Writing an essay can have you yanking out your hair while curled in a corner crying at 2 am. Even for experienced writers, the process of thinking about what to write and figuring out the format to put it in can be frustrating. Also, because there are many different types of essays (persuasive, expository, argumentative, etc.) how you approach the topic will vary. In high school, these papers will usually be about a page or two in length. In college, they can be several pages in length and usually require research. With so many variables it’s no wonder that writing an essay can feel like you are being asked to climb Mount Everest with no equipment. One good thing is that most academic papers follow the same basic format.

            Academic papers follow the same structural format with only little differences depending on how long the paper needs to be and what type of paper you are writing. The format that I am going to share with you is a basic five-paragraph essay format that I have used throughout my educational career and it has never failed me.

What goes into each paragraph? 

INTRODUCTION:

This paragraph is the first paragraph of your essay. It is intended to catch the reader’s attention, give them some background information on the topic, give your point of view and provide an overview of the essay. (There is a lot going on here). 

Almost everyone has a vehicle and if they don’t, they will borrow one, especially if it’s a truck. People with cars find themselves in a bind when they are needing to move or need the strength of a larger vehicle. Additional money will need to be spent to rent or borrow a truck at one point in time. For this reason, trucks are a better buy than cars. They have more working power, the always valuable truck bed, and it is a large purchase that has far more long-term value than a small vehicle.

Hook: The first sentence of an essay will be the hook. You catch a fish with a hook tied to the end of a line, this is the same concept. You have to get the reader to bite, in other words, you need to catch their attention so they will continue reading your paper.

Hook:

Almost everyone has a vehicle and if they don’t, they will borrow one, especially if it’s a truck.

This is an example of a hook. It is meant to make the reader think so that it catches their attention and it also lets them know what this paper will be about.

More Information: After the hook, you will provide background information on the topic to explain why this topic is important. It can be interesting facts or presenting the reader with a problem.

Almost everyone has a vehicle and if they don’t, they will borrow one, especially if it’s a truck. People with cars find themselves in a bind when they are needing to move or need the strength of a larger vehicle. Additional money will need to be spent to rent or borrow a truck at one point in time. For this reason, trucks are a better buy than cars. They have more working power, the always valuable truck bed, and it is a large purchase that has far more long-term value than a small vehicle.

{ People with cars find themselves in a bind when they are needing to move or need the strength of a larger vehicle. Additional money will need to be spent to rent or borrow a truck at one point in time.}

In this paragraph, the readers are presented with a problem for the background information.

Thesis statement: This will be your position statement or where you will state your point of view. For example, say you are writing a persuasive paper and you are trying to convince your reader that a truck is better than a car. Your thesis statement could read like this for example:

Almost everyone has a vehicle and if they don’t, they will borrow one, especially if it’s a truck. People with cars find themselves in a bind when they are needing to move or need the strength of a larger vehicle. Additional money will need to be spent to rent or borrow a truck at one point in time. For this reason, trucks are a better buy than cars. They have more working power, the always valuable truck bed, and it is a large purchase that has far more long-term value than a small vehicle.

{For this reason, trucks are a better buy than cars. }

(I am stating what I believe in the first paragraph – …trucks are a better buy than cars.)

Overview: You are going to preview for the reader, the order of the topics that you are going to address. In the above example about trucks. The last sentence says:

They have more working power, the always valuable truck bed, and it is a large purchase that has far more long-term value than a small vehicle.

In the last sentence of your introductory paragraph, you have an overview of your three upcoming body paragraphs, this also serves as your transition into the first body paragraph. 

They have more working power, the always valuable truck bed, and it is a large purchase that has far more long-term value than a small vehicle.

{more working power, valuable truck bed, long-term value}

BODY PARAGRAPHS

You will write your body paragraphs in the order that you previewed in the last sentence of the introductory paragraph.

Body Paragraph #1: More working power

Body Paragraph #2: Valuable truck bed

Body Paragraph #3: Long term value

Body Paragraphs make up the bulk of your essay and they will follow the same format every time (a paragraph is about 4- 5 sentences or more…Here is why).

