How to turn the high school “hamburger” essay into a university-level paper

It goes by many names: the 5-paragraph essay, three-tier paper, or 1-3-1 model, to name a few. Many of you know it as the “hamburger” essay – an easy-to-follow model for writing papers that’s often taught in North American high schools.

I had always done well on my high school writing assignments. I thought essay writing in university would be a breeze. So, the idea of throwing away all my past knowledge and practice felt confusing and overwhelming. If I wasn’t supposed to write essays in university the same way I wrote them in high school, then how was I supposed to write at all? And where was I supposed to learn these mysterious new writing techniques, anyway?

Now, after many years of honing my academic writing skills and becoming a writing instructor myself, I’m here to say, loud and proud:  I love the hamburger essay.

This is somewhat of a controversial statement in higher education. For years, many professors have condemned the “hamburger” model of essay writing, resenting its rules and restrictions. And while many of these critiques are valid, I believe there are too many valuable aspects of the hamburger essay to throw it away altogether. In fact, many of the  same techniques  that make a hamburger essay great, can also be used to craft a quality academic paper.

So no, you don’t need to “forget everything you learned in high school” when it comes time to write your first university essay! Keep reading to learn how you can use turn your high school hamburger essay into a strong university-level paper.

What is the hamburger essay?

The hamburger essay is well-known and well-loved because of its simple and easy to remember structure. If you're new to the hamburger essay, check out the diagram below to learn more about how it works.

5-paragraph hamburger essay

In short, each ingredient of the hamburger represents a different paragraph of the essay. It starts with an introduction paragraph and ends with a conclusion paragraph, represented by the top and bottom buns, respectively. Just like a real burger bun, these paragraphs frame the juicy contents inside – the body paragraphs – which are each represented by a different topping: lettuce, tomato, or patty.

Pay attention to the order of toppings in the hamburger essay. The lettuce comes first; it’s light and flimsy, representing one of the lighter arguments of the paper. The tomato is somewhat more robust (in terms of argument), while the patty at the end is the true “meat” of the essay. Just like the toppings of a hamburger in real-life, the body paragraphs build on one another to fill out the paper, giving it substance and flavour.

How to use the hamburger model in university

1. The top bun (a.k.a the introduction paragraph)

The hamburger essay begins with a strong introduction paragraph (the top bun) that sets up the rest of the paper and presents the essay’s primary  thesis statement  or argument. In high school, students are often taught to begin their introduction paragraph with the broadest or most general information first, and gradually narrow in on the specifics. They’re also taught to begin the introduction with a narrative hook – a catchy phrase or fact to grab the reader’s attention – and to end the introduction with a “road map,” which outlines what each paragraph of the essay will discuss, in the order of information presented.

Although at the university level, introductions may be longer than one paragraph (depending on the length of the essay overall), they should still begin with more general contextual information first, then narrow in on a more focused thesis statement . This structure helps guide the reader by presenting them with the background information they require for the thesis and body paragraphs to make sense.

You can also keep the introductory “hook” and “road map” pieces of the hamburger introduction, but note the differences in what these elements look like at the university level. While high school writers often try to catch the reader’s attention by asserting a universal or historical truth (e.g. “Since the dawn of time…” or “Throughout history…”), a hook at the university level should  remain focused on the specific topic at hand  – a surprising fact or statistic works well here.

Additionally, while a high school-level road map might outline the topic of each and every body paragraph in the essay, a university-level road map should be less detailed. Because university papers are typically longer than high school papers, it makes more sense to only mention the paper’s main overarching arguments  (if at all) in the road map section, rather than summarize every paragraph.

To learn more about how to write a strong university-level introduction,  check out this WCC resource  on introductions.

2. The bottom bun (a.k.a. the conclusion paragraph)

The hamburger essay ends with a satisfying conclusion paragraph (the bottom bun) that summarizes its findings and wraps up the paper’s arguments. High school students are often taught to structure their conclusion paragraph in the reverse order of the introduction,  beginning with the most specific information and broadening out to the most general . Hamburger essay conclusions often restate the thesis at the start of the paragraph, then go on to summarize each point of the essay.

At the university level, you should continue to structure your conclusion by presenting the most specific pieces of information related to your thesis first, followed by the more general ideas. Structuring your conclusion this way helps  transition the reader out of the paper’s arguments and into a broader reflection on the topic .

However,  you don’t have to limit yourself to only one paragraph  for your conclusion (hint: introductions and conclusions typically make up 10-15% of the essay length overall). And while it’s good practice to remind your reader of the essay’s main arguments and findings, too much repetition can be a bore. Try focusing instead on the  significance  of the paper’s claims and discoveries to highlight for the reader why your essay matters – why your thesis is significant in a larger context.

For deeper insight into how to write a university-level conclusion,  view our conclusions resource  here.

3. The toppings (a.k.a. the body paragraphs)

The body paragraphs of a hamburger essay are its meatiest parts (pun intended). In high school, students are often taught to explain, and provide evidence for, their main thesis by presenting three distinct points in three separate body paragraphs, ordered roughly from the weakest point to the strongest. In this model, each body paragraph supports the essay’s thesis by providing a new piece of information to back-up the author’s primary claim. Also, each paragraph articulates its main point in a single topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph.

For university essays, there’s a lot to like about the hamburger essay paragraph model. For example, it’s important that each paragraph of your university-level paper works to substantiate the paper's overarching thesis statement . This will prevent your essay from going off on tangents – that is, presenting ideas or research that are not directly related to the essay's focused goal. You should also pay attention to the order of ideas presented; while ordering your points from weakest to strongest (as in the hamburger model) isn’t necessary, there should be a  logical flow to your ideas . Ask yourself: what does my reader need to understand first in order to understand what’s coming next?

