Mastering the Art of Essay Commentary: A Step-by-Step Guide

Mastering the Art of Essay Commentary: A Step-by-Step Guide

So, your professor has asked you to deliver an exceptional commentary essay over the weekend. Now you’ve started wondering, “What is a commentary in an essay?” “How to write an excellent one?” Well, let us tell you, you’re not the only one.

Writing a commentary essay as a part of homework or an assignment is an arduous and exasperating affair for many. However, it is not as challenging as it seems. According to eminent stalwarts of a reputed academic writing company,, crafting an excellent commentary essay demands making a detailed analysis of a news article or a text.

One needs to offer their opinion, analysis, evaluation, or personal reaction about a specific detail in the paper. A commentary essay is mostly used for news and magazine publications.

There is no magical formula for writing a successful commentary in an essay. How the commentary turns out depends entirely on what you’re reviewing, why you’re offering feedback, and how well you can convey your thoughts about the work. No need to fret.

In today’s comprehensive post, we will walk you through certain vital guidelines for writing a commentary in an essay and provide relevant examples that will enable you to sail through your essays like an academic champion.

Commentary: A Quick Overview

Commentary: A Quick Overview

Simply put, a commentary essay is a detailed analysis of a passage of the work or a work itself. This doesn’t require expressing thesis statements or a more general discussion of the whole book. In such an essay, the author doesn’t simply summarize what he has read. However, they need to express their thoughts and evaluate the key points in the work.

A commentary essay can be of two types:

  • Literary Commentary – A literary commentary specifically focuses on an in-depth analysis and detailed text description. They are generally used for news and magazine publications. The whole objective of publishing a commentary is to offer a forum on different parts of the literary analysis of a text where various perspectives can be discussed on a certain topic.
  • Data commentary – On the other hand, a data commentary is a piece of writing that comments on a visual display. Its main objective is to interpret a research paper.

How to Write a Commentary Essay? A Step-By-Step Guide

Writing an outstanding commentary essay may seem incredibly challenging and time-consuming, especially if you have never handled these kinds of tasks before. Not to worry.

To help our readers craft the best commentary essay possible, we have provided certain steps to take your essay to the next level. Have a look –

Prepare Before Writing

Prepare Before Writing

Do you know, according to a study, only 27% of middle and high school students are proficient in writing? Again, as per a recent study by Grammarly, 92% of college educators stated students struggled with confidence in their writing, whereas 82% of tutors believed that students lacked the essential skills to communicate suitably through writing. This is mainly because most of them fail to prepare remarkably before they plunge deep into writing any academic paper.

While writing a commentary essay, you may need to read the text countless times to understand it clearly. Read every word and sentence closely to comprehend the message the author aims to convey between the lines. Going through the text slowly will also help you develop an analytical mindset.

Read it loudly and multiple times to develop clear thoughts and ideas. As you have them in your mind, be sure to note them down on paper. Keep a hard copy of the text handy to refer to whenever required. When you start noting down the ideas, ensure to highlight the vital keywords. Mark them with a pen or highlighter in your notes.

Additionally, certain significant keywords can be repeated in the text. They can be incredibly useful in crafting your commentary. So, look out for such words and make sure to highlight them.

Outline the Key Points

Once you have gone through the text diligently several times and highlighted the important words, you can create a blueprint for your commentary. This is a usual way to prepare a remarkable commentary, unlike an essay that demands a thesis statement. Evaluate the structure of the literary text and its content and draft a detailed outline accordingly.

Usually, it should include an introduction that determines the key points. Then comes the body, which discusses every idea and issue presented in the text in detail. Finally, there will be a conclusion where you will need to summarize the analysis of the content.

Determine the Basic Information

Determine the Basic Information

You are ready to start crafting your commentary once you are done with your preparatory stage. At this step, you need to note the basic information in the article or the literary text.

They are the title, the author’s name, the date of publication, and the genre. It is essential to incorporate all these crucial details in the introduction segment of the commentary. You can also express your main perspective, what impacted you the most.

Example: “I was currently impressed by Christopher Dewdney’s “The Night Wind.” It was published in his poetry collection titled ‘Alter Sublime,’ which was launched in 1980. In this poem, he personalizes the wind, giving it his own life. The author leads the reader on an intriguing journey through the universe with this image. Its key theme is an escape from the existing issues.

