Writing a Five-Paragraph Essay: Tips for Crafting an A-plus Paper

Use these strategies before and after writing to create a clear, well-organized composition. The article was prepared with the support of experts from the One Hour Essay service.

The five-paragraph essay is a traditional composition format that nearly everyone must learn to write at some point in their education. However, it can be easily mastered with the help of these strategies, many of which can also be applied to longer papers.

Before Writing

It is important to plan ahead before beginning an essay. Take a few minutes to think about ideas, consider how the paper will be organized, and determine whether more research is required before starting to write. Some people find it helpful to create a traditional structured outline; others prefer brainstorming with mind maps or jot lists. Whatever strategy a writer prefers, taking the time to think and plan before writing helps him or her to craft a clearer, better-organized paper.

The Introduction

The introduction, or first paragraph, of a five-paragraph essay should capture the reader's attention: one must draw the reader in and make him or her want to read the paper. Begin with a memorable quote, an illustrative anecdote, a question the essay will answer, or an interesting or unexpected fact; or create an individual and unique opening that will grab the reader's interest.

Along with some relevant background information, the introduction should also include the thesis statement, a sentence explaining the main point of the paper. Usually the thesis is the last sentence of the introductory paragraph. It should clearly and concisely present the main argument, or what the writer wants to say in the paper. After reading the thesis statement, a reader should know what to expect from the rest of the essay.

The Body

A five-paragraph essay contains three body paragraphs after the introduction. These paragraphs work together to provide evidence in support of the thesis statement. Each paragraph should have its own main idea that is clearly expressed in a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. The rest of the paragraph expands upon and supports the main idea of the paragraph, which in turn expands upon and supports the main idea, or thesis, of the paper.

To support the thesis statement, writers use facts, details, quotations, and explanations drawn from research, in addition to their own analysis and perspective. This is the meat of the paper; the information that has been collected is presented to prove that the argument made by the thesis statement is correct.To avoid plagiarism, be sure to carefully cite all sources.

Use transitions to smoothly connect one body paragraph to the next. Although each paragraph has its own main idea, they should all relate to one another in support of the thesis.

The Conclusion

The conclusion of a five-paragraph essay should summarize the paper's argument and provide context as to why it is important. Begin by restating the thesis, in different words, and briefly addressing the three main points of support. Then broaden the view of the paper and consider the larger significance of what it is about. Why should anyone care? A good five-paragraph essay leaves the reader with an increased understanding of and interest in the topic.

After Writing

Before turning in the paper, revise and edit it. It often helps to come back a day later to reread, or have another person look at the essay and make suggestions. Make sure each sentence is clearly written and supports the argument, and that the sentences and paragraphs tie together logically in support of the thesis. Finally, proofread the paper carefully to catch any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistakes.

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