Key Elements of an Illustration Essay

February 18, 2019

The introduction of an illustration essay should include a clear thesis statement that identifies the essay’s main idea – the idea the examples will support.

The body paragraphs should present evidence – fully developed examples that support the thesis.

Each body paragraph should be introduced by a topic sentence that identifies the example or group of related examples that the paragraph will discuss.

The conclusion of an illustration essay should include a summary statement that reinforces the essay’s thesis.

An illustration essay should use appropriate transitional words and phrases to connect examples within paragraphs and between paragraphs.


An illustration paragraph should have a topic sentence that states that paragraph’s main idea.

An illustration paragraph should present evidence – in the form of examples from the book – that supports and clarifies the general statement made in the topic sentence.

Examples in an illustration essay, by the way, should be arranged in logical order – for example, from least to most important or from general to specific.

You might be asking yourself: How many examples do I need to include in my body paragraphs?

The number of examples you will need depends on your topic sentence.

An illustration paragraph should end with a summary statement that reinforces the paragraph’s main idea.

An illustration paragraph should include transitions – that introduce the examples and connect them one to another and to the topic sentence.

These transitions help readers follow your discussion by indicating how your examples are related and how each example supports the topic sentence.

Examples of transition words and phrases:


in addition



one example

another example

The first … The second …

for example

for instance

Model MLA essay format

February 5, 2019

Sample MLA Essay Format_MLA 8th Ed.

Strategies and guidelines for writing a summary

February 5, 2019

Here are some strategies for comprehending and summarizing the introduction of the book:

1) Look over the introduction for the main idea. At this stage, avoid concentrating on details.

Don’t get bogged down in the opening scene of the Introduction. The scene on the soccer field is the author’s way of bringing the reader into the story, but remember, you are condensing the entire Introduction, so you need to find the important ideas in the Introduction and not just summarize the first paragraph of the Intro.

2) Make an outline of the introduction in your mind or on paper. What’s the logic of his organization?

3) Pay attention to topic sentences. The topic sentence is the general statement that controls the details and examples in the paragraph.

4) Don’t overlook signposts (words and phrases like but, however, nevertheless, yet, for example, the first reason, etc.). This is the author signaling to you that he’s providing support or shifting to a new point.

5) Look up unfamiliar words! Use a dictionary – if a word you don’t understanding seems important to the passage – look it up before going on.

6) If you use a highlighter to mark main points, use it sparingly. Focus on only the main points of the article, so you can use those highlighted sentences for your own summary.

This is called annotating a text – where you mark it up in various ways to increase your comprehension of the text (if you own the book!).

More useful than highlighting is marginal notes and underlining. You can go crazy with highlighting to the point that it’s no longer useful.

But if you underline a sentence or a phrase and then write a note in the margin of that paragraph, you will remember what that point the author was making.

As you annotate, you can also make notes of questions you still have after reading the text. These questions can be the basis for class discussion.

Basic Guidelines:

Start your summary with the title and the author’s full name. You should include the source title as well.


“In his Introduction to his book Outcasts United, Warren St. John explains that ___________”

“Warren St. John, in the Introduction to his book Outcasts United, describes ________”

After you have introduced the basic information about the book, the content of your summary should begin by providing the reader with the main idea or overall purpose of the text.

Ask yourself:

Why did St. John write the Introduction? What is the author’s purpose in writing the intro?

What is the main idea he wants to get across to the reader in the Introduction?

Use your own words throughout most of your summary.

Be sure to place any exact words or phrases from your text in quotation marks.

Limit your use of quotations in the summary to the author’s words or expressions that cannot be condensed or stated in your own way.

Your summary should contain only the main points of the text and avoid mentioning minor details.

Remember that a summary does not include your own opinion of the text on the issue. Save your opinion/thesis for essay writing. In a summary, you are just summarizing up what someone else has written, not writing your own opinion.

After naming the author in the opening sentence of your summary, use the author’s last name along with the words “the author” throughout the summary to remind the reader that the ideas belong to the author.

Use signal phrases such as:

According to St. John
St. John also states
The author adds
The author points out that
The author asserts that

“Introduction” to Outcasts United

February 5, 2019

Attached below is a scanned PDF of the book’s introduction, for students who are unable to purchase a copy of the book in the first two weeks. (But all students are required to buy the book for the semester.)


List of Revision Symbols

September 7, 2018

Below is a list of revision symbols that I use when I give feedback to your essay drafts. I use these symbols as shorthand. (There’s also a list of these symbols in the back of your Pocket Style Manual.)

A check mark next to a sentence or a paragraph means “Good” or “Excellent”

add   Add word

agr   Agreement

awk  Awkward

cap  capitalize

cs  comma splice

dm  dangling modifier

ds   double space

-ed  -ed ending

frag  fragment

fs  fused sentence

ital   italics

lc   lower case

^    insert  (comma, period, semi-colon, etc.)

;    semi-colon

:    colon

” ”  quotation marks

?   Confusing or awkward

¶  New paragraph

pn agr  pronoun agreement

run-on (or ro)   run-on

ref  pronoun reference

sv agr  subject-verb agreement

tense  verb tense/tense shift

//   faulty parallelism

X   cut

#  insert space

[ ]  brackets

( )  parentheses







Welcome to English 101!

January 14, 2018

Welcome to English 101 at West Los Angeles College.

Here are the two books we will be reading this semester:


Outcasts United by Warren St. John



Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson