The 5-Paragraph Essay

Think small; build the full essay gradually.

Divide your essay into sections and develop each piece separately and incrementally.

The Introductory Paragraph

The opening paragraph sets the tone.

The opening paragraph not only introduces the topic but also shows where the writer is going (thesis).

If the writer does a good job in the opening, he/she will draw the reader into the "experience."

  • Write in the active voice: It is much more powerful. Do that for each sentence in the introductory essay. Unless you are writing a personal narrative, do not use the pronoun "I."

  • Vary sentence structure: Review to avoid the same dull pattern of always starting with the subject of the sentence.

  • Brainstorm to find the best supporting ideas: The best supporting ideas are the ones about which you have some knowledge. If you do not know about them, you cannot do a good job writing about them. Don't weaken the essay with ineffective argument.

Supporting Paragraphs

Write a transition to establish the sub-topic. Each paragraph has to flow, one to the next.

Write the topic sentence. The transition can be included in the topic sentence.

Supporting ideas, examples, details must be specific to the sub-topic.
The tendency in supporting paragraphs is to put in just about anything.
Avoid this: the work you have made above with details and examples will help you keep focused.

  • Vary sentence structure.
  • Avoid repetitious pronouns and lists.
  • Avoid beginning sentences the same way (subject + verb + direct object).

The Ending or Summary Paragraph

The ending is a difficult paragraph to write effectively.
You cannot assume that the reader sees your point.

Restate the introductory thesis/paragraph with originality.
Do not simply copy the first paragraph.

Summarize your argument with some degree of authority.
this paragraph should leave your reader with no doubt as to your position or conclusion of logic.

Be powerful as this is the last thought that you are leaving with the reader.


Edit and revise your essay.

Check your spelling and grammar.
Subjects and verbs agree, and verb tenses are consistent.

Examine your whole essay for logic.
Thought builds and flows?
Avoid gaps in logic, or too much detail.

Review individual sentences.

Use active verbs to be more descriptive.
Avoid passive constructions and the verb "to be."

Use transitional words and phrases.
Avoid sentences beginning with pronouns, constructions as "There are....,"
Example: "There is a need to proofread all works" becomes "Proofreading is a must."

Be concise.
Vary the length and structure of sentences.

Ask a knowledgeable friend to review and comment on your essay.
and to repeat back what you are trying to say. You may be surprised.

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