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Tips for writing short essays
Short essays usually involve answering a question related to course content and could be anywhere from 200 words to 750 words long, depending on the professor’s guidelines. The most challenging part of writing a short essay is the length, as you need to select the most important information to cover.
Steps 1-5 Introduction Argument Quotations Conclusion Step 6
Steps 1-5 of 6
1. What are you asked to do?
- Consider the question you have to answer/discuss
- See if it can be broken into parts; make sure to cover each part in your answer
2. Brainstorm the arguments and points you feel would best answer the question
3. Choose two or three of the strongest points; develop a supporting point/example/reference/argument for each
4. Create an outline to structure these points and link them to the supporting information
5. Write a draft
- Get straight to the point
- Introduce your thesis (main argument); incorporate the language of the question to frame your thesis
- Include a sentence that previews the points you will discuss
- Keep it short
- Be specific
- Provide minimal contextual detail
- Stay on topic
- Deal with points in the same order as they are listed in your preview sentence
- Use a clear topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph to introduce and summarize the paragraph’s point
- Ensure that the key words in the topic sentence echo the words used in your preview sentence so that the reader can see where and how your argument is progressing
- Use sentences, not bulleted points
- Choose quotations carefully—only use them if they back up your points, and do not quote too much (5-10% of paper at most)
- Always document your sources, even if they came from class readings
- Briefly sum up your argument and relate it to your thesis
Step 6 - revise and edit your draft:
- Be direct and concise; remove repetition; make every word count
- Stick to your topic: if there is an idea in your paper that does not serve to answer the question, remove it
- Check grammar and punctuation by reading the draft aloud
- Ensure you have documented all sources fully and correctly
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How to Write a Short Essay
Last Updated: May 22, 2023 Fact Checked
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 103,565 times.
Essay writing is a common assignment in high school or college courses, especially within the humanities. You’ll also be asked to write essays for college admissions and scholarships. In a short essay (250-500 words), you will need to provide an introduction with a thesis, a body, and a conclusion, as you would with a longer essay. Depending on the essay requirements, you may also need to do academic or online research to find sources to back up your claims.
Picking a Topic and Gathering Research
- If you have any questions about the topic, ask your instructor. If your essay doesn't respond to the prompt, you likely won't receive full credit.
- If you're writing an essay for an in-class test or for an application, tailor the essay to the given prompt and topic. Quickly brainstorm a few ideas; for example, think of positive things you can say about yourself for a college-entrance essay.
- For example, the topic “depression in American literature” is far too broad. Narrow down your topic to something like “Willie Loman’s depression in Death of a Salesman .”
- Or, you could write about a narrow topic like “the increase in the USA’s national debt in the 1950s” rather than a broad topic like “the American economy in the 20th century.”
- Depending on the field in which you’re writing the essay—e.g., hard sciences, sociology, humanities, etc.—your instructor will direct you towards appropriate databases. For example, if you’re writing a high-school or college-level essay for your English class, visit online literary databases like JSTOR, LION, and the MLA Bibliography.
- If you're writing the essay for a college or graduate-school application, it's unlikely that you'll need to include any secondary sources.
- If you're writing a timed or in-class essay, you may not be able to find research articles. But, still do draw information from texts and sources you've studied both in and out of class, and build from points made in any provided reading passages.
- If you’re writing about current events or journalism topics, read articles from well-known news sites like CNN or the BBC.
- Avoid citing unreliable websites like blogs or any sites that have a clear bias about the topic they’re reporting on.
Composing the Essay
- If you write the essay without outlining, the essay will be poorly organized.
- This thesis statement is far too weak: “ Death of a Salesman shows the difficulty of living in America after WWII.”
- Instead, hone your thesis to something like: “Arthur Miller uses Death of a Salesman to show that the American Dream is materialist and impractical.”
- So, avoid beginning the paragraph by writing something like, “Since the beginning of time, all people have been consumed with the desire for their father’s approval.”
- Instead, write something like, “In the play Death of a Salesman , Willie Loman’s sons compete for their father’s approval through various masculine displays."
