How to Write a Synthesis Essay - Full Guide

How To Write A Synthesis Essay

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What is a Synthesis Essay?

A synthesis essay is a paper that takes a unique viewpoint about a central idea using information collected from different sources. This essay can also be defined as a written discussion of ideas. A synthesis essay requires you to research, review and evaluate various sources, then derive conclusions based on these sources. For example, you might have two topics. One that talks about the increase of social media use among teens. And another is that talks about depression in teenagers. After synthesizing the topics, your thesis could be; on social media use and its connection to mental health among teens.

Writing a synthesis essay needs you to possess the ability to digest given facts and present them in an orderly manner. The article below breaks down the steps of how to write a synthesis essay.

The Purpose of a Synthesis Essay

The purpose of a synthesis essay is to;

  • Improve your critical and logical thinking skills
  • Enhance your research skills
  • Show that you can deal with extensive research
  • Boost your ability to back up your statements and ideas
  • Let your practice analyzing different information sources
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the main subject

How to Choose the Best Synthesis Essay Topic

To come up with a good essay, you have to consider the following;

Understand the Purpose of a Synthesis Essay

The main purpose of a synthesis essay is to combine information from different sources. This information will then be used to validate your thesis. Therefore, you must examine various sources and then find the relationship between your sources and your thesis

Pick a Debatable Topic 

The objective of an essay is to change the reader’s opinion on something. Hence, your topic needs to be arguable. For example, you can use a claim like, Titanic is the greatest movie of all time. This is debatable. Someone else might argue that Shawshank Redemption or The Notebook is the greatest movie of all time. Consequently, if you don’t use a debatable topic, you will struggle to develop strong supporting evidence for your claims. Furthermore, a debatable topic allows you to explore it from different perspectives.

Choose a Unique Topic

It is important to have a fresh, unique topic that has not been studied excessively. Not only will your essay stand out from the rest of the students, but you will also provide additional information that may be used for further research. Choosing a unique topic doesn’t mean you pick a topic that doesn’t have enough research materials. 

Select an Interesting Topic

It is better to choose a topic that will be of interest to you and the reader. An interesting topic will give you the space to be creative. It will also offer you the opportunity to hook the reader to your paper. Hence, they will be compelled to read your essay till the conclusion. Remember, your topic has to be meaningful. 

Do Extensive Research on the Topic 

Your objective is to come up with a suitable topic. Therefore, you will need to brainstorm ideas to come up with a compelling topic. Conducting research gives you a variety of topics to choose from. So, books and the internet will help you with this. 

100+ Unique Synthesis Essay Topics

Below is a list of excellent synthesis essay topics that will help you simplify your assignment tasks. 