Topic sentences are also super useful in academic papers : they help alert the reader to the paragraph’s main idea and provide context for the evidence presented within the paragraph itself. In a traditional academic essay, readers should be able to read the first sentence (or two) of each paragraph only, and still have a strong idea of the paper’s main arguments and points.

However,  university-level essays can – and should – have more than three body paragraphs . This is perhaps the biggest complaint against the hamburger essay structure: that it tricks students into thinking they can only provide three pieces of evidence to back-up their thesis statements. Academic essays, especially research essays, should present the reader with a great breadth of evidence and information to prove their claims. It’s up to you – the writer – to decide how much evidence is needed, and how it can be organized logically into body paragraphs for the reader to follow.

On a similar note,  some points in your academic paper will require more than one body paragraph to develop,  and that’s ok! Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing an essay on the benefits of free community programming for reducing loneliness amongst senior citizens. It may take only one paragraph to present your research on loneliness amongst seniors, but maybe three or four paragraphs to show why publicly-funded programs are attractive to senior citizens in particular.

While some students believe, based on the hamburger model, that each new paragraph requires a brand new topic or point, in reality, there is more flexibility to the “rules” of academic writing. As long as each of your paragraphs is tackling one coherent idea at a time,  you may choose to develop a single point over numerous body paragraphs . This is especially true if you have a lot of evidence to discuss!

To learn more about how to write strong body paragraphs at the university level,   check out this WCC resource   on body paragraphs.

Final thoughts…

If you’re transitioning from high school and looking for help with your writing projects, why not check out our new program for first-years, Waterloo Ready to Write ! Or book an appointment with one of our friendly and helpful writing instructors at the WCC. We would love to help you out.

Writing essays in university can be intimidating, especially if you’re new at it. But remember, you’re here for a reason, and you’ve already got a great foundation to start from! Try to think about writing in university as an extension and adaptation of what you already know. If you have an open mind, take your professors’ feedback to heart, and push yourself to try new things, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

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Health Information Technology: The hamburger technique of writing

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The "hamburger technique" of writing

It is important that the majority of your writing in a research paper is YOURS. Even if you are citing your sources, the general rule is that 2/3 of the words in your research assignments should be your own. If your paper consists of nothing but quotes, you are not demonstrating that you understand the material nor are you providing your own analysis of that material. One writing method you can follow to help you do this is called the hamburger paragraph .

Hamburger paragraph:

Some instructors will call this the sandwich paragraph method or even the Oreo method (which you may have heard before). Keep in mind that this method applies to body paragraphs, which are basically any paragraph in a paper other than the introduction and conclusion paragraphs. 

Building the burger:


  • Top bun: The topic sentence, or argument. The first sentence of a paragraph should clearly state the paragraph’s main idea.
  • Condiments: Your evidence (quotes & paraphrased information from your sources). When using quotes, remember that a little goes a long way!
  • Cheese, pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, burger: Your analysis. The bulk of the paragraph! This is where you explain the significance of the evidence in your own words. This section is crucial to your paragraph. Don't get caught in a quote trap. Which is stringing quotes together without explaining their purpose. If you do not back up your quotes or paraphrased information, your writing will be weak and your reader (which at TCC is your teacher) will not be convinced that you understand the material you are writing about.  
  • Bottom bun: Sentence relating the paragraph back to the thesis statement and transitioning to the next body paragraph.

Here's a diagram to illustrate the concept: 

diagram of the hamburger paragraph

Example with a paragraph:

Here is another example of a simple "evidence sandwich" paragraph in the middle of a research paper that paraphrases information about using social media in the classroom. If you were to use a direct quote instead of paraphrasing, this is where you would want to place the quote. 

Paraphrase sandwich example

Variations on the hamburger method:

  • You can use variations on this formula.  For example, you could make this paragraph longer by including more analysis of the researchers’ findings.
  • Or you could include a second piece of evidence (more filling!) to further back up your point.  If you add more filling, you might want to balance it by adding another slice of bread, too (that is, more of your own analysis).

Not every paragraph in your paper has to follow this formula, or even necessarily include outside evidence. But this is a classic formula that can serve you well throughout your college career. Just remember, you can't just plop a quote into a paragraph and move on - you must explain what the quote means or why the information is important in your own words - this is your analysis. Don't use quotes to fill space. Adding information into your paper should do just that, ADD to it - compliment it. Don't include useless information, but be picky and use quotes only when you intend to talk about what they mean and why they matter to your argument! 

One last note:

And again, making sure you correctly paraphrase, quote, summarize and CITE is key to avoiding plagiarism!

Diagram source: " Paragraph burger " by M. Persson, 2013, Educational use.

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Hamburger Paragraph Template for Essay Writing

Hamburger Paragraph Template for Essay Writing

3-minute read

  • 3rd November 2023

It almost sounds like something you might see on a menu at a fast-food restaurant, but a “hamburger paragraph” is a method of essay writing often taught in schools to help students structure their paragraphs effectively. Just as a burger consists of various layers that come together to create a satisfying whole, an essay is built up of paragraphs that follow a specific structure.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the concept of a hamburger paragraph and how it can serve as a handy template for essay writing.

Hamburger Paragraph Template

The template below lists the “ingredients” of a hamburger paragraph:

Top Bun (Topic Sentence):

Introduce the main idea of the paragraph .

Filling (Supporting Detail #1):

Introduce your first supporting detail or example that backs up your main idea.

Filling (Supporting Detail #2):

Introduce your second supporting detail or example.

Filling (Supporting Detail #3):

Introduce your third supporting detail or example. Note: Depending on the depth required, you may have more or fewer supporting details.

Bottom Bun (Concluding Sentence):

Wrap up the paragraph by restating or summarizing the main idea – or transition to the next paragraph . Ensure that every main point or idea presented in the paragraph is well-supported and rounded off with a conclusion or transition.

Example of a Hamburger Paragraph Using the Template

Here’s a paragraph about dogs written following the hamburger paragraph method:

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Dogs have a reputation for being loyal companions.

