How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Guide to Synthesis Essays

August 31, 2023

How to Write a Synthesis Essay: Expert Tips to Boost Your Knowledge

College is an exciting period in students’ lives but also fraught with challenges. Suppose you began thinking, “How to write a synthesis essay?” you must have already encountered some of them. Perhaps your schedule is full, and you don’t have time to do another task. It could be that earning money is your priority now, and spending hours on boring homework isn’t a part of your plans. Illness or exhaustion are also relevant reasons that could stop you from doing your duty as a student and force you to seek help. Luckily, these days, it’s always just at your fingertips! TopEssayWriting is a loyal helper who assisted thousands of students throughout the years. We write, edit, and proofread different types of academic content. We also share guides full of insights from our experts. Use this one to learn everything about writing a synthesis essay.

What Is a Synthesis Essay: Definition, Types, and Other Basic Facts

Before we get to an actual writing process, let’s understand the definition of this interesting but challenging task. Synthesis essay is a piece of writing that incorporates different ideas from several sources and combines them into one single paper. The goal here is to demonstrate the relationship between various subjects and explore their impact on each other and the outside world. But enough of the theory: seeing examples always helps better. Imagine that you read one article dedicated to exploring an overly soft approach the USA uses with terrorists. Then, you read another article about the catastrophic impacts of global warming on our planet. The third source investigates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These three articles focus on different topics, but you can combine them into one essay.
How to do it, though? If you are a student who never tried writing a synthesis essay before, you might find it difficult. Integrating arguments coherently takes effort, as you need to find an ideal combination of topics that makes sense. It mustn’t look forced, and it should be something you are actually interested in researching. You might need to find other sources to support your arguments, too. A top essay writer could do it with no problem because they already have experience in this sphere. For example, they could write a paper about how American soft policies unnecessarily extend the war in Ukraine and how this war further fuels global warming. Overall, two main types of synthesis essays are explanatory and argumentative. We’ll explore both so that you’ll know how to write them.

Two Major Types of Synthesis Papers

How to write synthesis paper of an explanatory type? The clue is in its name: Writers must explain their topic to their audience. There is no need to argue or prove anything, just make certain you understand what you’re writing about and break concepts down in a clear manner. Using our example, we’d explain what soft policies the US uses and how negatively they affect the situation in Ukraine; we’d define the concept of global warming and show the connection between its deterioration and the war. By the end of the essay, our readers would have no questions left. This type of synthesis essay might sound easy, but if you ever felt the need to say, “I want someone else to write my Capstone project for me,” you’ll understand the problems that come with it. You still need to do complex research to illustrate your point and have the skills to link everything together smoothly.

Now, you know what a synthesis paper is, but what’s up with the argumentative type of it? Once again, all you need to know is already in the name of this task. Simply explaining the topic isn’t enough here, writers must choose a position and argue in its favor, listing points and refuting counter-arguments. To meet these criteria, we could argue why the American approach of catering to terrorists out of fear is erroneous. We need to show how many atrocities Russia can commit in Ukraine, listing global warming as one of its numerous negative effects. Naturally, we’d pick relevant research sources to make our position stronger and more convincing.

Accurate Synthesis Essay Structure: Theory and Examples

When writing a synthesis essay, students should follow the same standard structure they stick to in other academic papers. Our experts listed these steps and offered detailed descriptions plus examples for each part. If you don’t plan to order graduate school essay writing service from professionals and are determined to write everything by yourself, take a look. We guarantee that after this, you won’t have questions left.

  • Introduction. An introduction is the first part of a synthesis essay structure. It consists of several key components.
    • Hook. The first sentence must be a bright introduction of your topic. It should be interesting, moving, or powerful to entice readers into reading further.
    • Background. Identify sources that your paper is based on. In our case, this would be three articles: one mentioning US policies with terrorists, the second one exploring the Ukrainian war, and the third one investigating climate change.
    • Relevance. You know how to write a synthesis essay introduction that intrigues your readers with a hook, but the relevance part helps secure their interest. Explain why your topic matters and prove that exploring it is worth it.  
    • Thesis. This is the last sentence of the introduction, but since it plays a huge part in the entire paper, we’ll describe it in a separate category.

On to an example. We chose to write an explanatory synthesis essay on the topic we already introduced about the Russia-Ukraine war. This is what an ideal introduction for it could look like:
The ruination of millions of lives, torture, and destruction of land and property are only some impacts of full-scale wars, and guilt for it might lie on multiple parties at once. As Berret (2019) mentions in his article, an overly soft approach of the USA to terrorist countries like Iran, North Korea, and Russia creates risks for non-nuclear governments that are smaller in size and have no way of protecting themselves. The war Russia unleashed in Ukraine is horrifying, and in accordance with Smith (2023), it already caused crises on multiple levels, from economic to immigration ones. Stevenson’s (2022) article makes it clear why intensifying global warming can fall into the same category. A close connection exists between these three phenomena, and studying them is the only way to learn the lesson and make the world safer in the future.

  • Thesis. The thesis is vital in any synthesis essay structure. It reflects the main point of your paper and reveals what exactly you are going to explore in it. You must reference it in every opening sentence of your body and in your conclusion. Make it strong, and never use filler phrases like “This paper…” and such. Here’s an example:

As a superpower, the US dictates how terrorists are treated, and by limiting its help to Ukraine, it encourages Russia, which continues waging the terrible war that endangers the planet, intensifying the global warming effect tenfold.     

