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Essay Structure

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Written by
Dr. Alex Freedman
  • Icon Calendar 20 May 2024
  • Icon Page 1089 words
  • Icon Clock 6 min read

An essay structure varies depending on the type of work. However, a general outline of an essay structure is:

  • Title Page
  • Outline
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion
  • References

Title Page as Essay Structure’s Unit

Each paper format has its rules regarding a title page. For example, there will be a separate title page for APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago/Turabian, and other paper formats. Therefore, writers must make sure to consult formatting rules to understand will there be a title page or not or check instructions from professors.

Outline – Roots of an Essay Structure

Some types of papers might also cover outlines to present overall essay structures. Hence, there are different types of outlines, but they are written with the sole purpose to help readers navigate papers. Also, some essay outline might be used in the same way as an abstract, which is to attract readers.

Essay Structure


Scientific papers all include an abstract page. However, some works in APA style formatting that are 1000+ words in length require an abstract page in an essay structure. In this case, works are long enough to read, while reading an abstract should be enough to understand if papers are worth the time. Therefore, such a page provides a brief overview of everything written in academic papers.

An abstract is usually around 150 words, has a purpose statement, provides an overview of major issues raised within academic papers, and serves the purpose to catch the reader’s attention. The abstract always ends with a “Keywords” field where writers identify major terms used in papers. Usually, such keywords include the paper’s topic or signal phrase that is the most important in it.

Introduction’s Importance in an Essay Structure

The introduction has to be about 10 % of the paper’s word count. In this case, the introduction includes an attention getter or a hook with a goal to interest readers. If it is a serious paper, a hook sentence will be the explanation of why a chosen topic is of great importance. Further on, the introduction must include a preview of the main points. Writers must talk about all the aspects that are highlighted in essays in brief. In turn, a good way to do it would be the preview of the main points highlighted in the essay’s body.

Finally, the introduction part has to end with a thesis statement. For example, a thesis statement is usually only one sentence long, represents a direct answer to an assignment question, responds to an assignment topic, describes the writer’s position, summarizes the main evidence, and appears as the last sentence of the introduction. In turn, students should never confuse a Thesis Statement with a Purpose Statement. Additionally, there is usually no citation in the introduction.

Main Body’s Role in an Essay Structure

As a rule, in the main body of an essay structure, students should write one paragraph for one idea. Firstly, each paragraph starts with a topic sentence that summarizes such an idea. Then, within body paragraphs, writers must support such an idea by adding explanations, evidence, research, examples, and more. Sentences with such information are considered as evidence sentences and must include an in-text citation in them. In turn, students should not use citations in the first sentences of body paragraphs. Topic sentences have to summarize everything authors are going to talk about within defined paragraphs. Moroever, writers do not end body paragraphs with in-text citations because the last sentence has to be a transition to the next paragraph or provide final thoughts on the paragraph’s idea. The best method would be to incorporate them in the part when students give evidence.

Structure of the Main Body

Additionally, the main body must present no less than four sentences in one paragraph by considering an essay structure. Basically, four sentences will include the introductory sentence, evidence with in-text citation, explanation sentence of why citation is needed, and concluding sentence. Hence, four sentences are a minimum for a paragraph in the main body. On the other side, the length is important too since paragraphs must be at least four lines in length, according to academic writing standards. In turn, students may use up to three evidence sentences per paragraph (no less than 1, no more than 3!). Besides, zero evidence will make a paragraph pointless (unless it is an introduction or conclusion) while too many citations will make paragraphs filled with cited text, destroying the author’s own voice.

The Flow of the Main Body

As always, writing has to be concise and clear while sentences within a paragraph must be logically connected. Paragraphs are organized in a logical sequence with a link to each other. Hence, the concluding sentence would be the best way to link paragraphs to each other. In turn, links between arguments in paragraphs and ideas within an essay structure can be achieved by using transitional words and phrases. Moroever, all paragraphs include a writer’s voice because, if it is not, this aspect will be considered as a form of plagiarism, as it means that an author has done zero research and spent no time reading credible sources. In this case, writers read scholarly sources, and they will understand that they need more sentences for explanation giving a couple specific evidence here and there to increase the credibility of their own voice, not to mute it.

General Information for Main Body

The Main Body is about 80 % of the paper, while all of this content expands on a thesis statement. Here is an example of the main body for a typical 5-paragraph essay structure (introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and conclusion):

I. Introduction with a thesis statement

II. Main Body (3 paragraphs)

1st body paragraph (follow a Sandwich Rule):
Topic/Introductory Sentence.
Explanation/Analysis of the evidence.
Transition sentence.
2nd body paragraph (follow a Sandwich Rule):
Topic/Introductory Sentence.
Explanation/Analysis of the evidence.
Transition sentence.
3rd body paragraph (follow a Sandwich Rule):
Topic/Introductory Sentence.
Explanation/Analysis of the evidence.
Concluding Sentence.

III. Conclusion



Conclusions are about 10 % of words in papers and must restate thesis statements, summarize arguments and evidence, and show how they answer original questions. Hence, zero new information can be present in the conclusion part.

References in an Essay Structure

Sometimes, there are acknowledgment and appendix pages in academic works, while references are usually the last thing that writers include in essays. However, the formatting of all references has to be done according to general formatting rules. For more information, check paper formats covered by wr1ter.com.