Master the Five-Paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay is one of the most common composition assignments out there, whether for high school or college students. It is a classic assignment because it presents an arena in which writers can demonstrate their command of language and punctuation, as well as their logic and rhetorical skills. These skills are useful not only for classroom assignments and college application essays, but even in the business world, as employees have to write memorandums and reports, which draw on the same skills.

Mastering the five-paragraph essay is doable, and here are some tips.

Components of a Good Essay

The five-paragraph essay lives up to its name, because is has five paragraphs, as follows: an introductory paragraph that includes a thesis, three body paragraphs, each which includes support and development, and one concluding paragraph.

Its structure sometimes generates other names for the same essay, including three-tier essay, one-three-one, or a hamburger essay. Whether you are writing a cause-and-effect essay, a persuasive essay, an argumentative essay or a compare-and-contrast essay, you should use this same structure and the following specifics.

Keys to Introductory Paragraphs

Any introductory paragraph contains from three to five sentences and sets up the tone and structure for the whole essay. The first sentence should be a so-called hook sentence and grabs the reader. Examples of hook sentences include a quote, a joke, a rhetorical question or a shocking fact. This is the sentence that will keep your readers reading. Draw them in.

What Makes a Thesis Statement

The last sentence should be your thesis statement, which is the argument you are going to make in the essay. It is the sentence that contains the main point of the essay, or what you are trying to prove. It should be your strongest claim in the whole essay, telling the reader what the paper is about. You should be able to look back at it to keep your argument focused. The other sentences in this paragraph should be general information that links the first sentence and the thesis.

Content of Supporting Paragraphs

Each of the next three paragraphs follows the same general structure of the introductory paragraph. That is, they have one introduction sentence, evidence and arguments in three to five sentences, and a conclusion. Each one of them should define and defend your thesis sentence in the introduction.

The first body paragraph should be dedicated to proving your most powerful point. The second body paragraph can contain your weakest point, because the third body paragraph can, and should, support another strong argument.

Concluding Paragraph Tips

Your concluding paragraph is important, and can be difficult. Ideally, you can begin by restating your thesis. Then you can recall or restate all three to five of your supporting arguments. You should summarize each main point. If you have made similar arguments multiple times, join those together in one sentence.

Essentially, in the concluding or fifth paragraph, you should restate what your preceding paragraphs were about and draw a conclusion. It should answer the question: So what? Even if the answer seems obvious to you, write it down so that your reader can continue to easily follow your thinking process, and hopefully, agree with you.

A Note on Compare and Contrast

Let’s look a little more closely at the compare-and-contrast essay, which is a very common assignment. It can be a confusing one due to the terms used. Comparing two items is to show how they are alike. Contrasting two items is to show how they are different. One way to approach this essay is to make a grid for yourself that compares or contrasts two items before you start writing. Then, write about those characteristics. Do not try to write about both. The name of the essay is actually misleading.

Keep these pointers in mind when you need to write a five-paragraph essay, and your end result will be clear in its argument, leading your reader to the right conclusion. Often, that conclusion is to agree with you, and who doesn’t like to be right?

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The Seven-Paragraph Essay

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The Seven-Paragraph Essay

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efficient ideas for academic essay writing

5 Basic Rules Of Writing A 7-Paragraph Comparative Essay

When writing academic papers, there are various styles and structures that students may be required to follow. For example, a seven paragraph essay will involve writing a piece that is of a limited length, and follows a predefined structure. Furthermore, when using the comparative style with this structure, there are various things to consider, with five basic rules of writing this kind of work explain below.

  • Using your opening paragraph for your introduction

The first of your seven paragraphs should be used for the introduction. It is in this part of your paper that you will include details of the topic that you will be comparing, along with some related background information.

  • Using the middle paragraphs for your body section

The next few paragraphs, which will appear in the middle of your paper, will make up the body section. Essentially, this is the largest part of your essay, and will require you to outline any different points that you wish to raise, such as any similarities and differences between the two topics that you are discussing.

  • Using each paragraph in the body section for a different comparison

In order to structure the work logically, you should use a new paragraph for each of the different comparisons that you wish to make. As a result, when writing a seven paragraph comparative essay, the middle five paragraphs, which make up the body section, will include five different comparisons.

