When You Write

From Summary to Insight: A Guide to Writing Commentary Essays with Depth

Writing an essay can be daunting, let alone if you’re also providing commentary on it. But the reward of a job well done is worth the effort when you’re finished!

It has been noted that essays with thoughtful commentaries have a higher chance of being accepted for publication. So I’m here to help make it clear that essay writers need to understand the power of commentary and how to incorporate it into their work.

In this article, I’ll share my experience as a writer and provide insight on how to make your voice heard in an essay by using effective commentary. By following my advice, you’ll be able to craft a piece that stands out from the crowd and makes your thoughts shine through!

What Is Commentary In An Essay?

Over the course of your writing, you may have heard of the term ‘commentary’ in relation to essay writing. But what does it mean?

Simply put, commentary is analysis. It’s when you take a text and try to identify the deeper implications at play. In literary texts this could be symbolism, metaphors or dual meanings; with non-fiction texts it could include examining how an author makes use of evidence and arguments to support their position.

Writing a commentary essay requires close reading skills and the ability to interpret a wide range of information. It also requires you to think critically about how ideas are connected and draw conclusions about why certain elements are included in the text.

Commentary is an essential part of any essay because it allows your reader – who may not be as familiar with the text as you – to understand why you have drawn certain conclusions based on your interpretation.

It’s like giving them a guided tour through your thoughts and ideas so they can explore what makes your argument unique and interesting. Commentary also enables you to make connections between different aspects of the text that might not be obvious on first glance, helping bring out its significance even further.

By using commentary effectively, you can write an engaging essay that really gets your point across clearly.

The Significance Of Commentary In Essay Writing

Writing commentary in an essay can be a powerful tool for communicating ideas and arguments. It is essential to engage in critical thinking, interpretation, and analysis when writing commentary. Writing effective commentary requires the ability to construct a well-developed argument that supports the main point of the essay.

Here are 4 key elements of effective commentary:

  • A clear thesis statement
  • Relevant evidence that supports the argument
  • Interpretation and analysis of the evidence
  • A conclusion that summarizes the argument

Commentaries should be written with an engaging style that encourages readers to think critically about the topic at hand. Good literary commentary should be accessible, yet thought-provoking; it should both inform and entertain the audience. Additionally, it should challenge preconceived notions about a subject and provide an insightful perspective on why something matters or how it affects our lives.

In order to write effectively, one must first understand their audience and what they hope to communicate through their words. With this knowledge in mind, one can craft a compelling commentary that offers fresh insight into any given topic.

Transitioning seamlessly into the next section…

Key Elements Of Effective Commentary

Like the rising sun that signals a new day, effective commentary can offer a fresh perspective to an essay. With the right words and emphasis, it can engage readers in an entirely new way and bring them closer to understanding your argument.

Like a shimmering beacon of light, it has the power to grab their attention and draw them into your ideas.

Commentary does more than just summarize facts or provide background information – it also evaluates, interprets, and analyses information.

It’s an opportunity for you to delve into the heart of what you’re writing about, offering insight into its significance and exploring potential implications. By taking this approach, you can evaluate the importance of each point and develop your thesis with greater clarity.

Through thoughtful commentary, you can make connections between ideas that your readers may not have previously considered and help them reach their own conclusions about your argument.

Strategies For Writing Potent Commentary In Essays

Writing potent commentary in essays is essential to making a successful argument and gaining the reader’s interest. Here are four strategies that can help you write a good essay commentary:

Develop a strong thesis statement

A thesis statement serves as the core of your essay, and it should be explicit, engaging and supportable by evidence. It should also be concise so that readers can understand your main message immediately.

Understand the topic better

Spend some time researching the topic before you start writing to ensure you have a thorough understanding of it. This will give your commentary more depth and clarity.

Body And Paragraphs Organized

Make sure your body paragraphs are organized logically and clearly explain how your points relate to the overall theme or argument of your essay.

Each paragraph should have a single purpose, and make sure that all sentences within each paragraph work together to support that purpose.

Use literary analysis

When writing your commentary you can draw on elements like tone, imagery, diction, and syntax to make your argument more persuasive and compelling for readers. This will also help them better understand what you’re trying to communicate in your essay.

By incorporating these strategies into your essay writing process, you can create powerful commentary that effectively supports your argument and engages readers with meaningful insight into the text or topic at hand. With these tips in mind, let’s look at how to use quotations and examples in commentary to further enrich our arguments!

The Use Of Quotations And Examples In Commentary

Now that we’ve discussed strategies for writing powerful commentary in essays, let’s explore the use of quotations and examples when constructing these sentences.

Quotations and examples are essential for making strong commentary sentences that support an argument or analysis. When used correctly, they can be a great way to illustrate a point and add interest and texture to your argument.

When including a quotation in your commentary, it is important to make sure it is properly attributed. You should include both the author’s name and the source from which the quote was taken. This not only strengthens your argument by adding credibility, but it also shows you have done your research.

Examples are also effective for proving a point or introducing a new concept. They help to break up longer paragraphs, explain difficult concepts in more detail, and provide evidence or substantiation for an idea or opinion. When using examples in commentary sentences, it is important that they are relevant to the topic at hand and accurately represent what you are attempting to say in your essay.

With this information in mind, let’s move on to examining types of commentary in essays; comprehending the contrasts.

Types Of Commentary In Essays: Comprehending The Contrasts

As a student writing a commentary essay, it is important to understand the differences between analyzing, summarizing, and evaluating. To help comprehend these contrasts, let’s take a look at four main points:

1.      Analyzing – Looking closely at something and breaking it down into smaller parts to better understand it.

2.      Summarizing – Taking the information from a larger group of data and boiling it down into its key elements.

3.      Relating – Exploring how two or more ideas are connected and how they affect each other.

4.      Evaluating – Examining different aspects of an issue or argument and determining its worth or value by expressing an opinion about it.

Using these four points as a framework for writing your commentary essays can help you to be more effective in your analysis, summary and evaluation of any given topic.

Furthermore, this knowledge will also serve you well when crafting strategies for writing literary essays that contain thoughtful commentary elements.

With this in mind, let us now turn our attention to creating such strategies…

Strategies For Writing Commentary In Literary Essays

Having discussed the differences between types of commentary, let’s now turn to strategies for writing effective commentary in literary essays.

When it comes to providing commentary, it is important to understand that you are making a statement about something; whether it be an interpretation or opinion, you need to make a clear statement.

You should also comment on any phrases or passages that have stood out and explain why they are significant.

It is also important to identify the underlying message of the text. This means going beyond surface-level analysis and delving into the deeper meaning of the work.

To do this, think about what is not being said as much as what is being said.

Make sure your comments add depth to your analysis and provide new insights for your readers.

Finally, take care when constructing your sentences so that your points come across clearly and convincingly.

Writing Commentary For Convincing Essays

I’m sure you’re excited to finally get started on writing your commentary for a convincing essay! It can be intimidating to write about something without knowing what type of essay you’re working on. But if you take the time to read through the assignment and passage, you’ll have a much better idea of what you need to write.

When it comes to writing your commentary, try not to worry too much about “sounding smart” or “having all the right answers.” Instead, focus on writing like yourself—in your own voice, with your own ideas. The more authentic and engaging your writing is, the more persuasive it will be to readers.

So don’t be afraid to express yourself—you may just surprise yourself with how creative and interesting your thoughts can be! With that said, let’s move on to creating commentary that supports your thesis statement.

Creating Commentary That Supports Your Thesis Statement

As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back now, it’s clear that writing an effective commentary for a convincing essay requires some finesse and insight.

When starting to write, it’s important to have a good understanding of the topic you are discussing and to provide enough context for your audience to understand what you are discussing. Additionally, it helps to have an understanding of opposing viewpoints before you start writing so that you can avoid falling into common traps.

To create commentary that supports your thesis statement effectively, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

1.      Make sure your argument is sound and won’t be easily refuted by an opposing point of view.

2.      Avoid introducing new evidence or topics in your commentary; instead focus on the evidence already presented in the essay body.

3.      Take the time to help explain why certain evidence matters and why readers should care about it.

The goal of commentary is not just to express an opinion but also provide meaningful analysis that will help prove or disprove a point of view. By being mindful of these considerations when writing, it is possible to create effective commentary that will help readers better understand your argument and its implications.

Common Mistakes To Avoid In Commentary Writing

I think one of the biggest mistakes I can make when writing a commentary essay is to overgeneralize my points. It’s important to provide specific examples and evidence to back up my opinion and avoid making sweeping conclusions.

Additionally, when writing a commentary essay, it’s also easy to forget to include evidence to support my argument. Making sure to include evidence will make my piece of writing much more convincing and credible.

Avoiding Overgeneralization

When writing a commentary essay, it’s important to avoid overgeneralizing your topic.

Sure, it may be tempting to make sweeping statements about the issue at hand, but this won’t do justice to your argument.

Instead, try to focus on concrete evidence and facts that back up your opinion.

For example, include statistics or subjective accounts from experts in the field.

This will ensure that you don’t come off as too biased or uninformed in your commentary.

By avoiding overgeneralization and being specific in your evidence, you can present a much more convincing argument and captivate readers with innovation.

Remember: always strive for accuracy when building an argument!

Lack Of Evidence

When it comes to commentary writing, one of the biggest mistakes people make is not having enough evidence to back up their argument. Without any supporting evidence, your argument can easily be dismissed as biased and uninformed.

This is especially true when discussing contentious topics like politics or religion. It’s important to remember that you’re usually assigned a commentary essay for a reason—so make sure you have enough facts and figures to give your readers an informed opinion. Otherwise, you may struggle to convince them of your point of view.

To make sure your argument stands out from the crowd, research extensively and use concrete evidence whenever possible. This will show that you’ve put in the effort and will help ensure a more innovative outcome for your audience.

Tips For Revising And Editing Commentary

Revising and editing your commentary is an important step in writing an essay. It helps to ensure that you are conveying the most accurate and persuasive message.

To do this, it’s important to read through your writing again and summarize any points that you noticed while reading. This will allow you to make sure that each point is clear and concise. As students need to be able to write effectively, it is also important to pay close attention to the language used throughout the essay.

Looking for words that could be replaced with more precise ones or focusing on certain aspects of literature can help bring life to a paper.

It is also essential to check for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other errors before submitting the essay. Making sure all of these elements are correct can help enhance the paper’s overall quality.

