The Ultimate Guide to the 5-Paragraph Essay

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  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

A five-paragraph essay is a prose composition that follows a prescribed format of an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph, and is typically taught during primary English education and applied on standardized testing throughout schooling.

Learning to write a high-quality five-paragraph essay is an essential skill for students in early English classes as it allows them to express certain ideas, claims, or concepts in an organized manner, complete with evidence that supports each of these notions. Later, though, students may decide to stray from the standard five-paragraph format and venture into writing an  exploratory essay  instead.

Still, teaching students to organize essays into the five-paragraph format is an easy way to introduce them to writing literary criticism, which will be tested time and again throughout their primary, secondary, and further education.

Writing a Good Introduction

The introduction is the first paragraph in your essay, and it should accomplish a few specific goals: capture the reader's interest, introduce the topic, and make a claim or express an opinion in a thesis statement.

It's a good idea to start your essay with a hook (fascinating statement) to pique the reader's interest, though this can also be accomplished by using descriptive words, an anecdote, an intriguing question, or an interesting fact. Students can practice with creative writing prompts to get some ideas for interesting ways to start an essay.

The next few sentences should explain your first statement, and prepare the reader for your thesis statement, which is typically the last sentence in the introduction. Your  thesis sentence  should provide your specific assertion and convey a clear point of view, which is typically divided into three distinct arguments that support this assertation, which will each serve as central themes for the body paragraphs.

Writing Body Paragraphs

The body of the essay will include three body paragraphs in a five-paragraph essay format, each limited to one main idea that supports your thesis.

To correctly write each of these three body paragraphs, you should state your supporting idea, your topic sentence, then back it up with two or three sentences of evidence. Use examples that validate the claim before concluding the paragraph and using transition words to lead to the paragraph that follows — meaning that all of your body paragraphs should follow the pattern of "statement, supporting ideas, transition statement."

Words to use as you transition from one paragraph to another include: moreover, in fact, on the whole, furthermore, as a result, simply put, for this reason, similarly, likewise, it follows that, naturally, by comparison, surely, and yet.

Writing a Conclusion

The final paragraph will summarize your main points and re-assert your main claim (from your thesis sentence). It should point out your main points, but should not repeat specific examples, and should, as always, leave a lasting impression on the reader.

The first sentence of the conclusion, therefore, should be used to restate the supporting claims argued in the body paragraphs as they relate to the thesis statement, then the next few sentences should be used to explain how the essay's main points can lead outward, perhaps to further thought on the topic. Ending the conclusion with a question, anecdote, or final pondering is a great way to leave a lasting impact.

Once you complete the first draft of your essay, it's a good idea to re-visit the thesis statement in your first paragraph. Read your essay to see if it flows well, and you might find that the supporting paragraphs are strong, but they don't address the exact focus of your thesis. Simply re-write your thesis sentence to fit your body and summary more exactly, and adjust the conclusion to wrap it all up nicely.

Practice Writing a Five-Paragraph Essay

Students can use the following steps to write a standard essay on any given topic. First, choose a topic, or ask your students to choose their topic, then allow them to form a basic five-paragraph by following these steps:

  • Decide on your  basic thesis , your idea of a topic to discuss.
  • Decide on three pieces of supporting evidence you will use to prove your thesis.
  • Write an introductory paragraph, including your thesis and evidence (in order of strength).
  • Write your first body paragraph, starting with restating your thesis and focusing on your first piece of supporting evidence.
  • End your first paragraph with a transitional sentence that leads to the next body paragraph.
  • Write paragraph two of the body focussing on your second piece of evidence. Once again make the connection between your thesis and this piece of evidence.
  • End your second paragraph with a transitional sentence that leads to paragraph number three.
  • Repeat step 6 using your third piece of evidence.
  • Begin your concluding paragraph by restating your thesis. Include the three points you've used to prove your thesis.
  • End with a punch, a question, an anecdote, or an entertaining thought that will stay with the reader.

Once a student can master these 10 simple steps, writing a basic five-paragraph essay will be a piece of cake, so long as the student does so correctly and includes enough supporting information in each paragraph that all relate to the same centralized main idea, the thesis of the essay.

Limitations of the Five-Paragraph Essay

The five-paragraph essay is merely a starting point for students hoping to express their ideas in academic writing; there are some other forms and styles of writing that students should use to express their vocabulary in the written form.

According to Tory Young's "Studying English Literature: A Practical Guide":

"Although school students in the U.S. are examined on their ability to write a  five-paragraph essay , its  raison d'être  is purportedly to give practice in basic writing skills that will lead to future success in more varied forms. Detractors feel, however, that writing to rule in this way is more likely to discourage imaginative writing and thinking than enable it. . . . The five-paragraph essay is less aware of its  audience  and sets out only to present information, an account or a kind of story rather than explicitly to persuade the reader."

Students should instead be asked to write other forms, such as journal entries, blog posts, reviews of goods or services, multi-paragraph research papers, and freeform expository writing around a central theme. Although five-paragraph essays are the golden rule when writing for standardized tests, experimentation with expression should be encouraged throughout primary schooling to bolster students' abilities to utilize the English language fully.

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11 Rules for Essay Paragraph Structure (with Examples)

How do you structure a paragraph in an essay?

If you’re like the majority of my students, you might be getting your basic essay paragraph structure wrong and getting lower grades than you could!

In this article, I outline the 11 key steps to writing a perfect paragraph. But, this isn’t your normal ‘how to write an essay’ article. Rather, I’ll try to give you some insight into exactly what teachers look out for when they’re grading essays and figuring out what grade to give them.

You can navigate each issue below, or scroll down to read them all:

1. Paragraphs must be at least four sentences long 2. But, at most seven sentences long 3. Your paragraph must be Left-Aligned 4. You need a topic sentence 5 . Next, you need an explanation sentence 6. You need to include an example 7. You need to include citations 8. All paragraphs need to be relevant to the marking criteria 9. Only include one key idea per paragraph 10. Keep sentences short 11. Keep quotes short

Paragraph structure is one of the most important elements of getting essay writing right .

As I cover in my Ultimate Guide to Writing an Essay Plan , paragraphs are the heart and soul of your essay.

However, I find most of my students have either:

  • forgotten how to write paragraphs properly,
  • gotten lazy, or
  • never learned it in the first place!

Paragraphs in essay writing are different from paragraphs in other written genres .

In fact, the paragraphs that you are reading now would not help your grades in an essay.

That’s because I’m writing in journalistic style, where paragraph conventions are vastly different.

For those of you coming from journalism or creative writing, you might find you need to re-learn paragraph writing if you want to write well-structured essay paragraphs to get top grades.

Below are eleven reasons your paragraphs are losing marks, and what to do about it!

11 tips for perfect paragraphs

Essay Paragraph Structure Rules

1. your paragraphs must be at least 4 sentences long.

In journalism and blog writing, a one-sentence paragraph is great. It’s short, to-the-point, and helps guide your reader. For essay paragraph structure, one-sentence paragraphs suck.

A one-sentence essay paragraph sends an instant signal to your teacher that you don’t have much to say on an issue.

A short paragraph signifies that you know something – but not much about it. A one-sentence paragraph lacks detail, depth and insight.

Many students come to me and ask, “what does ‘add depth’ mean?” It’s one of the most common pieces of feedback you’ll see written on the margins of your essay.

Personally, I think ‘add depth’ is bad feedback because it’s a short and vague comment. But, here’s what it means: You’ve not explained your point enough!

If you’re writing one-, two- or three-sentence essay paragraphs, you’re costing yourself marks.

Always aim for at least four sentences per paragraph in your essays.

This doesn’t mean that you should add ‘fluff’ or ‘padding’ sentences.

Make sure you don’t:

a) repeat what you said in different words, or b) write something just because you need another sentence in there.

But, you need to do some research and find something insightful to add to that two-sentence paragraph if you want to ace your essay.

Check out Points 5 and 6 for some advice on what to add to that short paragraph to add ‘depth’ to your paragraph and start moving to the top of the class.

  • How to Make an Essay Longer
  • How to Make an Essay Shorter

2. Your Paragraphs must not be more than 7 Sentences Long

Okay, so I just told you to aim for at least four sentences per paragraph. So, what’s the longest your paragraph should be?

Seven sentences. That’s a maximum.

So, here’s the rule:

Between four and seven sentences is the sweet spot that you need to aim for in every single paragraph.

Here’s why your paragraphs shouldn’t be longer than seven sentences:

1. It shows you can organize your thoughts. You need to show your teacher that you’ve broken up your key ideas into manageable segments of text (see point 10)

2. It makes your work easier to read.   You need your writing to be easily readable to make it easy for your teacher to give you good grades. Make your essay easy to read and you’ll get higher marks every time.

One of the most important ways you can make your work easier to read is by writing paragraphs that are less than six sentences long.

3. It prevents teacher frustration. Teachers are just like you. When they see a big block of text their eyes glaze over. They get frustrated, lost, their mind wanders … and you lose marks.

To prevent teacher frustration, you need to ensure there’s plenty of white space in your essay. It’s about showing them that the piece is clearly structured into one key idea per ‘chunk’ of text.

Often, you might find that your writing contains tautologies and other turns of phrase that can be shortened for clarity.

3. Your Paragraph must be Left-Aligned

Turn off ‘Justified’ text and: Never. Turn. It. On. Again.

Justified text is where the words are stretched out to make the paragraph look like a square. It turns the writing into a block. Don’t do it. You will lose marks, I promise you! Win the psychological game with your teacher: left-align your text.

A good essay paragraph is never ‘justified’.

I’m going to repeat this, because it’s important: to prevent your essay from looking like a big block of muddy, hard-to-read text align your text to the left margin only.

You want white space on your page – and lots of it. White space helps your reader scan through your work. It also prevents it from looking like big blocks of text.

You want your reader reading vertically as much as possible: scanning, browsing, and quickly looking through for evidence you’ve engaged with the big ideas.