  • Security and our behavior
  • How can we make the environment clean
  • Why cosmetics are tested on animals
  • The effects of plastic bags on the environment
  • Can I go to work safely?
  • Why is city traffic increasing every year
  • We need to improve our standards of leaving
  • Compare your DNA to a banana’s DNA
  • Distant tribes and the modern world
  • Do you use a lot of techniques at home
  • Why do many stores get rid of plastic bags
  • What is it like to live on an island
  • Discuss how third world countries are evolving
  • Why do students have to write an essay
  • When will scientists find a cure for cancer
  • Should higher education be free
  • Students should be allowed to control their education
  • The impact of class size on academic performance
  • What are the effects of racial prejudice on the annual college admissions
  • How student’s dress code affects the students’ performance
  • College athletes should be paid for their performance
  • Effects of technology on the traditional classroom
  •  The impact of distant students on the number of students on the campus
  • The legalization of gay marriage is the next logical step in the evolution of society
  • What is the role of gender today
  • Should we enforce genetic engineering with enthusiasm
  • Discuss the circumstances influencing gender roles
  • Mention the long term effects of globalization
  • What changes are urgent for the education system
  • Do advertisements misguide society
  • Is the environment suffering as the media puts it
  • Should eminent domain exist, and why?
  • Space exploration is vital for humankind.
  • The restrictions on the legal drinking age. Is it effective?
  • How to know depression and confront it?
  • Can cats and dogs rule the world?
  • Mention the ugliest song in the world
  • What are the effects of frequent tanning on your skin
  • What should guys know about girls
  • How would you describe the friendship zone
  • Do women need makeup always 
  • What is your view on Facebook friends
  • Do you want to earn more
  • Do Mickey Mouse scare kids
  • What are the effects of global warming on farming
  • How does air pollution cause global warming.’
  • How does the American lifestyle contribute to global warming
  • The USA should be a leader in addressing the issue of global warming
  • The effects of global warming on the population of Monarch butterflies
  • How does global warming contribute to marine species extinction
  • How does the usage of fossil fuels contribute to global warming
  • Global warming and renewable sources of energy
  • Is homeschooling a good idea
  • Why does childhood obesity happen in such amounts
  • Why museums still exist
  • How does nature adapt to the techno genetic environment
  • Is mandatory community services effective
  • Discuss how the social roles of shopping malls have evolved over the past century
  • Is it worth reading celebrity memoirs
  • Multiculturalism as a utopian idea
  • What makes up a good idea
  • How to describe the identity of a person
  • Does ideal love exist in the real world
  • Does social media makes it easier to socialize
  • How important is the image of a body today
  • Is gun control sufficient
  • Why are superstitions still so widespread
  • Is there too much violent imagery in the media today?
  • Does global warming getting enough coverage in the media
  • Why does racism still occur
  • Why is poetry still important
  • Does racial profiling still happen?
  • What is the role of invasive species
  • What is the origin of races
  • How has photography become art?
  • Has Lord of flies come true?
  • Have the cell phones made our lives better or worse
  • Can poverty be defeated once and for all?
  • How has photography become an art
  • How have the presidential elections changed over the past 50 years
  • Why is obesity becoming an increasing problem
  • Why is obesity an increasing problem
  • How justified is racial profiling
  • Is daylight saving time still justified
  • What are the reasons to have pets
  • Discuss experiments on people
  • Discuss ways to protect children from domestic violence
  • What are the chances to win the lottery
  • My favorite sports that make me happy
  • How to get rid of traffic jams
  • Should you sleep all night before exams
  • How to get rid of the world’s nuclear weapons
  • Can you ever give up on your smartphone
  • Does the internet make us less social
  • Do study rooms always have the necessary things to learn?
  • Facebook threatens people’s privacy
  • Has global warming caused air pollution
  • How machine learning affects business productivity
  • Does technology promote the culture of entertainment
  • Do violent video games contribute to real-life violence
  • What threats do drones represent to personal privacy
  • How does artificial intelligence contribute to the problem of overproduction
  • Should voting be mandatory in the USA
  • How should parents forbid their children from watching violent content
  • Should the death penalty be longer applied in the USA
  • Should marijuana be legal in the USA
  • What are the effects of poverty on children’s health
  • What factors influence fashion
  • Is war always a bad thing
  • Can zero tolerance be justified
  • What is the effectiveness of secondary school education 

Types of Synthesis Essays

When your supervisor or professor asks you to write a synthesis essay, they expect one of these three;

Explanatory/ Background Synthesis Essay

As the name suggests, this type of synthesis essay focuses on explaining a concept or topic. Additionally, the author provides concise descriptions to persuade and convince the reader about a particular topic. It is based on facts and does not need the author’s opinion or arguments. When writing a synthesis essay, remember to be factual, concise, and understandable. Also, don’t forget to provide relevant information to convince the reader to support your argument.

Argumentative synthesis essay

An argumentative synthesis essay’s main focus is to present and strengthen the author’s opinion on a particular topic. Moreover,this is backed up with relevant and sufficient evidence. When writing an argumentative essay, state your opinion, make your supporting claims, and then back it up with evidence. An argumentative synthesis essay is like a debate where the author is presenting his opinion on a forum. As such, you need to evaluate and understand the topic from both the proponent’s and opponents’ perspectives. Therefore, this allows you to present your opinion to the readers convincingly. 

Literature Review Synthesis Essay

A Literature review synthesis essay is like a food review journal. It reviews different sources on a particular topic and provides insight into the literature. It aims to tell the reader whether the sources had done extensive research and provided quality information on the topic or not. When writing a literature review essay, the author should demonstrate how and if the sources were satisfactory or unsatisfactory in covering the topic. 