  • Using the final paragraph for your conclusion

Finally, the last paragraph of your paper will be reserved for the conclusion. It is in the conclusion that you will assess the various points that you made during the body section, relating to any similarities or differences about the topics that you are discussing. You will then be use these points as the basis of a conclusion, so as to establish how similar or different you think the two topics are in general. For example, it may be that you used one paragraph to point out an important similarity between the two topics, whilst you used the other four paragraphs to identify any major differences. As a result, your conclusion might be that the two topics are more different than they are alike.

  • Avoiding the introduction of new points in your conclusion

Finally, you should be aware that the conclusion should be based upon any points already discussed within your essay, and should not be used to bring up any new discussions.

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  • How to write an essay outline | Guidelines & examples

How to Write an Essay Outline | Guidelines & Examples

Published on August 14, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

An essay outline is a way of planning the structure of your essay before you start writing. It involves writing quick summary sentences or phrases for every point you will cover in each paragraph , giving you a picture of how your argument will unfold.

Table of contents

Organizing your material, presentation of the outline, examples of essay outlines, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay outlines.

At the stage where you’re writing an essay outline, your ideas are probably still not fully formed. You should know your topic  and have already done some preliminary research to find relevant sources , but now you need to shape your ideas into a structured argument.

Creating categories

Look over any information, quotes and ideas you’ve noted down from your research and consider the central point you want to make in the essay—this will be the basis of your thesis statement . Once you have an idea of your overall argument, you can begin to organize your material in a way that serves that argument.

Try to arrange your material into categories related to different aspects of your argument. If you’re writing about a literary text, you might group your ideas into themes; in a history essay, it might be several key trends or turning points from the period you’re discussing.

Three main themes or subjects is a common structure for essays. Depending on the length of the essay, you could split the themes into three body paragraphs, or three longer sections with several paragraphs covering each theme.

As you create the outline, look critically at your categories and points: Are any of them irrelevant or redundant? Make sure every topic you cover is clearly related to your thesis statement.

Order of information

When you have your material organized into several categories, consider what order they should appear in.

Your essay will always begin and end with an introduction and conclusion , but the organization of the body is up to you.

Consider these questions to order your material:

  • Is there an obvious starting point for your argument?
  • Is there one subject that provides an easy transition into another?
  • Do some points need to be set up by discussing other points first?

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Within each paragraph, you’ll discuss a single idea related to your overall topic or argument, using several points of evidence or analysis to do so.

In your outline, you present these points as a few short numbered sentences or phrases.They can be split into sub-points when more detail is needed.

The template below shows how you might structure an outline for a five-paragraph essay.

  • Thesis statement
  • First piece of evidence
  • Second piece of evidence
  • Summary/synthesis
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement

You can choose whether to write your outline in full sentences or short phrases. Be consistent in your choice; don’t randomly write some points as full sentences and others as short phrases.

Examples of outlines for different types of essays are presented below: an argumentative, expository, and literary analysis essay.

Argumentative essay outline

This outline is for a short argumentative essay evaluating the internet’s impact on education. It uses short phrases to summarize each point.

Its body is split into three paragraphs, each presenting arguments about a different aspect of the internet’s effects on education.

  • Importance of the internet
  • Concerns about internet use
  • Thesis statement: Internet use a net positive
  • Data exploring this effect
  • Analysis indicating it is overstated
  • Students’ reading levels over time
  • Why this data is questionable
  • Video media
  • Interactive media
  • Speed and simplicity of online research
  • Questions about reliability (transitioning into next topic)
  • Evidence indicating its ubiquity
  • Claims that it discourages engagement with academic writing
  • Evidence that Wikipedia warns students not to cite it
  • Argument that it introduces students to citation
  • Summary of key points
  • Value of digital education for students
  • Need for optimism to embrace advantages of the internet

Expository essay outline

This is the outline for an expository essay describing how the invention of the printing press affected life and politics in Europe.

The paragraphs are still summarized in short phrases here, but individual points are described with full sentences.

  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages.
  • Provide background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press.
  • Present the thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
  • Discuss the very high levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe.
  • Describe how literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites.
  • Indicate how this discouraged political and religious change.
  • Describe the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg.
  • Show the implications of the new technology for book production.
  • Describe the rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible.
  • Link to the Reformation.
  • Discuss the trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention.
  • Describe Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation.
  • Sketch out the large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics.
  • Summarize the history described.
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period.