The justified text doesn’t help you do that. Justified text makes your writing look like a big, lumpy block of text that your reader doesn’t want to read.

What’s wrong with Center-Aligned Text?

While I’m at it, never, ever, center-align your text either. Center-aligned text is impossible to skim-read. Your teacher wants to be able to quickly scan down the left margin to get the headline information in your paragraph.

Not many people center-align text, but it’s worth repeating: never, ever center-align your essays.

an infographic showing that left-aligned paragraphs are easy to read. The infographic recommends using Control plus L on a PC keyboard or Command plus L on a Mac to left align a paragraph

Don’t annoy your reader. Left align your text.

4. Your paragraphs must have a Topic Sentence

The first sentence of an essay paragraph is called the topic sentence. This is one of the most important sentences in the correct essay paragraph structure style.

The topic sentence should convey exactly what key idea you’re going to cover in your paragraph.

Too often, students don’t let their reader know what the key idea of the paragraph is until several sentences in.

You must show what the paragraph is about in the first sentence.

You never, ever want to keep your reader in suspense. Essays are not like creative writing. Tell them straight away what the paragraph is about. In fact, if you can, do it in the first half of the first sentence .

I’ll remind you again: make it easy to grade your work. Your teacher is reading through your work trying to determine what grade to give you. They’re probably going to mark 20 assignments in one sitting. They have no interest in storytelling or creativity. They just want to know how much you know! State what the paragraph is about immediately and move on.

Suggested: Best Words to Start a Paragraph

Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: Writing a Topic Sentence If your paragraph is about how climate change is endangering polar bears, say it immediately : “Climate change is endangering polar bears.” should be your first sentence in your paragraph. Take a look at first sentence of each of the four paragraphs above this one. You can see from the first sentence of each paragraph that the paragraphs discuss:

When editing your work, read each paragraph and try to distil what the one key idea is in your paragraph. Ensure that this key idea is mentioned in the first sentence .

(Note: if there’s more than one key idea in the paragraph, you may have a problem. See Point 9 below .)

The topic sentence is the most important sentence for getting your essay paragraph structure right. So, get your topic sentences right and you’re on the right track to a good essay paragraph.

5. You need an Explanation Sentence

All topic sentences need a follow-up explanation. The very first point on this page was that too often students write paragraphs that are too short. To add what is called ‘depth’ to a paragraph, you can come up with two types of follow-up sentences: explanations and examples.

Let’s take explanation sentences first.

Explanation sentences give additional detail. They often provide one of the following services:

Let’s go back to our example of a paragraph on Climate change endangering polar bears. If your topic sentence is “Climate change is endangering polar bears.”, then your follow-up explanation sentence is likely to explain how, why, where, or when. You could say:

Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: Writing Explanation Sentences 1. How: “The warming atmosphere is melting the polar ice caps.” 2. Why: “The polar bears’ habitats are shrinking every single year.” 3. Where: “This is happening in the Antarctic ice caps near Greenland.” 4. When: “Scientists first noticed the ice caps were shrinking in 1978.”

You don’t have to provide all four of these options each time.

But, if you’re struggling to think of what to add to your paragraph to add depth, consider one of these four options for a good quality explanation sentence.

>>>RELATED ARTICLE: SHOULD YOU USE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS IN ESSAYS ?

6. Your need to Include an Example

Examples matter! They add detail. They also help to show that you genuinely understand the issue. They show that you don’t just understand a concept in the abstract; you also understand how things work in real life.

Example sentences have the added benefit of personalising an issue. For example, after saying “Polar bears’ habitats are shrinking”, you could note specific habitats, facts and figures, or even a specific story about a bear who was impacted.

Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: Writing an ‘Example’ Sentence “For example, 770,000 square miles of Arctic Sea Ice has melted in the past four decades, leading Polar Bear populations to dwindle ( National Geographic, 2018 )

In fact, one of the most effective politicians of our times – Barrack Obama – was an expert at this technique. He would often provide examples of people who got sick because they didn’t have healthcare to sell Obamacare.

What effect did this have? It showed the real-world impact of his ideas. It humanised him, and got him elected president – twice!

Be like Obama. Provide examples. Often.

7. All Paragraphs need Citations

Provide a reference to an academic source in every single body paragraph in the essay. The only two paragraphs where you don’t need a reference is the introduction and conclusion .

Let me repeat: Paragraphs need at least one reference to a quality scholarly source .

Let me go even further:

Students who get the best marks provide two references to two different academic sources in every paragraph.

Two references in a paragraph show you’ve read widely, cross-checked your sources, and given the paragraph real thought.

It’s really important that these references link to academic sources, not random websites, blogs or YouTube videos. Check out our Seven Best types of Sources to Cite in Essays post to get advice on what sources to cite. Number 6 w ill surprise you!

Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: In-Text Referencing in Paragraphs Usually, in-text referencing takes the format: (Author, YEAR), but check your school’s referencing formatting requirements carefully. The ‘Author’ section is the author’s last name only. Not their initials. Not their first name. Just their last name . My name is Chris Drew. First name Chris, last name Drew. If you were going to reference an academic article I wrote in 2019, you would reference it like this: (Drew, 2019).

Where do you place those two references?

Place the first reference at the end of the first half of the paragraph. Place the second reference at the end of the second half of the paragraph.

This spreads the references out and makes it look like all the points throughout the paragraph are backed up by your sources. The goal is to make it look like you’ve reference regularly when your teacher scans through your work.

Remember, teachers can look out for signposts that indicate you’ve followed academic conventions and mentioned the right key ideas.

Spreading your referencing through the paragraph helps to make it look like you’ve followed the academic convention of referencing sources regularly.

Here are some examples of how to reference twice in a paragraph:

  • If your paragraph was six sentences long, you would place your first reference at the end of the third sentence and your second reference at the end of the sixth sentence.
  • If your paragraph was five sentences long, I would recommend placing one at the end of the second sentence and one at the end of the fifth sentence.

You’ve just read one of the key secrets to winning top marks.

8. Every Paragraph must be relevant to the Marking Criteria

Every paragraph must win you marks. When you’re editing your work, check through the piece to see if every paragraph is relevant to the marking criteria.

For the British: In the British university system (I’m including Australia and New Zealand here – I’ve taught at universities in all three countries), you’ll usually have a ‘marking criteria’. It’s usually a list of between two and six key learning outcomes your teacher needs to use to come up with your score. Sometimes it’s called a:

  • Marking criteria
  • Marking rubric
  • (Key) learning outcome
  • Indicative content

Check your assignment guidance to see if this is present. If so, use this list of learning outcomes to guide what you write. If your paragraphs are irrelevant to these key points, delete the paragraph .

Paragraphs that don’t link to the marking criteria are pointless. They won’t win you marks.

For the Americans: If you don’t have a marking criteria / rubric / outcomes list, you’ll need to stick closely to the essay question or topic. This goes out to those of you in the North American system. North America (including USA and Canada here) is often less structured and the professor might just give you a topic to base your essay on.

If all you’ve got is the essay question / topic, go through each paragraph and make sure each paragraph is relevant to the topic.

For example, if your essay question / topic is on “The Effects of Climate Change on Polar Bears”,

  • Don’t talk about anything that doesn’t have some connection to climate change and polar bears;
  • Don’t talk about the environmental impact of oil spills in the Gulf of Carpentaria;
  • Don’t talk about black bear habitats in British Columbia.
  • Do talk about the effects of climate change on polar bears (and relevant related topics) in every single paragraph .

You may think ‘stay relevant’ is obvious advice, but at least 20% of all essays I mark go off on tangents and waste words.

Stay on topic in Every. Single. Paragraph. If you want to learn more about how to stay on topic, check out our essay planning guide .

9. Only have one Key Idea per Paragraph

One key idea for each paragraph. One key idea for each paragraph. One key idea for each paragraph.

Don’t forget!

Too often, a student starts a paragraph talking about one thing and ends it talking about something totally different. Don’t be that student.

To ensure you’re focussing on one key idea in your paragraph, make sure you know what that key idea is. It should be mentioned in your topic sentence (see Point 3 ). Every other sentence in the paragraph adds depth to that one key idea.

If you’ve got sentences in your paragraph that are not relevant to the key idea in the paragraph, they don’t fit. They belong in another paragraph.

Go through all your paragraphs when editing your work and check to see if you’ve veered away from your paragraph’s key idea. If so, you might have two or even three key ideas in the one paragraph.

You’re going to have to get those additional key ideas, rip them out, and give them paragraphs of their own.

If you have more than one key idea in a paragraph you will lose marks. I promise you that.

The paragraphs will be too hard to read, your reader will get bogged down reading rather than scanning, and you’ll have lost grades.

10. Keep Sentences Short

If a sentence is too long it gets confusing. When the sentence is confusing, your reader will stop reading your work. They will stop reading the paragraph and move to the next one. They’ll have given up on your paragraph.

Short, snappy sentences are best.

Shorter sentences are easier to read and they make more sense. Too often, students think they have to use big, long, academic words to get the best marks. Wrong. Aim for clarity in every sentence in the paragraph. Your teacher will thank you for it.

The students who get the best marks write clear, short sentences.

When editing your draft, go through your essay and see if you can shorten your longest five sentences.

(To learn more about how to write the best quality sentences, see our page on Seven ways to Write Amazing Sentences .)

11. Keep Quotes Short

Eighty percent of university teachers hate quotes. That’s not an official figure. It’s my guestimate based on my many interactions in faculty lounges. Twenty percent don’t mind them, but chances are your teacher is one of the eight out of ten who hate quotes.

Teachers tend to be turned off by quotes because it makes it look like you don’t know how to say something on your own words.

Now that I’ve warned you, here’s how to use quotes properly:

Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: How To Use Quotes in University-Level Essay Paragraphs 1. Your quote should be less than one sentence long. 2. Your quote should be less than one sentence long. 3. You should never start a sentence with a quote. 4. You should never end a paragraph with a quote. 5 . You should never use more than five quotes per essay. 6. Your quote should never be longer than one line in a paragraph.