Additionally, as you review your work, look for any areas where clarification may be necessary. Taking a second look at what you wrote will help ensure that the reader fully understands all of your points and implications.

By following these tips when revising and editing commentary in an essay, readers can gain a clearer understanding of the author’s intended message.

Examples Of Strong And Poor Commentary In Essays

A necessary part of writing an essay is the commentary. It’s the all-important part that allows for a deeper understanding of what is being written and allows the reader to get a fuller picture of the writer’s thoughts.

Unfortunately, not everyone understands the need to understand commentary. Many writers think they can simply paraphrase their sources without paying attention to how they are using irony or antithesis, missing out on valuable opportunities to add depth and complexity to their work.

Commentary should be used to engage readers in a way that speaks directly to their subconscious desire for innovation. It should be written in a personal tone of voice with contractions and an engaging style that will grab readers’ attention and make them want more.

If done correctly, it can bring new life and insight into an essay, allowing it to stand out from the rest.

Paragraph Construction With Commentary

In this section, I’m going to be talking about paragraph construction with commentary. As part of writing an essay, it is important to think about how you are going to use literary elements and techniques to convey your main idea or argument. I was always taught by my instructor that the way you structure your paragraphs can really make a difference in how effective your message is.

So, let’s take a look at some tips for constructing well-crafted paragraphs that provide an engaging commentary.

First of all, try not to write too long of a sentence as this can lead to confusion for the reader.

Secondly, make sure that each paragraph has one clear point that ties back into the main argument or idea you are trying to convey in your essay.

Finally, use transition words and phrases as needed throughout the essay so that readers can easily follow along with your discussion.

All these steps help ensure that readers understand and appreciate what you have written in your essay. With these tips in mind, let’s move on to discussing transition words and phrases for commentary.

Transition Words And Phrases For Commentary

In the world of higher education, commentary is a powerful tool that can bring literature to life in a way that no other piece can. It’s almost magical how one can take an otherwise mundane poem and turn it into something extraordinary with just a few words. Commentary has the ability to transform isolation into coherence in ways that are simply astounding!

Here is a 4-point list for successful commentary:

1.      Read the text multiple times before writing any comments.

2.      Take notes on what stands out most to you.

3.      Use concrete examples from the text to better illustrate your points.

4.      Be sure to engage with your audience in a way that encourages them to think more deeply about the subject matter at hand.

Commentary is an invaluable skill for anyone looking to make their mark on a piece of literature, so use it wisely and always strive for excellence! With this knowledge, we can now move on to exploring how to write a conclusion with commentary – do’s and don’ts included!

Writing A Conclusion With Commentary: Do’s And Don’ts

Now that you know the transition words and phrases for commentary, it’s time to learn how to write a conclusion with commentary. It can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

One of the most important things to remember is not to rely too heavily on your homework. Spending too much time memorizing facts and figures won’t help you in the long run when it comes to showcasing your opinion. Therefore, try to focus on critical thinking skills instead of wasting time studying for hours on end.

While two sentences are usually enough for a conclusion, make sure that each one packs a punch and is full of insight and analysis. Hone your skills by getting feedback from others so you can refine your writing and develop a style that resonates with any reader.

This can help ensure that your concluding remarks leave an impactful impression on those who read them.

Overall, effective commentary is essential for producing a successful essay.

Writing commentary allows you to demonstrate your understanding and personal thoughts on the topic and can really amplify your argument.

By incorporating examples, quotations, and other evidence into your commentary, you are able to bring life to your writing in a manner that will make it stand out from the crowd.

As an age-old proverb says, “A picture paints a thousand words”; similarly, strong commentary paints an even grander picture of your argument.

With these tips in mind, I look forward to seeing you all write some truly standout essays!

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What Is a Commentary in an Essay | Writing Guide & Examples

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  • Icon Calendar 18 May 2024

When people need to express their thoughts or ideas about something, they need guidelines on how to write a commentary essay. This article begins by defining what is a commentary essay, its meaning, and outlining its basic structure. Some insights students can learn are that introductions should have hooks, background information, and thesis statements. Body paragraphs of a commentary essay should have topic sentences; evidence, mainly quotes; comments after the evidence; and transitions. The conclusion part should restate the thesis and summarize the main ideas. This guideline also gives a sample outline template, possible topics, and a practical example of a commentary essay. Lastly, the article teaches students 10 dos and 10 don’ts and 20 tips for writing a high-standard commentary essay.

How to Write an Outstanding Commentary Essay & Examples

Reading is an academic exercise that develops a person’s mental faculties of intellect, memory, reason, intuition, perception, and imagination. These faculties develop when people utilize what they have acquired through reading to write different types of essays , including reports and research papers. Therefore, reading and writing are related because they both induce intellectual development. This guideline on how to write a commentary in an essay teaches students and anyone passionate about writing how to create a good argumentative position that meets the quality standards for intellectual discourse and publication. The guideline also offers vital insights, including the definition of what is a commentary essay, its basic essay structure, different types, possible essay topics, 10 dos and 10 don’ts, and 20 tips for producing a high-standard essay. Therefore, reading this guideline is beneficial to students and others who may, from time to time, write a commentary in an essay to communicate ideas to specific audiences.

What Is a Commentary in an Essay | Writing Guide & Examples

Definition of What Is a Commentary in an Essay and Its Meaning

From a definition, a commentary is a descriptive account of an event, an expression of opinions about a political, economic, social, or cultural issue, or elucidating a point or topic of public interest. From this perspective, a commentary essay is a document that students write to express opinions about an issue or topic through a descriptive expression and explanation of ideas. In this respect, a commentary essay differs from other types of papers, including an argumentative essay, a personal narrative, a cause and effect essay, compare and contrast essay, or a problem and solution essay, as well as a report and a research paper, because it means expressing the writer’s perspective concerning an issue or topic. Commentaries are products of a critical analysis of societal problems across political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions. When writing a commentary essay, students should analyze and interpret the source under discussion, such as a text, film, article, video, advertisement, event, object, subject, book, poem, speech, presentation, literary work, novel, sculpture, or image, among others, using a basic sandwich rule: giving a commentary after each quote or citation.

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Basic Structure of a Commentary Essay

Like other texts, a commentary paper has a basic essay structure that dictates how writers should organize their content. This structure has three components: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction is where writers introduce their assigned topics using a hook, context, and an argumentative thesis statement. Although this type of commentary essay is not an argumentative essay, an argumentative thesis indicates the writer’s perspective on the issue, which can be contentious in the eyes of readers. The body of a commentary essay is where authors construct a defense of their perspective through body paragraphs; each body paragraph should have a topic sentence that establishes a claim; supporting evidence, like quotes, data, or examples; a commentary that analyzes and explains information cited in an essay; and a concluding sentence with a transition to create a logical connection to the next paragraph. In turn, the conclusion restates the thesis and makes a final remark.

5 Main Types of Commentary

Because a commentary in an essay expresses the writer’s perspective about an issue, idea, or topic, it is evident in the body section of a commentary essay, where people describe their perspectives every time they provide evidence. In this respect, there are different types of commentary. The first one is an opinion essay where writers analyze evidence, such as a quote, text, or image, and state their stands with their critics. The second type of a commentary essay is an interpretation, where authors explain a complex concept to enhance the reader’s understanding. The third type is character or subject’s feelings, where students depict the emotional state of the person they have described in a commentary sentence. The fourth type of commentary essay is a personal reaction, where people communicate their stances on an issue, while the fifth type is an evaluation, where writers evaluate a section and gives a critical judgment.

Alternative Commentary Types and Examples

Besides the types of commentary above, students may write alternative commentary types when their essay is part of a bigger writing project, such as a systematic exposition of an idea, theme, or topic. Students must know the unique features of each type, including when to use it, what to focus on, and how to organize a commentary essay’s content.

1️⃣ Close, Direct Analysis of Passages

An example of an alternative commentary is a close, direct analysis of robust passages from the source, such as an article, film, poem, literary work, book, or novel. In this respect, they are standard in bigger writing projects, like expositions or being part of a critic’s work. Students adopt this type of commentary when they have to read a passage in a text or pick a speech in a movie and write a film analysis essay that expresses the writer’s perspective on the central issues, ideas, or concepts. The following example of a commentary essay demonstrates a close, direct examination of the first stanza of the poem “Night Wind” by Christopher Dewdney:

Tonight the wind blows through

all the worlds I have known and

through all the lives I have led.

The wind blows in the trees,

deeper into each.

The wind blows forever,

strains like something

endlessly departing.

Restless, impatient,

it races without burden.

Example of a Commentary on Celebration of Nature in the First Stanza of Christopher Dewdney’s Poem “Night Wind”

Christopher Dewdney’s 1984 poem “Night Wind” celebrates nature by depicting the night wind as a permanent, free expression of nature. The poet describes the wind on a particular night in the first stanza. By using a first-person perspective in the first three lines, Dewdney depicts himself as an observer. This writing style expresses a personal dialogue in which the poet directly relates his senses, experiences, and impressions. Dewdney opens the poem with the words: “Tonight the wind blows through / all the worlds I have known and / through all the lives I have led.” In this passage, the author expresses to the reader how the unity of the wind in whatever time or place leaves a lasting impression on him. Ideally, he views the wind as an omnipresent force but also regards it as very transient and fleeting. The words “endlessly departing” indicate to the reader the sense that the wind encompasses the entire continuum of the poet’s existence. Nonetheless, it is always in a rush to be at another location. The reader gets the impression that wind is a celebration of nature when Dewdney mentions its interactions with nature: “The wind blows in the trees, deeper into each.” This statement induces an imagination of trees fighting against a pervasive wind. The poet ends the stanza by personifying the wind, and he assigns it human qualities of restlessness, impatience, and playfulness. In this respect, the first stanza uses the wind as a reason to celebrate nature.

2️⃣ Commentary Annotations

Annotations are another type of alternative commentary where writers use a short claim on a source, like a text, film, or image. This kind of commentary essay also looks like an annotated bibliography. Typically, writers adopt annotations when they need to explain complex words, phrases, or concepts to readers; give a historical or cultural context of the topic; support or challenge the author’s arguments in an essay; expose literary devices, like contrast, irony, or sarcasm, or rhetorical devices, like ethos, pathos, and logos; provide a personal interpretation of the text under analysis. Therefore, annotations aim to enhance the reader’s understanding of a short passage from a source. Below are three examples of annotations of complex content in writing a commentary essay for Christopher Dewdney’s Poem “Night Wind.”

