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Sweetland Center for Writing

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Traditional Academic Essays In Three Parts

Part i: the introduction.

An introduction is usually the first paragraph of your academic essay. If you’re writing a long essay, you might need 2 or 3 paragraphs to introduce your topic to your reader. A good introduction does 2 things:

Part II: The Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs help you prove your thesis and move you along a compelling trajectory from your introduction to your conclusion. If your thesis is a simple one, you might not need a lot of body paragraphs to prove it. If it’s more complicated, you’ll need more body paragraphs. An easy way to remember the parts of a body paragraph is to think of them as the MEAT of your essay:

Main Idea. The part of a topic sentence that states the main idea of the body paragraph. All of the sentences in the paragraph connect to it. Keep in mind that main ideas are…

Evidence. The parts of a paragraph that prove the main idea. You might include different types of evidence in different sentences. Keep in mind that different disciplines have different ideas about what counts as evidence and they adhere to different citation styles. Examples of evidence include…

Analysis. The parts of a paragraph that explain the evidence. Make sure you tie the evidence you provide back to the paragraph’s main idea. In other words, discuss the evidence.

Transition. The part of a paragraph that helps you move fluidly from the last paragraph. Transitions appear in topic sentences along with main ideas, and they look both backward and forward in order to help you connect your ideas for your reader. Don’t end paragraphs with transitions; start with them.

Keep in mind that MEAT does not occur in that order. The “ T ransition” and the “ M ain Idea” often combine to form the first sentence—the topic sentence—and then paragraphs contain multiple sentences of evidence and analysis. For example, a paragraph might look like this: TM. E. E. A. E. E. A. A.

Part III: The Conclusion

A conclusion is the last paragraph of your essay, or, if you’re writing a really long essay, you might need 2 or 3 paragraphs to conclude. A conclusion typically does one of two things—or, of course, it can do both:

Handout by Dr. Liliana Naydan. Do not reproduce without permission.

LSA - College of Literature, Science, and The Arts - University of Michigan

Introductions and Conclusions

Introductions and conclusions play a special role in the academic essay, and they frequently demand much of your attention as a writer. A good introduction should identify your topic, provide essential context, and indicate your particular focus in the essay. It also needs to engage your readers’ interest. A strong conclusion will provide a sense of closure to the essay while again placing your concepts in a somewhat wider context. It will also, in some instances, add a stimulus to further thought. Since no two essays are the same, no single formula will automatically generate an introduction and conclusion for you. But the following guidelines will help you to construct a suitable beginning and end for your essay.

Some general advice about introductions

How do I write an interesting, effective introduction?

Consider these strategies for capturing your readers’ attention and for fleshing out your introduction:

In fleshing out your introduction, you will want to avoid some common pitfalls:

Some general advice about conclusions

How do I write an interesting, effective conclusion?

The following strategies may help you move beyond merely summarizing the key points of your essay:

How does genre affect my introduction or conclusion?

Most of the advice in this handout pertains to argumentative or exploratory academic essays. Be aware, however, that different genres have their own special expectations about beginnings and endings. Some academic genres may not even require an introduction or conclusion. An annotated bibliography, for example, typically provides neither. A book review may begin with a summary of the book and conclude with an overall assessment of it. A policy briefing usually includes an introduction but may conclude with a series of recommendations. Check your assignment carefully for any directions about what to include in your introduction or conclusion.

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Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

Introduction: The first paragraph of your essay. It is the first impression your readers recieve, and explain the main point of your paper. Your introduction contains your thesis statement.

Body: The paragraphs in between your introduction and conclusion. The body of your paper supports the main point of your paper.

Topic Sentence: The sentence at the beginning of each body paragraph. It explains the main point that paragraph is going to make.

Conclusion: The last paragraph of your paper. It closes the paper and leaves the reader satisfied with what they just read. Summarizes your paper in an effective way.