Your first sentence is a topic sentence: this tells the reader what you are writing about now.  Sticking with the above example:

Sentence #1: Trucks are powerful vehicles that are put to work doing tough jobs every day.

Notice that I didn’t use the exact same words. When writing you want to avoid repeating words too often. Instead, I took a couple of words from my original phrase “more working power” and changed them around a bit to get the same point across.

Sentence #2, 3, 4: Observation, fact, personal experience, description (DETAILS). You want to give more information. As a rule of thumb, that should be about 2 to 3 details, it can be more.

Example: Trucks are powerful vehicles that are put to work doing tough jobs every day. Their body and engine strength make it possible for some to be used in commercial transport to carry things like food and supplies around the country. Others are needed for recreation like taking the family and the RV on vacation. Cars are good for squeezing into small spaces, but you will not see a small vehicle pulling a 5th wheel RV down the highway. Trucks can also be loaded down with items because they have a truck bed.

     Truck beds are invaluable, not just for businesses but also in daily life.

{Their body and engine strength make it possible for some to be used in commercial transport to carry things like food and supplies around the country. Others are needed for recreation like taking the family and the RV on vacation. Cars are good for squeezing into small spaces, but you will not see a small vehicle pulling a 5th wheel RV down the highway.}

The highlighted sentences above are your detail sentences. They provide more information on your topic and why it is important.

The last sentence is there as a transition statement because it lets the reader know I’m changing topics.

Transition Statement: 

Trucks can also be loaded down with items because they have a truck bed.

And it leads into the next paragraph.

1st sentence of the 2nd body paragraph:

Truck beds are invaluable, not just for businesses but also in daily life.

                                                            ****All three body paragraphs will follow this same format****

CONCLUSION:

You have labored over this paper for hours possibly days now, you have lost sleep writing and rewriting and now you have finally reached your last paragraph. What should you do? You don’t want to drop the ball now.

DO NOT DO THIS: Don’t use the clique “In conclusion” if you can avoid it. For very new writers this is fine but as your writing improves find a better way to get this point across. Don’t Restate your thesis word for word. Remember this conclusion is a paragraph as well so don’t rewrite your paper here.

DO THIS: My original thesis statement (For this reason trucks are a better buy than cars) was my second to the last sentence in the introduction, this time it will be at the beginning of the paragraph. 

Trucks are a better long-term investment than cars because of all their unique qualities. Trucks can be used to move larger objects because of their strength. They are useful for everyday events and for the rare haul off of items. Also, they save businesses and consumers a lot of money in the long run. Everyone should have a truck. If you haven’t already, go get yourself a truck and start enjoying the benefits today.

{Trucks are a better long-term investment than cars because of all their unique qualities}

You will restate your topic sentences for the body paragraphs.

Trucks are a better long-term investment than cars because of all their unique qualities. Trucks can be used to move larger objects because of their strength. They are useful for everyday events and for the rare haul off of items. Also, they save businesses and consumers a lot of money in the long run. Everyone should have a truck. If you haven’t already, go get yourself a truck and start enjoying the benefits today.

{Trucks can be used to move larger objects because of their strength. They are useful for everyday events and for the rare haul off of items. Also, they save businesses and consumers a lot of money in the long run.}

Lastly, instead of ending with a transition statement, you will end with a closing statement. This is a type of call to action or a final opinion on the subject of your paper. Here, I chose to end with a call to action.

Trucks are a better long-term investment than cars because of all their unique qualities. Trucks can be used to move larger objects because of their strength. They are useful for everyday events and for the rare haul off of items. Also, they save businesses and consumers a lot of money in the long run. Everyone should have a truck. If you haven’t already, go get yourself a truck and start enjoying the benefits today.

{Everyone should have a truck. If you haven’t already, go get yourself a truck and start enjoying the benefits today.}

If you click here you can download a PDF version of the “Basic 5 Paragraph Essay Outline.” 

Now you know how to write an essay. I hope your Mount Everest seems smaller now that you have the tools to conquer it. Enjoy the Process!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *