Tuesday, April 24, 2012

5‐Paragraph Essay

5‐Paragraph Essay

This document gives a general overview of the 5 paragraph essay. It is as brief as possible and should be used in conjunction with several specific good and bad examples in order to teach how to use this tool to improve writing techniques.


  1. Introduction (with thesis statement)
  2. Body Paragraph #1 (with topic sentence)
  3. Body Paragraph #2 (with topic sentence)
  4. Body Paragraph #3 (with topic sentence)
  5. Conclusion


  • Is the first paragraph of your essay. 
  • Introduces your topic to your reader. 
  • Tells the reader exactly what the rest of the essay is about. 
  • Concludes with a clear, strong thesis statement. 

Body Paragraph #1

  • Open with first topic sentence.
  • Corresponds to the first point in the essay map. 

Body Paragraph #2

  • Open with second topic sentence.
  • Corresponds to the second point in the essay map. 

Body Paragraph #3

  • Open with third topic sentence.
  • Corresponds to the third point in the essay map. 


  •  In your conclusion, reflect on the main points you made in the paper. 
  •  Highlight the most important information. 
  •  Do not introduce new points.
  •  Do not simply re‐state your thesis statement and/or the main points from the essay. 
  •  Leave your reader with something interesting to think about.  

What is a Thesis Statement?

  • A single, clear, concise sentence. 
  • The final sentence of the introduction. 
  • Contains the topic of your essay, and your opinion on the topic. 
  • It often includes an “essay map” that lists the three main points you plan to make in the paper.

What is a Topic Sentence?

  • A topic sentence is a single sentence at the beginning of a paragraph that tells your reader what the paragraph is going to be about.
  • A topic sentence is similar to the thesis statement, but it works only on the paragraph‐level, whereas the thesis statement covers the whole essay. 
  • Each topic sentence should directly reflect one of the points made in the thesis statement.

Body Paragraph 

  • Will focus on a single idea, reason, or example that supports your thesis. 
  • Discuss only one point per body paragraph.
  • Begins with a clear topic sentence (a mini thesis that states the main idea of the paragraph)
  • Has as much discussion or explanation as is necessary to explain the point. 
  • Use details and specific examples to make your ideas clear and convincing
  • Five lines minimum per paragraph.


  • Connect your paragraphs to one another, especially the main body ones. 
  • Do not jump from one idea to the next.
  • You need a transition between each paragraph. 
  • Use the end of one paragraph and/or the beginning of the next to show the relationship between the two ideas.
Think about words and phrases that compare and contrast.
  • Does first tell us a pro and the second a con? ("on the other hand . . .")
  • Does second tell us something of greater significance? ("more importantly . . .")
  • An earlier historical example? ("even before [topic of paragraph 1], [topic of paragraph 2]")
  • A different kind of consideration? (money versus time).
Click here to see more suggestions for transition words.

General rules - mostly just for college writing, but may apply to more formal business writing.

  • Do not use contractions.
  • Do not use first-person pronouns such as "I" "me" "my."
  • Do not use second-person pronouns such as "you" "your" "yours."
  • Do not engage in personal stories, meaning stories of your own life experiences, or the experiences of friends, family, and so on.
  • Do not begin sentences with conjunctions: but, and, or, nor, for, so, yet.
  • Write sentences in the form of statements.
  • Avoid any form of direct address to the reader, such as "think about the fact that . . ."
  • Avoid too casual of a prose style, such as sentences that begin with words like "well, sure, now, yes, no."
  • Do not use phrases such as, "a lot," "lots" or "lots of," which can usually be replaced with one of the following words: many, most, much, often.
  • Do not use exclamation points, for they are almost always unnecessary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Periods and commas should be inside of quotation marks, but other forms of punctuation go outside of quotation marks.
  • Do not use the word "okay" when words like "acceptable" could be used instead.
  • Do not use the word "nowdays," "nowadays," or any slight variation thereof.
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