- Then, you can say, "To examine this topic, I will perform a close reading of several key passages of the play and present analyses by noted Arthur Miller scholars."
- In a short essay, the conclusion should do nothing more than briefly restate your main claim and remind readers of the evidence you provided.
- So, take the example about Death of a Salesman . The first body paragraph could discuss the ways in which Willie’s sons try to impress him.
- The second body paragraph could dive into Willie’s hopelessness and despair, and the third paragraph could discuss how Miller uses his characters to show the flaws in their understanding of the American Dream.
- Always cite your sources so you avoid charges of plagiarism. Check with your instructor (or the essay prompt) and find out what citation style you should use.
- For example, if you’re summarizing the inflation of the American dollar during the 1930s, provide 2 or 3 years and inflation-rate percentages. Don’t provide a full-paragraph summary of the economic decline.
- If you're writing an in-class essay and don't have time to perform any research, you don't need to incorporate outside sources. But, it will impress your teacher if you quote from a reading passage or bring up pertinent knowledge you may have gained during the class.
- If no one agrees to read the essay, read over your own first draft and look for errors or spots where you could clarify your meaning. Reading the essay out loud often helps, as you’ll be able to hear sentences that aren’t quite coherent.
- This step does not apply to essays written during a timed or in-class exam, as you won't be able to ask peers to read your work.
- It’s always a mistake to submit an unrevised first draft, whether for a grade, for admissions, or for a scholarship essay.
- However, if you're writing an essay for a timed exam, it's okay if you don't have enough time to combine multiple drafts before the time runs out.
Condensing Your Essay
- So, if you’re writing about Death of a Salesman , an article about symbolism in Arthur Miller’s plays would be useful. But, an article about the average cost of Midwestern hotels in the 1940s would be irrelevant.
- If you’re writing a scholarship essay, double-check the instructions to clarify what types of sources you’re allowed to use.
- A common cliche you might find in an essay is a statement like, "I'm the hardest working student at my school."
- For example, this sentence is too verbose: “I have been a relentlessly stellar student throughout my entire high school career since I am a seriously dedicated reader and thoroughly apply myself to every assignment I receive in class.”
- Shortened, it could read: “I was a stellar student throughout my high school career since I was a dedicated reader and applied myself to every assignment I received.”
- Avoid writing something like, “Willie Loman can be seen as having achieved little through his life because he is not respected by his sons and is not valued by his co-workers.”
- Instead, write, “Arthur Miller shows readers that Willie’s life accomplishments have amounted to little. Willie’s sons do not look up to him, and his co-workers treat him without respect.”
- For example, if you’re trying to prove that WWII pulled the USA out of the Great Depression, focus strictly on an economic argument.
- Avoid bringing in other, less convincing topics. For example, don’t dedicate a paragraph to discussing how much it cost the USA to build fighter jets in 1944.
Short Essay Template and Example
- When composing the text of your essay, resist the temptation to pull words from a thesaurus in an attempt to sound academic or intelligent. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- If your high school or college has an online or in-person writing center, schedule an appointment. Taking advantage of this type of service can improve your essay and help you recognize structural or grammatical problems you would not have noticed otherwise. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
- ↑ https://monroecollege.libguides.com/c.php?g=589208&p=4072926
- ↑ https://www.utep.edu/extendeduniversity/utepconnect/blog/march-2017/4-ways-to-differentiate-a-good-source-from-a-bad-source.html
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/essay-outline/
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/thesis-statements/
- ↑ https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/how-to-write-an-essay/essay-introduction
- ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
- ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/essay-structure
- ↑ https://mlpp.pressbooks.pub/writingsuccess/chapter/8-3-drafting/
- ↑ https://www.trentu.ca/academicskills/how-guides/how-write-university/how-approach-any-assignment/writing-english-essay/using-secondary
- ↑ https://patch.com/michigan/berkley/bp--how-to-shorten-your-college-essay-without-ruining-it
- ↑ https://writing.wisc.edu/handbook/style/ccs_activevoice/
- ↑ https://wordcounter.net/blog/2016/01/26/101025_how-to-reduce-essay-word-count.html
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Did you know the word ‘essay’ is derived from a Latin word ‘exagium’, which roughly translates to presenting one’s case? So essays are a short piece of writing representing one’s side of the argument or one’s experiences, stories, etc. Essays are very personalized. So let us learn about types of essays, format, and tips for essay-writing.
