Basic Five-Paragraph Essay By Kristen Weddle Edited by UWC staff (© DBU University Writing Center) A five-paragraph essay should have the following basic format: I. Introduction A. Background info B. Thesis sentence (including 3 specific points) II. Topic sentence for 1st body paragraph
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By Kristen Weddle
Edited by UWC staff
(© DBU University Writing Center)
A. Background info
B. Thesis sentence (including 3 specific points)
II. Topic sentence for 1st body paragraph
A. Point one
B. Point two (at least 2 points, but more points are fine)
III. Topic sentence for 2nd body paragraph
A. Point one
B. Point two
IV. Topic sentence for 3rd body paragraph
A. Point one
B. Point two
Sound confusing? Don’t worry! I’ll explain.
An introduction gives background information on your subject. It
introduces the reader to your topic.
So, what should you include? Well, try to pick things that you would
want to know about your topic if someone were telling you about it.
Some other good information to include:
It should have 3 (for a five-paragraph paper) points specifically laid out in the order you want to discuss them:
Dogs are great pets because they help owners get exercise and are loyal and friendly.
If using this as a thesis, the paper should follow the format it lays out. The first body paragraph should be about dogs helping owners get exercise, paragraph 2 about dogs being loyal, and paragraph 3 about dogs being friendly.
You should be able to transition smoothly between paragraphs, so order your points in a manner that flows well logically.
Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that relates directly back to your thesis.
A topic sentence is sort of like a thesis, but on a smaller level. It is
your paragraph boiled down into 1 sentence. It summarizes one thesis
point and should correspond clearly to your thesis.
If we use the example thesis from the previous slide, a good topic
sentence for the first paragraph could be something like this:
Because dogs need to be taken for walks, they provide a fun, safe way for owners to get exercise.
Okay, so we have a thesis and our first topic sentence; what next?
The two (at least) points you use in each of your body paragraphs
should support the topic sentence of your paragraph, and thus your thesis
For example, if you wanted to give two supporting points about dogs
being loyal, you could talk about how dogs can protect their owners and
about how dogs will love owners no matter what. (Okay, so these are
lame points, but hey, I grew up with 2 dogs…)
When you pick your points, make sure they really support your topic
sentence and thesis: they should be relevant.
A conclusion should do just what it says: conclude. It can get a little
tricky, though. You should not introduce new information into your
conclusion. If you have not talked about it before your conclusion, then
don’t use it.
Also, don’t copy and paste parts from your paper. Wrap up your ideas,
but say them in a new way. Readers don’t want to read the same
sentences over. They want you to remind them of what you’ve been
saying and what your point is, but in new words. Don’t just wrap up with
“Dogs make great pets because…” Say something like “People ought to
consider getting dogs. Not only are dogs loving, caring, and loyal, but
they are good with people and provide a healthy pastime for their
Obviously, this would need to be a little longer to be a good
conclusion, but hopefully it will give you the idea of what your conclusion
should be like.
If you are still looking for a little more
information, our website www.dbu.edu/uwc
has our handouts on writing specific kinds of
papers and much more. Look under the Quick
Reference Flyers section.