How to write an Accounting Essay

The complete guide to writing a 2:1 standard university essay

The most important aspect of writing an accounting essay or report is that the content must be informative and factually accurate to ensure that opinions are supported by facts and figures in accordance with the latest financial reporting standards and the piece considers all points of view. The layout and presentation is also critical in writing a good accountancy essay. The inclusion of an introduction to launch the essay is important for two reasons, firstly to address the topic and secondly to identify the audience before embarking on any written exercise, the writer must have it clear in his or her own mind who they are writing for, hence, consideration for your audience's level of accountancy knowledge. Also the essay needs to offer an objective conclusion in ensuring that the essay has addressed the accountancy question posed.

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Step One: Introduction

Before commencing to answer the specific accounting question set for any given essay, the writer must establish a clear understanding of the question being addressed, he or she must outline for the audience the question being addressed in the essay and also underline the objectives of the essay, what is it that you are trying to reach a conclusion for? This is a vital part of any academic essay writing, as this will outline the end goal of your essay.

Step Two: Structure and Resource Planning

Once the writer has established a clear understanding of the question to be addressed within the essay, the next step is to ensure that a structured approach is undertaken in writing the accounting essay. A clear and concise essay plan will ensure that all relevant subject areas, including appropriate Financial Reporting Standards (FRSs), Accounting concepts, and current developments in International Accounting Standards (IASs) relevant to the essay topic, are referred to and referenced in answering the question posed at the introduction stage.

At this stage, the writer must also decide what resources will be required for academic journals, technical accountancy publications, library databases, primary and secondary research, and the internet (e-books and accountancy research websites). The aim of the research is to compile a list of referencing material from accountancy scholars and researchers in order to back up views and opinions expressed within the essay. The number of references to use will depend on the length and the nature of the essay. In writing an accountancy essay one will often have to use research conducted by others, as it is often not feasible to conduct primary research. Therefore, references to work carried out by others are appropriate within an accounting essay, but the writer must ensure that he or she uses the material to add value to the essay and, hence, supports or challenges a particular accounting concept or FRS.

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Step Three: Inclusion of Calculations/Analysis

This section can be particularly important for writing an accountancy essay, as the subject area will more than likely require the use of example calculations to analyze different accounting treatments being discussed, hence, the treatment of intangible non-purchased goodwill. Including calculations, figures, charts, and graphs should only be considered if the writer feels it’s appropriate for the subject area and its inclusion will add value to the essay. However, it is important to be mindful that not all accounting subject areas will require the use of numbers, as on occasions, the essay may need the writer to discuss and understand fundamental accounting concepts simply.

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Step Four: Conclusion and Recommendations

This final section of the essay is important in answering the overall question posed at the start. This section must ensure that it summarizes the discussions undertaken in the main body of the essay and also highlights the results of any analysis or calculations that were undertaken. This section should not only be used to outline the findings or the conclusion but also should be used to express the writer's own opinions and recommendations, both in terms of the question being addressed and suggestions for further research and investigations into the subject area. Accounting essays can often be an evaluation, which means that there is no correct answer or conclusion. Therefore, differing schools of thought will exist, so when having to conclude an evaluation essay, the writer needs to be mindful of this fact and consider all points of view.

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Other Considerations

When undertaking an accounting essay, it is vital to ensure that an appropriate level of language is being used; this is key to not only accounting essays but also appropriate for business writing. The use of inappropriate language will result in a lack of appeal to the reader; for example, an accountancy essay that explains the benefits of understanding accounts for non-finance managers will require simple, clear, and concise language. The essay should be written in basic language without the use of complex accountancy terminology. Whereas, when discussing the appropriate valuation methods for financial derivatives, the writer must assume a high level of accountancy knowledge and use appropriate terminology and acronyms.

Once the draft essay has been completed the writer must carry out proofreading, this will serve both as an editing exercise, in terms of content and context, to ensure all work has been appropriately referenced (Harvard referencing is commonly used in business writing) and also ensure correct use of spelling and grammar. Proofreading will also serve as an instrument of checking that the essay has successfully answered the essay's objective as outlined in the introduction. This is also guard against none value added paragraphs included within the essay, this can transpire in essays with lengthy word limits, where the writer is likely to be writing to fulfill the word limit requirement without adding any value to the content. This is important to avoid in accountancy essays to ensure that a clear and concise piece of work is produced.

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