Filling #1:

Historically, dogs have been known to travel vast distances to reunite with their owners.

Filling #2:

Many breeds have been specifically bred for their loyalty traits, such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

Filling #3:

Pet owners’ personal experiences further support the claim, with countless stories of dogs displaying unwavering loyalty in various situations.

Bottom Bun:

With their history, breeding, and the personal anecdotes of many, it’s clear why dogs are cherished for their loyalty.

The  hamburger template assists writers, especially those new to essay writing, in assembling a well-structured essay, helping them organize their thoughts and research into a logical format that readers can easily follow. Students can use this structure to ensure they’re fleshing out their ideas adequately and maintaining a logical flow throughout their essays.

So next time you’re writing an essay, think of your paragraphs as a delicious stack of hamburger paragraphs, with each one adding a unique flavor to your overall composition. If you’d like a professional proofreader to review your essay and its structure once you’ve completed your first draft, we’d be happy to help. Check out our essay proofreading services , or try us out by submitting a free sample !

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illustration of layers of a hamburger

Paragraph Hamburger

The “paragraph hamburger” is a writing organizer that visually outlines the key components of a paragraph. Topic sentence, detail sentences, and a closing sentence are the main elements of a good paragraph, and each one forms a different “piece” of the hamburger.

Key Information

Appropriate group size, why use a paragraph hamburger organizer.

  • It helps students organize their ideas into a cohesive paragraph.
  • It helps show the organization or structure of concepts/idea.
  • It demonstrates in a concrete way how information is related.

How to use paragraph hamburger

  • The introduction (top bun)
  • The internal or supporting information (the filling)
  • The conclusion (bottom bun)
  • Ask students to write a topic sentence that clearly indicates what the whole paragraph is going to be about.
  • Have students compose several supporting sentences that give more information about the topic.
  • Instruct students on ways to write a concluding sentence that restates the topic sentence.

Download blank templates

  • Paragraph hamburger template 1
  • Paragraph hamburger template 2

Collect resources

This presentation shows each of the elements of the hamburger. The example provided is about why a teacher loves teaching!

How to write a really great paragraph ›

Differentiated instruction

For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, and younger learners.

  • Show them numerous examples of well-written paragraphs and have them identify the parts. Or let them study it on their own by providing a number of paragraphs with the parts labeled.
  • Provide students with some of the parts already filled in. For example, you provide all the “filling” sentences, and ask students to write a good introductory or wrap up sentence.
  • Provide students with one example filled in entirely. Ask them to cut out each portion and then rearrange the pieces.
  • Ask students to find a paragraph within their textbook. See if they can identify the different pieces of that paragraph. If necessary, have them revise the textbook paragraph!
  • Have them speak the paragraph before writing the paragraph. Use scaffolding. For example, “What is one thing you would like to tell me about Fido (name of child’s dog).” “How is Fido a lot fun to play with?” (elicit details). “So what did you tell me about Fido?” (conclusion).

See the research that supports this strategy

Richards, R. (2008). Dysgraphia: A Student’s Perspective on Writing .

Richards, R. (2008). The Writing Road: Reinvigorate Your Students’ Enthusiasm for Writing .

Children’s books to use with this strategy

The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3

Harold the family dog narrates three stories of life with supernatural suspicions which begins with Bunnicula , the bunny with fangs. In the Howliday Inn while boarding at the Chateau Bow-Wow, Harold and Chester (the Monroe cat) encounter a werewolf, perhaps. Chester and Harold must stop zombie vegetables when the Celery Stalks at Midnight . Over-the-top humor is very appealing to a broad range of listeners (including adults!).

The Bunnicula Collection: Books 1 to 3

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia

The year Grace turned eight, her Mum and Dad took her and her siblings on a trip around Australia. The kids “missed school for the whole winter term” and Grace documented much of what she learned, where she went, and the adventures they had as they experienced the diversity of the continent. Grace’s informal voice is informative yet engaging, completed by line drawings and simple maps.

Are We There Yet? A Journey Around Australia

Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure

Life as a paper-thin boy is not all bad as Stanley finds out. He was flattened by a bulletin board bit adjusts quite well with the help of his parents to his new dimensions — all of which makes for very funny reading (and travels in later books about Stanley and his family).

Flat Stanley: His Original Adventure

Diary of a Worm

What icky creature looks the same from both ends? The worm, of course! For the first time ever, get the insider’s view of life from this creepy crawler’s perspective. He lives underground with his family, eats his homework and does his best to annoy his sister — documenting it all in a diary. Simple illustrations are the ideal complement to the understated humor (though nonetheless laugh-out-loud tone) of the text.

Diary of a Worm


Stunning close-ups of colorful frogs in their natural habitats taken by an acclaimed photographer and biologist combine with clearly presented information on large, bright pages, sure to intrigue as well as inform readers of all ages.

I Face the Wind

Children are encouraged to observe as experiment as they learn about wind and air as well as practice science writing by describing their findings.

I Face the Wind

Two Bad Ants 

Separated from the colony, readers join two adventurous ants and see the world from a very different perspective.

Two Bad Ants 

Liked it share it, topics this strategy is especially helpful for.

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How to Write a Hamburger Paragraph

Last Updated: December 30, 2022 Fact Checked

Certain articles on our site contain contributions from community editors, similar to Wikipedia. Our community editors, in partnership with wikiHow editorial staff, uphold a high-quality standard that involves a thorough human review of every new article published or subsequent update. We strive to provide the most trusted, factually accurate, and comprehensive content with every change we make. Additionally, we aim to provide unique and personal insights or experiences from diverse perspectives across both staff and community editors. 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 86,421 times. Learn more...

Writing a thorough but effective paragraph can be hard, especially if you're still learning some techniques for structuring your writing. The hamburger paragraph technique is easy to remember and easy to use; it offers a "recipe" for writing full and "meaty" paragraphs. Get started a step number one.