Source: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/introductions.html (7/20/2010)

Source: http://facweb.furman.edu/~moakes/Powerwrite/body.htm (7/20/2010)


Source: http://www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/conclusions.html (7/20/2010)

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How to Write a Good Essay

An excellent essay convinces readers of something or informs them about a particular topic. Basically, essays must include important components for them to convince or inform adequately. In turn, the main parts of an essay include an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Also, these parts must have information that flows logically. Hence, people need to know how to write a good essay. In particular, writing a good essay requires one to develop an introduction that states a position and grabs the reader’s attention, a body that has convincing claims supported by evidence, and a conclusion that summarizes the information presented.


A good essay should have an introduction that provides the writer’s position and captures a reader’s attention. For instance, the introductory paragraph should move from general to specific details of the topic. In this case, a writer should provide sufficient information concerning the essay if the person knows how to write an introduction . Besides, the introduction should state the writer’s position. Basically, if people understand how to write a good essay, they provide a thesis statement . This claim should state the aim of the paper and give insights to the author’s examples and evidence. Moreover, one should select words that can grab readers’ attention and make the essay interesting. Thus, academic essay writing should have an exciting introduction that covers the writer’s stance concerning the topic.

How to write a good essay

How to Write Body Paragraphs in a Good Essay

A good essay has a body with claims supported by sufficient evidence. For instance, people must know how to write a topic sentence that links to the thesis statement. Along these lines, a writer should provide evidence that supports the topic sentence. Besides, each paragraph should contain the author’s ideas by considering how to write a good essay. Writers should use sufficient examples throughout the body. Basically, an author should include substantial examples that support the argument. In this case, the cases should be relevant to the essay topics . Moreover, an author should cite the examples when borrowed from external sources. Thus, a good essay should have evidence-based body paragraphs that support the thesis statement.

Conclusion Part

A good essay should have a summative conclusion. For instance, the conclusion should restate the thesis statement. In this case, an author should restate his or her position in the concluding paragraph, covering how to write a good essay. Besides, the concluding paragraph should summarize the main ideas presented in an essay. In turn, a concluding section should not contain new information or evidence. Hence, an author should only cover the main ideas used in the essay. Also, the conclusion examples should leave the reader with something to contemplate. Thus, a good piece of writing should have a concluding paragraph that wraps all the arguments and restates the thesis statement more simply.

Summing Up How to Write a Good Essay

In conclusion, a good essay should have an introduction, a body, and an ending paragraph. The first paragraph of an essay should be an attention-getter. Besides, if people understand how to write a good essay, they should state the author’s claim. The body paragraphs require topic sentences that support the main claim in the essay. In turn, each body section should contain sufficient evidence and examples to support the topic sentences. Besides, the information should have a chronological flow. Hence, an author must cite the examples and evidence used from external sources. Finally, the concluding paragraph must sum up the thesis statement and summarize the main concepts in the paper. Also, people need to understand how to write scholarship essays .

essay introduction body conclusion

Research Paper Outline Template

essay introduction body conclusion

How to Write an Article

Useful articles.

essay introduction body conclusion

Citing in APA Format

essay introduction body conclusion

How to Cite MLA

essay introduction body conclusion

APA Style Reference Page

essay introduction body conclusion

Thesis Examples

essay introduction body conclusion

MLA Works Cited Website

essay introduction body conclusion

Chicago Style Format

essay introduction body conclusion

Narrative Essay

essay introduction body conclusion

Persuasive Essay

Jackson State Community College

Five-Paragraph Essay

When it comes to writing essays in college, we all need a place to start. Think of the five-paragraph essay as just that. Some students may find this to be a simple process, while others may spend a greater amount of time understanding this basic building block of college writing. Whatever the case, use the following guidelines to strengthen your knowledge of this preliminary essay format. Five-paragraph essays are incredibly useful in two situations — when writers are just starting out and when a writing assignment is timed.

The five-paragraph essay has three basic parts: introduction , body , and conclusion .

The introduction is the first paragraph of the essay, and it serves several purposes. This paragraph gets your reader's attention, develops the basic ideas of what you will cover, and provides the thesis statement for the essay. The thesis statement is usually only one sentence and is made up of the topic, focus, and three main points of the essay.