3 Examples of a Commentary With Annotations

➖ “The night wind is an empire / in exodus, a deliverance / beside the dark shape of trees.”

This statement is in lines 13-15 of Dewdney’s poem, where the poet alludes to a biblical concept, exodus, to express the wind’s freedom. By stating that the wind is “… in exodus, a deliverance…,” Dewdney makes the reader compare the wind to the incident in the book of Exodus in the Bible where Moses leads the children of Israel, God’s chosen people, to Canaan, the promised land, after freeing a life of bondage in Egypt. In this respect, lines 13-15 confirm that the wind is free and expresses nature’s freedom.

➖ “The wind takes / me in its giddy rush and / gathers me into a storm of longing, / rising on wings of darkness.”

In this statement in lines 18-21, the phrase “wings of darkness” emphasizes the wind’s freedom and mystery. The poet contextualizes the wind as an unpredictable force that can take a person anywhere .

➖ “Along oceans and rivers, / the gale’s mysterious, unspoken imperative / is a joyous delirium with / nothing at its end.”

This passage in lines 36-39 expresses Dewdney’s excitement in not knowing where the wind may take him. It suggests that it does not matter where the wind takes him because he is truly free. In essence, the statement makes the reader imagine the wind as a mystery because it can take one anywhere, emphasizing the theme of freedom.

3️⃣ Data Commentary

Data commentary is another type of alternative essay commentary where writers summarize a study by analyzing critical information that helps readers have a sneak peek of the project. The features students should incorporate in a commentary essay include visual illustrations, like charts, diagrams, graphs, and tables, to capture statistical data, allowing readers to compare them easily. In this respect, data commentary reflects the results section of a research paper because that is where scholars use visual illustrations to report statistical data. Another feature is a conclusion summarizing a commentary essay by reiterating the key points and expressing the writer’s final remark, meaning the main perspective on the topic. Lastly, people must provide a reference page listing credible sources they consulted to write data commentaries, such as reports and research articles. Below is an example of data commentary.

Example of Data Commentary

where does the commentary go in an essay

Table 3 shows respondents’ responses to statements about the barriers to exercise prescription for people with mental illness. Those who agreed that patients’ mental health denies them the opportunity to exercise was 58%, while those who agreed that obtaining an injury during exercise is a concern was 45%. There was an overwhelming response by 87% of the respondents who agreed that exercise is beneficial and were interested in prescribing it for patients with mental health problems. However, only 13% agreed that prescribing exercise falls outside their job description. Nonetheless, 16% stated that they did not know how to prescribe exercise for the population. Overall, 71% approved that exercise professionals are best suited to prescribe exercise for people in the population.

Possible Uses of Block Quotations for Writing a Good Commentary Essay

When writing a commentary essay, students can use block quotations to organize comments. However, this feature is suitable mainly for extensive passages. In a simple definition, a block quote is a text that captures direct quotations longer than 40 words, which the writer offsets from the main text and does not include quotation marks. The text appears on a new line with a 0.5 inches indentation or five to seven spaces. Using single space for a block quote is standard, even in an essay requiring double spacing. Hence, students must know how to format block quotes in APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian referencing styles when writing a commentary essay.

📕 APA Format

There are two ways in which students can write block quotes in the APA style when organizing their commentary essays.

I. The first block captures the author’s name before the quote:

In their tabulation of results, Vancampfort et al. (2019) showed:

Almost 75% of the respondents indicated that they would “definitely” attend further training for exercise prescriptions for people with mental illness, in particular, related to how to assess patients and how to motivate them towards an active lifestyle. More than seventy percent of the participants also reported that exercise to people with mental illness is actually best delivered by an exercise professional, although only one respondent referred patients to such an exercise professional (p. 2178).

“[Your comments on a block quote starts here]”

II. Alternatively, a block quote can have the author’s surname at the end:

According to the findings:

Almost 75% of the respondents indicated that they would “definitely” attend further training for exercise prescriptions for people with mental illness, in particular, related to how to assess patients and how to motivate them towards an active lifestyle. More than seventy percent of the participants also reported that exercise to people with mental illness is actually best delivered by an exercise professional, although only one respondent referred patients to such an exercise professional (Vancampfort et al., 2019, p. 2178).

📕 MLA Format

Similarly, the MLA style has two ways of formatting a block quote when organizing commentary essays.

I. Having the surname of the author preceding a block quote in an essay:

The results by Vancampfort et al. indicate:

Almost 75% of the respondents indicated that they would “definitely” attend further training for exercise prescriptions for people with mental illness, in particular, related to how to assess patients and how to motivate them towards an active lifestyle. More than seventy percent of the participants also reported that exercise to people with mental illness is actually best delivered by an exercise professional, although only one respondent referred patients to such an exercise professional (2178).

II. Having the author’s surname at the end of the quote:

Almost 75% of the respondents indicated that they would “definitely” attend further training for exercise prescriptions for people with mental illness, in particular, related to how to assess patients and how to motivate them towards an active lifestyle. More than seventy percent of the participants also reported that exercise to people with mental illness is actually best delivered by an exercise professional, although only one respondent referred patients to such an exercise professional (Vancampfort et al. 2178).

📕 Harvard Format

The Harvard style also has two ways of formatting a block quote when organizing commentary essays.

I. Indicating the author’s surname before a block quote in an essay:

In their findings, Vancampfort et al. (2019) established that:

II. Citing the author’s surname at the end of a block quote:

Almost 75% of the respondents indicated that they would “definitely” attend further training for exercise prescriptions for people with mental illness, in particular, related to how to assess patients and how to motivate them towards an active lifestyle. More than seventy percent of the participants also reported that exercise to people with mental illness is actually best delivered by an exercise professional, although only one respondent referred patients to such an exercise professional (Vancampfort et al. 2019, p. 2178).

📕 Chicago/Turabian Format

The Chicago/Turabian style also has two ways of formatting a block quote when organizing commentary essays.

I. Mentioning the author’s surname before a block quote in an essay:

According to Vancampfort et al.:

Almost 75% of the respondents indicated that they would “definitely” attend further training for exercise prescriptions for people with mental illness, in particular, related to how to assess patients and how to motivate them towards an active lifestyle. More than seventy percent of the participants also reported that exercise to people with mental illness is actually best delivered by an exercise professional, although only one respondent referred patients to such an exercise professional (this passage must be formatted as a footnote). 1

II. Showing the author’s surname in a footnote:

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Key Features of Formatting Block Quotes When Writing a Commentary Essay

Looking at the examples of writing a commentary in an essay above, there are some similarities and differences in formatting block quotes. APA and Harvard are similar because they show the research article’s publication year and the page number of the information the writer cites in their commentary essay. The main difference is the arrangement of these details, including the place of putting comas. On the other hand, the MLA and Chicago/Turabian styles are similar in that they do not show the research article’s publication year. The main difference is that the Chicago/Turabian style uses footnotes to show the author(s) and all the bibliography details at the commentary essay’s end. The MLA style shows only the author’s surname and the page number in the text. In turn, people begin writing their commentaries in the following line after a block quote as a standard paragraph in all the formats.

Easy Sample Topics for Writing a Great Commentary Essay

Students should choose easy essay topics when writing a commentary essay to avoid complicating their tasks. Ideally, a specific topic should indicate a particular source document one is commenting on, such as a text, film, or image. The standard practice is that instructors define essay topics or commemorative speech topics students should write about. However, people can choose other themes they are comfortable with if such instructions do not exist for writing a commentary essay. The best approach to choosing an easy topic is to engage with course content and read widely to generate and incubate ideas. When the time for writing a commentary essay comes, one finds it easy to construct arguments fitting the task. The following are possible commentary essay topics because they suggest analyzing and examining a source from the writer’s perspective.

  • In Memory of Amelia Earhart: Sky’s Fearless Lady
  • The Central Themes in Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”
  • “The Great Gatsby” Through Contemporary Lens
  • The Rhetorical Stance in Jessica Grose’s “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier”
  • The Message in Robert Frost’s Poem “The Road Not Taken”
  • Maya Angelou’s Magic in “And Still I Rise”
  • Demystifying Mental Disorders Through the Film “Black Swan (2010)”
  • The Essence of Margaret Atwood’s “Negotiating With the Dead: A Writer on Writing”

Sample Outline Template for Writing a Commentary Essay

  • Title of a commentary essay must be precise to an assigned topic.
  • Title must be short, clear, and easily understandable.
  • Title must be interesting, catchy, and with relevant keywords.

I. Introduction Section of a Commentary Essay

  • Essay introduction must have a hook that interests readers enough to grab their attention and stirs a curiosity to continue reading.
  • Introduction must refer to a specific source (text, film, or image) and its author(s).
  • Introduction must summarize an assigned source that includes the main characters (if any), themes, or concepts.
  • Introduction must have a clear thesis statement that states the writer’s claim.

II. Body Section of a Commentary Essay

Body paragraphs (at least three):

  • Each body paragraph of a commentary essay must have a topic sentence that emphasizes a single idea central to the main claim in the thesis statement that the writer will defend in the paragraph.
  • Each body paragraph must include evidence from a source under analysis, such as a quote, indicating the character responsible and the context.
  • Each body paragraph must give a commentary about the evidence through relevant analysis, linking the information to the idea at the beginning of the paragraph and the claim in the thesis.
  • Each body paragraph must end with a closing statement and a bridge sentence to facilitate a logical flow to the next paragraph or section.

III. Conclusion Section of a Commentary Essay

Sum up a commentary essay by:

  • Restating the thesis.
  • Emphasizing the main ideas of a commentary essay.
  • Giving a final remark that confirms the importance of the essay topic.

Example of a Commentary Essay

Commentary Essay’s Title: The Rhetorical Stance in Jessica Grose’s “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier”

I. Example of an Introduction of a Commentary Essay

A woman never rests, not with society constantly demanding her value at every turn. This idea is the message in Jessica Grose’s famous article, “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier.” The author argues that cleaning remains a feature of women’s value in society, despite men’s growing involvement in childcare and cooking. The article also opens with personal accounts and convincing facts, suggesting its credibility as a source of information about the dynamics confronting American women. In her article, Grose communicates her message effectively by adopting a rhetorical stance characterized by emotional appeals.