The minute your teacher sees that your quote takes up a large chunk of your paragraph, you’ll have lost marks.

Your teacher will circle the quote, write a snarky comment in the margin, and not even bother to give you points for the key idea in the paragraph.

Avoid quotes, but if you really want to use them, follow those five rules above.

I’ve also provided additional pages outlining Seven tips on how to use Quotes if you want to delve deeper into how, when and where to use quotes in essays. Be warned: quoting in essays is harder than you thought.

The basic essay paragraph structure formula includes: 4-6 sentence paragraphs; a clear topic sentence; useful explanations and examples; a focus on one key idea only; and references to two different academic sources.

Follow the advice above and you’ll be well on your way to getting top marks at university.

Writing essay paragraphs that are well structured takes time and practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself and keep on trying!

Below is a summary of our 11 key mistakes for structuring essay paragraphs and tips on how to avoid them.

I’ve also provided an easy-to-share infographic below that you can share on your favorite social networking site. Please share it if this article has helped you out!

11 Biggest Essay Paragraph Structure Mistakes you’re probably Making

1.  Your paragraphs are too short 2.  Your paragraphs are too long 3.  Your paragraph alignment is ‘Justified’ 4.  Your paragraphs are missing a topic sentence 5 .  Your paragraphs are missing an explanation sentence 6.  Your paragraphs are missing an example 7.  Your paragraphs are missing references 8.  Your paragraphs are not relevant to the marking criteria 9.  You’re trying to fit too many ideas into the one paragraph 10.  Your sentences are too long 11.  Your quotes are too long

Chris

Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 5 Top Tips for Succeeding at University
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 50 Durable Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 100 Consumer Goods Examples
  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 30 Globalization Pros and Cons

4 thoughts on “11 Rules for Essay Paragraph Structure (with Examples)”

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Hello there. I noticed that throughout this article on Essay Writing, you keep on saying that the teacher won’t have time to go through the entire essay. Don’t you think this is a bit discouraging that with all the hard work and time put into your writing, to know that the teacher will not read through the entire paper?

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Hi Clarence,

Thanks so much for your comment! I love to hear from readers on their thoughts.

Yes, I agree that it’s incredibly disheartening.

But, I also think students would appreciate hearing the truth.

Behind closed doors many / most university teachers are very open about the fact they ‘only have time to skim-read papers’. They regularly bring this up during heated faculty meetings about contract negotiations! I.e. in one university I worked at, we were allocated 45 minutes per 10,000 words – that’s just over 4 minutes per 1,000 word essay, and that’d include writing the feedback, too!

If students know the truth, they can better write their essays in a way that will get across the key points even from a ‘skim-read’.

I hope to write candidly on this website – i.e. some of this info will never be written on university blogs because universities want to hide these unfortunate truths from students.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Regards, Chris

' src=

This is wonderful and helpful, all I say is thank you very much. Because I learned a lot from this site, own by chris thank you Sir.

' src=

Thank you. This helped a lot.

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7. Argument/Research

6. paragraphs in essays.

Paragraphing will differ with every type of writing you use. In the expository essay, paragraphs are generally well-developed statements, at least seven sentences long. But they can vary greatly. Remember the basic rule: a paragraph represents an individual idea. But beyond that, you as the writer have a lot to do with what constitutes an individual idea. Try to think in terms of helping your reader understand the info you are providing. In essays, a bunch of short paragraphs can be somewhat distracting for an audience that wants lots of explanation. In other types of writing, short paragraphs are a blessing for people who want to finish reading quickly.

I’ve always been a supportive of the basic essay format: an introduction; a body; and a conclusion. The introduction and conclusion, I feel, need to be succinct- to the point. So they are generally shorter than other paragraphs. The body, I feel, is more successful with an adequate amount of support. As I’ve said many times, three paragraphs of support seems to be sufficient. If each paragraph is seven to ten sentences long, then a standard essay would be about 1 1/2 pages long. Of course I don’t like counting words, so I obviously am not in support of counting sentences and paragraphs. But make sure each section in your essay (a paragraph is a section) is developed to a point that will help your reader understand and feel satisfied with the information.

The following excerpt is from a novel written by Charles Dickens. It is actually several paragraphs long, but I’ve written it as one large paragraph. See if you can decide where the paragraphs should be placed, and why.

It touches me nearly now, although I tell it lightly, to recollect how eager I was to leave my happy home; to think how little I suspected what I did leave for ever. I am glad to recollect that when the carrier’s cart was at the gate, and my mother stood there kissing me, a grateful fondness for her and for the old place I had never turned my back upon before, made me cry. I am glad to know that my mother cried, too, and that I felt her heart beat against mine. I am glad to recollect that, when the carrier began to move, my mother ran out at the gate, and called to him to stop, that she might kiss me once more. I am glad to dwell upon the earnestness and love with which she lifted up her face to mine, and did so. As we left her standing in the road, Mr. Murdstone came up to where she was, and seemed to expostulate with her for being so moved. I was looking back round the awning of the cart, and wondered what business it was of his. Peggotty, who was also looking back on the other side, seemed anything but satisfied; as the face he brought back into the cart denoted. I saw looking at Peggoty for some time, in a reverie on this strange  case; whether, if she were employed to lose me like the boy in the fairy tale, I should be able to track my way home again by the buttons she would shed.

Of course, this is a narrative sample. We learned way back that narrative essays will usually have shorter paragraphs, but still, there needs to be logic behind where they should be. I will let you know, shortly, where Lewis had his paragraph breaks. See how close you were to what he wanted. Differing doesn’t make you wrong though, as long as you have a reason for the break.

  • Authored by : Jeff Meyers. Provided by : Clinton Community College. License : CC BY: Attribution
  • Excerpt from David Copperfield. Authored by : Charles Dickens. License : Public Domain: No Known Copyright

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How to Write a Paragraph in an Essay

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Written by  Scribendi

The deadline for your essay is looming, but you're still not sure how to write your essay paragraphs or how to structure them. If that's you, then you're in good hands.

After the content of your essay, the structure is the most important part. How you arrange your thoughts in an essay can either support your argument or confuse the reader. The difference comes down to your knowledge of how to write a paragraph to create structure and flow in an essay. 

At its most basic level,  an essay paragraph comprises the following elements: (1) a topic sentence, (2) sentences that develop and support the topic sentence, and (3) a concluding sentence.

Also, when writing a paragraph or essay , keep in mind that most essays follow the five-paragraph model. This model involves writing an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs of supporting arguments, and a conclusion paragraph. 

In most cases, a paper of this length just won't cut it. However, remembering this formula can help you write key paragraphs in your essay, such as an introduction that states the main hypothesis, a body that supports this argument, and a conclusion that ties everything together.

Let's break down how to write a paragraph so you can get that essay written. 

How to Write a Paragraph in an Essay

Writing a paragraph means grouping together sentences that focus on the same topic so that the important points are easy to understand. In the body of an essay, each paragraph functions as its own point or argument that backs up the essay's main hypothesis. Each paragraph also includes evidence that supports each argument made. 

It helps to separate each paragraph idea in a quick essay outline before you start writing your paragraphs so you can organize your thoughts. It is also helpful to link each paragraph in a cohesive way that supports your hypothesis. For good paragraph writing to work, your readers will need to be able to clearly follow the ideas you're presenting throughout your essay.  

Essay paragraphs are important for organizing topics and thoughts and for creating readability and flow. Readers often skip large blocks of writing in blog posts, articles, or essays. It can be confusing when there are no breaks between different ideas or when thoughts flow one into the next without any discernible pauses. Knowing how to write a paragraph to help break up your content and ideas is essential for avoiding this.

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Writing a paragraph is easier when you follow a structure. An essay paragraph consists of around 250 words , with the sentence count varying from five to six or more, depending on the type of essay you're writing.

The structure of an essay paragraph includes the following: 

  • A topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph that clearly states one idea
  • Supporting sentences that explain the idea in the topic sentence and provide evidence to back up that idea 
  • A concluding sentence that links back to the original topic sentence idea and segues to the next paragraph

Following this basic structure will ensure that you never have to wonder how to write a paragraph and will keep your essay structure consistent. 

What Is a Topic Sentence?

All good paragraph writing starts with a topic sentence. The topic sentence provides a brief summary of the content. In an essay's body, each paragraph begins with a topic sentence.

The topic sentence gives structure to a paragraph the same way a thesis gives structure to an essay. Both a thesis and a topic sentence state the main idea that drives the rest of the content. In the case of a paragraph, the topic sentence drives the rest of the paragraph content, and in the case of an essay, the thesis drives the rest of the essay content.

When writing a topic sentence, keep in mind that it should be

  • The first sentence of your paragraph
  • Specific, focusing on a specific area of your thesis statement
  • The focus of your paragraph

There are two parts to every topic sentence: the topic, which is what the paragraph will be about, and the controlling idea, which is the paragraph's direction. For example, if your paragraph was about hamsters being great pets, that would be your topic, but your controlling idea might be that there are many reasons why hamsters are great pets.

A paragraph example with a good topic sentence would start out something like this: 

Hamsters are great pets for many reasons. They don't require extensive training, so no time-consuming obedience courses are necessary. They are also relatively inexpensive to own when compared to dogs or cats because they're low-maintenance. 

Examples of Effective Hooks

A paragraph in an essay should always use an effective hook. If you're hoping to grab the attention of your reader, it helps to start your paragraph with a compelling statement or question that will be of interest. 

Here are a few examples to use for inspiration: 

Most people would rather work to live than live to work, and the gig economy makes this possible. 

How important is it for today's influencers to rely on Instagram? 

Daily sugar intake has reached a staggering average of 25 teaspoons per person in the United States.

Supporting Sentences

Writing an essay paragraph is like building an effective and functional house. In the same way that each room has a purpose, each paragraph in your essay should have its own separate topic with supporting sentences . Paragraph writing can be simple if you think of it this way! 

