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Basic, failsafe, no-frills essay form

(Particularly useful for in-class essays)

Introduction

The introductory paragraph may begin by catching the reader's attention with:

  • a bold statement
  • a scenario
  • a question
  • a compelling statistic
  • a formulation of a problem

It should provide background information.

  • Identify the topic of the paper (e.g., Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken" or The unification of Italy).
  • Give some context, a summary, or the main components of that topic. Sometimes it helps to answer a few of the 5 W's: who, what, where, when, why . . . and how.

The thesis statement should state the specific, main idea the paper will discuss.

  • For many in-class essays, you can rephrase the question as a statement.

Body of the essay:

Each body paragraph should:

  • have a topic sentence that clearly connects to the thesis & tells what point the whole paragraph will make
  • develop support specific to the point of the topic sentence using authorities cited, explanations, facts, examples, details or statistics.
  • use analysis to show "how" and "why" the types of support give insight into the topic
  • provide transition (a word or two: "On the other hand"; a phrase: "An equally important program..."; or a sentence: "Frost uses this ironic theme again in 'The Road Not Taken.'") to show how your paragraphs are connected.

Conclusion:

  1. Return to the thesis idea so the reader understands the importance of the main point of your paper.
  2. Don't just repeat what was in the paper -- that has already been said.
  3. State what you most want readers to remember or think about from your essay.
  4. However, do not bring up new topics!

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