  • Body. How to write a synthesis paper body? Like an introduction, it consists of specific parts. Here they are.
    • Opening sentence. Link it with a part of your thesis: This line must demonstrate what the paragraph is going to be about.  
    • Claim. State your main point.
    • Elaboration and support. Elaborate on it while relying on other academic sources for support. You can have several related claims and explanations throughout the paragraph.
    • Closing sentence. Summarize what you discussed in a paragraph or create bridges toward the next paragraph.

What does a synthesis essay look like with a body? We crafted one paragraph as an example. Use it as a guide.

The USA is a large and influential country that sets the tone for the treatment of terrorists, and its fear of escalation prolongs the war in Ukraine, leading toward current and future disasters as the climate change problem intensifies. The US has a vast arsenal of weapons, even 25% of which could help Ukraine win the war (Rodgers, 2023). However, it declines to send them because, as it states, it does not want to escalate the situation (Joel, 2023). It means Ukraine is forced to defend itself with few weapons against a much more powerful enemy who uses every terrorist tactic to achieve results. This resulted in multiple deaths that could have been prevented. Russia has free reign to do what it wants: even after going as far as exploding the Kakhovka dam, it faced no repercussions from the US. This encourages it to keep terrorizing Ukraine. Apart from the loss of lives, the war affects global warming. The constant battle smoke accumulates in the atmosphere (Raynold, 2022). Multiple companies started manufacturing more weapons, which aggravated nature further. The US’ refusal to help Ukraine end the war swiftly endangers the world and encourages other terrorists to use force to get what they want.

  • Conclusion. These are the parts that belong in conclusion:
    • Restated thesis. Repeat thesis, but follow synthesis essay tips: don’t copy it directly. This would only get you in trouble.
    • Repetition of main points. Remind your readers what main ideas you discussed in the body. Like with the thesis, be careful and use new word combinations. Never copy-paste info you already wrote down in other paragraphs.
    • Possible solution. Propose a solution that could solve the problem you identified.

How to write a conclusion for a synthesis essay? This is our example:

The US holds large sources of power, but its soft attitude keeps encouraging terrorists, including Russia, which continues to ravage Ukraine and kill its people, provoking an imminent global warming disaster. Refusing to deliver an adequate supply of weapons to Ukraine means giving Russia permission to keep committing atrocities without fearing punishment. The impacts can affect the entire world, poisoning it with heat at increased speed. Applying a decisive approach is the only way to stop the terrorists and protect the planet from further deterioration.

Strategies for Choosing a Topic for Your Synthesis Essay

How to write a winning synthesis paper? Students should come up with a good topic first and foremost. If you don’t like the subject you’re exploring, making it sound interesting is going to be difficult. Try picking something that you like at least a little bit. Think about your interests: What are your hobbies? They could hide a plethora of useful ideas.
Go online and check your search history: it might offer some topics you forgot but were curious about. Discuss potential ideas with your family or friends, or search online lists with ideas. Multiple academic platforms develop them to help students out.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Outline & Format It Properly

Outlines help save you time. Many students want to know how to write an essay fast but they think an outline is only going to complicate matters. This is not true. Sure, you might need to waste some time on it, but in the end, you’ll preserve hours. Write down parts of an essay as we did above: intro, body, and conclusion. Brainstorm and add a line or two with ideas to each of them. It could be something as simple as “Body paragraph 1: why the US is not doing enough.” This will help you stick to a specific structure — you won’t get lost in your thoughts after you start writing.

But apart from writing a synthesis essay outline, students should also know how to format their papers. MLA, APA, plus Chicago are the most common styles. Have a look at these quick tips for each of them.


  • Use Times New Roman 12 pt.
  • Add 1-inch margins from all sides.
  • Include your last name and page number in the upper right corner on every page.
  • No separate title page.
  • Make a header with your and your professor’s name, course number, plus submission date.
  • Make a works cited list.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay in APA

  • Same as with MLA: use Times New Roman 12 pt. and 1-inch margins
  • Make a separate title page
  • Write an abstract summarizing your synthesis essay
  • Add a page number to the top right corner
  • Create list with references

Chicago Synthesis Essay Format

  • Like with other styles, go for Times New Roman 12 pt, and one-inch margins
  • Have a title page with title, name, date
  • Choose double-spacing
  • Create footnotes for in-text citations
  • Make a bibliography list

Final Tips for Writing a Synthesis Essay

We shared most strategies that should help students create the best synthesis essays. Still, as a final touch, we’d like to offer a few more tips. Try using them and writing will become easier!

  • Make up a good title. Never title your works as “synthesis essay” or anything similar. Show more creativity: readers like this.
  • Use academic language. Never use contractions or phrasal verbs. Diversify your vocabulary.
  • Keep synthesizing information. Don’t forget about referring to at least two sources and integrating ideas from them.  
  • Keep paragraphs readable. Don’t make them shorter than 5 sentences or longer than 200 words.
  • Edit your paper. Proofread your text. Students who aren’t sure how to edit an essay could always ask for professional help. This would ensure cleanliness of their paper.

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