The goal of supporting sentences is to provide evidence validating each topic in your paragraph. Each sentence provides details to help your reader understand the paragraph's main idea. 

If you have trouble coming up with supporting sentences to develop the main idea in your paragraph, try rephrasing your topic sentence as a question. For example, if you're writing about how all babies have three basic needs, ask, what are the three basic needs of all babies? 

At the end of your supporting sentences, add a concluding sentence that ties everything to the main argument of your essay. Repeat this for each supporting argument, and you'll have mastered the concept of how to write a paragraph. Read on for a paragraph example with supporting sentences. 

Supporting Sentence Examples

To get a feel for how to use supporting sentences in a paragraph in an essay, check out this basic example: 

Babies have three basic needs. First, babies need food. Depending on their age, they'll drink formula for their first meals and graduate to soft baby food later. Second, they need shelter. Babies need a safe place to live. Third, they need support. They need someone loving to look out for them and take care of them.  

Writing a Paragraph

How to Use Transitions

Knowing how to write a paragraph involves knowing how to use transitions .

Good essay paragraphs have transitions that help ideas flow clearly from one to the next. Given that your essay will include many different ideas and subtopics, your transitions will ensure that your information and ideas are well connected. 

If you're not familiar with transitions, they are words or phrases that connect ideas. They signal a connection between your topic sentence and your supporting sentences, but they also help readers connect ideas between paragraphs. 

At the beginning of a sentence, use a transition to segue into a new idea. At the beginning of each paragraph, use a transition to signal a new concept or idea that you will discuss.

However, try to avoid one-word transitions at the beginning of a paragraph, like "Since" or "While," because they don't usually provide enough information. Instead, try using transitional phrases between paragraphs (instead of words), such as "On the other hand" or "In addition to."  

Examples of Transitions

Here are a few examples of transitions — both one-word transitions and transitional phrases — to use in the paragraphs of your essay:  

  • As a result
  • For example
  • By the same token
  • Consequently
  • In the meantime
  • To summarize
  • To conclude
  • Undoubtedly
  • Subsequently

Writing a paragraph in an essay can be simple if you understand basic paragraph structure. Additionally, it's helpful to keep in mind the structure of an essay and how each essay paragraph links together to form a fully developed argument or idea.

Creating an outline before you start writing your essay—which can also be described as a blueprint (to return to the metaphor of building a house)—is a great way to effectively arrange your topics, support your argument, and guide your writing.

Knowing how to write a paragraph is essential to communicating your thoughts and research, no matter the topic, in a way that is readable and coherent.

How Long Is a Paragraph?

An essay paragraph can vary in length depending on a variety of factors, such as the essay's type, topic, or requirements. Generally, essay paragraphs are three to five or more sentences, since each paragraph should have a fully developed idea with a beginning, middle, and end. 

However, all essays are different, and there are no hard and fast rules that dictate paragraph length. So, here are some guidelines to follow while writing a paragraph:  

  • Stick to one idea per paragraph. 
  • Keep your paragraphs roughly the same length. 
  • Ensure that each page of your essay has 2 – 3 paragraphs.
  • Combine shorter paragraphs into a larger one if the smaller paragraphs work together to express a single idea.

Overall, it's the paragraph writing itself that dictates a paragraph's length. Don't get too caught up in trying to reach a specific word count or number of sentences. Understanding this concept is key to knowing how to write a paragraph that conveys a clear and fully developed idea. 

How Do I Know When to Start a New Paragraph?

A new essay paragraph will always signal a new point or idea. Before you think about starting a new paragraph, ask yourself whether you are about to discuss something new that you haven't brought up yet. If the answer is yes, it warrants a new paragraph. 

The end of a paragraph functions as a break for your reader. If you've successfully developed and concluded an idea, you'll know that it's time to begin a new paragraph, especially if the material is long or complex. 

Every essay should have an introductory paragraph and a conclusion paragraph. But as long as you keep in mind that good paragraph writing means starting off with a new idea each time, you're in a good position to know when a new paragraph should begin. 

How Many Paragraphs Do I Need in My Essay?

The number of paragraphs you write in an essay will largely depend on the requirements of the essay. These requirements are usually dictated by an instructor.

For a short, 1-page essay, your instructor might require only three paragraphs. For a longer, 2- to 3-page essay, you might need five paragraphs. For longer essays, there could be up to seven to nine paragraphs. Any essay with more paragraphs than that is usually deemed a thesis or a research paper. 

At a minimum, an essay will always have at least three paragraphs: an introductory paragraph, a body paragraph, and a conclusion paragraph. Depending on the required word or page count or the type of essay (argumentative, informative, etc.), your essay could have multiple paragraphs expanding on different points. An argumentative essay, for example, should have at least five paragraphs. 

Therefore, the most important question to ask when deciding on your number of essay paragraphs is this: What does my professor expect from me? 

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How to Write an Essay

Last Updated: April 2, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Megaera Lorenz, PhD . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. 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 7,927,509 times.

An essay is a common type of academic writing that you'll likely be asked to do in multiple classes. Before you start writing your essay, make sure you understand the details of the assignment so that you know how to approach the essay and what your focus should be. Once you've chosen a topic, do some research and narrow down the main argument(s) you'd like to make. From there, you'll need to write an outline and flesh out your essay, which should consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. After your essay is drafted, spend some time revising it to ensure your writing is as strong as possible.

Understanding Your Assignment

Step 1 Read your assignment carefully.

  • The compare/contrast essay , which focuses on analyzing the similarities and differences between 2 things, such as ideas, people, events, places, or works of art.
  • The narrative essay , which tells a story.
  • The argumentative essay , in which the writer uses evidence and examples to convince the reader of their point of view.
  • The critical or analytical essay, which examines something (such as a text or work of art) in detail. This type of essay may attempt to answer specific questions about the subject or focus more generally on its meaning.
  • The informative essay , that educates the reader about a topic.

Step 2 Check for formatting and style requirements.

  • How long your essay should be
  • Which citation style to use
  • Formatting requirements, such as margin size , line spacing, and font size and type

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Christopher Taylor, PhD

Christopher Taylor, Professor of English, tells us: "Most essays will contain an introduction, a body or discussion portion, and a conclusion. When assigned a college essay, make sure to check the specific structural conventions related to your essay genre , your field of study, and your professor's expectations."

Step 3 Narrow down your topic so your essay has a clear focus.

  • If you're doing a research-based essay , you might find some inspiration from reading through some of the major sources on the subject.
  • For a critical essay, you might choose to focus on a particular theme in the work you're discussing, or analyze the meaning of a specific passage.

Step 4 Ask for clarification if you don't understand the assignment.

  • If you're having trouble narrowing down your topic, your instructor might be able to provide guidance or inspiration.

Planning and Organizing Your Essay

Step 1 Find some reputable sources on your topic.

  • Academic books and journals tend to be good sources of information. In addition to print sources, you may be able to find reliable information in scholarly databases such as JSTOR and Google Scholar.
  • You can also look for primary source documents, such as letters, eyewitness accounts, and photographs.
  • Always evaluate your sources critically. Even research papers by reputable academics can contain hidden biases, outdated information, and simple errors or faulty logic.

Tip: In general, Wikipedia articles are not considered appropriate sources for academic writing. However, you may be able to find useful sources in the “References” section at the end of the article.

Step 2 Make notes...

  • You might find it helpful to write your notes down on individual note cards or enter them into a text document on your computer so you can easily copy, paste , and rearrange them however you like.
  • Try organizing your notes into different categories so you can identify specific ideas you'd like to focus on. For example, if you're analyzing a short story , you might put all your notes on a particular theme or character together.

Step 3 Choose a question to answer or an issue to address.

  • For example, if your essay is about the factors that led to the end of the Bronze Age in the ancient Middle East, you might focus on the question, “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?”

Step 4 Create a thesis...

  • One easy way to come up with a thesis statement is to briefly answer the main question you would like to address.
  • For example, if the question is “What role did natural disasters play in the collapse of Late Bronze Age society?” then your thesis might be, “Natural disasters during the Late Bronze Age destabilized local economies across the region. This set in motion a series of mass migrations of different peoples, creating widespread conflict that contributed to the collapse of several major Bronze Age political centers.”

Step 5 Write an outline...

  • When you write the outline, think about how you would like to organize your essay. For example, you might start with your strongest arguments and then move to the weakest ones. Or, you could begin with a general overview of the source you're analyzing and then move on to addressing the major themes, tone, and style of the work.
  • Introduction
  • Point 1, with supporting examples
  • Point 2, with supporting examples
  • Point 3, with supporting examples
  • Major counter-argument(s) to your thesis
  • Your rebuttals to the counter-argument(s)

Drafting the Essay

Step 1 Write an introduction...

  • For example, if you're writing a critical essay about a work of art, your introduction might start with some basic information about the work, such as who created it, when and where it was created, and a brief description of the work itself. From there, introduce the question(s) about the work you'd like to address and present your thesis.
  • A strong introduction should also contain a brief transitional sentence that creates a link to the first point or argument you would like to make. For example, if you're discussing the use of color in a work of art, lead-in by saying you'd like to start with an overview of symbolic color use in contemporary works by other artists.

Tip: Some writers find it helpful to write the introduction after they've written the rest of the essay. Once you've written out your main points, it's easier to summarize the gist of your essay in a few introductory sentences.

Step 2 Present your argument(s) in detail.

  • For example, your topic sentence might be something like, “Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are among the many literary influences apparent in P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves novels.” You could then back this up by quoting a passage that contains a reference to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Try to show how the arguments in each paragraph link back to the main thesis of your essay.

Step 3 Use transition sentences between paragraphs.

  • When creating transitions, transitional phrases can be helpful. For example, use words and phrases such as “In addition,” “Therefore,” “Similarly,” “Subsequently,” or “As a result.”
  • For example, if you've just discussed the use of color to create contrast in a work of art, you might start the next paragraph with, “In addition to color, the artist also uses different line weights to distinguish between the more static and dynamic figures in the scene.”

