ChatGPT is an invaluable tool for writing tasks, such as composing emails, creating blog posts, and summarizing content. It is a popular tool for essay writing, especially for high school and college students. It can also assist with writing grants or speeches for different business contexts.
This guide offers a couple of ways you can use to write and edit an essay using the free and paid versions of ChatGPT.
Also Read: Best ChatGPT Alternatives
1. Using ChatGPT to generate essay ideas
ChatGPT can help to come up with essay ideas from scratch or flesh out a topic if provided. For example, a professor may assign a specific essay subject for students, e.g., “discuss the importance of teaching art in elementary schools.” A ChatGPT prompt in this case may be: “I need help with writing an essay for the topic, ‘The importance of teaching art in elementary schools.’ Can you give me five ideas to explore this topic?”
A professor may also give a general or broad topic and let students choose their own ideas within it, e.g., technology, climate change, human rights, etc. In this case, the ChatGPT prompt may be: “I want to write an essay about technology. Can you suggest five aspects of technology that would make a good essay?” The chatbot can help with brainstorming and reveal interesting points to write about.
2. Using ChatGP to create an outline
With a clear topic in mind, ChatGPT can help to develop a comprehensive outline for the essay. This step is critical for visualizing and planning the essay’s content in a logical sequence. It can be tedious to create an outline manually, but ChatGPT can create it in seconds. The chatbot can offer a breakdown of the topic with relevant sections and subheadings.
The prompt for an outline may be: “Can you give me an outline for [the topic or essay title]?” If the response is too narrow, the chatbot can be prompted further to include more subheadings. If the response is too detailed or elaborate, it is important to read through the outline carefully to eliminate repetitions.
With the free version of ChatGPT, the outline will be limited to content before 2021. Therefore, there may be points that are missing. In this case, Microsoft Copilot (formerly Bing Chat) can help to generate more recent points. ChatGPT Plus includes a web browsing option, meaning the outline will be derived from online sources, improving the quality of the essay.
3. Using ChatGPT to generate a complete essay
ChatGPT can create a full essay if the prompt includes specific details like the desired word count or number of paragraphs. This can help to get a clear idea of what the completed essay may look like, therefore serving as a guide similar to an outline.
The chatbot can also elaborate on the sections or subheadings in the outline. The prompt for this can be: “Can you write the complete essay based on the outline?” This will generate the entire essay with the outline included. However, certain precautions should be considered when generating complete essays with ChatGPT:
- A completely chatbot-generated essay may be considered plagiarism because it is not an original work. This may carry severe penalties from educators.
- ChatGPT may hallucinate or repeat itself to meet the paragraph requirement or word count in the prompt.
- ChatGPT has character limitations, so it may not offer in-depth content per section. It may often require to be prompted to “Please continue” to finish populating the outline.
Therefore, a sample essay can serve as a starting point or inspiration for the finished piece. It will require additional work to verify its contents and remove repetitive or irrelevant information.
4. Using ChatGPT for proofreading
ChatGPT can serve as a proofreader and editor once the first draft is complete. The chatbot can be instructed to correct grammar, spelling, structure, or tone. It can also be used to rewrite the text, clarify or simplify the content. ChatGPT can be more thorough than most other proofreading tools, especially because it can be prompted to follow detailed editing instructions.
The prompting process for editing an essay follows several steps. First, the prompt indicates the types of proofreading required, e.g., “I have an essay about [the topic or title]. I would like it to sound professional and have no grammar mistakes. Can you proofread it?”
The chatbot will respond that it can follow the instructions and ask for the essay. Next, the essay is pasted into the chat box. In a few seconds, it will generate the essay with all the corrections. If proofreading sections of the essay, the same process applies. This time, only the paragraphs that need editing are pasted into the chatbot.
5. Using ChatGPT to finding sources and citations
Essay writers can find sources and citations using ChatGPT at any step of the writing process. Some prefer to have sources when generating outlines, while others prefer to add sources after the essay is complete. The prompt can be: “Can you give me sources for an essay about [topic or title]? ”
When prompting the free ChatGPT, sources will be limited to pre-2021 information. It will provide five to seven names of reputable websites, institutions, or publications without any links. This requires additional follow-up to search these results online.
With ChatGPT Plus, the web browsing feature can generate sources and link them in the essay text. Writers can also use the free ChatGPT version alongside Copilot to get the most up-to-date online sources with links. The Copilot contents can be pasted into ChatGPT to summarize or rewrite, then later edited to include links.
Writing an essay using ChatGPT takes some practice, but it can be a very useful tool for brainstorming and saving time. If uncertain about how to prompt ChatGPT, writers can ask the chatbot about how to prompt it for an essay. ChatGPT will provide a guide on how to specify the essay’s topic, set the tone or style, and other requirements for the content. For example, the prompt can be, “Can you give me a step-by-step example of how to prompt you for an essay on [topic or title]?” ChatGPT will generate a detailed prompt to create the complete essay. 1000 Words