Step 1 Write a topic sentence as the

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Tom De Backer

  • If you are having problems remembering how to write a hamburger paragraph, draw a picture of the hamburger and on each part either write "Topic Sentence", "Detail," or "Closing Sentence". Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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Free Editable Hamburger Paragraph Examples

Frequently writing reports and paragraphs is common for students and professionals. In writing paragraphs, the thing that matters the most is your original writing. Even if you use helping content and websites, your writing skills will demonstrate your understanding of the topic. Hamburger paragraph is the most suitable graphic organizer for writing essays, paragraphs and reports.

1. What is a Hamburger Paragraph?

A hamburger paragraph is a graphic organizers that illustrates the key parts of paragraphs or other writings. It outlines the main points of various writings such as reports and essays to ensure that the writer follows the correct format and information hierarchy. Educators use hamburger graphic organizers to help students understand how to convert their ideas into organized text. With its help, most students learn to share their concepts with cohesive paragraphs and better understand paragraph writing structure.

2. Hamburger Paragraph Examples

Here are some of the most commonly used hamburger paragraph templates from EdrawMax's templates community. The purpose of these templates is to help students understand the concept of writing structures and idea organization. A hamburger graphic organizer makes it easier to visually represent the relationship between information in any paragraph or report. Our paragraph hamburger templates examples will help you better understand hamburger format writing. Check out these examples and pick a suitable template for your writing assignment.

Example 1: Hamburger Paragraph

This is a hamburger paragraph template. There are three parts of a paragraph hamburger. The first part is the top bun, which is the topic sentence of your writing. In this part, you explain your paragraph and your main idea. Under the topic sentence, you add the burger filling, which contains supporting information regarding your topic sentence. The third part is the bottom bun of the hamburger. You conclude your paragraph in this section by writing a few sentences about your main idea and making a reference to your topic sentence.

Hamburger Paragraph

Example 2: Hamburger Graphic Organizer

This is an example of a hamburger graphic organizer. Students use these templates to make assignments and improve their writing skills and idea organization. The hamburger in this template contains five parts. The top bun where students add their topic sentence and give the main idea. The second part contains supporting sentences to provide more information about the topic. The third part connects to the second part and gives more supporting information about the subject. With such a template, you can keep adding supportive details till you prove your point and reach a conclusion.

Hamburger Graphic Organizer

Example 3: Hamburger Writing

Hamburger writing outlines come in various formats, but the key structure of each hamburger graphic organizer is similar. The template in this example resembles a hamburger from the inside and outside. The topic, supporting, and conclusion are part of the hamburger. Paragraph hamburger template helps you understand an ideal way to depict the relationship between pieces of information. The paragraph starts with the topic sentence and the main idea. In the filling section, you add two or three supporting paragraphs and conclude your writing in the last area.

Hamburger Writing

Example 4: Hamburger Paragraph Writing Template

A hamburger paragraph writing template is mainly used for teaching purposes, and it helps students understand various writing structures and graphic organizers. There is a hamburger on the left side and a writing area on the right side in this example. The colors and lines represent which part of the hamburger represents which part of the paragraph. The top bun is the topic sentence, the filling is the supporting sentence, the bottom bun is the conclusion sentence. Students have to write the main idea, details and conclusion of the paragraph in an organized order.

Hamburger Paragraph Writing Template

Example 5: Hamburger Paragraph Examples

This is one of the most commonly used hamburger paragraph examples. There are three parts to this sandwich template. The topic sentence is the first part where students write the main idea of the target paragraph to explain the purpose of their writing. The second part is the body of the sandwich, which is further divided into two or three sections. Each of these sections contains details and supporting sentences regarding the topic sentence. All arguments and related information are mostly written in the body. In the last part, students conclude their writing and give their final thoughts.

Hamburger Paragraph Examples

Example 6: Hamburger Paragraph Template

The hamburger paragraph templates use a hamburger as a metaphor to describe the writing structure of any paragraph or report. The first section of the paragraph is the topic sentence that resembles any hamburger's top bun, and it provides the main idea and direction of the paragraph in question. The second section is the details and support statements that resemble the filling in a hamburger. The third section is the paragraph's conclusion that mirrors the bottom bun of a hamburger.

Hamburger Paragraph Template

Click on the image to edit. Source: EdrawMax Online

3. Online Hamburger Graphic Organizer Maker

A graphic organizer maker is a helping tool for educators and students to create hamburger graphic organizers for assignments and other teaching purposes. EdrawMax Online is the best hamburger graphic organizer maker out there. Most educators use paragraph hamburgers to teach their students, but they don't usually have spare time to make a graphic designer from scratch because it takes some time and effort.

With EdrawMax, teachers can use professional templates and customization tools to create any graphic organizer in minutes. Having pre-made templates makes all the difference because there is zero possibility of making any mistake or using the wrong format.

4. Key Takeaways

Hamburger paragraph helps students understand how to organize ideas and share their concepts. It is a creative method to showcase the ideal paragraph writing structure. The hamburger graphic organizer contains the key parts of a paragraph, and it takes a hamburger as a metaphor to organize information. It helps increase students' creativity while learning how to relate information in paragraphs.

As a result, it is important to find a stauible tool for making hamburger paragraph examples. EdrawMax Online is an ideal graphic organizer maker, because it only takes a few clicks for you to select a template and create a hamburger graphic organizer . You also find many shapes and icons in its symbol library. Find more graphic organizer template in the template community.


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How To Write an Essay

Make writing an essay as easy as making a hamburger

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Structuring the Essay (aka Building a Burger)

Choosing a topic, drafting the outline, creating the introduction, writing the body of the essay, concluding the essay.

  • TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London
  • M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music
  • B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music

Writing an essay is like making a hamburger. Think of the introduction and conclusion as the bun, with the "meat" of your argument in between. The introduction is where you'll state your thesis, while the conclusion sums up your case. Both should be no more than a few sentences. The body of your essay, where you'll present facts to support your position, must be much more substantial, usually three paragraphs . Like making a hamburger, writing a good essay takes preparation. Let's get started!

Think about a hamburger for a moment. What are its three main components? There's a bun on top and a bun on the bottom. In the middle, you'll find the hamburger itself. So what does that have to do with an essay? Think of it this way:

  • The top bun contains your introduction and topic statement. This paragraph begins with a hook, or factual statement intended to grab the reader's attention. It is followed by a thesis statement, an assertion that you intend to prove in the body of the essay that follows.
  • The meat in the middle, called the body of the essay, is where you'll offer evidence in support of your topic or thesis. It should be three to five paragraphs in length, with each offering a main idea that is backed up by two or three statements of support.
  • The bottom bun is the conclusion, which sums up the arguments you've made in the body of the essay.

Like the two pieces of a hamburger bun, the introduction and conclusion should be similar in tone, brief enough to convey your topic but substantial enough to frame the issue that you'll articulate in the meat, or body of the essay.

Before you can begin writing, you'll need to choose a topic for your essay, ideally one that you're already interested in. Nothing is harder than trying to write about something you don't care about. Your topic should be broad or common enough that most people will know at least something about what you're discussing. Technology, for example, is a good topic because it's something we can all relate to in one way or another.

Once you've chosen a topic, you must narrow it down into a single   thesis or central idea. The thesis is the position you're taking in relation to your topic or a related issue. It should be specific enough that you can bolster it with just a few relevant facts and supporting statements. Think about an issue that most people can relate to, such as: "Technology is changing our lives."

Once you've selected your topic and thesis, it's time to create a roadmap for your essay that will guide you from the introduction to conclusion. This map, called an outline, serves as a diagram for writing each paragraph of the essay, listing the three or four most important ideas that you want to convey. These ideas don't need to be written as complete sentences in the outline; that's what the actual essay is for.

Here's one way of diagramming an essay on how technology is changing our lives:

Introductory Paragraph

  • Hook: Statistics on home workers
  • Thesis: Technology has changed work
  • Links to main ideas to be developed in the essay: Technology has changed where, how and when we work

Body Paragraph I

  • Main idea: Technology has changed where we can work
  • Support: Work on the road + example
  • Support: Work from home + example statistic

Body Paragraph II

  • Main idea: Technology has changed how we work
  • Support: Technology allows us to do more on our own + example of multitasking
  • Support: Technology allows us to test our ideas in simulation + example of digital weather forecasting

Body Paragraph III

  • Main idea: Technology has changed when we work
  • Support: Flexible work schedules + example of telecommuters working 24/7
  • Support: Technology allows us to work any time + example of people teaching online from home

Concluding Paragraph

  • Review of main ideas of each paragraph
  • Restatement of thesis: Technology has changed how we work
  • Concluding thought: Technology will continue to change us

Note that the author uses only three or four main ideas per paragraph, each with a main idea, supporting statements, and a summary. 

Once you've written and refined your outline, it's time to write the essay. Begin with the  introductory paragraph . This is your opportunity to hook the reader's interest in the very first sentence, which can be an interesting fact, a quotation, or a  rhetorical question , for instance.

After this first sentence, add your thesis statement . The thesis clearly states what you hope to express in the essay. Follow that with a sentence to introduce your  body paragraphs . This not only gives the essay structure, but it also signals to the reader what is to come. For example:

Forbes magazine reports that "One in five Americans work from home". Does that number surprise you? Information technology has revolutionized the way we work. Not only can we work almost anywhere, we can also work at any hour of the day. Also, the way we work has changed greatly through the introduction of information technology into the workplace.

Notice how the author uses a fact and addresses the reader directly to grab their attention.

Once you've written the introduction, it's time to develop the meat of your thesis in three or four paragraphs. Each should contain a single main idea, following the outline you prepared earlier. Use two or three sentences to support the main idea, citing specific examples. Conclude each paragraph with a sentence that summarizes the argument you've made in the paragraph. 

Let's consider how the location of where we work has changed. In the past, workers were required to commute to work. These days, many can choose to work from the home. From Portland, Ore., to Portland, Maine, you will find employees working for companies located hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Too, the use of robotics to manufacture products has led to employees spending more time behind a computer screen than on the production line. Whether it's in the countryside or in the city, you'll find people working everywhere they can get online. No wonder we see so many people working at cafes!

In this case, the author continues to directly address the reader while offering examples to support their assertion.

The summary paragraph summarizes your essay and is often a reverse of the introductory paragraph. Begin the summary paragraph by quickly restating the principal ideas of your body paragraphs. The penultimate (next to last) sentence should restate your basic thesis of the essay. Your final statement can be a future prediction based on what you have shown in the essay. 

In this example, the author concludes by making a prediction based on the arguments made in the essay.

Information technology has changed the time, place and manner in which we work. In short, information technology has made the computer into our office. As we continue to use new technologies, we will continue to see change. However, our need to work in order to lead happy and productive lives will never change. The where, when and how we work will never change the reason why we work.
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The Hamburger Method for Essay Writing

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While researching a longer piece on opioid use, our Education Week video team came across Briana Sotomayor—a 4 th grader in rural Jackson County, W.V., who wrote an award-winning essay for her district’s drug-and-alcohol prevention competition.

In this video, Briana describes an approach to essay writing used in many elementary classrooms across the country in which the image of a hamburger serves as a graphic organizer. The top bun is the thesis, the bottom bun the conclusion, and the meat, cheese, and veggies—the details—are sandwiched in between. Rhonda Jelich, the district’s director of elementary education and staff development, explained to Education Week that the hamburger model is one of many age-appropriate methods for giving all students a writing structure.

