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How to Write a Synthesis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: A Complete Guide

Confusion is the feeling that all students experience when they first encounter a synthesis essay. The reason for such mixed emotions is obvious because it isn't easy to guess from the name what awaits you when you start writing. What is this assignment type, and what main synthesis writing criteria should students follow? Surely you will have the same questions when you come across such a paper. But don't worry, here's what you should know!

What Is a Synthesis Essay?

Suppose you need to write the synthesis essay. To get started, you need to clearly understand what you will do and what kind of assignment you will face. Let's start with the basic definition and meaning of the "synthesize" word. Your task is to form a single whole by putting separate pieces together. In a way, your paper is a written discussion incorporating support from several sources of differing views.

Your task is to examine various sources and identify their relationship to your thesis statement. But you should not only summarize the major topic features but also explain the specific relationships between said pieces of information. This description will help you understand a synthesis essay and where you need to start as a student. By the way, there are two types of synthesis essays: explanatory and argumentative. Here are their main differences.

  • Explanatory: Your goal is to use different sources to explain your point of view. The second goal is to examine the similarities and differences between ideas but don't necessarily choose a side.
  • Argumentative: This essay follows the same structure, but you must argue one specific point. In other words, you must argue why you conducted certain synthesis writing activities and why your point of view is solid.

By the way, these synthesis essays have the same formatting and approach to structure creation. But, simultaneously, the methods of achieving certain goals are opposed. It is the main feature that all students should remember.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Outline Like a Pro

Never forget that you should outline your synthesis essay. As a rule, such assignments adhere to the five-paragraph essay structure. At the same time, you should not lose sight of some important details specific to synthesis papers. Here is how such an assignment is structured.


Writing a synthesis essay is difficult, especially if you don't know how to start an introductory paragraph. Your intro is the place for the foundational ideas of your synthesis essay. Here you should address the general landscape of ideas, your argument, and the argument to be made through a thesis statement. Try to clearly articulate your ideas, as this is the only way to start a synthesis essay correctly.

Body Part

Here is another nuance regarding the general synthesis essay structure. In most cases, your paper will have three paragraphs. Writing the body of the synthesis essay is not a tricky thing. The first two paragraphs are necessary for synthesizing your sources in a way that supports your argument. The third body paragraph is for acknowledging opposing arguments. The point is that you have to be open-minded if you want to write a good synthesis essay. Try to follow these recommendations, and academic success awaits you.


And here is the final paragraph for reiteration of your main argument. Summarize all the facts and information you received while crafting your essay. In other words, this paper part is the logical conclusion of all your reasoning in the previous paragraphs. Be careful and complete your synthesis essay without bringing up new issues.


If you want to credit your research sources properly, you must include a source list at the end of your synthesis essay. Typically you will need to make a list of text citations up to two pages. Also, a bibliography is always the last part of your paper, no matter what formatting styles you choose. This rule is relevant for all synthesis essays, and you should not forget it.

Tips for Writing a Synthesis Essay

Creating essays is difficult, especially considering the type of synthesis writing you have chosen. However, check out these tips to help you craft a good paper. Surely now it will be easier for you to get off the ground, so do not hesitate!

Choose a Topic You're Curious About

And here is the first tip for those who want to create a good synthesis essay. You should not choose topics that are not interesting to you or are too complicated. Instead, look for a research area that will allow you to complete the task quickly and get a high grade. In any case, such a strategy will increase your chances of a positive result. If you are a freshman, you can follow one of the simplest strategies. First, check paper samples and various topics. Then, compare all the options to understand which research area suits you best.

Use Credible Sources

The second tip is relevant for most students who think that Wikipedia, Facebook, or a random website is a credible source. To begin with, let's decide what you can use as an academic springboard and a source for citation. As a rule, you can draw on studies, academic journals, books, scientific articles, and other similar materials. But do not try to pass off the words of some guy from Twitter as the only true information. If you doubt which sources are suitable for your essay, you can ask your professor a question. Again, as a rule, you will receive an exhaustive answer or even lists of sources that are 100% suitable for you.