Mention the Theme, Subject, and Audience

This is the main part of the commentary in your essay, i.e., the body paragraphs. In this segment, you must describe the main text and its focus. Explain the answers to basic questions like who and what is the center of the text, what is the purpose of the work, and what is its intention.

You also need to interpret the evaluated piece of the literary work or an article and demonstrate your vision of the work. Make sure to use commentary sentences as the key points in the text.

Example: “ ‘The Night Wind’ by Christopher Dewdney explores the themes of spirituality, nature, and the mysterious, unseen forces that shape our world. The poem delves deep into the elemental power of the wind, portraying it as a strong force that connects different aspects of existence.

It emphasizes the unseen influence of the wind at night, invoking a sense of mystery and wonder about the natural world and its huge impact on human consciousness. Dewdney often uses vivid imagery and sensory language to evoke the transformative qualities of the night wind. Overall, the poem contemplates the deep connection between nature, the universe, and human perception.

It should be noted that the work has no meters, rhymes, or schemes. Dewdney exhibits carefreeness using free verse. In this way, he expresses the idea of freedom.”

Determine the Tone

Determine the Tone

Ensure to look for the voice used in the text. This can be a first-person or a second-person voice. You can easily determine this by analyzing who is the speaker or the narrator. Keep note of the word selection, language, and diction. Observe how they fit with the way the speaker has conveyed the text.

Include Relevant Examples

Always back up your thoughts on the literary work with vivid and concrete examples. Further, remember to use quotes.

Example: “The author emphasizes the theme of freedom with bright sentences like “The wind blows forever.” Certain phrases motivate the reader to think about the vastness of the universe, like “Above me the Milky Way.”

Include a Strong Conclusion

Include a Strong Conclusion

In this segment, you’ll be concluding the discussion with a summary of your thoughts and perspectives. They must be used to strengthen your stand and the key points you’ve discussed throughout your commentary. You also need to establish the connection of the text being discussed with the work by describing the strong points and your arguments.

Avoid adding new thoughts or points not discussed earlier to make it feel like a conclusion, as seen in other works.

Example: “’ ‘The Night Wind’ is a symbol of escape from the burdens of daily life. The free, somewhat whimsical text structure gives the reader serenity and lightness. By going through such a poem, the reader can delve deep into the incredible world of freedom.”

3 Tips to Write a Strong Commentary Essay

1. Use ‘This Shows That’ Device

Use ‘This Shows That’ Device

While writing your commentary essay, make sure to craft a topic sentence with evidence. Then, start the next sentence with the words ‘this shows that .’This method truly works, as it will help you explain the quote from the text remarkably.

Example: “In the poem ‘The Night Wind,” Dewdney shows a guy holding a wire. However, a strong gust of wind breaks the wire. This demonstrates that the author breaks free from the captivity of issues and runs away from everything.”

2. Utilize the LET Method

LET denotes Literary Elements and Techniques. This method is quite self-explanatory. While analyzing the literary work, be sure to determine the literary techniques the author used in the text.

It’s about style, plot, character, perspective, setting, language, and conflict. Pay close attention to metaphors, personification, diction, irony, etc. When you find these crucial elements, describe the topic sentences with them.

Example: “In the poem ‘The Night Wind,’ Dewdney often uses dark images. The main action occurs at night. Throughout the poem, there’s a reference to the stars. The image of the ‘wings of darkness’ hugely emphasizes the mystery of the wind and its freedom.”

3. Make Your Commentary Presentable

Make Your Commentary Presentable

After you’re done crafting your commentary, you should read it multiple times to determine the room for improvement. You may not be able to write it perfectly on the first go, so you should try to read it multiple times and loudly.

It will allow you to view it from the reader’s perspective. Listen to the sentences and words carefully and notice the tone and style of the discussion. Also, ensure to add points if you feel necessary.

Summing Up

Undeniably, crafting an outstanding and flawless commentary essay does take a bit more time than other academic papers. However, the straight A+ grades and loud applause from the professor are worth the effort.

Take the help of a lucid guide, implement the remarkable guidelines, execute the unique strategies, and draw inspiration from unique examples to nail your essays like never before. Break a leg!

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