And since kids like hearing from kids, it’s the kind of short video teachers may want to show in their classrooms to get students going with the literacy strategy.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.

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Hamburger Essay Structure: Lesson Plans and Examples

Hamburger Essay Structure: Lesson Plans and Examples

Subject: English

Age range: 14-16

Resource type: Lesson (complete)

Claire Vorster

Last updated

21 November 2019

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hamburger essay examples

Hamburger Essay Structure helps students to understand and practice the ingredients that make a great essay. It answers questions like, how does my thesis statement relate to the body of my essay? What about the conclusion? Here’s an antidote to anxiety in the classroom. Immediately, you can use these lesson plans and activities that contain an element of fun. Coupled with fit-to-purpose resources, your students will build confidence and skills as they learn to -

• Understand and practice Hamburger Essay Structure • Create a robust Thesis Statement that sets them up for success. • Write Body Paragraphs using proven Point, Evidence, Analysis structure. • Edit ideas so that they have time for analysis. • Practice planning using a workable structure. • Stay motivated, right to the end.

Please contact Claire Vorster for free resources, or with other questions.

Resources included in this pack

Confidence building activities Mini and comprehensive writing / planning activities Examples of Simple to Advanced Thesis Statements Examples of Simple to Advanced Body Paragraphs Sample templates to build essay structure

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This Reading Mama

Hamburger Paragraph Writing with Main Idea & Details

By thisreadingmama 1 Comment

My 1st and 2nd grader have been working for a while on personal narratives in our writing time. So after we worked through our Healthy Body Unit , I decided it was time to do some nonfiction paragraph writing! I found some fun clip art and created these simple paragraph writing organizers for them…hamburger style!

If you’re using this after a body unit, feel free to download our free human body report pages  to go along with these!

Free Paragraph Writing for Main Idea & Details Organizers - This Reading Mama

*This post contains affiliate links. **The free printable can be found at the END of this post. Click on the teal download button.

Hamburger Paragraph Writing Using Main Idea and Supporting Details

When we ask learners to write in a way that they aren’t familiar with, graphic organizers {especially ones with cookies  on them}, can help them break the process down in their head. And when it becomes less complicated in their head, it can make the process easier to get on paper.

hamburger essay examples

Now, you and I both know that not all nonfiction writing is organized in this neat, nice package. But teaching paragraph writing using a main idea {or topic} with supporting details is an easy place to start! {Older learners can expand this concept into multiple paragraphs.}

hamburger graphic organizer for paragraph writing

{By the way, this entire process took 3-4 days.}

First, I just handed them the hamburger organizer. We looked at and talked about each part. Having examples from texts handy is vital! If you can’t find a good example, you can quickly write your own.

paragraph writing graphic organizers - free

I gave them this simple graphic organizer to write down their own sentences based on the body part they chose from our unit .

The hardest part by far for my learners was the closing sentence. How exactly do you tie the topic back in without completely duplicating the topic sentence? We brainstormed a lot with closing sentences on day 2. I didn’t give them their answers, but I wanted to show them how flexible it was with other examples. {This is why examples are KEY.}

Do learners have to use these graphic organizers? Absolutely not, but they can sure help in the process of brainstorming and getting thoughts on paper!

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Enjoy! ~Becky

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November 8, 2017 at 3:41 pm

I love the hamburger organizer. I’ve been working on writing with my reluctant second grader and look forward to trying this idea with him. Thanks for the printable! -Kelley

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Hamburger Model: What Are Its Elements?

Hamburger essay format: why is it effective, hamburger essay outline: is it advisable to use it, hamburger style essay: yummy writing for the best grades.

Hamburger style essay is a type of essay that resembles a hamburger by its structure. Just like each part of burger plays its role in the taste of the traditional hamburger, so does each segment of an essay, it plays a crucial role in our vision of the essay we’re reading.

People often have tasks to write some sorts of essays, yet they may lack creativity or need a plan to do it. That is where the hamburger model comes into play. It provides a very simple plan that makes it easy for a person to write an essay, even if he or she has never written even a short story, not to mention an essay with research on something.

The idea behind a hamburger style is to make planning an essay outline easy and simple just as simple as hamburger itself is, so that nobody ever had hard times writing an essay about anything he or she desires.

How is your hamburger essay writing done? What is common between this yummy dish and your school assignment? The hamburger method of writing is pretty simple, once you’ve started looking at it. Let’s look at the hamburger model.

Hamburger writing model resembles a hamburger for a reason. Every hamburger is composed of the top bun, then lettuce or onion, tomato, burger and bottom bun. Five parts. Remember this number. You may feel surprised: What’s the catch? What’s in common with essays? Well, here is an answer.

Your essays are also composed of parts, such as introduction, first, second and third paragraphs and conclusion. Five elements. Just like with hamburger. Each hamburger model paragraph plays its own and unique part in forming the way how the reader sees the essay.

Five Paragraph Essay Hamburger: What Are Functions of Each of Them?

Let's look through each of the elements of five paragraph essay hamburger and review them in detail.

Three paragraphs which are called “meat” take most of the essay’s space and are divided into three paragraphs: Point, evidence, and explanation.

“We should take care of the eco-balance on our planet.”

We’ve stated about the problem we’re going to write about.

“We’re putting more effort in the development of green sources of energy.”

We’re giving evidence for the point. In order to take care of eco-balance, we fund green sources of energy to give evidence that we’re looking after the environment.

“We must protect mother nature because we’re dependent on it and if she dies, we will die as well because we’re part of nature. If we don’t care about nature, we don’t care about ourselves.”

We bind the evidence with the point. We explain why we must do something.

  • Conclusion Just as it says – it is meant to sum up the whole essay and give your final summary, where you tell what you’ve found out during your research and how did it changed the way you see life and everything around you.