An essay is generally a short piece of writing outlining the writer’s perspective or story . It is often considered synonymous with a story or a paper or an article. Essays can be formal as well as informal. Formal essays are generally academic in nature and tackle serious topics. We will be focusing on informal essays which are more personal and often have humorous elements.
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Get 500+ Essay Topics and Ideas for College and School Students here .
Types of Essays
The type of essay will depend on what the writer wants to convey to his reader. There are broadly four types of essays. Let us see.
- Narrative Essays: This is when the writer is narrating an incident or story through the essay. So these are in the first person. The aim when writing narrative essays is to involve the reader in them as if they were right there when it was happening. So make them as vivid and real as possible. One way to make this possible is to follow the principle of ‘show, don’t tell’. So you must involve the reader in the story.
- Descriptive Essays : Here the writer will describe a place, an object, an event or maybe even a memory. But it is not just plainly describing things. The writer must paint a picture through his words. One clever way to do that is to evoke the senses of the reader. Do not only rely on sight but also involve the other senses of smell, touch, sound etc. A descriptive essay when done well will make the reader feel the emotions the writer was feeling at the moment.
- Expository Essays: In such an essay a writer presents a balanced study of a topic. To write such an essay, the writer must have real and extensive knowledge about the subject. There is no scope for the writer’s feelings or emotions in an expository essay. It is completely based on facts, statistics, examples etc. There are sub-types here like contrast essays, cause and effect essays etc.
- Persuasive Essays : Here the purpose of the essay is to get the reader to your side of the argument. A persuasive essay is not just a presentation of facts but an attempt to convince the reader of the writer’s point of view. Both sides of the argument have to presented in these essays. But the ultimate aim is to persuade the readers that the writer’s argument carries more weight.
Learn more about Letter Writing here in detail .
Format of an Essay
Now there is no rigid format of an essay. It is a creative process so it should not be confined within boundaries. However, there is a basic structure that is generally followed while writing essays. So let us take a look at the general structure of an essay.
This is the first paragraph of your essay. This is where the writer introduces his topic for the very first time. You can give a very brief synopsis of your essay in the introductory paragraph. Some paragraph writing skills can be a help here. Generally, it is not very long, about 4-6 lines.
There is plenty of scopes to get creative in the introduction of essays. This will ensure that you hook the reader, i.e. draw and keep his attention. So to do so you can start with a quote or a proverb . Sometimes you can even start with a definition. Another interesting strategy to engage with your reader is to start with a question.
This is the main crux of your essays. The body is the meat of your essay sandwiched between the introduction and the conclusion. So the most vital and important content of the essay will be here. This need not be confined to one paragraph. It can extend to two or more paragraphs according to the content.
Usually, we have a lot of information to provide in the body. And the mistakes writers generally make is to go about it in a haphazard manner which leaves the reader confused. So it is important to organize your thoughts and content. Write the information in a systematic flow so that the reader can comprehend. So, for example, you were narrating an incident . The best manner to do this would be to go in a chronological order.
Learn more about Story Writing here in detail .
This is the last paragraph of the essay. Sometimes a conclusion will just mirror the introductory paragraph but make sure the words and syntax are different. A conclusion is also a great place to sum up a story or an argument. You can round up your essay by providing some moral or wrapping up a story. Make sure you complete your essays with the conclusion, leave no hanging threads.
Tips for Essay Writing
- Give your essays an interesting and appropriate title. It will help draw the attention of the reader and pique their curiosity
- Keep it between 300-500 words. This is the ideal length, you can take creative license to increase or decrease it
- Keep your language simple and crisp. Unnecessary complicated and difficult words break the flow of the sentence.
- Do not make grammar mistakes , use correct punctuation and spellings . If this is not done it will distract the reader from the content
- Before beginning the essay organize your thought and plot a rough draft . This way you can ensure the story will flow and not be an unorganized mess.