II. Example of Body Paragraphs of a Commentary Essay

A. commentary on the main idea of the article.

Grose opens the article with a personal story of her and her husband cleaning their house after Hurricane Sandy forced them indoors. She uses the uneven distribution of the cleaning task in her marriage to point out the larger feminist issue of who between a husband and wife should do the job. The article gives three reasons why men shy away from the cleaning task, including the fact that it is women who receive praise for a clean house, the media focuses on men’s growing involvement in childcare and cooking, and it is not fun. According to Grose, even distribution of the cleaning task can happen by creating a task chart that shows who does what on the basis of skill and ability and adopting cleaning gadgets to make cleaning more fun.

Throughout the article, Grose uses sources to appeal to the readers’ ethos and build her argument. Some of the sources she uses to achieve these goals include a study by sociologists Judith Treas and Tsui-o Tai and an article by Matthew Krehbiel, North America Fabric Care Brand Manager for P&G. Citing these sources helps the author to build her credibility in the eyes of readers.

Regarding appeals to logos, Grose mentions statistics and interesting facts that help to enhance the logical progression of ideas central to her argument. To emphasize the uneven distribution of the cleaning task, she says, “My husband and I both work…I do the dishes nine times out of ten, and he barely knows how the washer and dryer work.” Such facts confirm and support the idea that women do more household chores than men. She also cites statistics, showing “55 percent of mothers working full-time in America do some housework daily compared to 18 percent of fathers.” In this respect, the article is factual about the uneven distribution of household chores that disadvantages women. As a result, the personal details and statistics from credible sources help Grose to impress upon the reader how society uses the domestic environment to subjugate women.

The article appeals to the readers’ pathos in the beginning and middle sections, where Grose uses emotionally-charged words and phrases to induce the audience’s sympathy. For example, Grose laments that, while she “was eight months pregnant,” her husband experienced the complexity of fighting “a massively pregnant person.” These words evoke an image in the readers’ mind that portrays women as vulnerable in the domestic space because of natural factors, like high emotions and pregnancy. Indeed, readers may feel sympathetic to Grose and the women who generally live in this social context. Moreover, using words and phrases, like ‘argued,’ ‘sucks,’ ‘be shunned,’ ‘be judged,’ and ‘headachey,’ evokes readers’ negative feelings about cleaning. As such, they are more drawn to sympathize with men and view men as selfish.

III. Example of a Conclusion of a Commentary Essay

Grose takes a rhetorical stand throughout the article to persuade her audience of the unfair distribution of cleaning labor in the domestic space. By referencing credible sources, citing statistics and interesting facts, and portraying women as adversely disadvantaged, Grose effectively appeals to the readers’ ethos, logos, and pathos. This rhetorical stand is critical in communicating how society remains unfair to women in the domestic space despite men’s growing involvement in some household chores like childcare and cooking.

4 Easy Steps for Writing a Commentary Essay

Writing a commentary essay is a technical process that requires students to grasp essential details. For example, these details reflect 4 writing steps: preparation, stage setup, writing a first draft, and wrap-up. Typically, each step’s details of writing a commentary essay reflect the wisdom writers should exhibit when creating any scholarly text.

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is the first step of writing a commentary essay. As the name suggests, it is when writers take time to create a favorable environment to write their papers. The first task is identifying a single source, where students should select good sources they can analyze easily, including poems, novels, or films. The second task is to create a topic, where students must write short topics that communicate a precise message of a commentary essay.

Step 2: Stage Setup

Setting the stage is the second step of writing a commentary essay. The first task is to read, watch, or examine an assigned source to identify key themes and ideas. The second activity is to research reliable sources that help to generate ideas that align with these themes and concepts. The next task is to create a clear essay outline emphasizing the introduction, body, and conclusion with all the essential details.

Step 3: Writing a First Draft of a Commentary Essay

Writing a first draft is the third step in creating a commentary essay, and the focus is generating a paper that can be used for further editing and improvement. As such, students should organize their ideas into text, emphasizing the claim in the thesis statement, ideas in the topic sentences, evidence (quotes), and transitions in the body paragraphs. Students should also ensure the conclusion restates the thesis, summarizes the main ideas of a commentary essay, and gives a final remark about their commentaries, focusing on an assigned source and topic.

Step 4: Wrap-Up

The wrap-up is the last step in writing a commentary essay. The main focus is transforming a first draft into a final text by eliminating all mistakes and flaws. Typically, students should revise all sections that do not make sense to a central claim or those that affect the paper’s logical progression. They should also edit a commentary essay by adding or deleting words and phrases and eliminating grammatical mistakes, missing punctuation, formatting errors, and incorrect citations.

20 Tips for Writing a Commentary Essay

Looking at the information in the preceding sections, writing a great commentary essay is a complex task that requires students to demonstrate knowledge of what it takes to create a quality paper. Some of the tips for writing a commentary essay include identifying a single source, which can be a text, film, or image; noting the source’s basic information, like the author, title, and publication date; identifying the central themes in the source; writing an introduction that emphasizes the source’s basic information; creating a thesis that communicates a claim about the source; adopting the unique structure as above; beginning paragraphs with a topic sentence; incorporating quotes from the source into body paragraphs; commenting on the quotes and their significance; and concluding a commentary essay with a summary that makes a final remark about a single source and topic.

10 things to do when writing a commentary essay include:

  • identifying a source for writing a commentary essay;
  • reading, watching, or analyzing an assigned source carefully and closely;
  • outlining critical details, like themes, ideas, and literary devices;
  • writing an introduction with a hook and an argumentative thesis statement;
  • providing body paragraphs with topic sentences, concluding sentences, quotes, commentary, and transitions;
  • maintaining a formal tone in a commentary essay;
  • using the applicable format (APA, MLA, Harvard, or Chicago/Turabian) correctly;
  • presenting an introduction that summarizes a commentary essay;
  • avoiding grammatical mistakes;
  • proofreading a final version of a commentary essay.

10 things not to do include:

  • failing to document the source’s essential details, like the author’s name and surname;
  • concentrating on the introduction more than the body;
  • not incorporating quotes in body paragraphs;
  • focusing on too many ideas in a commentary essay;
  • not defending the claim in the thesis;
  • ignoring a unique outline of a commentary essay;
  • writing with too many grammatical mistakes;
  • using different formatting styles (APA, MLA, Harvard, and Chicago/Turabian);
  • not implementing transitions in body paragraphs;
  • creating a commentary essay without a logical flow of ideas and thoughts.

Summing Up on How to Write a Perfect Commentary Essay

  • Choose a single source that is simple to analyze.
  • Create a clear thesis that emphasizes the focus of a commentary essay, such as a claim.
  • Identify passages or themes in an assigned source that help to build an argumentative claim.
  • Use an introduction paragraph for its purpose: to introduce a specific topic. As such, it should be short and precise.
  • Use a body section for its purpose: to analyze a particular source and defend a central claim comprehensively. Therefore, it should be long and have quotes as evidence.
  • Use a conclusion part to summarize a commentary essay, and it should be concise. More importantly, it should leave readers with a lasting impression of a defined source and topic.

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How to Write a Commentary

Last Updated: May 19, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Richard Perkins . Richard Perkins is a Writing Coach, Academic English Coordinator, and the Founder of PLC Learning Center. With over 24 years of education experience, he gives teachers tools to teach writing to students and works with elementary to university level students to become proficient, confident writers. Richard is a fellow at the National Writing Project. As a teacher leader and consultant at California State University Long Beach's Global Education Project, Mr. Perkins creates and presents teacher workshops that integrate the U.N.'s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the K-12 curriculum. He holds a BA in Communications and TV from The University of Southern California and an MEd from California State University Dominguez Hills. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 679,357 times.

At some point in your life, you'll probably have to write a commentary. Whether you're a teacher, editor, student, or amateur critic, knowing how to constructively analyze someone's work is a useful skill. There isn't a magical formula for writing a commentary. The commentary you write depends upon what you're reviewing, why you're giving feedback, and what you think about the work. No matter what you’re working on, having a clear goal and strong writing will help make your commentary successful.

Writing a Literary Commentary

Step 1 Define your thesis.

  • Your thesis is your argument or your point of view. This is where you take a stance, and spend the rest of the essay supporting your thesis.
  • Maybe you are writing a commentary on Great Expectations . Your thesis could be, “Not only is Dickens’ tale engaging, it is also an insightful commentary on the differences between social classes in industrial Britain.”

Richard Perkins

  • You might write at the top of your outline, “Important Themes in Great Expectations”. You could then make bullet points such as “Setting”, “Ambition”, “Class”, etc.

Step 3 Introduce your topic.

  • You might start by saying, “ Great Expectations is full of imagery that makes the reader feel as if they are in 19th century England with Pip. Dickens’ novel about class, ambition, and love sheds important light on the social divides of the time.”
  • You could then list the themes that you will discuss in the body of your commentary.

Step 4 Use specific examples to support your thesis.

  • An excellent specific example to illustrate this theme is pointing out that the character remains in her wedding dress, despite being jilted decades before.

Step 5 Connect your examples back to the theme.

  • You might write something like, “Miss Havisham is an example of the theme that love can sometimes go terribly wrong. This is also an important theme when examining the relationship between Pip and Estella.”
  • Make sure to use smooth transitions. When you move to a new example, use a good transition word or phrase. Some examples are “similarly”, “conversely”, and “again”.

Step 6 Write a strong conclusion.

  • In your commentary on Great Expectations , you would want to make sure that you emphasize your summary again: this is a good example of class divisions and how ambition is not always the best quality.
  • You might also choose to compare it to another book from the same period to illustrate why the work by Dickens is significant. However, you generally shouldn’t introduce new information in your conclusion.

Creating Data Commentary

Step 1 Understand the guidelines.

  • You might also be asked by your boss or teacher to write a data commentary. Make sure to ask about their expectations, such as length.

Step 2 Present your summary.

  • For example, if the research is about the graduation rate in the Chicago Public Schools, you need to explain the numbers and illustrate why the results are important.

Step 3 Emphasize key points.

  • You might say something like, “As shown in Figure 1.2, the costs of healthcare have risen at a steady rate since 2000.”

Step 4 Provide a conclusion.

  • As in the rest of your data commentary, your conclusion should refer to specific pieces of data.

Step 5 Include your resources.

  • You should include a specific section for resources at the end of your data commentary.
  • Any time you cite numbers or a quote, make sure to provide a reference.