Literary analysis essay outline

The literary analysis essay outlined below discusses the role of theater in Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park .

The body of the essay is divided into three different themes, each of which is explored through examples from the book.

  • Describe the theatricality of Austen’s works
  • Outline the role theater plays in Mansfield Park
  • Introduce the research question : How does Austen use theater to express the characters’ morality in Mansfield Park ?
  • Discuss Austen’s depiction of the performance at the end of the first volume
  • Discuss how Sir Bertram reacts to the acting scheme
  • Introduce Austen’s use of stage direction–like details during dialogue
  • Explore how these are deployed to show the characters’ self-absorption
  • Discuss Austen’s description of Maria and Julia’s relationship as polite but affectionless
  • Compare Mrs. Norris’s self-conceit as charitable despite her idleness
  • Summarize the three themes: The acting scheme, stage directions, and the performance of morals
  • Answer the research question
  • Indicate areas for further study

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You will sometimes be asked to hand in an essay outline before you start writing your essay . Your supervisor wants to see that you have a clear idea of your structure so that writing will go smoothly.

Even when you do not have to hand it in, writing an essay outline is an important part of the writing process . It’s a good idea to write one (as informally as you like) to clarify your structure for yourself whenever you are working on an essay.

If you have to hand in your essay outline , you may be given specific guidelines stating whether you have to use full sentences. If you’re not sure, ask your supervisor.

When writing an essay outline for yourself, the choice is yours. Some students find it helpful to write out their ideas in full sentences, while others prefer to summarize them in short phrases.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

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6 Paragraph Essay Outline

  • Views 11777
  • Author Miriam M.

An essay is a piece of writing that presents and supports a thesis. It is a formal piece of writing that deals with a specific subject. Writing an essay requires you to make a case for the validity of a specific point of view, interpretation, analysis or a set of facts.

The following is a 6 paragraph essay outline:

Paragraph 1: Introduction

You should include the following in your introduction paragraph:

  • Hook . Include an interesting phrase, fact or short story to grab your reader’s attention.
  • Background information. It is necessary that you provide enough information about your essay’s topic to enable your reader to have a better understanding of your topic.
  • Thesis statement. Your thesis statement should state your essay’s topic, make your essay’s purpose clear and provide an overview of the main supporting points in your essay. Your thesis statement should be your last sentence in your introduction paragraph.
  • When writing in response to a text, your introduction should include the title, author and genre of the piece. 

Paragraph 2: First Body Paragraph

The first body paragraph should:

  • Start with a topic sentence that identifies one main idea that you will discuss as support for the thesis statement.
  • Have supporting sentences. Use specific details, proved by giving closely related examples to explain the main ides. The paragraph should have at least five to eight sentences.
  • Include paragraph unity. All ideas in this paragraph should be closely related to the topic sentence in order to further develop that topic sentence. All sentences in a single paragraph must be closely tied around a central point.

Paragraph 3: Second Body Paragraph.

This paragraph and any subsequent body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that indicates that you are introducing a new idea. Ensure that there is a connection between the paragraph and your ideas. This paragraph should include:

  • Transition words at the beginning of your body paragraph to move from one idea to the next within your essay.
  • Clear connections among the paragraphs.

Paragraph 4: Third Body Paragraph.

This paragraph like the second body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that indicates that you are introducing a new idea. Ensure that there is a connection between the paragraph and your ideas. This paragraph should include:

  • Clear connections among the paragraphs

Paragraph 5: Fourth Body Paragraph

  • You should start off this paragraph with the final topic sentence that relates back to the remaining point mentioned in the thesis statement.
  • Provide proof for this main idea by giving specific examples, details, and relevant support.
  • Ensure that you maintain paragraph unity . Each sentence must relate to your topic sentence.

Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Your conclusion should restate the overall purpose for writing and prove to your readers why your ideas are important. Make sure not to introduce new, unrelated ideas in the conclusion. The conclusion should:

  • Restate your thesis statement. Ensure that you do not repeat the same words in your introduction or body paragraphs.
  • Summarize your major points.
  • Give the reader a final thought to think about.

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