From essay to blog

Throughout our formative years we have been taught to write essays: from high school to university, essay-writing has formed a pivotal instrument to assess our knowledge and comprehension on a certain subject.

In essays we generally struggle with word limits, since a certain threshold needs to be met. Usually, the struggle consists of reaching the threshold rather than overshooting it. However, sometimes the word limit may form a restriction and it is challenging to limit our ideas to the imposed amount of words. In the latter case, you usually start cutting the introduction section of your paper, and if that doesn’t do the job, then you maybe shorten the substantive parts of the essay.

In the Master Law & Economics, we have also had to write essays for various courses. The word limit usually varied between 3,000 and 6,000 words (it could change for you, don’t get your hopes up). However, during Block 3, I enrolled in a caput select course which required me not only to write an essay, but also a blog post (and if the post was good enough, it could be published online).

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In that course, I learnt that writing a blog post is a completely different animal because it entails an exercise of concise and sharp reasoning. Blog posts are meant to be short (around 700 words) and to the point, so you have to identify your key arguments and put them in the clearest way possible so anyone can understand your message (even laymen in law).

Thus, if I had struggled with the word limit on essays, working on a blogpost was twice as challenging. However, this wasn’t an impossible task. Here are some tips given by our professor and some L&E alumni that were invited to talk about their experiences, which I found really helpful:

  • Start writing after having an essay draft: You’ll have a better understanding of the topic because you would’ve done the research and, most importantly, you’ll have your key arguments outlined.
  • Use plain language: your readers will not only be law students or lawyers, but also members of the general public. Avoid using complex sentences or long paragraphs. There are useful online tools to see how understandable your text is, such as this one.
  • Use hyperlinks: they are really useful to give references to the reader in an easy and interactive way (e.g. news, reports, papers, among others).
  • Use visual aids: from graphs and pictures, to bullet points and charts, they are helpful to give a better understanding to the reader.

Writing the post was an enriching experience because it helped me to be concise (as you know, sometimes less is better) by allowing me to identify which arguments needed to be highlighted and which parts were rather supportive and could be shortened (or even eliminated). Further, before entering into the Master Law & Economics. I wrote a couple of blogposts myself that could have been better if I’d have had the knowledge I gained after the course.

So now you know, write and enjoy.

Jorge

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