Hamburger essay format is that popular because of its simplicity. Just like hamburger, it is composed of five essential components, all of which are easy to make. And to readers, it’s as appealing as hamburger is tasty and really addictive to everyone who likes McDonald's and fast food.

Hamburger essay is one of the best examples of the perfect essay outline. It is simple and easy to be composed, just like hamburger. Its parts are simple as well if you know what you want to write about.

So whether you’re an experienced essayist or a new writer, hamburger essay model is totally advisable for you to use.

The Hamburger Essay - Guide to Hamburger Paragraph Writing

Writing a good essay is something that a lot of students find challenging. The primary difficulty often concerns the development and organization of one's argument(s) and/or idea(s) into a coherent and clear piece of writing. Therefore, a guide describing the steps can sometimes be a great help to students when it comes to making the writing process more straightforward and manageable. This also applies to five paragraph essays, which are sometimes called hamburger essays since they can be likened to creating triple-decker burgers.

So, how does one approach hamburger paragraph writing? Firstly, students are often given hamburger essays to write to get them accustomed to writing essays. This type of writing should begin and end with clearly-written introductory and concluding paragraphs (respectively) i.e. the bun at the top and at the bottom! Then, sandwiched between these, comes the essay's main body.

Hamburger Graphic Organizer for 5 Paragraph Essay

Before thinking about the paragraph sandwich or even beginning to write their essay, the writer needs to organize themselves. This means reading back over the given task a number of times and marking out or underlining any important terms (or words) that indicate what are expected of the writer. Look carefully at the verbs in the instructions e.g. argue, discuss, provide an account, summarize, and so on. You need to be absolutely sure you do exactly what is asked of you and don't just answer parts of the question. Answer all of it!

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As a student, you are entitled to write a diversity of papers. Quite often, your teacher will provide you with a topic and detailed writing instructions. Many students are afraid of writing. Many others have doubts as to whether they can produce a superior 5 paragraph essay. Now you can use our comprehensive guide to improve the quality of your writing.

The Basic Structure for 5 Paragraph Essay Assignments

Begin with an introductory paragraph.

The first hamburger paragraph in this type of essay is the introduction, which is hugely important. Of course, you need to start with a 5 paragraph essay outline. However, before you can create an outline, your task is to determine the type of your paper. You should know that any essay can be of different types, from compare and contrast works to descriptive, analytical, or even opinion works. If you know the type of the essay you are expected to write, you will have better chances to meet your paper requirements. Also, it will be easier for you to select the most suitable topic, if it was not provided by your instructor. In your outline, do not forget to include a strong thesis statement. It will guide the process of writing.

Most likely, your 5 paragraph essay will be a part of a standardized semester-wide test. You will need to answer multiple-choice questions. Then, you will have to produce a short 5 paragraph paper related to your subject. Thus, to successfully complete your test, you will need to know how to write a 5 paragraph essay. Your paper should not exceed 900 words. It should be properly structured. Make sure that it has a well-developed introduction and a concise conclusion. In your introduction, you must provide your reader with some background information. Your reader must develop a good understanding of what they will read in your paper. Also, you must include an attention getter, so that your readers are interested in reading your work. Use a 5 paragraph essay template, but don’t forget to be academically sound. For example, the main idea of your essay should be expressed in a single sentence. Also, your thesis should be strong and debatable. Finally, include rich evidence to back up your claims.

There are three key things that an effective introduction should aim to achieve:

In the 5 paragraph order of writing, the first thing the introduction needs to do is get the reader so interested that they want to keep reading and learning more. This goal can be achieve in one of a number of ways. You could, for instance, begin with a brief anecdote or famous quote. Or you could present your readers with some interesting or surprising statistics or challenge them with a question.

Continuing with the five paragraph essay graphic organizer format, the second thing an introduction should do is let readers know what the entire essay will cover or discuss. Additionally, in this paragraph, you should include a thesis statement or say how you intend to approach your topic. A thesis statement is, virtually without exception, one sentence that sets out the essay's key idea. So try to ensure this statement is clearly written and stands out in your introductory paragraph.

In the third place, the introduction lets readers know how your content is structured. After reading this section, your readers should understand how you intend to take them through your chosen topic.

Main Body of Your Essay

The body of your paper must elaborate on the thesis statement. Choose three key points of your topic and use them as topic sentences – one sentence per paragraph. In the first sentence of each body paragraph provide a brief description of the issue you are going to discuss. Then, in the next sentences, expand upon the issue and provide some facts to prove its relevance. You may also want to include the data borrowed from other sources. If you use external sources or quotations, do not forget to cite and reference them properly. Use only the most recent and reliable sources. Look at how other students have coped with the same task and see if you can follow the proposed structure. 

Anyone engaged in teaching paragraph structure is likely to tell you that the body of this type of essay is made up of three (3) paragraphs (i.e. the three burgers in the hamburger structure). Each individual paragraph should be limited to just one point or idea that fully supports the central thesis statement. Additionally, each of the paragraphs should begin with a clearly written topic sentence that sets out that paragraph's key idea. You should include your strongest point or argument in the first body paragraph along with the best examples to support the topic. In this vein then, the last (or third) paragraph should contain the least strong point or argument and the weakest examples. It is important to include however much discussion or explanation is needed to emphasize each paragraph's main idea or point. Where possible, use specific detail and examples to convey your point(s) and/or idea(s) in as clear and as convincing a manner as is possible. As soon as you define the three key points to discuss in your work, the whole process will go smoother and faster. This is where you can finally develop a conclusion. It is the final part of your 5 paragraph essay.

If you refer to any graphic organizers for writing essays (often found on the Internet), you will see that it is not advisable to jump randomly from idea to idea, at least not if you want your writing to be coherent. Remember this at all times a single idea to each paragraph. For an essay to be effective, transitions should be used to link paragraphs to each other i.e. at the beginning (e.g. in topic sentences) or at end of paragraphs (e.g. in the concluding sentences) to show how the ideas in each section are related.