Steps on How to Write a Good Synthesis Essay

  • Establish the purpose of your paper
  • Understand the concept of the essay
  • Develop a plan
  • Draw the outline of your essay
  • Choose your sources carefully
  • Evaluate and examine each source
  • Formulate a thesis
  • Document each source

Establish The Purpose of Your Paper 

This is an essential step to consider because you won’t write an effective essay without answering this question. Therefore, tell the reader why your topic is important. Also, highlight its impact on their lives and other studies. Understanding this will guide you in developing a good thesis and strong arguments.

Understand the Concept of the Essay

The main objective of a synthesis essay is to make meaningful connections between different works. Thus present a claim that supports the topic at hand. When researching your chosen topic, you will need to look for connections that form solid perspectives on your topic.

Develop a Plan

How are you going to write your paper? What steps will you follow? You’ll need to do extensive research on the synthesized texts first, then develop an outline. Thus, writing your essay will be easier. You won’t also fail to discuss important points.

Draw the Outline of Your Essay

You can create a scratch synthesis essay outline using the pre-writing method, which is crucial in synthesis writing. A scratch outline allows you to organize the multiple sources you have collected logically. Then, you can develop your own point of view, interpretation, and analysis of the sources. You can find different ways to organize the information collected depends on how best you can argue them.

Additionally, a scratch outline allows you to deviate from your intended plan. This is mainly important when you encounter new information and ideas from your source material that support your thesis further.

Synthesis Essay Outline Template

Synthesis Essay Outline Example

Choose Your Sources Carefully

Before you start writing, you need to take time and gather information from all the sources. Most importantly, you’ll need to go through the sources and write a concise summary for each of them. Similarly, observe the evidence provided by others in support of or against the issue. After you reflect on the viable sources, you can go ahead and formulate your thesis.

Evaluate and Examine Each Source 

This is important because a synthesis essay isn’t a summary of the information from various sources. You need to study and assess the information carefully, then gather an analysis to illustrate your point of view. This will help you determine the relationship between the sources and the thesis. Also, you will be able to recognize what to include in the essay and what not to. Remember, you need to have credible sources.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Thesis

Once you have evaluated the sources, the next step is to develop your thesis statement. The thesis is your opinion on the topic and the main idea presented in your essay. The statement needs to be brief and provide your own point of view on the topic at hand. The thesis statement usually varies. Depending on your synthesis essay, your thesis can either be the essay’s opening statement or the last sentence in the introduction.

How to Write a Synthesis Essay Introduction

A synthesis essay focuses on information collected from various sources. Because of this, you’ll need to introduce the texts being synthesized. For example, social media and mental health. Secondly, give background information to explain to your reader why your topic is important. Thirdly, identify each source fully with authors and titles, and then lastly, introduce the thesis statement. This is the main idea you will discuss in your essay. It has to be clear and believable enough to impact mindsets.

Synthesis Essay Introduction Example

Write the Body

Always ensure your paragraphs begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence provides a claim that supports your thesis statement. After that, proceed to give your opinion and explanation on the topic sentence. Here, you can use your gathered sources to make a stance on your claim.

Synthesis Essay Body Paragraphs Example

Conclude Your Essay

In conclusion, you can further state your topic’s significance to the reasons and evidence you provided in the essay. Additionally, you can use the conclusion to provide a reflective thought or ending for your essay.

Synthesis Essay Conclusion Example

Document Each Source 

To avoid plagiarism and losing marks, mention the source of your work. Don’t make someone else’s work look like yours. That is wrong. So, give your sources credit.

Synthesis Essay Format

Formats and guidelines are important in writing because they create consistency in the order and structure of the paper. Depending on your tutor or course requirement, you will be required to use different formats. Some of them are; 


American Psychological Association (APA) is a writing style and format commonly used to cite psychology, education, and social sciences sources. Here are the basic rules of an APA Format. 