Each body paragraph should start with a transition — either a word or phrase, like First , or Another important point is . Then, the first sentence should continue with your topic sentence. The topic sentence tells your reader what the paragraph is about, like a smaller-level thesis statement. The rest of the paragraph will be made of supporting sentences. These sentences, at least four of them, will explain your topic sentence to your reader.

Be sure that each sentence in the paragraph directly addresses both your topic sentence and your thesis statement. If you have a point to make that is not directly connected to the topic sentence, it does not belong in the paragraph. You might write a different paragraph on that other point, but you may not stick it into any old paragraph just because you thought of it at that point. (You can't stick a red towel into a load of white laundry without causing damage to the rest of the clothes, and you can't stick a point that' off-topic into a paragraph without doing damage to the rest of the essay. Keep your laundry and your paragraph points separate!)

The conclusion is the last paragraph of the essay. This paragraph brings the essay to a close, reminds the reader of the basic ideas from the essay, and restates the thesis statement. The conclusion should not contain new ideas, as it is the summation of the content of the essay. The restatement of the thesis is a simpler form that the one originally presented in the introduction.

An outline is often used to demonstrate the content of most five-paragraph essays:

Before we finish, it is important to remember that the format of the five-paragraph essay is the foundation of nearly every other essay you'll write. When you get ready to write longer papers, remember that the job of the introduction and conclusion are just the same as they are in the five-paragraph essay. Also, when you write longer papers, change your idea of support from three body paragraphs to three (or two or four) body sections, with as many paragraphs as necessary in each section (just as you had as many sentences you needed in each body paragraph).

Below is an example of a 5-paragraph essay. Notice how the essay follows the outline.

Outline of this essay:

Enjoying Your Camping Trip

Each year, thousands of people throughout the United States choose to spend their vacations camping in the great outdoors. Depending on an individual's sense of adventure, there are various types of camping to choose from, including log cabin camping, recreational vehicle camping, and tent camping. Of these, tent camping involves "roughing it" the most, and with proper planning the experience can be gratifying. Even with the best planning, however, tent camping can be an extremely frustrating experience due to uncontrolled factors such as bad weather, wildlife encounters, and equipment failures.

Nothing can dampen the excited anticipation of camping more than a dark, rainy day. Even the most adventurous campers can lose some of their enthusiasm on the drive to the campsite if the skies are dreary and damp. After reaching their destination, campers must then "set up camp" in the downpour. This includes keeping the inside of the tent dry and free from mud, getting the sleeping bags situated dryly, and protecting food from the downpour. If the sleeping bags happen to get wet, the cold also becomes a major factor. A sleeping bag usually provides warmth on a camping trip; a wet sleeping bag provides none. Combining wind with rain can cause frigid temperatures, causing any outside activities to be delayed. Even inside the tent problems may arise due to heavy winds. More than a few campers have had their tents blown down because of the wind, which once again begins the frustrating task of "setting up camp" in the downpour. It is wise to check the weather forecast before embarking on camping trips; however, mother nature is often unpredictable and there is no guarantee bad weather will be eluded.

Another problem likely to be faced during a camping trip is run-ins with wildlife, which can range from mildly annoying to dangerous. Minor inconveniences include mosquitoes and ants. The swarming of mosquitoes can literally drive annoyed campers indoors. If an effective repellant is not used, the camper can spend an interminable night scratching, which will only worsen the itch. Ants do not usually attack campers, but keeping them out of the food can be quite an inconvenience. Extreme care must be taken not to leave food out before or after meals. If food is stored inside the tent, the tent must never be left open. In addition to swarming the food, ants inside a tent can crawl into sleeping bags and clothing. Although these insects cause minor discomfort, some wildlife encounters are potentially dangerous. There are many poisonous snakes in the United States, such as the water moccasin and the diamond-back rattlesnake. When hiking in the woods, the camper must be careful where he steps. Also, the tent must never be left open. Snakes, searching for either shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, can enter a tent. An encounter between an unwary camper and a surprised snake can prove to be fatal. Run-ins can range from unpleasant to dangerous, but the camper must realize that they are sometimes inevitable.

Perhaps the least serious camping troubles are equipment failures; these troubles often plague families camping for the first time. They arrive at the campsite at night and haphazardly set up their nine-person tent. They then settle down for a peaceful night's rest. Sometime during the night the family is awakened by a huge crash. The tent has fallen down. Sleepily, they awake and proceed to set up the tent in the rain. In the morning, everyone emerges from the tent, except for two. Their sleeping bag zippers have gotten caught. Finally, after fifteen minutes of struggling, they free themselves, only to realize another problem. Each family member's sleeping bag has been touching the sides of the tent. A tent is only waterproof if the sides are not touched. The sleeping bags and clothing are all drenched. Totally disillusioned with the "vacation," the frustrated family packs up immediately and drives home. Equipment failures may not seem very serious, but after campers encounter bad weather and annoying pests or wild animals, these failures can end any remaining hope for a peaceful vacation.

These three types of camping troubles can strike campers almost anywhere. Until some brilliant scientist invents a weather machine to control bad weather or a kind of wildlife repellant, unlucky campers will continue to shake their fists in frustration. More than likely, equipment will continue to malfunction. Even so, camping continues to be a favorite pastime of people all across the United States. If you want camping to be a happy experience for you, learn to laugh at leaky tents, bad weather, and bugs, or you will find yourself frustrated and unhappy.

Print this handout by clicking here for download .

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How to build an essay

Preparing an outline

You are ready to write an essay after you have done these steps:

Most essays follow a similar structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion, as shown in the diagram below.

Click on the plus icons for more information.

Writing an introduction

The purpose of the introduction is to give your reader a clear idea of what your essay will cover. It should provide some background information on the specific problem or issue you are addressing, and should clearly outline your answer. Depending on your faculty or school, ‘your answer’ may be referred to as your position, contention, thesis or main argument . Whatever term is used, this is essentially your response to the essay question, which is based on the research that you have undertaken or the readings you have analysed.

An essay is not like a mystery novel which keeps the reader in suspense; it should not slowly reveal the argument to the reader. Instead, the contention and supporting arguments are usually stated in the introduction.

When writing an introduction, you should typically use a general to specific structure. This means that you introduce the particular problem or topic the essay will address in a general sense to provide the context   before you narrow down to your particular position and line of argument.

essay introduction body conclusion

Key elements of an introduction

Click on each of the elements to reveal more.

Content Container

Provide some background information and context.

The introduction usually starts by providing some background information about your particular topic, so the reader understands the key problem being addressed and why it is an issue worth writing about. However, it is important that this is brief and that you only include information that is directly relevant to the topic.

This might also be an appropriate place to introduce the reader to key terms and provide definitions, if required.

Don’t be tempted to start your essay with a grand generalisation, for instance: ‘War has always been a problem for humanity….’, or ‘Since the beginning of time…’. Instead, make sure that your initial sentence relates directly to the problem, question or issue highlighted by the essay topic.

Limit the scope of your discussion

Setting the parameters of the essay is important. You can’t possibly cover everything on a topic - and you are not expected to - so you need to tell your reader how you have chosen to narrow the focus of your essay.

State your position / contention

State your position on the topic (also referred to as your main argument , or contention , or thesis statement ). Make sure that you are directly answering the question (and the whole essay question if there is more than one part to it).

"Stating your position" can be a single sentence answer to the essay question but will often include 2-3 sentences explaining the answer in more detail.

Outline the structure or main supporting points of your essay

This usually involves providing details of the most important points you are going to make which support your argument.