Commentary Outlines

where does the commentary go in an essay

Expert Q&A

Richard Perkins

  • If you are writing a commentary for a class, make sure to carefully follow the instructions. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Make sure to carefully edit and polish your writing. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

where does the commentary go in an essay

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  • ↑ https://www.bucks.edu/media/bcccmedialibrary/pdf/HOWTOWRITEALITERARYANALYSISESSAY_10.15.07_001.pdf
  • ↑ Richard Perkins. Writing Coach & Academic English Coordinator. Expert Interview. 1 September 2021.
  • ↑ http://www.udc.edu/docs/asc/Outline_Structure_for_Literary_Analysis_Essay_HATMAT.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.germanna.edu/wp-content/uploads/tutoring/handouts/Literary-Analysis.pdf
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/writing-data-commentary/
  • ↑ https://ebooks.hslu.ch/academicwriting/chapter/4-5-results/
  • ↑ https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/modernlanguages/intranet/undergraduate/skills/commesswriting/commentarywriting/
  • ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4789530/

About This Article

Richard Perkins

To write a commentary, write about your observations and analysis of the text you read. You should craft a clear and specific thesis statement about the novel, poem, or play you are evaluating. Your thesis statement should explain your stance or argument about the text. Use this thesis statement to build a brief outline of your commentary and then choose specific details from the text to support your argument. Then, add an introduction to give your reader some context for the themes you will discuss. For tips from our Education reviewer on how to write a data commentary, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Writing a literary commentary: guidelines, what is a commentary.

  • First and foremost, a literary commentary is NOT an essay. The passage in front of you is not, therefore, an invitation to write a general essay about the work from which it has been taken.
  • A commentary is an analysis of the given passage, its function and its characteristics. It should examine the key themes and stylistic devices of the passage, showing how the language works to convey (or at times undermine) its content.
  • A commentary should relate the passage to the rest of the work (novel, collection of poems, etc.), but remain focused in the main on the details of the passage itself.
  • Make sure that your commentary covers the whole passage. For instance, if you are given a poem with five stanzas, you should try to say something about each stanza.
  • Use line numbers (in both poetry and prose) in your commentary, rather than wasting time by quoting at length.
  • When you do quote, make sure that your comments don't simply repeat what the quotation already says: 'In the line "Il pleut dehors", the poet tells us that it is raining outside ...'
  • Avoid verbosity or inaccurate terminology. Clarity and precision are top priorities, and polysyllabic words do not improve a commentary.
  • Don't use words like 'effective', 'atmospheric', or 'beautiful' unless you are also explaining what the effect, atmosphere or beauty of the passage are, and how they are achieved. 

How should I write my commentary?

There are no fixed rules for writing a commentary, but a general structure will be suggested. You should always PLAN your commentary before you start writing it, following these guidelines where appropriate.

1 Introduction

  • Put the passage into context , and summarise its arguments briefly (in a few sentences): do not spend too much time discussing matters outside of the passage.
  • You should assume that your reader has read the work from which the passage has been taken.
  • You may want to point out the passage's most important thematic and structural aspects in your introduction.
  • Introduce the main themes and structural aspects of the passage.
  • What kind of passage is it (description/dialogue/free indirect speech), and what is its function (in the rest of the work)?
  • What is its overall structure (repetitious/circuIar/leitmotifs/develops to a climax)?
  • What is the narrative point of view (first-person/third-person/omniscient or not)?
  • What are the register (high/low) and tone (comic/surreal) of the passage?

3 Detailed Analysis

This is the most substantial part of the commentary. It should not be simple description or paraphrase, but an analysis of how the language of the passage functions. The following are aspects of the text that you should look for:

  • Sentence structure
  • Tense usage
  • Word order (balance or lack thereof, harmony, repetition, parallels)
  • Figurative language (imagery, metaphors, similes, symbolism, allegory, personification, myth, antithesis, irony, paradox)
  • Characterisation (or lack thereof)
  • Narrative technique/point of view (first/third person, limited point of view, stream of consciousness)
  • Punctuation
  • Alliteration, assonance, rhyme (poetry and prose)

Remember that no text is likely to have instances of all of these elements, and that it is best to concentrate on those that are most relevant to the passage in question. Also, you should avoid simply commenting on the appearance of a particular technique: make sure you say why this is worth noticing. Ideally, your comments should cohere to explain how the various linguistic devices combine to produce the overall effect intended by the author.

4 Conclusion

  • Summarise your findings, drawing together the different aspects of the text that you have discussed in your commentary.
  • Assess briefly the achievements and significance of the passage, both in itself and in relation to the work from which it is taken.

  Some useful aids to commentary-writing  

  • Nurse, P. (ed.), The Art of Criticism: Essays in French Literary Analysis (Edinburgh, 1969) (sample commentaries of French literary texts)  
  • Biard, J. D., Lexique pour I 'explication de texte (Exeter, 1980)  
  • Benac, H., Vocabulaire de la dissertation (Paris, 1949)

  (Binac and Biard provide lists of technical terms used in close analysis of a literary text in French, and give explanations and examples of usage)  

Commentary Essay Example, Writing Guide, and Tips

where does the commentary go in an essay


Welcome to The Knowledge Nest, your go-to resource for all things related to commentary essay writing. In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of crafting an impactful commentary essay, providing useful examples and valuable tips to help you enhance your writing skills.

What is a Commentary Essay?

A commentary essay is a type of academic writing that aims to analyze and provide an in-depth interpretation of a particular text or topic. It offers a critical examination and evaluation of the subject matter, exploring various perspectives and providing evidence-based arguments to support the author's viewpoint.

Why Write a Commentary Essay?

Writing a commentary essay allows you to develop critical thinking skills, enhance your analytical abilities, and strengthen your written communication. It provides a platform to express your ideas and opinions, engage with different viewpoints, and present a well-rounded analysis of the chosen subject matter.

Key Components of a Commentary Essay

1. Introduction: Begin your essay with a captivating introduction that presents the topic and provides context for the reader.

2. Thesis Statement: Craft a clear and concise thesis statement that outlines your main argument or perspective.

3. Body Paragraphs: Develop your analysis in well-structured body paragraphs, each focusing on a specific point or theme. Use relevant evidence, examples, and expert opinions to support your claims.

4. Counterarguments: Address potential counterarguments or alternative viewpoints and offer thoughtful rebuttals to strengthen your position.

5. Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your essay and reiterate your thesis statement, leaving the reader with a lasting impression.

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Commentary Essay

Step 1: choose a relevant topic.

Select a topic that aligns with your interests and falls within the scope of your assignment or academic requirements. Consider the relevance and significance of the subject matter to engage your readers.

Step 2: Conduct Extensive Research

Gather information from credible sources such as academic journals, books, reputable websites, and scholarly articles. Engage with different perspectives and take diligent notes to support your analysis.

Step 3: Outline Your Essay

Create a clear and well-structured outline that outlines the main points, arguments, and supporting evidence you will present in your essay. A well-organized outline ensures a cohesive and logical flow of ideas.

Step 4: Craft an Engaging Introduction

In your introduction, provide a brief overview of the topic and its significance. Hook the reader's attention with an intriguing opening sentence or a thought-provoking question.

Step 5: Develop Your Arguments in the Body Paragraphs

Divide your essay into distinct body paragraphs, each focusing on a specific point or theme. Begin each paragraph with a topic sentence that establishes the main idea, and support it with relevant evidence, examples, and analysis.

Step 6: Address Counterarguments

Acknowledge alternative viewpoints and counterarguments to demonstrate your awareness of different perspectives. Articulate thoughtful rebuttals that strengthen your arguments and distinguish your viewpoint.

Step 7: Conclude with Impact

In your conclusion, summarize the main points of your essay and restate your thesis statement. Leave the reader with a compelling closing thought or call-to-action that invites further reflection or discussion on the topic.

Commentary Essay Example

To provide you with a better understanding, let's consider an example of a commentary essay on the topic of climate change:


Climate change has emerged as one of the most pressing global issues of our time. This commentary essay aims to analyze the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to address this environmental crisis.

Body Paragraph 1: The Causes of Climate Change

The first body paragraph delves into the primary causes of climate change, such as greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and industrialization. It explores how human activities have contributed to the accelerated pace of global warming.

Body Paragraph 2: The Impacts of Climate Change

In the second body paragraph, we examine the far-reaching impacts of climate change on ecosystems, weather patterns, and human livelihoods. We explore the devastating consequences of rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and the loss of biodiversity.

Body Paragraph 3: Potential Solutions to Climate Change

The third body paragraph focuses on potential solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It explores renewable energy sources, sustainable agricultural practices, and international collaboration as key strategies to combat this global crisis.


In conclusion, the commentary essay emphasizes the urgent need for collective action to address climate change. By understanding its causes, impacts, and potential solutions, we can work towards a sustainable future for generations to come.

Writing a commentary essay enables you to dive deep into a specific topic, critically analyze it, and articulate your thoughts effectively. By following our comprehensive guide and utilizing the provided tips, you will be well-equipped to create impactful commentary essays and improve your writing skills.

Enhance Your Writing Skills with The Knowledge Nest

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How to write a commentary essay: tips and examples.

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Updated: May 13, 2024

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Ever felt overwhelmed by the thought of writing a commentary essay? It can be daunting to express your thoughts coherently and engage your readers effectively. A commentary essay requires you to analyze a text critically, offering your perspective in a structured and detailed manner. This blog will guide you through understanding what a commentary essay is, exploring its types, and providing steps and tips to write one effectively, including examples and essential do's and don'ts.

Start Writing Your Free Essay!

Understanding what a commentary essay is.

A commentary essay is a type of writing where you, the author, provide your personal interpretation and analytical comments on a given text. This could be a book, an article, a film, or any other form of media. The purpose of this essay is not just to summarize the content but to dive deep into its elements and offer insights based on your understanding. This kind of essay helps in sharpening critical thinking skills and allows you to convey your perspectives in a structured manner.

In academic and professional settings, the importance of a commentary essay lies in its ability to demonstrate your ability to critically engage with texts and articulate your thoughts clearly. Here are some key aspects that highlight its significance:

  • Enhances analytical skills : By analyzing different layers of the text.
  • Improves writing skills : As it requires clear and coherent expression of your thoughts.
  • Encourages independent thinking : You interpret the text in your unique way without relying solely on external commentaries.

