The University of Mississippi
Department of English
To keep your essay within the length mentioned, you must narrow your focus considerably. A topic "A" essay on "department stores," for instance, would be far too broad a subject for a 600- to 800-word essay, but if you narrow it to something specific about department stores (e.g., store charge card offers, seasonal sales, the use and types of mannequins in clothing departments, etc.), especially if you narrow it to a single store or chain of stores (Sears, J.C. Penney, etc.), you have the potential for a good essay.
Keys to Success: Use sources that closely relate to your topic. I recommend you search current periodicals for the most up-to-date information. Consider also the source of your research -- a trade magazine about merchandising may provide useful information about methods of marketing and merchandising, but it may not treat as forthrightly any arguments about potential negative effects of advertising, marketing, or merchandising techniques upon consumers, since to do so might alienate that publication's target audience.
Audience: Consider carefully who you intend to be the "readers" of your piece, and write accordingly. Pretend you are writing for a publication or other forum of your choice. Prior to turning in your drafts to the instructor, include a brief statement detailing who you perceive your audience to be. (Note: you may "discover" who the audience is in the process of writing your drafts.)
Purpose: Your essay should carry an implicit sense of purpose, other than that it is required for a class. One way to help establish a clear rationale is to write about something of interest to you, and to use suitable personal elements within the essay. For instance, you could use anecdotes about going to a sale or enrolling in an exercise class or diet program to heighten readers' interest in your topic and to demonstrate your own interest in the subject.
Format: Same formatting as Essay 1, except for the additional requirement of a Works Cited page.
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