How to Write a Synthesis Essay

Writing a synthesis essay requires the ability to digest information and present it in an organized fashion. Learn how to write one with this guide.

Essay writing is an aspect of learning students cannot avoid because almost every discipline requires you to write an essay to assess the course work. A synthesis essay is one of such essays you may be required to write during your course of study. 

Synthesis essay writing requires a student to have the ability to source for, digest, analyze, and understand information from several sources. Aside from being able to understand information, what gives a synthesis essay meaning is the ability of the student to present the information logically and systematically. 

This skill is vital when writing a synthesis essay because it aims to gather information and explain it in a way your readers can understand. A good synthesis essay requires time, research, and intellect to achieve the best results. 

However, before you write your essay, understand your topic and your purpose for writing it. This essay cuts across different fields like engineering, finance, and even the sciences. 

A synthesis essay typically has three types;

  • Argumentative Synthesis Essay: In writing this synthesis essay, the writer gathers information from various sources to support a central theme or idea.
  • Explanatory Synthesis Essay: in this kind of synthesis essay, the writer helps to explain a topic using data from several sources. It is mainly used to describe a theme.
  • Review Synthesis Essay: This type of synthesis essay involves analyzing what was discussed in a previously written essay. It reviews the cited sources and suggests where more work is required.

What Is a Synthesis Essay?

In your study, the question ‘what is a synthesis essay?’ may have crossed your mind. There are several synthesis essay definitions, but the idea is the same. 

A synthesis essay uses information from several sources to support the writer’s idea or goal. A synthesis paper brings different ideas and perspectives into concert with each other. It is a way of logically analyzing and presenting information to support a claim.

What is a synthesis paper? A synthesis paper is used interchangeably with a synthesis essay, meaning essentially the same thing. 

It should be noted that a synthesis essay is more than just a summary of sources or ideas; it requires more work than that. The challenging aspect of a synthesis essay is gathering data and explaining the connection between all sources. Simply put, it is a way of making sense of raw pieces of data to interest and inform the readers. 

A synthesis essay can be very long or short, depending on your topic, the number of sources, and what you hope to accomplish with your essay. However, regardless of the essay’s length, the structure of the essay typically remains the same.

Synthesis papers aim to explain previously discussed concepts by forming a new idea or viewpoint from existing facts.

Synthesis Essay Structure

The structure of a synthesis essay is not complicated. A synthesis essay outline will significantly aid your writing process and give your essay the correct format. A synthesis essay comprises three major parts; the introduction, body, and conclusion.

The first part is the synthesis essay introduction which is typically one paragraph long. This is where you give the overview of your entire topic. Here, you mention your goal, aim, and what you hope to achieve at the end of the essay. You can also provide background information on the subject. 

This section should have a strong thesis statement that supports the claims of your topic or essay. 

The second section is the essay’s body. This is the longest part of the essay. You use data from various sources to support your topic in this section. To do this effectively, write your points in distinct paragraphs. Your total number of paragraphs should not be less than three. This is the section to express yourself freely and your views on your topic. 

The third and final section is the synthesis essay conclusion. Your essay comes to a close in this section. The conclusion is where you re-emphasize the idea previously stated in the introduction. 

This section is not to introduce new ideas or arguments but to affirm your thesis statement. The conclusion must end logically and leave a mark in the minds of your readers. 

Synthesis Essay Format

The synthesis paper format you decide to use depends on your instructor's instructions. There are several formats you can use, each with its rules.

The most popular synthesis essay formats include;

  1. MLA: Modern Language Association Format.

This format is quite popular for its simplicity. Researchers and scholars mainly use it in literature, language, and the humanities. 

Its rules are;

  • Times New Roman (Size 12) font.
  • 1-inch page margin.
  • Double line spacing.
  • Half-inch paragraph indent.
  • Capitalized title case headings.
  • Header containing the student's name, instructor, class, course, and submission date.

  1. APA: American Psychological Association Format.

This format is mainly used to write academic journals and other related documents. It is popular in science (health and social), education, psychology, etc.

Its rules are;

  • Standard size paper (8.5'' by 11'').
  • Double line spacing.
  • Left side text alignment.
  • 1-inch page margin.
  • Times New Roman (Size 12) font.
  • Essays should have four major sections: The title page, abstract, body, and reference page.
  • Each page should have a header.

  1. CMOS: Chicago Manual of Style Format.

This formatting guideline is mainly used for articles written in American English. It is prevalent in the US and is used in history, business, and the fine arts.

Its rules are;

  • Times New Roman (Size 12) font.
  • Double line spacing.
  • 1-inch page margin.
  • Half-inch paragraph indent.
  • Page number on top right corner or bottom center.
  • Bibliography is usually on a different page. 

Synthesis Essay Writing Tips

Writing a synthesis essay can be challenging if you need to learn how to approach it from scratch.

Here are a few synthesis essay writing tips guaranteed to help you simplify your writing process.

  • Thoroughly Understand Your Topic Before Writing.

Before you write your essay, ensure you carry out your research thoroughly. This will come in handy as you go on in your writing process. You will make fewer mistakes and spend less time writing.

  • Create an Outline

Creating an outline will help you streamline your ideas and give you direction when writing. It will also help you organize your sources to analyze how they support your central idea.

  • Have a Catchy Introduction.

The introduction aims at introducing the topic and its goal to your readers. If this is not well written, it can discourage them from reading further or paying attention to the rest of the essay.

  • Have a Strong Conclusion.

Your conclusion must be solid. It should strongly affirm everything you have discussed in the main essay.

  • Do Not Directly Quote Sources.

The idea behind a synthesis essay is to interpret information and explain its relationship with your thesis, not just quote it.

  • Carefully Select Your Sources.

Your synthesis essay is as good as the sources you use and the information you gain from them. Ensure you carry out thorough research to get valuable sources. 

  • Maintain a Steady Flow of Ideas

Try as much as possible to maintain the flow of thoughts while writing. Your transition from one point to another should be smooth. 

To achieve this, the end of one point should subtly introduce and lead to the start of another in the next paragraph.

  • Use Correct Citations

Ensure that your citations are correct. Also, ensure you stick to one format when writing.

  • Avoid Passive Voice Use.

Always try to write your sentences in an active voice. This will engage your readers more.

Synthesis Essay Examples

In this article, we have thoroughly examined how to write a synthesis essay. We have also provided tips to help you write a synthesis essay. 

We believe this article has helped you understand a synthesis essay and how to go about it.

To further help, below is an example of a synthesis essay you can study.

"The Link between Food and Direct Longevity of Life." 

A lot has been attributed to food: health, freedom from diseases, and so much more. But can it lengthen life? In a recent study, some experts said that consuming some foods may lengthen life (David, 2021). Another group of experts seems to not agree with the idea because of several scientific facts (John, 2022). This essay aims to find out the truth about this claim.

Good food has been proven to have many beneficial effects on the human body. It can help reduce the rate of infections and illnesses and improve life quality. Because of these facts, it can be said to lengthen life. (David, 2021).

However, contrary research debunks the claim (John, 2022). They agree that good food has its benefits, but the direct longevity of life is not one of them.

Considering both sides and carefully evaluating the claims, although food plays a significant role in nutrition, it does not directly lengthen life.

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