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • Set 1-inch page margins
  • Apply double line spacing
  • All pages should be numbered in the upper right-hand corner
  • If submitting for publication, insert a running head on every page in the upper left-hand corner
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Make sure that the title is centered on the page with your name and school/institution underneath

Chicago Style 

The Chicago Manual of Style is a style guide for American English published in 1906 by the University of Chicago Press. It is generally used in Business, History, and the Fine Arts. Its rules are;

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt Times New Roman
  • Use 1-inch margins or larger
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center


This is the most common writing style teachers and students use in middle school, high school, and college research papers. Why? Because its formatting guidelines are flexible. The basic rules are;

  • Use an easily readable font like Times New Roman
  • The use of a 12-point font size is recommended 
  • Set 1-inch page margins
  • Apply double line spacing
  • Indent every new paragraph ½ inch
  • Use title case capitalization for headings
  • Leave one space after periods and other punctuation marks

Do’s and Don’ts When Writing a Synthesis Essay


Make sure all your sources are credible and relevant to the topic. Therefore, this allows you to link information from one source to the other seamlessly. As a result, your paper will be neat. 

Make Meaningful Citations

Don’t just make random citations to meet the quota. Instead, ensure that both your sources and citations are credible and relevant. 

Use a Smooth Transitions Between Topics

Your synthesis essay should be seamless. The transition from one idea or paragraph to the other should be smooth and flawless. Avoid throwing ideas around and leaving them hanging. Rather, make sure each idea is well concluded and linked to the next idea throughout the essay.

Elaborate The Critical Ideas

It is important to be clear and succinct when you write a synthesis essay. Hence, provide a detailed analysis of every idea presented to ensure that the reader understands the concepts discussed. This is even more important for your critical ideas because you will be able to convince the reader.

Proofread Your Paper More Than Twice

Proofreading helps clean up your work and allows you to go through your thoughts again to tie up any loose ends. It also helps to strengthen your arguments as well as improve your transitions between the paragraphs. 

Always Cite Your Source Materials

Any paraphrased, cited, or quoted material should have In-text citations and footnotes. Also, do not wait until you are done writing your synthesis essay to write down the sources. And above all, keep a list of sources and record the sources as you go.  

Remember To Title Your Essay

The title is a reflection of your perspective on your supporting arguments and thesis statement. As you write your synthesis essay, keep the title in mind. As a result, your arguments will be precise.


Summarize The Sources

Instead, please provide a detailed observation and analysis of each one of them. This makes your sources more concrete and gives your synthesis essay credibility. Additionally, avoid taking the easy way out and provide enough details. 

Write Your Paragraphs Around The Sources

Instead, write them around your arguments. Although sources support your arguments and opinion, avoid making them the main focus of your paragraphs. Alternatively, confirm that each paragraph focuses on one argument. Then support the argument with evidence from the sources. 

Make Vague or Elusive Statements

No one likes to get their time wasted. Therefore, verify that every sentence on your synthesis essay is well researched, concise, and well thought out. Similarly, avoid rambling or using filler words. This might sometimes feel like a lot of work, and since it’s necessary, you could opt to buy coursework essays online to help lessen your workload.

Tips on How to Write a Great Synthesis Essay

Understand the assignment requirements

Students think that this is an obvious point, but there are so many students out there who start writing without thoroughly understanding the task requirements. Therefore, ensure to read through the requirements or guidelines to understand the assignment’s overall purpose and anticipation. 

As a student, you must avoid misinterpreting the instructions as they might ruin your grades. Therefore, ensure to understand the guidelines while mastering all the essay concepts. 

Identify credible resources and read them thoughtfully

You need to maintain a clear and critical mind when reading through your sources. Note are propelling points and ideas in your resources. The jotted notes will help support your opinion.

When examining your sources, ensure to scrutinize the author’s standpoints, claims, and reliability, why looking for inconsistencies worth addressing—your professor’s eyes on testing how critical you are at thinking critically. Being a critical thinker helps you avoid writing a biased or one-sided synthesis essay. 

Define your standpoint and develop stick-abilities

It would be best if you defined your position on a particular subject matter. Therefore, examine the available resources while highlighting information and content that supports your point of view. Settle for contradictory arguments that help you in defending your position. Also, wavering on your decision shows how inconsistent and unconfident you are. 

Work with an outline

Your synthesis essay encompasses five paragraphs; introduction, three-body-paragraphs, and conclusion. An outline helps keep your work organized. Also, every section of the body defines a specific argument in support of your thesis statement. Therefore, develop a thesis statement that appears in your introductory paragraph. All three cases in the body must be in support and agreement with your thesis statement. 

Edit your work

Once you have finalized writing the first draft of your synthesis essay, you should consider proofreading. Additionally, by rereading your paper, you will get a platform for identifying all mistakes and correcting them appropriately. 