Exploring Types of Commentary Essays

old books on a wall

Commentary essays come in various forms, each serving a unique purpose and audience. One popular type is the literary commentary , which focuses on analyzing a specific passage from a literary work. This type of commentary delves into the text's themes, stylistic choices, and overall significance within the larger context of the work. It's not about summarizing but rather interpreting and offering new insights about the text. Literary commentaries are particularly useful in academic settings where deep textual analysis is required to understand the nuances of literature.

Another distinct type is data commentary . Unlike its literary counterpart, data commentary does not deal with traditional texts. Instead, it focuses on interpreting and discussing data, often presented in formats such as graphs, tables, or charts. The key points of a data commentary might include the data's reliability, trends, and what these imply about the broader research context. This type is commonly found in scientific or technical fields, where understanding data is crucial for advancing knowledge and making informed decisions.

Steps to Writing a Commentary Essay

Writing a commentary essay involves a systematic approach that starts with thorough planning. Initially, you must carefully read and analyze the text to fully grasp its content and subtleties. This critical first step sets the foundation for your commentary, as it allows you to form a clear understanding of the text's main points and underlying messages. It's not just about understanding what the text says, but also about interpreting and evaluating its deeper meanings and implications.

After your initial analysis, the next step is to outline your essay. This outline should include an introduction that sets up your thesis statement, a body where you will expand on your main points with detailed commentary, and a conclusion that ties all your insights together and reinforces your thesis. The key to a successful commentary essay is linking your observations back to your main thesis , ensuring that each section of your essay contributes to a cohesive and persuasive argument.

Specific Methods for Crafting Commentary

One effective method for crafting insightful commentary in your essay is the "This Shows That" method . This technique involves starting your analysis sentences with the phrase "this shows that," which prompts you to explain the significance of a quotation or a detail from the text. This method helps in steering clear of mere plot summary by encouraging a deeper analysis of how specific elements of the text contribute to its overall meaning or theme.

Another powerful strategy is the "LET" method , which stands for Literary Elements and Techniques. This approach guides you to focus on the literary devices used in the text and discuss how they enhance the narrative or argument. For instance, you might analyze the use of metaphor, symbolism, or irony, and explain how these elements support the text's themes. By using the LET method, you can provide a more nuanced interpretation that highlights your ability to engage critically with literary texts.

Example of a Well-Written Commentary Essay

Let's consider an example of a well-written commentary essay on the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. The essay begins with an introduction that contextualizes the poem and presents the thesis: Frost uses the road as a metaphor for life's choices. The body paragraphs delve into detailed analysis:

  • Exploring the metaphor : The essay discusses how the "two roads diverged" symbolizes life decisions.
  • Imagery and tone : The commentary highlights how Frost's use of serene and contemplative imagery enhances the theme of choice.
  • Reader’s personal reflection : The essay includes the author’s personal interpretation, suggesting that the poem resonates with readers who face significant life choices.

In the conclusion, the essay synthesizes the analysis by reaffirming how Frost’s use of literary techniques, such as metaphor and imagery, effectively underscores the poem's deeper meaning about choices and consequences. This example demonstrates the key elements of a commentary essay:

  • Thesis-driven : It is centered around a clear, arguable thesis.
  • Textual evidence : It uses specific examples from the poem to support claims.
  • Personal interpretation : It reflects the writer’s unique perspective on the text.

Tips for Writing an Effective Commentary Essay

a person writing in a notebook with a pen

When embarking on writing a commentary essay, it's crucial to focus on structure, style, and content . Begin with a clear and concise thesis statement that will guide the flow of your essay. This statement should not only state your main point but also set the tone for the arguments you will present. Here are some style tips to consider:

  • Use a formal yet engaging tone to connect with your reader.
  • Vary your sentence structures to keep the essay dynamic and interesting.
  • Employ rhetorical questions sparingly to provoke thought without overusing them.

Structurally, your essay should have a logical flow that makes it easy for readers to follow your analysis. Start with an introduction that hooks the reader and provides a roadmap of your commentary. The body of your essay should then elaborate on your thesis statement, with each paragraph focusing on a single idea supported by evidence from the text. Finally, ensure your conclusion ties all your points together and reinforces your thesis, leaving the reader with a strong impression of your analytical skills. Remember, the key to an effective commentary is not just in what you say, but in how you say it.

Concluding Your Commentary Essay Properly

Concluding your commentary essay is crucial as it's your final opportunity to make an impact on the reader. A strong conclusion will not only summarize the main points but also reinforce your thesis statement and show how your analysis adds to the understanding of the text. Consider linking back to your introduction or using a quotation that emphasizes your main point. This creates a sense of completeness and leaves the reader with a lasting impression of your insights.

To ensure your conclusion is effective, try these strategies:

  • Synthesize, don't just summarize : Briefly reiterate your main points to show how they interconnect and support your thesis.
  • Include a provocative insight or quotation : This can give your conclusion depth and resonance.
  • Propose questions or suggest further areas of study : This encourages the reader to think beyond the essay and apply your analysis in broader contexts. By implementing these methods, your conclusion will serve as a powerful capstone to your commentary essay.

Key Terminology in Commentary Writing

Understanding the key terminology in commentary writing is crucial for anyone looking to master this style of essay. Terms like "thesis statement" refer to the main idea or argument that your essay proposes and defends throughout the text. Another important term is "textual evidence," which includes quotations, summaries, or paraphrases from the text to support your thesis. These elements are vital as they provide the foundation and support for your commentary, ensuring that your analysis is grounded in the text itself.

Additionally, the term "analysis" in commentary writing involves breaking down the text into its components to understand its meanings, themes, and implications more deeply. This process is often supported by identifying and discussing various literary devices such as metaphor, symbolism, or irony used by the author. Recognizing these devices helps to enrich your interpretation, offering a more nuanced view of the text. Personal interpretation , another key term, refers to your unique perspective and insights on the text, which adds originality and depth to your essay.

Do's and Don'ts in Commentary Essay Writing

When writing a commentary essay, it's crucial to adhere to specific best practices while avoiding common pitfalls. Do ensure you always cite your sources to back up your analysis and provide credibility to your essay. Do include a clear and concise title that reflects your thesis and the essence of the commentary. It's also important to thoroughly understand and present the original content you are discussing, including details about the author and publication.

On the flip side, there are several things you should avoid to maintain the quality of your commentary essay. Don't merely summarize the entire content; instead, focus on analyzing and interpreting the text. Avoid including irrelevant citations just to fill space—every source should add value to your argument. Lastly, don't overlook the importance of proofreading ; always review your work to correct any grammatical or structural errors, ensuring your final piece is polished and professional.

Enhance Your Commentary Essay with Samwell.ai

Samwell.ai significantly simplifies the process of writing commentary essays by providing AI-powered writing assistance. This tool is designed to help you craft well-researched, insightful essays that adhere to academic integrity. With features like advanced plagiarism checks and access to authentic sources , Samwell.ai ensures that your essay is not only original but also rich in content and analysis. This is crucial in commentary essays where depth and originality are key.

Using Samwell.ai, students and professionals can focus more on developing their analytical skills without the stress of extensive research and citation management. Here’s how you can benefit:

  • Ease of use : The interface is user-friendly, making essay writing more accessible.
  • Time-saving features : Quick access to data and citations speeds up the writing process.
  • Enhanced learning : Provides multimedia integrations for a comprehensive understanding of topics. To experience these benefits firsthand, visit Samwell.ai and start enhancing your essays today.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a commentary in an essay.

Starting a commentary essay effectively involves setting up a clear and engaging introduction. Begin with a hook to capture the reader's interest, followed by background information on the text you will be analyzing. Then, introduce your thesis statement, which will guide the flow of your essay and state your main point. This structure not only prepares the reader for what is to come but also sets the tone for a coherent and persuasive argument.

What is an example for commentary?

An example of a commentary essay is analyzing the poem "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost. The essay could start with an introduction that contextualizes the poem and presents the thesis that Frost uses the road as a metaphor for life's choices. The body paragraphs would delve into detailed analysis, discussing the metaphor of the roads diverging, the use of serene and contemplative imagery, and the personal reflection of the reader. The conclusion would then synthesize this analysis, reaffirming how Frost’s literary techniques effectively underscore the poem's themes about choices and consequences.

What is the format of writing commentary?

The format of writing a commentary essay includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. Begin with an introduction that includes a hook, background information, and a thesis statement. The body should consist of several paragraphs, each focusing on a specific part of the analysis linked back to the thesis. Each paragraph should contain textual evidence and detailed commentary. Conclude the essay by synthesizing the main points, reinforcing the thesis, and suggesting further implications or questions for the reader to consider. This structured approach helps maintain a clear and logical flow, making your analysis easy to follow.

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5.1 Developing commentary throughout paragraphs

2 min read • january 29, 2023

Hayley Potter

Hayley Potter

What is commentary?

Commentary is your own interpretation of a passage. What ideas does this passage put in your mind? What does it remind you of? What did you find interesting? This is all commentary .

Commentary proves how the evidence in your essay proves your amazing thesis . Evidence is super duper important, but what is critical to your RA essay is commentary . Without commentary your essay lacks personality and lacks your line of reasoning (check out guide 5.0). Evidence answers the what? And commentary answers the how and why. All critical to your RA essay. 

Commentary depends on the rhetorical situation . The rhetorical situation : the writer or speaker , the audience, the context, the exigence (unit 4), the purpose , and the argument . You need the rhetorical situation because this is what your commentary is on. 

Awesome RA verbs for your essay:

Awesome commentary words: 

Commentary is best when you know the right questions to ask. This is where those amazing analyzing skills come out to play. Use them well and be a detective to figure out what the questions are. This will help you create commentary about the rhetoric you are analyzing.

Some Commentary Starters!

Author The author reveals/shows/presents/emphasizes/suggests... The author wants the reader to understand...

Character/Conflict The character makes this decision/says this quote because... At this point in the story, the character is realizing... When the character makes this choice we see that... In making this choice the story changes in this way...

The point of this conversation is... This passage/quote is effective beause This event in the novel shows/proves/explains… Because of this… This quote/passage adds to the reader’s appreciation of the story/poem because...

Analysis This reveals... This shows... This demonstrates...

Key Terms to Review ( 8 )

Rhetorical Situation


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  • A Research Guide
  • Writing Guide
  • Assignment Writing

How to Write a Commentary Essay

What is a literary commentary, steps to prepare for a commentary, steps to write the commentary, it takes a broad thinking and analysis, it should be critical yet with a respectful tone, prepare before writing, outline the main points.