Step 4 Address possible counterarguments.

  • For example, if you're arguing that a particular kind of shrimp decorates its shell with red algae to attract a mate, you'll need to address the counterargument that the shell decoration is a warning to predators. You might do this by presenting evidence that the red shrimp are, in fact, more likely to get eaten than shrimp with undecorated shells.

Step 5 Cite your sources...

  • The way you cite your sources will vary depending on the citation style you're using. Typically, you'll need to include the name of the author, the title and publication date of the source, and location information such as the page number on which the information appears.
  • In general, you don't need to cite common knowledge. For example, if you say, “A zebra is a type of mammal,” you probably won't need to cite a source.
  • If you've cited any sources in the essay, you'll need to include a list of works cited (or a bibliography ) at the end.

Step 6 Wrap up with...

  • Keep your conclusion brief. While the appropriate length will vary based on the length of the essay, it should typically be no longer than 1-2 paragraphs.
  • For example, if you're writing a 1,000-word essay, your conclusion should be about 4-5 sentences long. [16] X Research source

Revising the Essay

Step 1 Take a break...

  • If you don't have time to spend a couple of days away from your essay, at least take a few hours to relax or work on something else.

Step 2 Read over your draft to check for obvious problems.

  • Excessive wordiness
  • Points that aren't explained enough
  • Tangents or unnecessary information
  • Unclear transitions or illogical organization
  • Spelling , grammar , style, and formatting problems
  • Inappropriate language or tone (e.g., slang or informal language in an academic essay)

Step 3 Correct any major problems you find.

  • You might have to cut material from your essay in some places and add new material to others.
  • You might also end up reordering some of the content of the essay if you think that helps it flow better.

Step 4 Proofread your revised essay.

  • Read over each line slowly and carefully. It may be helpful to read each sentence out loud to yourself.

Tip: If possible, have someone else check your work. When you've been looking at your writing for too long, your brain begins to fill in what it expects to see rather than what's there, making it harder for you to spot mistakes.

how to write 6 paragraph essay

Expert Q&A

Christopher Taylor, PhD

You Might Also Like

Plan an Essay Using a Mind Map

  • ↑ https://www.yourdictionary.com/articles/essay-types
  • ↑ https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/resources/essay-writing/six-top-tips-for-writing-a-great-essay
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/common_writing_assignments/research_papers/choosing_a_topic.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/tips-reading-assignment-prompt
  • ↑ https://library.unr.edu/help/quick-how-tos/writing/integrating-sources-into-your-paper
  • ↑ https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/researching/notes-from-research/
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/developing-thesis
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.fas.harvard.edu/pages/outlining
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/transitions/
  • ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-incorporate-a-counter-argument.html
  • ↑ https://www.plagiarism.org/article/how-do-i-cite-sources
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
  • ↑ https://www.utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.twc/files/resource-files/Intros-Conclusions.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/the_writing_process/proofreading/steps_for_revising.html
  • ↑ https://open.lib.umn.edu/writingforsuccess/chapter/8-4-revising-and-editing/
  • ↑ https://writing.ku.edu/writing-process

About This Article

Christopher Taylor, PhD

If you need to write an essay, start by gathering information from reputable sources, like books from the library or scholarly journals online. Take detailed notes and keep track of which facts come from which sources. As you're taking notes, look for a central theme that you're interested in writing about to create your thesis statement. Then, organize your notes into an outline that supports and explains your thesis statement. Working from your outline, write an introduction and subsequent paragraphs to address each major point. Start every paragraph with a topic sentence that briefly explains the main point of that paragraph. Finally, finish your paper with a strong conclusion that sums up the most important points. For tips from our English Professor co-author on helpful revision techniques, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Ultimate Guide to Writing Your College Essay

Tips for writing an effective college essay.

College admissions essays are an important part of your college application and gives you the chance to show colleges and universities your character and experiences. This guide will give you tips to write an effective college essay.

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Writing a strong college admissions essay

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Avoiding common admissions essay mistakes

Learn some of the most common mistakes made on college essays

Brainstorming tips for your college essay

Stuck on what to write your college essay about? Here are some exercises to help you get started.

How formal should the tone of your college essay be?

Learn how formal your college essay should be and get tips on how to bring out your natural voice.

Taking your college essay to the next level

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Student Story: Admissions essay about a formative experience

Get the perspective of a current college student on how he approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about personal identity

Get the perspective of a current college student on how she approached the admissions essay.

Student Story: Admissions essay about community impact

Student story: admissions essay about a past mistake, how to write a college application essay, tips for writing an effective application essay, sample college essay 1 with feedback, sample college essay 2 with feedback.

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8 Effective Strategies to Write Argumentative Essays

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In a bustling university town, there lived a student named Alex. Popular for creativity and wit, one challenge seemed insurmountable for Alex– the dreaded argumentative essay!

One gloomy afternoon, as the rain tapped against the window pane, Alex sat at his cluttered desk, staring at a blank document on the computer screen. The assignment loomed large: a 350-600-word argumentative essay on a topic of their choice . With a sigh, he decided to seek help of mentor, Professor Mitchell, who was known for his passion for writing.

Entering Professor Mitchell’s office was like stepping into a treasure of knowledge. Bookshelves lined every wall, faint aroma of old manuscripts in the air and sticky notes over the wall. Alex took a deep breath and knocked on his door.

“Ah, Alex,” Professor Mitchell greeted with a warm smile. “What brings you here today?”

Alex confessed his struggles with the argumentative essay. After hearing his concerns, Professor Mitchell said, “Ah, the argumentative essay! Don’t worry, Let’s take a look at it together.” As he guided Alex to the corner shelf, Alex asked,

Table of Contents

“What is an Argumentative Essay?”

The professor replied, “An argumentative essay is a type of academic writing that presents a clear argument or a firm position on a contentious issue. Unlike other forms of essays, such as descriptive or narrative essays, these essays require you to take a stance, present evidence, and convince your audience of the validity of your viewpoint with supporting evidence. A well-crafted argumentative essay relies on concrete facts and supporting evidence rather than merely expressing the author’s personal opinions . Furthermore, these essays demand comprehensive research on the chosen topic and typically follows a structured format consisting of three primary sections: an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.”

He continued, “Argumentative essays are written in a wide range of subject areas, reflecting their applicability across disciplines. They are written in different subject areas like literature and philosophy, history, science and technology, political science, psychology, economics and so on.

Alex asked,

“When is an Argumentative Essay Written?”

The professor answered, “Argumentative essays are often assigned in academic settings, but they can also be written for various other purposes, such as editorials, opinion pieces, or blog posts. Some situations to write argumentative essays include:

1. Academic assignments

In school or college, teachers may assign argumentative essays as part of coursework. It help students to develop critical thinking and persuasive writing skills .

2. Debates and discussions

Argumentative essays can serve as the basis for debates or discussions in academic or competitive settings. Moreover, they provide a structured way to present and defend your viewpoint.

3. Opinion pieces

Newspapers, magazines, and online publications often feature opinion pieces that present an argument on a current issue or topic to influence public opinion.

4. Policy proposals

In government and policy-related fields, argumentative essays are used to propose and defend specific policy changes or solutions to societal problems.

5. Persuasive speeches

Before delivering a persuasive speech, it’s common to prepare an argumentative essay as a foundation for your presentation.

Regardless of the context, an argumentative essay should present a clear thesis statement , provide evidence and reasoning to support your position, address counterarguments, and conclude with a compelling summary of your main points. The goal is to persuade readers or listeners to accept your viewpoint or at least consider it seriously.”

Handing over a book, the professor continued, “Take a look on the elements or structure of an argumentative essay.”

Elements of an Argumentative Essay

An argumentative essay comprises five essential components:

Claim in argumentative writing is the central argument or viewpoint that the writer aims to establish and defend throughout the essay. A claim must assert your position on an issue and must be arguable. It can guide the entire argument.

2. Evidence

Evidence must consist of factual information, data, examples, or expert opinions that support the claim. Also, it lends credibility by strengthening the writer’s position.

3. Counterarguments

Presenting a counterclaim demonstrates fairness and awareness of alternative perspectives.

4. Rebuttal

After presenting the counterclaim, the writer refutes it by offering counterarguments or providing evidence that weakens the opposing viewpoint. It shows that the writer has considered multiple perspectives and is prepared to defend their position.

The format of an argumentative essay typically follows the structure to ensure clarity and effectiveness in presenting an argument.

How to Write An Argumentative Essay

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write an argumentative essay:

1. Introduction

  • Begin with a compelling sentence or question to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Provide context for the issue, including relevant facts, statistics, or historical background.
  • Provide a concise thesis statement to present your position on the topic.

2. Body Paragraphs (usually three or more)

  • Start each paragraph with a clear and focused topic sentence that relates to your thesis statement.
  • Furthermore, provide evidence and explain the facts, statistics, examples, expert opinions, and quotations from credible sources that supports your thesis.
  • Use transition sentences to smoothly move from one point to the next.

3. Counterargument and Rebuttal

  • Acknowledge opposing viewpoints or potential objections to your argument.
  • Also, address these counterarguments with evidence and explain why they do not weaken your position.

4. Conclusion

  • Restate your thesis statement and summarize the key points you’ve made in the body of the essay.
  • Leave the reader with a final thought, call to action, or broader implication related to the topic.

5. Citations and References

  • Properly cite all the sources you use in your essay using a consistent citation style.
  • Also, include a bibliography or works cited at the end of your essay.

6. Formatting and Style

  • Follow any specific formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or institution.
  • Use a professional and academic tone in your writing and edit your essay to avoid content, spelling and grammar mistakes .

Remember that the specific requirements for formatting an argumentative essay may vary depending on your instructor’s guidelines or the citation style you’re using (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago). Always check the assignment instructions or style guide for any additional requirements or variations in formatting.