Solved Question for You
Q: What is a thesis statement of essays?
Ans: The thesis statement is a clear, one-sentence explanation of your position that leaves no doubt in the readers’ mind about which side you are on from the beginning of your essay.
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How to Write a Short Essay?
Table of Contents
What is a Short essay?
The short essay definition is an academic written assignment that requires a writer to formulate their thoughts and opinions according to the proper structure and within 500 words. Sometimes the assignment gets even shorter and requires only 200 words. Just like regular essays, it can be of different types: narrative, argumentative, expository, descriptive, etc.
The point of such assignments is to teach expressing thoughts in the shortest form. Students must avoid repetition and stick to being laconic. The paper doesn’t require cliché phrases, slang, and vague information. Only an opinion and facts, strong arguments, statistics to prove it.
How Many Paragraphs is a Short Essay?
When learning everything about the paper’s volume and style, it’s important to remember how to write a short essay according to the precise structure. The text must be subdivided into three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. While the opening and closing paragraphs are quite short and simple, the main part – the body – can contain several paragraphs. Each argument you use to prove your point of view must be singled out into a separate paragraph. So, depending on the essay’s length and content, the text could have between three and five paragraphs.
Keep in mind that sometimes the new assignment you receive from the teacher already mentions how many paragraphs there should be. Keep an eye on such details to create the best text.
Short Essay Format
When reading a sample short essay, you’ll notice that being clear is essential. It’s better to avoid complicated phrasing and sentences since they often confuse the readers and make the text hard to comprehend.
Choosing the proper terms and words is also significant. Stick to the academic vocabulary to make your paper sound convincing. When editing the paper, make sure you have the most crucial bits of information that are structured according to their relevance. Furthermore, even short texts require references and quotes. Make sure to avoid plagiarism or copy/paste as well.
How to Start a Short Essay?
Before you begin the short essay writing, you should do some research. Look through the topical literature on the given theme, pick the best ideas, and strong facts to support your point of view. The preliminary stage serves as a proper foundation for the high-quality paper. It could be reasonable to make a mind map or draw the scheme of how each argument is connected to the other one. Such a visual representation will help you find where to start your text and how to present the rest of the data.
Giving the paper an extraordinary start is the best way to attract readers’ attention. There are plenty of ways to do that:
- Pick a quote from a book or famous person;
- Begin with a rhetorical question;
- Use an unexpected statistical fact;
- Describe the theme without revealing the arguments (since you’ll need them later in the text).
A strong and comprehensive beginning is a foundation for an excellent paper. However, it’s better to keep it simple and laconic. Too complicated or confusing introduction and ruin the impression from your paper.
However, a strong beginning doesn’t guarantee the rest of the text will be equally impressive. Dedicate enough time to the rest of the paper and deliver relevant information to support your ideas.
7 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Essay
Writing essays is always time- and energy-consuming. It requires good writing skills, enough knowledge about the subject, and attention to detail. In case you don’t feel confident about writing the paper, you can learn more about the writing process beforehand. Discover the list of the most helpful tips on how to write a short essay. It is sure to help you do the best job and write an outstanding essay.
Select an exciting topic you feel passionate about
In case the teacher hasn’t provided a specific topic and gave only general recommendations, do your research. Discover the latest news related to the subject and brainstorm the possible ideas you can dwell on. Pick the topic you are interested in to create a high-quality paper that will inspire others to learn more on the subject.
Mind the readers
It’s not always crucial to know how many paragraphs in a short essay but who will read the paper. Take into account their possible opinions, background knowledge on the topic, and other factors. Use proper stylistic devices to maintain their attention and comprehensively deliver your idea.
Make sure you have enough expertise before writing the text
Read on the chosen topic and learn as much as possible. It’s the most significant thing one should do in the shortest possible time to succeed with the essay’s content. Choosing relevant resources and respected scholars as a foundation for the paper increases readers’ trust and openness to the given information.
