THE STRUCTURE OF A FIVE PARAGRAPH ESSAY
In most college composition classes, you are asked to write a "five paragraph" essay.
This is a very rigid format, the likes of which you will rarely see in the "real world."
However it is a useful exercise, something like doing "school figures" in ice skating, as
it mimics the natural form of ANY kind of writing -- it has a beginning, middle, and an
end -- and allows the beginning writer to feel "safer" as he or she ventures into the
dangerous world of choosing from a practically infinite number of words and word
combinations, what to put on the paper, and how. ALL good writing follows this format
in that it does have an introduction, no matter how informal; a main point, whether
implied or stated; a body of evidence to prove one's point; and a conclusion, if only a
sentence or two that adds a note of finality.
Following is a description of the five paragraph format; your essays for this class do not
have to follow this to the letter, nor do they have to be exactly five paragraphs. I offer
this to you in case you feel more comfortable with greater direction at first in this class.
Take from it what is valuable to you.
INTRODUCTION (1 paragraph)
Catch the reader’s attention.
Preview the main topic of discussion.
Direct the composition towards the thesis.
State your main point (your thesis statement). The thesis should:
Organize the main topic by providing a map for the reader (also known as the three-
Control the logic and scope of the composition.
Be only ONE sentence.
Use parallel grammatical structure.
BODY (3 paragraphs)
Have a topic sentence for each paragraph usually found at the beginning of the
paragraph that states the main idea of the paragraph and one aspect of the thesis.
Each topic sentence should clearly relate back to your thesis and support it
Use specific examples and details to prove your topic sentence: these can be facts,
examples, description, anecdotes, relevant events, expert or eyewitness testimony,
Use transitions to show relationships between ideas; put sentences in logical order
so essay is easy to follow and makes sense
CONCLUSION (1 paragraph)
Do any of the following: Sum up main points, OR give results of a chain of reasoning,
OR stimulate the reader to act, OR give an emotional appeal, OR state the implications
Add a sense of finality to essay