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Prof. Mitchell continued, “An argumentative essay can adopt various approaches when dealing with opposing perspectives. It may offer a balanced presentation of both sides, providing equal weight to each, or it may advocate more strongly for one side while still acknowledging the existence of opposing views.” As Alex listened carefully to the Professor’s thoughts, his eyes fell on a page with examples of argumentative essay.

Example of an Argumentative Essay

Alex picked the book and read the example. It helped him to understand the concept. Furthermore, he could now connect better to the elements and steps of the essay which Prof. Mitchell had mentioned earlier. Aren’t you keen to know how an argumentative essay should be like? Here is an example of a well-crafted argumentative essay , which was read by Alex. After Alex finished reading the example, the professor turned the page and continued, “Check this page to know the importance of writing an argumentative essay in developing skills of an individual.”

Importance of an Argumentative Essay

Importance_of_an_ArgumentativeEssays

After understanding the benefits, Alex was convinced by the ability of the argumentative essays in advocating one’s beliefs and favor the author’s position. Alex asked,

“How are argumentative essays different from the other types?”

Prof. Mitchell answered, “Argumentative essays differ from other types of essays primarily in their purpose, structure, and approach in presenting information. Unlike expository essays, argumentative essays persuade the reader to adopt a particular point of view or take a specific action on a controversial issue. Furthermore, they differ from descriptive essays by not focusing vividly on describing a topic. Also, they are less engaging through storytelling as compared to the narrative essays.

Alex said, “Given the direct and persuasive nature of argumentative essays, can you suggest some strategies to write an effective argumentative essay?

Turning the pages of the book, Prof. Mitchell replied, “Sure! You can check this infographic to get some tips for writing an argumentative essay.”

Effective Strategies to Write an Argumentative Essay

StrategiesOfWritingArgumentativeEssays

As days turned into weeks, Alex diligently worked on his essay. He researched, gathered evidence, and refined his thesis. It was a long and challenging journey, filled with countless drafts and revisions.

Finally, the day arrived when Alex submitted their essay. As he clicked the “Submit” button, a sense of accomplishment washed over him. He realized that the argumentative essay, while challenging, had improved his critical thinking and transformed him into a more confident writer. Furthermore, Alex received feedback from his professor, a mix of praise and constructive criticism. It was a humbling experience, a reminder that every journey has its obstacles and opportunities for growth.

Frequently Asked Questions

An argumentative essay can be written as follows- 1. Choose a Topic 2. Research and Collect Evidences 3. Develop a Clear Thesis Statement 4. Outline Your Essay- Introduction, Body Paragraphs and Conclusion 5. Revise and Edit 6. Format and Cite Sources 7. Final Review

One must choose a clear, concise and specific statement as a claim. It must be debatable and establish your position. Avoid using ambiguous or unclear while making a claim. To strengthen your claim, address potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints. Additionally, use persuasive language and rhetoric to make your claim more compelling

Starting an argument essay effectively is crucial to engage your readers and establish the context for your argument. Here’s how you can start an argument essay are: 1. Begin With an Engaging Hook 2. Provide Background Information 3. Present Your Thesis Statement 4. Briefly Outline Your Main 5. Establish Your Credibility

The key features of an argumentative essay are: 1. Clear and Specific Thesis Statement 2. Credible Evidence 3. Counterarguments 4. Structured Body Paragraph 5. Logical Flow 6. Use of Persuasive Techniques 7. Formal Language

An argumentative essay typically consists of the following main parts or sections: 1. Introduction 2. Body Paragraphs 3. Counterargument and Rebuttal 4. Conclusion 5. References (if applicable)

The main purpose of an argumentative essay is to persuade the reader to accept or agree with a particular viewpoint or position on a controversial or debatable topic. In other words, the primary goal of an argumentative essay is to convince the audience that the author's argument or thesis statement is valid, logical, and well-supported by evidence and reasoning.

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Part Two Paragraph Writing Skills and Essay Introduction

Unit 6 Essay Introduction

Learning Objectives

  • To learn what an essay is
  • To understand the similarities and differences between a paragraph and an essay
  • To learn through writing samples how to transition from writing a paragraph to writing an essay
  • To understand how the components of an essay relate to each other: hook, thesis statement, introductory paragraph, supporting paragraphs, and concluding paragraph
  • To practice writing a five-paragraph essay

people pressing hands together

Read the following paragraph and essay. Discuss the questions that follow.

Places in Making American Friends

          There are three places to make friends in the United States. The first place is in the neighborhood. When I visited the U.S. as a child ten years ago, I met an American girl whose house was near mine. We were shy in the beginning but soon started riding our bikes in the neighborhood. We chased [1] each other and had a good time. A few months later, her family moved to another state. I have fond [2] memories of her and think that we will be able to reconnect and renew our friendship if we meet again. Secondly, going to an American school provides an opportunity to make friends. I attended an American elementary school for about six months. I was very nervous about being the only one who looked different. However, some classmates and teachers were kind enough to approach me. They were very understanding even though I did not always understand them. Some of them even helped me with school work and in the gym class. As a young girl in a foreign country, I was very grateful for their friendship. Now I am in America again. I need and value friendship as much as when I was a child. I go to a church once a week and attend a Bible study class where I meet many young adults. There, I have made some friends with whom I talk about not only God but also different cultures. For example, some of them are interested in Japanese music and Anime, so I share some of my favorite music and Anime with them. Sometimes I teach Japanese to them, and they teach English to me. Exchanging information with each other is a good way of establishing and strengthening [3] the relationship. I have learned from my experiences in the neighborhood, school, and church in America over the years that with an open and sincere heart, I am able to find good friends.

By M. Ohbayashi (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

        When I was a child, I had an opportunity to come to the United States a few times to visit my grandmother, uncle, and aunt, who were living in the U.S. Many years later, in January 2020, my mother and I were able to immigrate here. Since I was not an outgoing type of person, I had just a few friends in Japan. However, I have met a lot of Americans and have been able to make friends with some of them. The three places to make friends in the U.S. for me are my neighborhood, school, and church.

        The first place is in the neighborhood. When I visited the U.S. as a child ten years ago, I met an American girl whose house was near mine. We were shy in the beginning but soon started riding our bikes in the neighborhood. We chased each other and had a good time. I also went to the pool with my grandmother and her family in summer. Although the pool was deep and I was scared, she and her family helped me enjoy swimming without fear. Besides riding bikes and swimming, we both loved dogs. We each had one. Even the dogs became friends as we played with them with balls. A few months later, her family moved to another state. I have fond memories of her and think that we will be able to reconnect and renew our friendship if we meet again.

        Secondly, going to an American school provides an opportunity to make friends. I attended an American elementary school for about six months. I was very nervous about being the only one who looked different. I also did not know how to behave differently in an American school. However, some classmates and teachers were kind enough to approach me. They spoke slowly and patiently with simple English words. They were very understanding even though I did not always understand them. Some of them even helped me with school work and in the gym class. As a young girl in a foreign country, I was very grateful for their friendship. Thanks to them, school became wonderful to me.

       Now I am in America again. I need and value friendship as much as when I was a child. I go to a church once a week. One day I met a girl who was studying Japanese. We began to talk with each other. She invited me to a Bible study class, and there I met many young adults. In the beginning, I felt nervous and shy just like the time when I attended the American elementary school for the first time many years before. However, as time went by, I started to like the Bible study class and made some friends with whom I talk about not only God but also different cultures. For example, some of them are interested in Japanese music and Anime, so I share some of my favorite music and Anime with them. Sometimes I teach Japanese to them, and they teach English to me. Exchanging information with each other is a good way of establishing and strengthening the relationship.

        Fortunately, I have met many kind Americans who have become my good friends. Though my shyness sometimes stands in the way, I have been trying hard to overcome it by initiating conversations with as many people as possible. I have learned that with an open and sincere heart, I am able to find good friends.

By M. Ohbayashi (student), Writing III, Harper College. U sed with permission.

Discussion Questions:

  • How do you make American friends? Do you share some of the experiences the writer has described?
  • What is the main idea in the paragraph? What is the main idea in the essay?
  • How many paragraphs does the essay have?
  • What are the three places of making American friends in the paragraph? Are the same three places explained in the essay?
  • What does the essay have that the paragraph does not? Do the extra details make the essay better supported and more interesting?
  • From the above two pieces of writing, what have you discovered about the similarities and differences between a paragraph and an essay?
  • If you could ask the writer one question, what would you ask?

You have learned and practiced how to write well-organized, well-developed paragraphs. Now it is time to expand your writing expertise [4] to essays!

II. Similarities and Differences Between a Paragraph and an Essay

In Unit 3 Parts and Characteristics of a Good Paragraph, you learned that a paragraph is a group of sentences about one main idea . ( Open Unit 3 here . )

In this unit, you will learn that an essay is a group of paragraphs about one main idea . An essay can be as short as three paragraphs but as long as many paragraphs that span [5] multiple pages.

Here is a summary of similarities and differences between a paragraph and an essay:

III. Essay Organization

Essay assignments are very common in college courses. In this course, you are going to learn only the basic concepts and organization of essays that contain five paragraphs. There are other ways of writing built on this basic model, and you will learn them in future semesters.

As you already have much experience writing paragraphs, a good start with essays is to expand [6] an existing paragraph, as you have seen in the beginning of this unit. Below is a structural comparison between a paragraph and an essay.

comparing paragraph and essay structures

Read the following paragraph and then the essay. Compare the two by answering the questions that follow.

My Joy in Baking

5 cupcakes with sprinkles

        Baking is my favorite hobby.  When I was a child, I like d sweets a lot, especially pastry.  Since my mom could not bake, I always went to my friend Natalia’s house to learn baking because her mom was excellent in it. Though t he learning process was not that easy , I enjoyed it . I tried and ruined [7] a lot of ingredients, but I did not lose hope. Then I started to get better and better. I tried cupcakes and cookies. It gave me confidence and excitement to think that I could bake for myself.  Now I am an adult with a family of my own, and this hobby has not changed. It relaxes me to bak e. When I have a n exhausting day or feel stressed out, the idea of crea ting something sweet and fresh makes me feel relaxed . I also like to share the fruit [8] of my hobby with my family and friends.  Baking for them gives me joy.  To have a happy moment together on any occasion [9] with sweet treats makes my relationship with them stronger. These are all the reasons why baking is my favorite hobby. I would recommend it to anyone who loves sweets and is looking for ways to bring happiness to other people.