Sample introduction

[1] Business leadership has been described as the ‘ability to influence, motivate and enable others to contribute to the effectiveness and success of the organisations of which they are members’ (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman & Gupta, 2004, p. 63). Whether this ability is something a person is born with, or whether it is something that a person can learn, has been the subject of considerable debate. Kambil (2010) has outlined two categories of leadership attributes that help to frame the discussion: 'traits' (mostly innate) and 'skills' which can be developed through experience or training. [2] This essay will draw on the trait theory of leadership to argue that that leaders are first born, but then must be made. [3] While good business leaders share certain traits that are essential to success, including ‘curiosity, courage, perseverance, personal ethics and confidence’ (Kambil, 2010, p.43), they also need learnable skills, such as communication, negotiation and conflict resolution, that are only developed through practice. A potential leader should develop their natural traits as well as learn and practise skills which will help them to persuade, equip and inspire others to realise their vision.

Legend: [1] Background / Context ; [2] Position / Contention ; [3] Structure or main point of essay

Check your understanding View

Key features of an introduction.

Read the paragraph in the accordion below and see if you can identify the key features of an introduction. This is an introduction written in response to the essay question: 'Can Rome's actions towards Carthage be described as defensive imperialism?'

Writing a body paragraph

The body of the essay is where you fully develop your argument. Each body paragraph should contain one key idea or claim, which is supported by relevant examples and evidence from the body of scholarly work on your topic (i.e. academic books and journal articles).

Together, the body paragraphs form the building blocks of your argument.

How do I structure paragraphs?

The TEECL structure provides an effective way of organising a paragraph. TEECL stands for Topic sentence, Explanation, Evidence, Comment, and Link. You may find it helpful to add C for Comment before Link. A paragraph structured this way would contain the following:

Sample paragraph

[1] One of the main obstacles to reaching international consensus on climate change action is the ongoing debate over which countries should shoulder the burden. [2] Because the developed world has historically been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, it has been argued that they should reduce emissions and allow developed nations to prioritise development over environmental concerns (Vinuales, 2011). [3] The notion of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ (CBDR) was formalised in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UNFCCC, 1992). Article 3.1 explicitly states 'Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof' (p. 4). [4] However, because CBDR outlines a principle and not an actionable plan it has remained problematic. For example, it does not stipulate the extent to which, under the principle of CBDR, developing nations should be exempt from specific emissions targets. This has continued to be a point of contention in global negotiations on climate change, with developed countries such as the USA arguing that developed nations should do more to reduce emissions (Klein et. al., 2017). [5] Fairness and equity need to be pursued in reaching a global agreement on climate change, but transforming this into an actionable strategy is problematic.

Legend : [1] Topic sentence [2] Explanation [3] Evidence / Example [4] Comment [5] Link

What is missing?

The paragraph below was written in response to the essay question: '"Leaders are made rather than born." Do you agree or disagree? Provide reasons for your opinion.'

Read the paragraph then answer the question that follows.

The function of a conclusion is to draw together the main ideas discussed in the body of the essay. However, a good conclusion does more than that.

You may choose to also:

When writing a conclusion, a specific to general structure is usually recommended. Yes, this is opposite to the introduction! Begin by re-stating or re-emphasising your position on the topic, then summarise your line of argument and key points. Finish off by commenting on the significance of the issue, making a prediction about the future of the issue, or a recommendation to deal with the problem at hand.

Diagram of conclusion structure

Sample conclusion

[1]   No single theory can adequately explain the relationship between age and crime, and the debate over their correlation is ongoing. Instead, each theory provides valuable insight into a particular dimension of age and crime. [2] The emergence of the criminal propensity versus criminal career debate in the 1980s demonstrated the importance of both arguments. It is now believed that the age-crime curve created by Gottfredson and Hirschi is a good basic indicator for the age-crime relationship. However, the criminal career position has stood up to stringent empirical testing, and has formed an integral part of developmental theories such as Thornberry’s interactional theory. [3] These theories provide important insight into the complex relationship between age and crime, but, more than this, are useful for developing strategies for delinquency and crime prevention.

Legend : [1] Specific contention ; [2]   Specific summary of main points ; [3] Broader and general significance

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Introductions & Conclusions

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The following pages will help you develop a strong frame for your essay. You’ll want to write effective introductions and conclusions. After all, they are the first and last impressions your audience will have of your essay.

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