Essay Structure – Basic Standards & Rules

Essay Structure – Basic Standards & Rules

Writing a school or college essay means evaluating the skill set and knowledge of each student. It would be more complicated for the teachers to test the knowledge of every student one by one during the lecture time. Thus, all academic assignments were developed in order to check individual:

  • Writing skills
  • Research skills
  • Communication
  • Analytical skills
  • Reading skills

Anyway, there is one criterion that defines a successful essay structure: attending to the target audience’s logic. The essay structure is almost the same regarding paragraphs. There should be:

  1. An introduction
  2. 3-5 body paragraphs
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography

It is a regular formula no matter which writing style you choose. If you are not assigned one by your teacher, then it’s better to stop on MLA style. It requires a minimum of your efforts.

Which Paragraphs Should I Include?

A common academic paper usually includes a lot of pieces of information, but usually, it is dedicated to one particular topic. The essay can be logically divided into the following parts.

The first paragraph, which stands for the introduction, comes along with the strong argument and ends up with a thesis statement. Introduction, as well as the conclusion, has its fixed location in the essay: while the first one always goes in the beginning, the second one appears in the end just any summary.

On the whole, be ready to:

  • Introduce arguments
  • Analyze different data
  • Develop counterarguments (or simply find them)
  • Concluding/summarizing

Often, some sections are established out of the paragraph. E.g., a counterargument may be presented as a free-standing section. It may be recalled in the beginning or closer to the ending paragraph of your essay. Such a statement may also enclose some paragraph.

Not to get lost when writing your essay, it is better to come up with a clear outline or table of contents. There you should include the main idea of each paragraph or simply its title. By having a plan like that, the student will never get lost in the academic bushes.

Please mind that your thesis should be based on some studies or facts. Search for valuable statistics that is no older than five years old. Use such primary sources as:

  • Textbooks
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Journal
  • Newspapers
  • Official reports
  • Videos
  • Audios

As for the secondary sources, such elements may be helpful:

  • Interviews
  • Polls
  • Surveys
  • Questionnaires
  • Other documents

First of all, it is critical to respond to the question “What?” What is your paper about and why you decided to highlight this specific issue? Examine your evidence and collected sources to find the answer to that essential question. The introduction does not have to take more than one-third of the entire essay. Conclusion paragraph should be the same size. If you have an abstract, do not confuse it with the last paragraph. It’s a bit different.

Sometimes readers are also interested in how the author wrote the essay. Explain it in the body paragraphs. Your paper does not have to look like some kind of instructions, but it should give hints to how you discovered each fact to serve as evidence. You must have at least one “how” section. When we talk about the research paper, this section is titled Methodology: student explains which tools and techniques were used to find the necessary evidence or solutions.

Essay structure outline

Have a look at the classical structure the essay should have. Further in this article we will discuss the peculiarities of each part and guide you on their content.
1. Introduction

  • hook
  • the topic
  • background information
  • thesis statement
2. Main body paragraphs

1 paragraph

  • topic sentence
  • supporting idea
  • controlling idea
  • concluding sentence

2 paragraph

3 paragraph

3. Conclusion
  • restate thesis statement
  • summarize the main points of the essay
  • provide a concluding idea


Starting the essay. Introduction

Mapping an essay should be done in accordance with the reader's logic and expectations. Introduction is the first part of the essay, and it is rather important. Thus, it should be interesting and triggering enough to spark the reader's interest to read your writing to the end. Start your essay with a hook. It is a sentence that catches the attention. You can use the following types of a hook:

  • thought provoking or provocative question
  • shocking statistics
  • unknown and interesting fact
  • some relevant quote by authoritative person.

If you choose this option, make sure that the quote is relevant to the topic and current. Do not use cliches.
The hook is usually followed by a sentence that introduces the topic. It should be short and to the point. In the next sentence or two give some background information on the topic, skip the unnecessary details. After this, add a strong and specific thesis statement that presents your standpoint. It expresses the main idea of the paper in one-two sentences and is usually placed in the end of the introductory part. Your thesis statement must convince the reader in the importance of studying the existing problem. So, from the beginning of your essay, you have to find the right words and point to its significance and motivate to read the essay from cover to cover. Thus,  thesis statement  should be:

  • clear
  • specific
  • debatable
  • express your viewpoint
After the thesis statement you may shortly outline the structure of your essay.

Main body 

Main body of the paper should consist of at least three paragraphs. It’s the place to present the details of the study. Do not go into details in the first and last paragraph of your essay. Also, avoid wordiness everywhere (even in the body part).

It is often difficult for students to start the first body paragraph. You may look for various samples of essays online to have several ideas. Anyway, one of the ways to begin the first body paragraph is the line like this: "To be convinced by my claim, the first thing a reader needs to know is . . ." Then interpret your first argument and its meaning for the whole study. Do the second and third body paragraphs the same way. It is the essay part for the discussion of the existing literature on the topic. Use in-text citations or direct quotes to support your arguments, but do not turn your essay into a container with the thoughts of other people making it one big direct quote. After all, it’s not scientific research. If you add information from other sources or use it as a reference, you should elaborate on it. Apart from that, make sure to properly cite all the borrowed ideas to avoid different types of plagiarism. The paragraphs within the body should be balanced. It means they should contain all the necessary structural components, and thus consist of at least 3-sentences. Body paragraph components include:

  • topic sentence
  • supporting idea
  • controlling idea
  • concluding or summarizing sentence

Body is the largest part of the essay. Thus, it is the place to express your ideas and arguments. However, make sure to present your ideas in a logical way and express them clearly to make the essay coherent. Here are some tips for a logical and balanced body paragraphs:

  • discuss only one main idea per paragraph
  • each idea presented in body paragraphs should be related to a thesis statement
  • use transitional elements to logically connect your ideas
  • do not repeat the same idea several times

Essay conclusion

The final point of the map is to draw a conclusion. This essay part also has its peculiarities. However, as any other paragraph of the essay it should be balanced and include the following components:

  • restate your thesis statement
  • summarize the main points of the essay
  • conclude the essay answering the So what? question
  • provide ideas or areas of the topic for further investigation

Although it might seem an easy writing process, some students find it difficult to follow this structure and present the information from the essay in the condensed form. Mind that summarizing the main points and the thesis statement does not mean repeating them. You should analyze the information you have previously provided to demonstrate your understanding of the issue. Also, make sure to avoid the following common mistakes in the conclusion part:

  • copy-pasting sentences from the introduction or conclusion. Well, that will not add you extra points. If you repeat the main body, it means you miss the conclusion part.
  • retelling what you have discussed the in the paper. What for? We have already read your ideas and need your summary or concluding idea.
  • introducing new ideas. Well, main body is the part to present your ideas, and conclusion is the part to summarize your thoughts.
  • introducing ideas that contradict arguments presented in paper. It is rather illogical to present your arguments and then to deny them in the last paragraph.
  • adding in-text citations. It is your essay, it is highly unlikely that someone could write anything on your paper before you composed it.

Proofread and edit your essay after writing. Scan it for plagiarism with the help of efficient online tools and grammar checkers.

That’s it! In case you want to get efficient online help from the true experts to save your time and nerves, order a custom essay or research paper from this reliable UK/US website!