The Humble Essay (3e, 2015)

Now in its third edition, this introduction to college writing introduces students to the college essay and guides students through the process of educating themselves and developing their own ideas about a topic so that they can enjoy writing about anything — not just the topics they already care about. The Humble Essay then shows students how to refine their ideas and present them within the conventions of an effective college writing so that they and their work will be taken more seriously.

The Humble Essay by Roy K. Humble, front cover

Table of Contents

Introduction: Anyone Can Learn How to Write — Read It!

Part One: The College Essay Is Something You Make

Overview: The Form of Formal Writing — Read It!

Chapter 1: The College Essay Is Your Own Idea — Read It!

  • Commonly Misunderstood Terms
  • The College Essay and What It Is Not
  • The Other Purpose of the College Essay

Chapter 2: The Essay Is Made of Paragraphs

  • A Brief Introduction to Formal Paragraphs
  • Opening Paragraphs
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Closing Paragraphs
  • Writing One Paragraph at a Time

Chapter 3: Paragraphs Are Made of Grammatical Sentences

  • Informal Sentences
  • Grammatical Sentences
  • The Clause
  • Types of Grammatical Sentences
  • The Complex Sentence
  • Practice Makes Less Imperfect

Chapter 4: Grammatical Sentences Require Formal Punctuation

  • Ending Punctuation
  • The Comma
  • The Colon
  • Quotation Marks
  • The Ellipsis
  • The Apostrophe
  • Punctuation You Shouldn’t Use
  • How to Learn Everything Else
  • Why This Book Doesn’t Follow Its Own Advice

Chapter 5: Sentences Are Made of Carefully Chosen Words

  • Choose the Right Word
  • Spell Your Words Correctly
  • Be Professional
  • Be Precise
  • Common Word Choice Errors

Part Two: The College Essay Is Something You Do

Overview: The Writing of Formal Writing — Read It!

Chapter 6: The College Essay Means Thinking for Yourself — Read It!

  • How Not to Write: Youthful Rituals
  • How Also Not to Write — The Knucklehead
  • How to Write the College Essay
  • How to Make the Process Work for You

Chapter 7: Educate Yourself About Your Topic

  • Step 1: Get to Know Your Topic
  • Step 2: Narrow Your Focus
  • Step 3: Research the Narrowed Focus
  • Write More about Less

Chapter 8: Find and Improve Your Main Idea

  • Find a Legitimate Main Idea
  • Use a Thesis Statement to Improve Your Main Idea
  • The Value of the Writerly Thesis Statement

Chapter 9: Plan the Body of Your Essay

  • Build a Topic Sentence Outline Beforehand
  • Or Build a Topic Sentence Outline Afterward
  • Organize Your Paragraphs

Chapter 10: Explain Your Idea with Details

  • Define Important Words
  • Use Summaries to Introduce or Interpret Information
  • Use Details to Defend Your Summaries
  • Use Details to Illustrate and Defend
  • Give Credit to Your Sources of Information

Chapter 11: Guide Your Readers

  • Use Topic Sentences
  • Use Transitions
  • Write an Engaging but Obvious Opening
  • Write a Triumphant Closing

Chapter 12: Proofread Your Essay

  • Proofread the Surface of the Essay
  • Put Distance Between You and Your Essay
  • Keep Proofreading in Its Place

Conclusion: Now What?