The 5 Paragraph Essay Format

Essay by msujavedHigh School, 12th grade January 2005

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This is only one method of organizing an essay.Introductory paragraphA. Catches the reader's interestB. Gives brief background on your topicC. Begins or ends with the thesis statementBody (paragraphs 2, 3, etc.)A. Develops, expands, and/or supports the thesis statementB. Includes a topic sentence for each paragraphC. Includes supporting details which reinforce the topic sentence.Concluding paragraphA. Restates the thesis or sums up the argument.B. Tells the reader what you think is important to remember. (Often, this is a personal response).C. Never introduces new information in the conclusion. Extend your thinking on something from the essay.

The 5 Paragraph Essay Format

The first paragraph:

1) Begins with a topic sentence that introduces a general theme.

2) Follows the topic sentence with sentences that narrow the focus of the theme, so that it is less general.

3) Introduces the author of the text you are writing about.

4) Introduces the title of that text.

5) Narrows the discussion of the topic by identifying an issue or problem.

6) Finishes by making a debatable claim (a thesis statement, which is defined as a debatable point/claim).

Body paragraphs:

1) Begin with topic sentences that clearly relate to the topic, or issue, or problem, which was identified in the introductory paragraph.

2) Sentences that elaborate on the issue, or problem discussed in the introductory paragraph, and also demonstrates a clear connection to the thesis statement.

3) A sentence or sentences that make a claim about the topic, issue, problem.

4) A quote from the text you are analyzing that supports your claim.

5) Your interpretation of that quote, which explains how you arrived at your conclusion, and also demonstrates a clear connection to the thesis statement.

· Body parargraphs employ the One, Two, Three Rule, which is:

1) Make a debatable claim.

2) Support the claim with a quote.

3) Explain the connection between your claim and the quote, which means you make an intellectual conclusion.

Concluding paragraph:

1) Begins with a topic sentence that clearly relates to the topic, or issue, or problem that was identified in the introductory paragraph.

2) Sentences that make connections with, or revisit, point from your introductory paragraph and your body paragraphs. These points now serve to close your argument.

3) A synthesis of these points that clearly demonstrates the focus of your thesis statement.

4) A final comment, or intellectual conclusion of sorts that points out the larger significance of your argument. Also see the handout How to Structure and Organize Your Essays.

How to Structure and Organize Your Essays

Structure and Organization: first of all, how do they differ?

Structure simply means that each individual paragraph does what it is supposed to do. Alright then, what is a paragraph supposed to do? It depends what type of paragraph it is. The types of paragraphs are as follows:

The introductory paragraph.

The body paragraphs.

The concluding paragraph.

Basically, you just want to make certain that:

Your introductory paragraph does its job. Your body paragraphs do their job. Your concluding paragraph does its job. For a one page handout that explains exactly what each paragraph must do, see The 5 Paragraph Essay Format.

Okay, So Much for Structure, Now What About Organization?

Organization is all about body paragraphs. Why? Because everything that comes between your first paragraph and last paragraph is a body paragraph. Your essay is mostly made up of body paragraphs.

What is Organization?

It is how you order the information. Think of it this way: in your essay you make a number of claims and provide much information that supports those claims. How you order claims and information is your essay's organization.


You are writing a paper on the current state of research on human cloning. You decide to include two paragraphs of background information on the history of cloning research. The two paragraphs appear on page four of your five page paper.

Your professor suggests that the organization require revision because there is an abrupt shift in the essay's narrative. Why after almost four full pages about the current state of cloning research does your reader get two paragraphs on history?

Including history is fine, but perhaps it should be included at the beginning of the paper, so that your narrative moves from the early days of cloning research to the current state of cloning research.

It is the same information, but ordered differently.