Focus on writing, eliminating every distraction
Many students are used to writing while listening to music, watching TV shows, or hearing others talk in the background. Such distractions can impact the text quality a lot. Moreover, it takes more time to write the text. So, to present the facts and arguments properly, it’s better to get rid of all distractions and temptations and focus solely on the topic.
Stick to the given requirements
In case a teacher/instructor/professor has a list of requirements and guidelines, make sure to address the given aspects. Ignoring such details can reflect poorly on the grades. Mark the essential details you must include in the paper and reread the text afterward to verify each requirement was accounted for.
Double-check the paper before submitting
Read the finished text several times to enhance clarity and remove all sorts of possible mistakes: typos, spelling errors, grammar mistakes, stylistic issues, etc. There are lots of websites that offer free proofreading software and premium services. Select the most helpful assistance and improve the paper before submitting it.
Delegate the job to professional
Writing a good essay requires lots of time and patience. If you don’t feel like writing the paper and following all the tips above, you can simply hire professional writers who will take care of those assignments for you. You are sure to receive high-quality texts on time and save time for other important things in your life.
Short essay examples
In case you prefer to write an essay on your own, reading some samples is always a good idea. These are free essays on various topics that anyone can download here and use to their benefit for at least two reasons.
First of all, good samples give an insight into how a high-quality essay looks like: what structure it has, how the arguments are arranged, what stylistic devices are used, etc. Such technical details can help learn the proper structure, formatting, and other key features.
Secondly, they can serve as an inspiration on what topic to pick, which aspects to focus on, and how to keep the readers interested in the content. Discover some excellent samples and create equally great papers using them. No charge necessary. They are free to use as you please but remember that others have access to them as well. Submitting them as your own is not the best solution.
Need Help Writing a Short Essay?
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We guarantee the best essays because experienced writers create each order from scratch. Writers follow your requirements and preferences to deliver properly structures, mistake-free essays. Make an order now to get the best price and forget about stress related to writing boring tasks.
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What are short essay components?
Topic sentences, supporting evidence, introspection, writing a short essay: effective strategies, how to start big, getting out a highlighter, making a necessity test, simplifying your argument, dos and don’ts of writing your short essay, a great short essay sample, concluding thoughts.
If you wonder how to write a short essay, it’s similar to drafting other academic papers with one main difference. It should be about 1 page or 500 words. Because of its length, a short essay requires a catchy topic to attract a reader’s attention (don’t choose complex ideas due to limited space). If you find it hard to complete this assignment, create an outline of your future essay because it will help you organize all points and develop a strong argument. Don't have time for writing? Buying an essay has never been easier! Let our writers know the requirements and get an essay conforming to your needs.
For some college students, a short essay is more difficult than long written assignments because they don’t have enough space to clarify and explain all thoughts. Include only the information necessary to make your point. Ensure that your essay contains these basic components:
- Introduction with a thesis statement,
- Body paragraphs with topic sentences, introspection, and supporting evidence,
Complexity and placement are key things to consider. The shorter your essay, the earlier a thesis should be. To make a strong thesis statement, which is one concise sentence in the introduction, make sure that it’s all-encapsulating and interesting because you don’t have any place for nonsense.
Take into account the complexity of your subject and look for the topics that have enough room to elaborate on them. Don’t cite many supporting facts in your thesis. Keep it short and limit supporting details because you need enough room in your short essay for introspection, which is quite an important part.
To show the entirety of your argument at the beginning of each paragraph, make your key message accessible and snappy. Present each new point in a separate topic sentence. You need to present, support, and introspect it.
Limit the number of sentences where you provide supporting evidence, such as anecdotes, examples, stories, statistics, famous quotes, and others. This goal may seem hard to achieve. Share only the details necessary to understand your main point.
If you can’t find an effective way to fit all of your supporting facts into the required short essay length, use other examples. Some topics require a lot of space for their explanation, and that’s why you should stay away from the subjects that require many supporting facts. You don’t have enough room for them.
It’s an important part of your short essay where you reflect on the chosen subject to show instructors how you think critically and present strong arguments. You may find out everything about a critical essay here. Keep your focus on essential details. Answer a particular assignment prompt and follow its instructions.
