Even if I had stuck to my original plan of doing nothing with this website except provide an archive for my own work, a section for Essays, like a section for Poetry, would have been at the centre of the enterprise, as an equal half of a twin heart. But I was not long embarked on building the Essays section when I saw the necessity of providing small anthologies of articles by Guest Writers, and then later I got the idea of pointing to individual essays (Prose Finds) that might serve as a gangway into the viewpoint, or field of expertise, represented by that particular author. Eventually there might be a further classification in which I can enshrine, with a short introductory essay, yet further essays by writers in the past. Essays about essays, all the way back to Montaigne. His face is on this page because he was the founding father of the essay as we know it today. Nowadays most essays are first composed as journalism of one kind or another, but we should never forget that the man who had the idea kept his work for himself until he thought it good enough for a book. The affinity of the essay with the poem was thus made clear at the outset.
Longer essays may also contain an introductory page that defines words and phrases of the essay's topic. Most academic institutions require that all substantial facts, quotations, and other porting material in an essay be referenced in a bibliography or works cited page at the end of the text. This scholarly convention helps others (whether teachers or fellow scholars) to understand the basis of facts and quotations the author uses to support the essay's argument and helps readers evaluate to what extent the argument is supported by evidence, and to evaluate the quality of that evidence. The academic essay tests the student's ability to present their thoughts in an organized way and is designed to test their intellectual capabilities.