A Clear Guide to Headings in Essays

Whether to use headings in essay writing is a question of preference. Headings are standard for some written forms, such as report writing and case studies. But some lecturers prefer headings while others don’t want you to use headings in essays.

You must confirm the preference of your lecturer. Let’s explore more about the basic structure of essays and using headings in your essay writing.

Basic Structure of Academic Essay Writing

The majority of essays are written in continuous, flowing paragraphs without headings. At first glance, this could appear to be unorganized, yet good articles are meticulously structured.

Essays usually have no section headings. Only the title page, author declaration, and reference list have a heading. The basic structure of essay writing contains three parts:


The following five components make up a typical introduction:

  • An opening statement that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • Background and contextual information on the topic.
  • Include any important definitions where necessary.
  • A brief outline of the key points, issues, theories, arguments, or other relevant information.
  • A few sentences to explain your goals and objectives.


You must organize the body of the essay into paragraphs. And each section should address a different aspect of the issue.

However, it should also be connected to the ones before and after it in some way. This is a difficult task to master even for seasoned writers because there are a variety of effective ways to organize and combine paragraphs. There is no ideal or fixed template for a paragraph.


The conclusion of a paper should not introduce any new idea or information. Typically, there should only be one paragraph in the conclusion. It combines all the main points of your essay, so you don’t need to repeat the small detail unless you are emphasizing anything.

The conclusion is used to accomplish three things:

  • Remind the audience of the purpose of your essay.
  • Answer the question posed in the title, if possible.
  • Remind your reader of how you arrived at your conclusion.
person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug
Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Headings in Essay Writing

If you do use headings, make sure to do so correctly and sensibly. Headings help readers to be able to find the differences between different sections without drifting off.

If you decide to use heading, then know that subheadings play an important role in your essay. It will not only capture the audience’s attention but also make the writing more visually catchy.

The subheading gives the essay a more organized appearance while refocusing the reader on its important parts. This subheading will provide a hint of what to expect in the content.

An essay can have subheadings if it is long enough to hold several sections with subtopics in each. However, subtitles must be compatible with the central theme and help to support the thesis of the essay. The recommended approach is to keep essay subheadings to 10 words.


Using headings in essay writing is not a convention, but it is not incorrect either. Whether or not to incorporate headings in your essay depends on the lecturer’s preference. This article explains the basic pattern of essay writing and how to use headings in your essays.

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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