Useful information: Check research paper outline example and learn how to write it.


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Identifying the basic information

Mention about the theme, subject, and audience, observe the structure and genre of the content, identify how the text is presented, understand the tone, look for the literary devices that deepen the meaning, take the quotes included in the text, wrapping up your commentary with a summary, make your commentary presentable, ask for the feedback.

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How to Write a Commentary Essay: Your Student’s Guide

A commentary essay is not the most popular type of academic assignment. Yet, you should know how to write this paper as it may also add up some points to your record book. This step-by-step article explains how to write a commentary essay. These pieces of advice provided by the professional online writers and editors from a custom writing service will help you reinforce your ability to write this type of assignment. It can be submitted as both homework or in-class assignment. Some tutors may assign a commentary as part of the examination. So, there is no way out but to learn how to write it.

What is a Commentary Essay?

To make it short, a literary commentary is a type of academic assignment aimed to reveal the results of analysis and detailed description of a particular piece of text. It can be a new or outdated article, but it is better to choose one that is not older than five years. There is no need to involve a general discussion on the topic/thesis statement. Still, it should have a strong thesis.

Except for academic purposes, commentaries are sporadically used for publishing purposes. That means that whenever a publisher needs a commentary for a recently published work, the editor should write one. The primary goal of such type of writing is to initiate a forum where people can voice and opine various perspectives on a given topic.

Commentary Essay Structure and Outline

You should clearly see the difference between commenting on a research paper and a commentary as a subgenre of academic writing. They differ in structure even though the purpose is the same.

In case you are writing a commentary essay as a separate assignment, you should pick a different structure that is reminiscent of the other academic genres. It should generate around 5 paragraphs in length with the proposed outline looking as follows:

  • Abstract (summarize the rest of the literary commentary in 250-300 words maximum — 1/3 of a page).
  • Introduction (introduce the analyzed piece and its author).
  • Several body paragraphs (include a topic sentence and transitions in each).
  • Conclusion (summarize everything said above, restate your thesis, and finish on a powerful accord).

You should not use any other references except for the one you analyze. It will be enough to cite the original source and use your own words to illustrate your points of view. As you see, there is no need to add a reference page in the end.

How about the process of writing itself? Take a look at the professional tips on writing a commentary essay below!

Commentary Essay Writing Guidelines

  • Involve broad thinking and analysis.

As an author, you must be well-versed in what you are writing in the commentary. Otherwise, you can neither judge the works of other authors objectively nor justify your own opinions. First off, cover the primary concepts and overall beliefs. It is also possible to include a cause-and-effect concept in such a situation. Except for the review of the analyzed content, it is crucial to extend the idea and add some personal touch to what you’re writing about.

  • Stick to the critical but respectful tone.

Portray a case in the present as well as share some forecast for the future, if possible. Play with the available data as well as with your own thoughts. If you feel like lacking competence in a particular field, it is recommended not to enforce your ideas as something may be wrong with your stance. Instead of focusing on the author of the text and criticizing them, your analysis can be restricted to the text alone. Make sure the tone of your discourse is constructive and sober.

  • Get ready before writing.

Before starting the first draft, read the analyzed piece several times to make sure you understand its central concept. Perhaps, you’ve missed some critical points between the lines while reading the message for the first time? Write out all the fundamental ideas on a separate sheet of paper to come back to them later in the writing process. Highlight the keywords, especially if you plan to submit this document online or publish it on a website. Check the meaning of the terminology you don’t know. Don't be afraid to use the dictionary!

  • Start with a hook.

How to start a commentary essay? That is a good question as you have to catch an eye of the audience and make them want to read your work to the end. The best way to grab the attention is to start with a bang: a shocking fact or a rhetorical question would do.

Why not sum up these tips along with some new recommendations? That’d be a ready-to-use checklist for you!

Tips on Writing a Commentary Essay

The basic tips that may help you on the way to outstanding commentary are:

  • Define the main problem.
  • Consider the theme and target audience.
  • Decide on the structure and genre of the paper.
  • Decide how to present the information.
  • Be clear about the language and style of your work.
  • Select the artistical devices to hone your supply.
  • Choose what to quote and what not to.
  • Turn the paper into a presentable speech.
  • Look for the feedback.
  • Proofread and edit the final draft.

If you still have some questions about writing a commentary essay, leave them to the bigs. We are ready to write your commentary essay for you anytime! Our customer-centric approach and student-friendly prices will give you the peace of mind that you need most. Place an order by one of the best paper writing services now!

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where does the commentary go in an essay

If you’ve arrived on this page, you probably have a commentary essay due. It can seem like a daunting task, but fear not, as it’s not as complicated as it might seem. We’re used to providing commentary in our day-to-day life, be it about a piece of news or gossip you’ve just heard, a sports event, or even an update from a family member, so your task is only to take that habit and put it into a more formal form of commentary in writing. So, whether you are struggling to pick the right topic or just need some tips on how to go about developing your writing skills, our informative guide will help you with any and all of the points!

What is a Commentary in Writing: Unlocking the Mystery

Let’s get the most important definition out of the way, that is what does commentary mean in writing.

It’s a genre of writing that analyzes and interprets ideas, trends, and events to find different meanings and patterns in them. When writing commentary, you shouldn’t simply do a general overview, but find a way for your reader to make sense of the topic you are covering. You should also try to find a unique viewpoint on things, so your reader can discover the causes and consequences of a specific issue you are covering and in turn make their own judgments about them.

What is a Commentary Essay in a Nutshell

A simple commentary essay definition is that it’s a paper where you provide your opinion on a specific subject. It can be done as a response to another piece of writing like a book, article, or blog post, or you can choose an issue you want to cover and do a commentary essay about it. It goes without saying that you will need to do your research, no matter the topic of your paper, and provide your own take on the situation, using solid evidence and example to support your point. That is exactly why professors love to assign this task to their students, as commentary writing is a great way to show your critical thinking skills, as well as your ability to analyze a subject and provide a unique take on it.

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Commentary Essay Format: Covering the Basics

The commentary essay structure follows the standard formula of the introduction that includes your thesis statement, main body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. Depending on your word count, you might have more than one body paragraph, plus you’ll need to decide how big they are and how deep you can delve into the subject. Another pretty standard rule is that you need to have at least one respectable source for each page of your commentary essay. With the basics out of the way, here are some tips to get you started on your commentary in an essay writing:

  • Dedicate some time to come up with your thesis statement, so it’s catchy and clear at the same time, while also covering all of the arguments you’ll be making in the main body paragraphs.
  • Delve deep into your subject and offer your reader some food for thought, so that after reading your paper they still want to think about your points and maybe even act on some of them.
  • Try to engage your reader in a conversation and demonstrate your point of view in a way that they can be open to it, even if their opinion on the subject differs from yours.
  • Don’t be shy and state your opinion clearly without trying to be too neutral or objective about the subject.

Commentary Essay Outline and How to Fill it Out

Now that you have a general idea of what your commentary essay should be about and look like, let’s delve into more specific steps of filling out your commentary paper outline:

  • Title.  It should be as short as possible, catchy, and relevant to your topic.
  • Introduction .
  • Hook sentence. Make sure to grab your reader’s attention right away.
  • Author, title, main characters, summary. That’s in case you are doing a commentary essay based on a text. If you are covering an issue, a brief summary of its history and significant points should be there as well.
  • Thesis statement. Help your reader to understand the direction of your essay.
  • Main body paragraph(s).
  • Topic sentence. It should illustrate how you are going to support your thesis.
  • A quote. Depending on the material you are covering it should be from the text you are covering or a reliable source related to the topic you will be discussing.
  • Analysis from the quote. Show how it supports your thesis.
  • Closing sentence. It should wrap up the paragraph nicely, and for the first and second body paragraphs, provide a transition to the next one.
  • Concluding paragraph.  Here you should summarize your main paragraphs, tie that to your thesis statement, possibly extend your argument and reiterate why the topic of your essay is important.

How to Write a Commentary Essay: Tips for Perfection

We’ve covered what a standard commentary essay should look like, but what about how to write a good commentary? Well, we’ve got your back even there!

There is one piece of advice that merits be mentioned outside of the list below. It’s that the driving point of the commentary essay is your unique take on the text or the issue you are covering. Your ideas make the backbone of your paper, so take extra care to formulate them clearly. When conveying your ideas, concentrate on the main thing you want to get across to your reader. Don’t expect them to understand your take from hints, be clear and concise in what you want to say. Now let’s check those steps you’ll need to take for a perfect commentary essay!

  • Make sure that you understand the prompt.  You have to thoroughly get the question or topic of your essay. If you are not sure what’s being asked of you, ask your professor.
  • Do some brainstorming.  Try to come up with different topics for your essay and different angles you can explore in the main body paragraphs. Make sure to jot down any idea you have, no matter how small or fragmented it is. When you’ve picked the main topic or angle, start fleshing it out with examples.
  • Come up with a thesis statement.  It will guide your essay from the introduction to the conclusion, so make sure it’s solid. A clear and specific thesis statement is especially important in a commentary essay, as it will tell your reader what kind of take to expect from your paper.
  • Get to the research.  Even if you are familiar with your subject, you still need reliable sources to help you support the points you’ll argue in your essay. Plus, it’s always better to delve into the subject even deeper to better understand it, so you can produce a coherent and well-informed paper.
  • Flesh out your outline.  Once you have a good idea of the direction you want your essay to go in, start adding to the outline template mentioned above.
  • Edit, proofread, and ask for feedback.  When you finish your final draft, let it sit for a day, if possible, and then reread it to eliminate any mistakes you might have made. Alternatively, ask your friends to read the essay for you and give you feedback on it.

40 Engaging Commentary Topics to Choose From

Choosing the right topic is detrimental to the quality of your commentary essay. Not only it will influence how productive your research and writing process will be, but it will also provide a level of engagement your professor will definitely pick up on when reading your paper. Look through the list of commentary paper topics our writers have put together and see if you find the one you’ve been looking for!