By N . Mamurova (student),  ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

        A hobby is a regular activity performed for enjoyment during spare time. People can choose any hobbies that are right for them: music, sports, cooking, sewing, gardenin g , and so on.  As a child, I like d sweets a lot, especially pastry.  This is why  baking became and has always been my favorite hobby.

        Though the learning process was not easy, I enjoyed it . Since my mom could not bake, I always went to my friend Natalia’s house to learn baking because her mom was excellent in it. I tried and ruined a lot of ingredients, but I did not lose hope. After a few months, I started to get better and better.  On Natalia’ s 10 th  birthday, I made pretty cupcakes, even with yellow and pink icings on them.  Her mom was very impressed.  It gave me confidence and excitement to think that I could bake by myself and bring more happiness to an already joyful event.  

        Now I am an adult with a family of my own, and this hobby has not changed. It relaxes me to bake. When I have an exhausting day or I am stressed out, the idea of creating something sweet and fresh makes me feel relaxed. Being a mom and a student, my schedule is full.  However, nothing else relieves my stress more than baking after a difficult examination at the college: the aroma of butter and sugar, the slowly forming cookies in the oven, and the pleasant and crunching sound as I bite into my creations – all eases the tension of my whole being.

        Most importantly, sharing my baking has strengthened my relationship with my family and friends. Enjoying a happy moment together on any occasion with sweet treats gives me joy. Once a friend of mine was sick, but she immediately got much better when I brought her a home-baked, mouth-watering apple pie. I have learned that helping others does not have to be a huge endeavor [10] . Small acts of kindness are just as valuable and meaningful.

        A hobby takes time to perfect but brings joy in the process. I am so glad that I have found my pleasure in baking, and I intend to enjoy it for many more years to come. I would recommend it to anyone who loves sweets and is looking for ways to bring happiness to other people.

By N . Mamurova (student), ESL Writing III, Harper College. Used with permission.

IV. Hook, Thesis Statement, Introductory Paragraph

The word “hook” may remind you of a piece of plastic or metal on the wall on which you can hang your coat. The hook holds the coat and prevents it from falling to the floor. In the same way, a hook in the beginning of an essay aims to hold the readers’ attention so that they keep reading. The main purpose of a hook is to introduce the topic and to get the readers interested.

There are different ways to write a hook. The most common ones are introducing the background or discussing some general information related to the topic.

Discuss the hook in the essays “Places in Making American Friends” and “My Joy in Baking”.  Does it introduce the topic and get you interested in reading the essay?

Thesis Statement

The thesis statement is a sentence that contains the main idea of the entire essay.

  • A topic sentence shows the main idea of a paragraph. It is usually put in the beginning of a paragraph.
  • A thesis statement shows the main idea of an essay. It is usually placed as the last sentence in the introductory paragraph.

The rules for the topic sentence also apply to the thesis statement.

Exercise 1. Use the expressions below to develop thesis statements.

surprises / U.S.

Thesis statement: I encountered some surprises in my first few weeks of living in the U.S.

1. children / parents’ influence

2. marriage / fights

3. dream job / hard work

4. self-discipline / success

5. bilingual / benefits

6. money / problems

7. government / assisting college students

8. personality / happiness

Exercise 2. Study the introductory paragraph in “Places in Making American Friends” and “My Joy in Baking”. Then choose two of the thesis statements from Exercise 1 to write two introductory paragraphs.

V. Transitions, Supporting paragraphs, and Concluding Paragraph

The principles for the transitions, supporting ideas, and conclusion in a paragraph also apply to an essay. In an essay, there are more supporting details than in a paragraph.

Study and discuss the following outline developed from the example thesis statement in Exercise 1.

Exercise 3. Use the above outline as an example. From the two topics you worked on in Exercise 1 and Exercise 2,  write an essay outline for each.

VI. More Essay examples

Read the two essays below. The first one is developed from an earlier outline. As you read, discuss the questions:

  • What is the hook? Is it interesting?
  • What is the thesis statement? Where is it located?
  • In each body paragraph, what is the topic sentence? What are the details?
  • What transition does the writer use in the beginning of each body paragraph?
  • Is the paragraph mainly enumerative or narrative in organization? How do you know? In what order are the supporting paragraphs organized (order of importance or chronological order)?
  • Does all the information in the body paragraphs support the thesis statement?
  • What types of information does the writer use in the conclusion?
  • What do you like about this essay?
  • How would you improve the essay?

VII. Unit Review Practice: An Essay Writing Assignment

Now you are ready to write your own essay! As you have learned in Unit 2 The Writing Process ( Open Unit 2 here ), the best way to plan a paragraph is to follow the proper steps.

An Essay Writing Assignment

Purpose : To show your understanding of planning and writing an essay. Use the writing process to help you.

Topic :   You have three choices from below.

Brainstorm and Outline : Brainstorm for ideas. Then organize the ideas by using the outline template below to make an outline. Your outline is due on _________. Bring it to class.

Essay : Your essay should have a title, an introductory paragraph with a hook and a thesis statement, 3 supporting paragraphs each starting with a topic sentence followed by lots of details, and a concluding  paragraph. Use appropriate transitions to connect the supporting paragraphs.  There should be a total of 5 paragraphs in the essay.

Format : Type your essay, double spaced, font size 12, with 1-inch margins on four sides of the page. Type your name, class, and date on the upper right-hand corner of the page. The first line of each paragraph should be indented. Save your essay in a Word file.

Self Checklist : When you finish writing, use the Self Checklist below. Put a checkmark beside each item if you think you did a good job in that area.  Otherwise, improve your essay until you can check off the item. Save your work again.

Submission : Submit your essay on the Blackboard.  Go to your Blackboard course site and follow the instructions there.  Due by __________.

You have three choices for your topic.

Choice 1:  

Choose one of the paragraphs you have written in this course and expand it into an essay.

Choose one of the thesis statements, introductory paragraphs, and outlines in Exercise 1, 2, and 3 in this unit. Then write an essay based on your outline.

Choose one of the following new topics.  If you plan to have a different one, please talk with your professor first.

  • What are the three things that you want to change about Harper College?
  • What are the three things (or events, or people) you wish to forget?
  • What are the three most important ways people in your country express love?
  • What has been the most memorable day in your life?
  • How did you overcome a challenge in your life?

Essay Outline Template

Essay Self Checklist

Note:  #6 – #8  may include more specific aspects of grammar depending on how many editing units you have already studied.

  NSNT Practice

a pen writing in a notebook

Go to The NSNT Free Writing Approach and Additional Weekly Prompts for Writing in Appendix A. ( Open Appendix A here. ) Choose two topics that you have not written about. You may start with the NSNT approach. Then revise and edit at least one of them into an essay. You are encouraged to share your writing with your partner and help each other improve. 

Vocabulary Review

a page in a dictionary

The words here have appeared in this unit.  The best way to learn them is to guess the meaning of each word from the context.  Then hover your computer mouse over the number beside each word to check its meaning and part of speech. These words are also listed in the footnote area at the end of each unit.

Here, you can use the flashcards below to review these words.

  • An essay is a group of paragraphs about one main idea. It consists of a title, an introductory paragraph with a hook and a thesis statement, a few supporting paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph.
  • A hook consists of a few sentences to introduce the topic and to get readers interested in the essay.
  • A thesis statement is a sentence containing the main idea of the entire essay. It is usually placed at the end of the introductory paragraph.
  • Transitions are used to provide connections between supporting paragraphs.
  • Paragraphs and essays share some common features. They both focus on one central idea which is explained and developed through supporting ideas and details.

Media Attributions

  • people pressing hands together © Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash
  • comparing paragraph and essay structures © Lin Cui is licensed under a CC0 (Creative Commons Zero) license
  • 5 cupcakes with sprinkles © Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash
  • a pen writing in a notebook © Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
  • a page in a dictionary © Pixabay
  • chase: verb, run in order to catch someone ↵
  • fond: adjective, good, loving ↵
  • strengthen: verb, make or become strong ↵
  • expertise: noun, expert knowledge and skills ↵
  • span: verb, cover, extend to ↵
  • expand: verb, make bigger or longer ↵
  • ruin: verb, destroy, waste ↵
  • fruit: noun, products, results ↵
  • occasion: noun, situation ↵
  • endeavor: noun, many efforts, hard work ↵

Building Academic Writing Skills Copyright © 2022 by Cui, Lin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

how to write 6 paragraph essay

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Difficulties In Writing

Writer's block: .

Writer's block, arguably the most infamous barrier, can manifest abruptly, devoid of any discernible path or strategy, leaving the author blank-spaced.

Lack of Inspiration: 

Even when ideas flow, writers may need help finding inspiration or motivation to develop their thoughts into coherent writing pieces.

Time Constraints: 

Balancing writing with other responsibilities such as work, school, or family commitments can be challenging, leading to limited time for writing or research.

Perfectionism: 

The pursuit of perfection may induce writerly paralysis, wherein they laboriously revise and edit their work rather than progressing along the writing process.

Organization and Structure:

Determining a coherent framework and systematically arranging ideas can prove challenging, particularly when confronted with intricate subjects or protracted undertakings.

Research Challenges: 

Conducting thorough research and finding credible sources can be time-consuming and overwhelming, particularly for topics that are unfamiliar or require in-depth analysis.

Self-Doubt: 

Doubting one's writing abilities or fearing criticism from others can hinder creativity and confidence, making it difficult to express ideas effectively.