Although teachers usually advise not to sidetrack in a standard essay, it’s more important not to stray away from the main point when writing a short essay. Every sentence that is irrelevant to your thesis statement will weaken a major argument and take up its valuable space. Focus on your key idea.
To conclude your essay in a strong way, include a brief summary of your major argument and a statement that explains its implications in the future. This simple strategy will let you depict yourself as a forward-thinking and goal-oriented student without losing your focus on the main idea. Limit this paragraph to a few sentences. It plays an important role, but wasting time and space on rehashing the points that readers know is a bad idea. Looking for how to write 1000 word essay , read one more of our blogs.
There are certain methods that can help you write a great essay, including:
- Starting big,
- Getting out a highlighter,
- Making a necessity test,
- Simplifying your argument.
Some students find it very difficult to write a short essay at once, and that’s why they prefer to draft a longer essay and include everything that comes to their mind. After that, they start trimming it down. If you choose this effective strategy, remember that it may be necessary to delete some important information to cut your word count.
If your essay is longer than the assigned word count, read it attentively and highlight every essential thought. Focus on supporting evidence and introspection. Ask other people to help you.
Read your essay to ensure that each sentence has a unique and specific contribution to its quality and content. Combine the sentences that convey similar ideas. Use compound sentences and semi-colons if appropriate. Pay attention to all kinds of extraneous words that you can delete without affecting the meaning of your arguments or thoughts.
If you can’t find a good way to make your essay short, try making a necessity test because it helps even in the most difficult situations. Test every sentence. Determine whether your argument is weak without it. If you can’t see any noticeable difference in your essay after deleting it, this sentence isn’t integral to other parts and you can remove it.
If there’s no possible way to both cut down your essay and keep your argument strong and clear, simplify the main idea. Why should you do that? In all short essays, it’s advisable to have a broad thesis that you can support with a few specific examples. Readers can infer crucial implications from your thesis statement. You don’t have to state them explicitly.
Follow these useful guidelines when composing this essay:
- Make your essay concise and clear,
- Include only the information necessary to let readers understand your key argument,
- Address your prompt and follow its instructions,
- Condense and use compound sentences or semi-colons where necessary,
- Limit your supporting evidence to leave enough space for introspection.
What errors should you avoid? Don’t make these mistakes because they hinder the quality of your essay:
- Choosing a complex topic (you don’t have enough space to elaborate on it),
- Writing lengthy concluding and introductory paragraphs,
- Assuming that longer is better (meet page length and word requirements),
- Becoming attached to your points (be ready to cut unnecessary parts to fit a word count).
Short essays have the same components and long papers. Include your introspection without presenting many points. It’s better to have a few strong and well-articulated ideas than many good arguments that you can’t support within a given word count. Look at a sample below.
Protecting the environment is paramount to people who need to take such measures as recycling and creating less pollution. The way businesses operate may affect it.
McDonald’s is familiar with these concerns. That’s why the company sets new goals for social responsibility and sustainability by increasing in-restaurant recycling and serving more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. Some goals of this popular brand include buying fiber-based packaging from recycled or certified sources and supporting sustainable beef production.
A new business model comes with extra costs. The main target of McDonald’s is to offer affordable food. New goals with environmental concerns in mind are quite likely to make food prices increase, and it may deter some customers who like very low prices.
However, McDonald’s can economize through a new business model. The company understands that many consumers prefer the businesses that practice sustainable habits and it reflects these views to attract more visitors to its restaurants and increase potential profits.
Its new business model offers certain incentives. People who have similar environmental concerns will consider this move a good thing and they will go to McDonald’s regularly for this reason.
Many businesses are likely to follow the same footsteps because of their increasing emphasis on protecting the environment and sustainability. They will share success and attract new customers.
McDonald’s can increase profits through voluntary trading. Although the expenses of its new business model seem detrimental in comparison with the old one, the company understands that it will pay off. Consumers choose the business that matches their views.
This decision is a benefit for McDonald’s because people realize its importance due to an increasing focus on protecting the environment. The company will increase its customer base. Business will become sustainable in the future to stay profitable.
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