Adhering to our hamburger essay graphic organizer, the concluding paragraph is the final (or fifth) paragraph in a 5-paragraph essay. This is the last part that readers see and remember most. Hence, it needs to be carefully written. This section should be used to sum-up all the key points from the essay and to reiterate the primary assertion or claim. An essay's conclusion wraps us what has been previously said and does not introduce any new topic(s). Specific evidence or examples should not be repeated in this paragraph.

In your conclusion, summarize the contents of your work and include some recommendations for your reader. Do not forget to restate the thesis. Be logical and concise. Your conclusion should not exceed a few sentences. Be thorough and stay centered on your topic, as you are writing it.

An essay can be ended in a number of different ways. Your goal is to choose a method that gives a feeling of closure. The best way of doing this is to reiterate the key points from the body paragraphs. Or, if you asked a question in the opening paragraph, you could answer it here to wrap up or choose a quotation that sums everything up.

Some Final Points before Handing Your Essay In

By now, you should roughly know how to write a 5 paragraph essay, but once you finish, cast a critical glance back over your work. Does the introductory paragraph's thesis statement fit well with the content in the body and with the concluding statement(s) in the last paragraph? Every sentence should reflect, support, and prove the main thesis.

Remember, a successful writer does not:

  • Write from the first person perspective e.g. "I", "my", or "me". The best statements are general ones, e.g., "the wider belief is that ..." "experts say that ..." "we are prone to thinking ..." and so on.
  • Tell personal anecdotes or stories e.g. about themselves, family or friends. These are not suited to an academic text.
  • Use contractions or abbreviations.
  • Use slang e.g. such words as "wanna" or "gonna" since this is a formal essay.
  • Use conjunctions - e.g., "and", "but", "because" and so on - to begin sentences:

However, they should use "linking" phrases and words since these improve the coherence and logic of a text.

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Make Math Class EPIC With This Giveaway!

Why the “Hamburger” Essay Has Gone Stale

And ways to freshen your students’ writing!

Wilted hamburger - it's time to get rid of hamburger essay

The last year has taught educators that we must update many tried and true methods. Especially given the time constraints placed on teachers–whether teaching virtually or face-to-face. I’d like to suggest an important change. Stop requiring the hamburger style, five-paragraph essay. There is no rule that five paragraphs make the best essay. In fact, this unwritten rule leads to restrictive, repetitive, and often content-weak essays. It’s time to get rid of the hamburger essay!

Bye, bye buns

Sure, teachers still assign this style of essay for a reason. It is easy and efficient, but that is often the problem. Many students write through the motions to make their ideas fit into the hamburger style because they’ve been taught to do for so long. Even many state writing assessments still encourage the five-paragraph essay. This requirement often leads to drawn-out and monotonous essays, just so the student can check the boxes.

In his article, Kill the 5-Paragraph Essay , John Warner writes, “The five-paragraph essay is indeed a genre, but one that is entirely uncoupled from anything resembling meaningful work when it comes to developing a fully mature writing process.” The five-paragraph assignment often causes students to focus on how the essay should look rather than what the essay should say.


Serve up choice and voice

My favorite college professor once said he wanted two things from us when we wrote or presented in his class: to be informed and to be entertained. He told us to focus on what we wanted to say and then figure out how to say it.

A quick look at College Board requirements for essays encourages students to consider the following topics: subject, occasion, audience, and purpose. Challenge students to really focus on what they want to say. Encourage students to ask these questions: What is my goal? Why is this important to me? Why should this be important to others? The main goal of any essay should be to help the reader understand your thesis by organizing the ideas in a logical manner to support it. Answering these questions will help the student craft a strong thesis; without it, the essay is just wilted lettuce and mushy buns.

Size shouldn’t matter

The three-pronged thesis statement approach provided the meat, lettuce, and tomato of the hamburger essay. But this also forces students to develop three, and only three, main ideas to support. Sometimes two, four, or more may be just what is needed. As for the conclusion, let go of the idea that the thesis and main ideas need to be repeated. Instead, instruct students to focus on making sure the final paragraph emphasizes why the essay is important and why further action may be needed.

Throughout the writing process, reassure students that it is okay to write creatively. They should spend more time researching and fully developing the necessary support instead of worrying about meeting a certain length or number of words. Encourage students to stay mindful about word choice and voice to set the tone, use a variety of sentence styles to keep readers interested, and stay on topic. These important elements will help the essay achieve its purpose regardless of the number of paragraphs. One of the most important goals of teaching writing is to challenge students to think critically and to find their own voice and style. The focus of essay writing needs to be on quality, not quantity.

Not all essays are equal

Consider the type of essay you are requiring the students to write. If expository is the requirement, a five-paragraph essay might fill the bill. However, if narrative writing is the focus, encourage students to check out NPR’s series “ This I Believe. ” Here students will be able to read and hear numerous styles of essays that also showcase a writer’s voice. If the essay is persuasive, students will certainly want to spend time not only developing those body paragraphs of support but the counterclaim as well. Additionally, many courses simply require students to write an introduction, multi-paragraph body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The length is totally up to the individual student.

Allowing more voice and choice in writing gives the students more control and, in the end, more joy in the process. After all, a meaty and well-done essay is a chef’s kis s to an educator and student who have an appetite for success.

Do you think it’s time to get rid of the hamburger essay? Share your comments below!

Also, let’s stop asking students to start every essay with a hook ., want more articles like this make sure to subscribe to our newsletters .

Why the 'Hamburger' Essay Has Gone Stale

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Home / Essay Samples / Food / Fast Food / Hamburger

Hamburger Essay Examples

The history of hamburger: the taste of american society.

The hamburger is a beloved food that has become an icon of American cuisine. It is a dish that is simple, yet satisfying, and has a fascinating history. Moreover, it's one of my favorite dish, so that is why I decided to write about hamburger...

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