  • Accuracy of understanding other people’s feelings.
  • Novel approaches to public administration in developing countries.
  • The role a leader exerts on a crowd.
  • Factors that contribute to interpersonal attraction.
  • The role of image in compensating for possible physical unattractiveness.
  • Factors that influence successful socialization.
  • Social stereotypes based on ethnicity or age.
  • The role of the modern family as an institution.
  • The concept of personal influence and its significance.
  • The main sources of social conflict in modern society.
  • The role of socialization in different genders.
  • The main factors of social inequality today.
  • The effectiveness of social conflict management and resolution.
  • How to organize social processes for optimal outcomes.
  • The role of moral and ethical standards in modern public office.
  • Sociology of modern youth.
  • The social role of college students in modern society.
  • Understanding suicide as a form of deviant behavior.
  • Subcultures as a means of interpersonal and intercultural communication.
  • The relationship and impact of TV in modern society.
  • The position of the US in the global community.
  • Major areas of innovation in real estate management and development.
  • Unemployment: causes, forms, and regulation methods.
  • Government role in supporting innovation.
  • Innovative governance: objectives, functions, and principles.
  • Perception of significance when selecting people who matter.
  • Competitiveness as a measure of business performance.
  • Classifying cryptocurrency enterprises in modern times.
  • Novel organizational models for innovative enterprises.
  • Methods for generating new business ideas.
  • Process of developing an effective business plan.
  • Methods for evaluating the efficiency of innovations.
  • Discounting as a method of evaluating business efficiency.
  • Financial support for cryptocurrency projects.
  • Creating an effective business plan structure.
  • The intellectual property market and its operation.
  • Comparing venture business in the USA and EU.
  • Innovation marketing: key considerations.
  • The significance of the intellectual property in modern entrepreneurship.
  • Managing the creation and utilization of new cryptocurrency.

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Composition Writing Studio

Argumentative essay/commentary.

From the University of Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/685/05/):

The argumentative essay is a genre of writing that requires the student to investigate a topic, collect, generate, and evaluate evidence, and establish a position on the topic in a concise manner.

Argumentative essay assignments generally call for extensive research of literature or previously published material. Argumentative assignments may also require empirical research where the student collects data through interviews, surveys, observations, or experiments. Detailed research allows the student to learn about the topic and to understand different points of view regarding the topic so that s/he may choose a position and support it with the evidence collected during research. Regardless of the amount or type of research involved, argumentative essays must establish a clear thesis and follow sound reasoning.

  • Argument Essays: Getting Started
  • Developing Paragraphs
  • Finding Academic Journals
  • Logical Fallacies
  • Research Writing

General Resources:

  • Argument :   UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center's online handout in argument.
  • Types of Argument
  • Writing Arguments: An Overview :  Comprehensive guide from Colorado State University's Writing Studio
  • Sample Argument Essays
  • Prompts for Argument Essays :  301 ideas from the New York Times
  • Argument :  Main page for several argument sources from Oregon State University
  • Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion

Rhetorical Appeals (Logos, Pathos, Ethos)

  • Examples of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos :  Numerous examples of each appeal from YourDictionary
  • The Rhetorical Situation :  Purdue OWL's discussion of Aristotle's three appeals and use of telos and kairos
  • Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in Advertising :  YouTube video
  • Ethos, Pathos, Logos:   YouTube video

Toulmin Argument

  • Toulmin Method :  An extensive online guide from Colorado State University on using the Toulmin method of argumentation
  • Toulmin Method of Analyzing Arguments :  PowerPoint that defines and offers examples for Toulmin method
  • Definition of the Toulmin Method :  Adaptation of a chapter on Toulmin's approach to argument
  • Toulmin Argument (Aims of Argument) :  YouTube video

Rogerian Argument

  • Rogerian Argument :  Information on definition and format of argument
  • Rogerian Argument Example :  YouTube Video
  • Rogerian Argument :  YouTube Video

Counter Arguments/Perspectives

  • Counter Argument :  Overview provided by Harvard College
  • Writing Counter Argument Paragraphs :  YouTube video
  • Rhetorical Fallacies


The Role of Commentary in Rhetorical Analysis

Call it what you will—analysis, evaluation, commentary—this piece of rhetorical analysis is OPINION. Evidence is FACT, and commentary is OPINION. (When I’m training students to recognize the difference between the two, we use color coding. You can read more about how I do that here. )

Where students get tripped up is in misunderstanding the actual role of commentary; perhaps they see it as filler or some kind of semi-important text that is loosely associated with nearby evidence. If the latter is the case, they’re in the ballpark, so let’s get those writers into an actual seat. For the purpose of this post, we’ll talk specifically about rhetorical analysis since so many teachers begin with that skill set.

where does the commentary go in an essay

Commentary’s Jobs in Rhetorical Analysis

Job #1: make connections.

I made this super short video to explain visually what you’ll read below.


Analysis—what we’re calling commentary—is the student’s opinion about the way evidence proves the truth of a topic sentence, which defends the truth of the controlling thesis statement. Here’s how the connecting works. A rhetorical analysis essay has a thesis, which is a controlling idea. All ideas within the essay defend this one. If an idea does not defend this one, it has to go. I call that trimming the fat.

On the front lines of the defense of that thesis are the topic sentences. For a timed essay, we’re probably looking at two or three of those. Each of those topic sentences is a debatable idea that must also be defended. What defends each topic sentence is evidence, factual information taken from the text. Evidence defends the topic sentence, which defends the thesis. Here we go: The job of commentary is to tie the evidence to the topic sentence. This is where the student offers OPINION about how the factual evidence illustrates the truth of the topic sentence.

By connecting the evidence to the topic sentence and the topic sentence to the thesis, the commentary defends the thesis. This chain of defense is the way I wrap my mind around line of reasoning.

Done well, it’s beautiful. Done poorly, it looks like A LOT what we see in student essays.

J ob #2: Illustrate Critical Thinking

Commentary separates the men from boys, the wheat from the chaff, the analogies from the metaphors. Every writing rubric I’ve ever seen rewards it heavily.

On the AP Language Question 2 rubric, take a look at this wording for the column that awards all four points for evidence and commentary:

EVIDENCE: Provides specific evidence to support all claims in a line of reasoning. AND COMMENTARY: Consistently explains how the evidence supports a line of reasoning.  AND Explains how multiple rhetorical choices in the passage contribute to the writer’s argument, purpose, or message.

That’s THIS illustration! There are only four points to be had on this rubric, and FOUR of them are awarded to the process I described in that short little video above.

where does the commentary go in an essay

A student who creates that defense chain consistently with depth could even earn the sophistication point. That’s five out of six. Without a defensible thesis, that student could never have earned the four points for evidence and commentary because there was nothing to defend. That’s six out of six.

Translation: A student who understands the defense chain of a topic sentence being defended by topic sentences that are supported by evidence with connecting commentary is in the five-six range because that student’s maturity of thought is on full display to a reader.

What Commentary’s Role is NOT

Commentary’s job is not to provide proof from the text, either through direct quotations, paraphrasing, summarizing, or repetition of the actual evidence. When training students to write strong commentary, I suggest that we put off sentence combining; have students differentiate evidence from commentary through color coding so that both you and they can see that each piece of evidence has a tendon, a connector that ties the evidence to the topic sentence.

Once kids know what commentary is and isn’t–and all their English teachers communicate so they’re all using the same terminology–they can produce insightful, connected analysis.

Be on the lookout for more rhetorical analysis tips in your inbox. not on my email list you can join here, and i’ll send you a commentary anchor chart..

where does the commentary go in an essay

I’m a recovering high school English teacher and curriculum specialist with a passion for helping teachers leave school at school. I create engaging, rigorous curriculum resources for secondary ELA professionals, and I facilitate workshops to help those teachers implement the materials effectively.

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A Guide to Rebuttals in Argumentative Essays

A Guide to Rebuttals in Argumentative Essays

4-minute read

  • 27th May 2023

Rebuttals are an essential part of a strong argument. But what are they, exactly, and how can you use them effectively? Read on to find out.

What Is a Rebuttal?

When writing an argumentative essay , there’s always an opposing point of view. You can’t present an argument without the possibility of someone disagreeing.

Sure, you could just focus on your argument and ignore the other perspective, but that weakens your essay. Coming up with possible alternative points of view, or counterarguments, and being prepared to address them, gives you an edge. A rebuttal is your response to these opposing viewpoints.

How Do Rebuttals Work?

With a rebuttal, you can take the fighting power away from any opposition to your idea before they have a chance to attack. For a rebuttal to work, it needs to follow the same formula as the other key points in your essay: it should be researched, developed, and presented with evidence.

Rebuttals in Action

Suppose you’re writing an essay arguing that strawberries are the best fruit. A potential counterargument could be that strawberries don’t work as well in baked goods as other berries do, as they can get soggy and lose some of their flavor. Your rebuttal would state this point and then explain why it’s not valid:

Read on for a few simple steps to formulating an effective rebuttal.

Step 1. Come up with a Counterargument

A strong rebuttal is only possible when there’s a strong counterargument. You may be convinced of your idea but try to place yourself on the other side. Rather than addressing weak opposing views that are easy to fend off, try to come up with the strongest claims that could be made.

In your essay, explain the counterargument and agree with it. That’s right, agree with it – to an extent. State why there’s some truth to it and validate the concerns it presents.

Step 2. Point Out Its Flaws

Now that you’ve presented a counterargument, poke holes in it . To do so, analyze the argument carefully and notice if there are any biases or caveats that weaken it. Looking at the claim that strawberries don’t work well in baked goods, a weakness could be that this argument only applies when strawberries are baked in a pie.

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Step 3. Present New Points

Once you reveal the counterargument’s weakness, present a new perspective, and provide supporting evidence to show that your argument is still the correct one. This means providing new points that the opposer may not have considered when presenting their claim.

Offering new ideas that weaken a counterargument makes you come off as authoritative and informed, which will make your readers more likely to agree with you.

Summary: Rebuttals

Rebuttals are essential when presenting an argument. Even if a counterargument is stronger than your point, you can construct an effective rebuttal that stands a chance against it.

We hope this guide helps you to structure and format your argumentative essay . And once you’ve finished writing, send a copy to our expert editors. We’ll ensure perfect grammar, spelling, punctuation, referencing, and more. Try it out for free today!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rebuttal in an essay.

A rebuttal is a response to a counterargument. It presents the potential counterclaim, discusses why it could be valid, and then explains why the original argument is still correct.

How do you form an effective rebuttal?

To use rebuttals effectively, come up with a strong counterclaim and respectfully point out its weaknesses. Then present new ideas that fill those gaps and strengthen your point.

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