Learning the 5-paragraph essay outline format

An essay can take up any number of paragraphs. In most cases, the introduction takes up one paragraph and the conclusion takes up another leaving any remaining paragraphs to be divided among the points included in the essay’s body. A five paragraph essay is therefore an essay with a three paragraph body. Let’s break that down a bit further.

The Introduction

As mentioned, the first paragraph of your essay is likely going to be your introduction. Breaking from this tradition is unwise as it takes some serious literary ability to make most academics look past a lack of introduction. This is something so ingrained in us that we even use introductions when delivering speeches out loud. Consider how best you can introduce the rest of the essay and prepare the reader for what comes next. This is the marker of a well thought out introduction.

The body

The points that you use to explain your thesis statement or follow along the direction pointed out in your introduction are called the body. Each point should be addressed in its own paragraph even in cases where points overlap somewhat. If they overlap too significantly they should not be considered separate points at all. The three paragraphs that are dedicated to the body in a five paragraph essay may be inadequate for certain process essay topics or overly generous for some compare and contrast topics. As a practiced writer you have to use your own common sense to decide when you should add or subtract a paragraph.

The conclusion

Concluding a five paragraph essay requires you to almost summarize your previous points. This should not be so thoroughly done that a reader could ignore the rest of your essay and skip to the end without missing anything. Rather it should contain the main theme of the essay or any over arching theme that can be seen to come from the points delivered when looked at as a whole. It is very important to note that a conclusion is not the place to attach one final point. This is poor formatting and will make your essay look amateurish. Give any points that are robust enough for inclusion their own paragraph in the body. If they do not deserve this make no mention of them in your conclusion.

Those are the parts of the typical five paragraph essay. While some writers may split the conclusion in two this is rare so the above guide should be useful in most situations.

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