Procrastination: 

Putting off writing tasks until the last minute can result in rushed and subpar work, which can lead to increased stress and lower-quality outcomes.

Editing and Proofreading: 

Polishing and refining written work through editing and proofreading requires attention to detail and a critical eye, which can be challenging for some writers.

Writer's Fatigue: 

Writing for extended periods can be mentally and physically exhausting, decreasing productivity and creativity over time.

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  • How to conclude an essay | Interactive example

How to Conclude an Essay | Interactive Example

Published on January 24, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay . A strong conclusion aims to:

  • Tie together the essay’s main points
  • Show why your argument matters
  • Leave the reader with a strong impression

Your conclusion should give a sense of closure and completion to your argument, but also show what new questions or possibilities it has opened up.

This conclusion is taken from our annotated essay example , which discusses the history of the Braille system. Hover over each part to see why it’s effective.

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

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Table of contents

Step 1: return to your thesis, step 2: review your main points, step 3: show why it matters, what shouldn’t go in the conclusion, more examples of essay conclusions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an essay conclusion.

To begin your conclusion, signal that the essay is coming to an end by returning to your overall argument.

Don’t just repeat your thesis statement —instead, try to rephrase your argument in a way that shows how it has been developed since the introduction.

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Next, remind the reader of the main points that you used to support your argument.

Avoid simply summarizing each paragraph or repeating each point in order; try to bring your points together in a way that makes the connections between them clear. The conclusion is your final chance to show how all the paragraphs of your essay add up to a coherent whole.

To wrap up your conclusion, zoom out to a broader view of the topic and consider the implications of your argument. For example:

  • Does it contribute a new understanding of your topic?
  • Does it raise new questions for future study?
  • Does it lead to practical suggestions or predictions?
  • Can it be applied to different contexts?
  • Can it be connected to a broader debate or theme?

Whatever your essay is about, the conclusion should aim to emphasize the significance of your argument, whether that’s within your academic subject or in the wider world.

Try to end with a strong, decisive sentence, leaving the reader with a lingering sense of interest in your topic.

The easiest way to improve your conclusion is to eliminate these common mistakes.

Don’t include new evidence

Any evidence or analysis that is essential to supporting your thesis statement should appear in the main body of the essay.

The conclusion might include minor pieces of new information—for example, a sentence or two discussing broader implications, or a quotation that nicely summarizes your central point. But it shouldn’t introduce any major new sources or ideas that need further explanation to understand.

Don’t use “concluding phrases”

Avoid using obvious stock phrases to tell the reader what you’re doing:

  • “In conclusion…”
  • “To sum up…”

These phrases aren’t forbidden, but they can make your writing sound weak. By returning to your main argument, it will quickly become clear that you are concluding the essay—you shouldn’t have to spell it out.

Don’t undermine your argument

Avoid using apologetic phrases that sound uncertain or confused:

  • “This is just one approach among many.”
  • “There are good arguments on both sides of this issue.”
  • “There is no clear answer to this problem.”

Even if your essay has explored different points of view, your own position should be clear. There may be many possible approaches to the topic, but you want to leave the reader convinced that yours is the best one!

  • Argumentative
  • Literary analysis

This conclusion is taken from an argumentative essay about the internet’s impact on education. It acknowledges the opposing arguments while taking a clear, decisive position.

The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.

This conclusion is taken from a short expository essay that explains the invention of the printing press and its effects on European society. It focuses on giving a clear, concise overview of what was covered in the essay.

The invention of the printing press was important not only in terms of its immediate cultural and economic effects, but also in terms of its major impact on politics and religion across Europe. In the century following the invention of the printing press, the relatively stationary intellectual atmosphere of the Middle Ages gave way to the social upheavals of the Reformation and the Renaissance. A single technological innovation had contributed to the total reshaping of the continent.

This conclusion is taken from a literary analysis essay about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein . It summarizes what the essay’s analysis achieved and emphasizes its originality.

By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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Your essay’s conclusion should contain:

  • A rephrased version of your overall thesis
  • A brief review of the key points you made in the main body
  • An indication of why your argument matters

The conclusion may also reflect on the broader implications of your argument, showing how your ideas could applied to other contexts or debates.

For a stronger conclusion paragraph, avoid including:

  • Important evidence or analysis that wasn’t mentioned in the main body
  • Generic concluding phrases (e.g. “In conclusion…”)
  • Weak statements that undermine your argument (e.g. “There are good points on both sides of this issue.”)

Your conclusion should leave the reader with a strong, decisive impression of your work.

The conclusion paragraph of an essay is usually shorter than the introduction . As a rule, it shouldn’t take up more than 10–15% of the text.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, July 23). How to Conclude an Essay | Interactive Example. Scribbr. Retrieved April 3, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/conclusion/

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NIGHTMARE SUPPLY CHAIN ATTACK SCENARIO —

What we know about the xz utils backdoor that almost infected the world, malicious updates made to a ubiquitous tool were a few weeks away from going mainstream..

Dan Goodin - Apr 1, 2024 6:55 am UTC

What we know about the xz Utils backdoor that almost infected the world

On Friday, a lone Microsoft developer rocked the world when he revealed a backdoor had been intentionally planted in xz Utils, an open source data compression utility available on almost all installations of Linux and other Unix-like operating systems. The person or people behind this project likely spent years on it. They were likely very close to seeing the backdoor update merged into Debian and Red Hat, the two biggest distributions of Linux, when an eagle-eyed software developer spotted something fishy.

Further Reading

Researchers have spent the weekend gathering clues. Here's what we know so far.

What is xz Utils?

xz Utils is nearly ubiquitous in Linux. It provides lossless data compression on virtually all Unix-like operating systems, including Linux. xz Utils provides critical functions for compressing and decompressing data during all kinds of operations. xz Utils also supports the legacy .lzma format, making this component even more crucial.

What happened?

Andres Freund, a developer and engineer working on Microsoft’s PostgreSQL offerings, was recently troubleshooting performance problems a Debian system was experiencing with SSH, the most widely used protocol for remotely logging in to devices over the Internet. Specifically, SSH logins were consuming too many CPU cycles and were generating errors with valgrind , a utility for monitoring computer memory.

Through sheer luck and Freund’s careful eye, he eventually discovered the problems were the result of updates that had been made to xz Utils. On Friday, Freund took to the Open Source Security List to disclose the updates were the result of someone intentionally planting a backdoor in the compression software.

It's hard to overstate the complexity of the social engineering and the inner workings of the backdoor. Thomas Roccia, a researcher at Microsoft, published a graphic on Mastodon that helps visualize the sprawling extent of the nearly successful endeavor to spread a backdoor with a reach that would have dwarfed the SolarWinds event from 2020.

how to write 6 paragraph essay

What does the backdoor do?

Malicious code added to xz Utils versions 5.6.0 and 5.6.1 modified the way the software functions. The backdoor manipulated sshd, the executable file used to make remote SSH connections. Anyone in possession of a predetermined encryption key could stash any code of their choice in an SSH login certificate, upload it, and execute it on the backdoored device. No one has actually seen code uploaded, so it's not known what code the attacker planned to run. In theory, the code could allow for just about anything, including stealing encryption keys or installing malware.

Wait, how can a compression utility manipulate a process as security sensitive as SSH?

Any library can tamper with the inner workings of any executable it is linked against. Often, the developer of the executable will establish a link to a library that's needed for it to work properly. OpenSSH, the most popular sshd implementation, doesn’t link the liblzma library, but Debian and many other Linux distributions add a patch to link sshd to systemd , a program that loads a variety of services during the system bootup. Systemd, in turn, links to liblzma, and this allows xz Utils to exert control over sshd.

How did this backdoor come to be?

It would appear that this backdoor was years in the making. In 2021, someone with the username JiaT75 made their first known commit to an open source project. In retrospect, the change to the libarchive project is suspicious, because it replaced the safe_fprint funcion with a variant that has long been recognized as less secure. No one noticed at the time.

The following year, JiaT75 submitted a patch over the xz Utils mailing list, and, almost immediately, a never-before-seen participant named Jigar Kumar joined the discussion and argued that Lasse Collin, the longtime maintainer of xz Utils, hadn’t been updating the software often or fast enough. Kumar, with the support of Dennis Ens and several other people who had never had a presence on the list, pressured Collin to bring on an additional developer to maintain the project.

In January 2023, JiaT75 made their first commit to xz Utils. In the months following, JiaT75, who used the name Jia Tan, became increasingly involved in xz Utils affairs. For instance, Tan replaced Collins' contact information with their own on oss-fuzz, a project that scans open source software for vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Tan also requested that oss-fuzz disable the ifunc function during testing, a change that prevented it from detecting the malicious changes Tan would soon make to xz Utils.

In February of this year, Tan issued commits for versions 5.6.0 and 5.6.1 of xz Utils. The updates implemented the backdoor. In the following weeks, Tan or others appealed to developers of Ubuntu, Red Hat, and Debian to merge the updates into their OSes. Eventually, one of the two updates made its way into the following releases, according to security firm Tenable:

There’s more about Tan and the timeline here .

reader comments

Promoted comments.

how to write 6 paragraph essay

It should be noted that the attack only works because Debian and Redhat added functionality to sshd that is not present in it as distributed by its developers. The extra functionality adds systemd interaction, which requires libsystemd which requires liblzma, a component of the (compromised) xz package. One should be wary of distributions adding functionality. Often it increases the attack surface, not only because of the modifications/additions themselves, but also by adding dependencies.
So a prime reason this became potentially exploitable is libsystemd in OpenSSH. Need I say more.
The prime reason is a very well funded and capable attacker looked for a way in. if not xz or systemd then they would have attacked via the next candidate weak point.

how to write 6 paragraph essay

"This developer persona has touched dozens of other pieces of open-source software in the past few years.". Well, I guess the Opensource community have some codes to review. Maybe the xz incident is only the tips of the iceberg.

Channel Ars Technica

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  23. What we know about the xz Utils backdoor that almost infected the world

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