Start Writing Your Essay

A synthesis essay is an important paper not only at the academic level, but the skills learned will also help you in real life. As long as you follow the tips on how to write a good synthesis essay, you’ll be good to go. Most importantly, remember a good topic is the foundation of an effective paper.

Synthesis Essay Example

Impacts of social media on students’ academic performance

From a general perspective, social media networks have become an integral part of the students’ full time. After the intervention of the internet and social media networks, it is arguable that the primary role of social media was to offer the members of the public a platform where they can form and sustain meaningful social relations regardless of geographical location differences. However, over the years, this role has shifted significantly. According to Talaue et al. (2018), today, the phone or tablet screen has become a one-stop-shop for correspondence with peers, news tapes, YouTube videos, lots of educational groups, and educational videos. Regardless of this wide and expanding array of uses, numerous research indicates that the use of social media deteriorates the educational achievements of teenage users.

To begin with, although there are numerous educational resources available for access on social media platforms, most of the time that the students spend on online platforms is rarely focused on reviewing the educational materials. In research geared toward determining the impacts of social media on the academic performance of students, about 38.3 percent of the respondents claimed that social media ends up consuming time that would have otherwise been used studying or working on assignments (Talaue et al. 2018). This brings to mind the idea that a significant proportion of students fail to realize the educative advantage of social media. Consequently, failing to study translates to low academic grades.

Nonetheless, viewing social media as a source of information, social media often competes with academic information for students’ attention. According to Badri et al. (2017), this is in line with the gratification theory, which indicates that “people use media for their own needs, and are satisfied whenever these needs are met.” This suggests that if the student’s individual needs are attained via the social media platform, there will be no need for them to seek information presented in the academic books in the classroom setting. Consequently, poor acquaintance with academic material translates to poor academic performance.

Nonetheless, social media consumes significant students’ time and still has no impact on their growth, and in some cases, ends up hurting them. Miah et al. (2013), in research geared towards identifying the students’ perception of the impacts of social media, a whopping 67 percent of the respondents claimed that social media has no impact, while 12 percent claimed that social media was hurting them. Only 16 percent thought that it was helping them. This affirms that social media potentially has negative impacts on the student’s performance.

However, some proponents of social media users claim that social media has some positive impacts on students’ academic performance. For instance, Heitin (2016) claims that students who spend their time on social media playing games score higher in math, reading, and science. From a critical perspective, it is arguable that this claim is based on the assumption that the puzzles in the games help in sharpening the student’s reasoning ability. Additionally, one would argue out that students who spend their time on social media accessing educational materials may score high academic grades. This brings about the idea that contrary to the belief that social media deteriorates academic performance, there could be benefits associated with students’ social media usage.

In conclusion, social media usage adversely affects students’ academic performance. As discussed above, most of the students who use social media end up spending time that would have otherwise been used studying. This is exacerbated by the idea that social media information competes for students’ attention with the academic content. To reap the possible benefits of social media in academics, regulating the time that students spend on social media would be advantageous.


Badri, M., Al Nuaimi, A., Guang, Y., & Al Rashedi, A. (2017). School performance, social networking effects, and learning of school children: Evidence of reciprocal relationships in Abu Dhabi. Telematics and Informatics, 34(8), 1433-1444.

Heitin, L. (2016). Students who use social media score lower in math, reading, and science. 

Miah, M., Omar, A., & Allison, M. (2013). Effects of social networking on adolescent education. Information systems education journal, 11(3), 90.

Talaue, G. M., AlSaad, A., AlRushaidan, N., AlHugail, A., & AlFahhad, S. (2018). The impact of social media on academic performance of selected college students. International Journal of Advanced Information Technology, 8(4/5), 27-35.

Why is synthesis important in writing?

Synthesis enables you to join several elements from different sources to help make an exact point to the audience involved.

How many paragraphs are in a synthesis essay?

The number of paragraphs for a synthesis essay should be about 6 or 7 paragraphs. A paragraph for the introduction, 4 paragraphs for the body, and finally, 1 paragraph for the conclusion.

What is a synthesis in writing?

Synthesis refers to a written discussion from one or more sources. Your ability to write syntheses depends on the ability to refer to sources from articles, non-written materials, essays, and fiction

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