Make Your Essay Easy to Read

Brevity is the soul of wit. That is why you should use clear constructions and stick to the point. You don't need extra words and phrases if you can explain any paper aspects with a couple of sentences. Try to formulate your proposals clearly and stick to the general idea. Don't forget that synthesis essay writing is all about proper paragraph structuring and following a common mission. Here is a life hack that will help you understand how close you are to your goal. Read all paragraphs as soon as you finish writing your paper. If any sentence seems difficult to read, you can rephrase any part. Polish your essay until the sentences turn into a piece of art.

Use Transitions Between Paragraphs

Your synthesis essay should look like a solid academic assignment, not a collection of disparate facts. That is why you should use transitions between paragraphs. Start with words like, "Despite the previous arguments," "With regards to this," or "to put it briefly." Use these transitions to create smooth and coherent paragraphs, leading your professor from one point to another. In any case, such a strategy with a high degree of probability will bring you good grades.

Cite Examples

You don't need to cite examples from your own experience. In all other cases, you need to use a direct quotation. For many students, these synthesis essay tips are fundamental. Don't forget to include links to academic websites, books, and journals to make your paper look credible. This strategy is much simpler than it seems at first glance. In addition, you will always be sure that your paper meets academic standards.

Use Advanced Vocabulary

Advanced vocabulary will take your synthesis essay writing to the next level. Your goal as a student is not only to reveal your knowledge of the topic but to show your ability to pick the right vocabulary. Use synonyms and correct wording to reflect the shades of meaning. In other words, your task is to show your writing and analysis skills. And don't forget that you can always check samples online to see how other people describe similar academic processes or facts.

Always Proofread Your Essay

Such advice seems obvious, but not all students pay due attention to the proofreading routine. What if you made grammar or spelling mistakes? What about typos or unclear statements? Sometimes carelessness can cost you dearly. You probably don't want your grade to become lower because of such ridiculous nuances. So this is why you should spend at least 30 minutes polishing your assignment.

Don't Use Too Many Clichés

There is nothing wrong with using clichés. At the same time, you shouldn't use expressions like "think outside the box," "a perfect storm," "dead as a doornail," or anything like that. Sometimes, the professor will allow you to experiment but keep the balance. If any cliché seems inappropriate, you must avoid possible writer's dissonances.

Do Not Plagiarize

Many first-year students are worried about a lack of experience. That is why they are looking for paper samples to understand the fundamentals of writing. And the problem is that some young people think copying ideas or paragraphs is a justified action. But is the game worth the candle? Plagiarism is a form of cheating; when detected, it is always punished. That is why you should not risk your reputation and your place in higher education. Many plagiarism checkers will identify non-original parts of the text in just a couple of seconds. Write your papers from scratch or paraphrase unoriginal sentences.

Don't Use Negative Language

Negative language doesn't mean jargon, swear words, or vulgarisms. At the same time, the negative tone of your essay may be due to the choice of words, emotional overtones, or bias. Using it makes the reader focus on pain instead of its absence. That is why you should carefully formulate your proposals and be open-minded. Ask someone to read your essay if you find it difficult to control paragraph creation. Perhaps a person from the outside will be able to evaluate your paper objectively.

Don't Overwhelm Your Essay With Information and Facts

On the one hand, you should detail various academic facts. But there is a certain psychological barrier after which you should carefully check everything you have written. You are tempted to include every detail of your research to complete the essay. But try to keep a balance so that your paragraphs don't look like a cloud of tags. It is unlikely that your professor will be delighted if you add dozens of facts without any apparent need.
How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Top 5 Argumentative Synthesis Paper Topics You Should Try as a Student

Most first-year students want to find at least one synthesis essay example before starting writing activities. Such a strategy is quite logical, given that not all young people know what to write about. That's why you should check these five topics before you get started.

  1. Does Facebook threaten people's privacy?
  2. Should students be allowed to direct their education?
  3. How has climate change affected people's lifespan within the last 50 years?
  4. How has technology changed because of the development of artificial intelligence?
  5. Should the death penalty no longer be applied in the USA?

As you can see, these five topics are ideal for those who need to write synthesis papers. Surely you will find a lot of interesting information during the research process. Pick any topic, and you won't regret it.

Write an Effective Synthesis Essay Like a Pro!

Now you know everything about synthesis essays, writing tips, topics, and academic secrets. Surely you will craft an excellent paper, so do not hesitate. You need courage and the desire to see things through to the end. Start writing activities, and you can count on grades.
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