytical essay








Happy users

Published on: 06, Sep 2021
Image placeholder

Keep reading

Discover more from Custom Writers Hub

Image placeholder
An expert's guide on how to…

For you to succeed in research writing, it is always ideal to think of the results you wish to…

Image placeholder
Professional Essay format…


Image placeholder
How to write a good College…

As a college student, writing essays is a big part of your academic…