Learning the basic essay layout

The basic essay layout, also known as the five-paragraph essay, is the general format most students use when writing an academic essay. This standard layout even transitions into personal essays and writing; it’s simply a model you may find useful as you refine your writing skills. Below, you will find an explanation of each part (or step) you will find in a five-paragraph essay.

The Introduction

Your introductory paragraph is where you will include your thesis statement (a one or two sentence summary of the entire paper telling the reader what the essay is about). This is also where you will form your hook, or the opening line you use to draw your reader into your essay. Your introduction will set the tone of the rest of the paper, so it needs to be strong and intriguing so that your reader desires to continue and learn more about the subject you have chosen to present.

The First Paragraph

Your strongest point (or argument) should always be in the first paragraph. Whatever you feel is your most compelling or significant evidence goes here. Make sure that this paragraphs transitions well from the thesis statement (which is usually the last sentence of your introduction) and remains relevant to your subject. Be sure to support it with your most compelling evidence.

The Second Paragraph

This is where you’ll put what you think is your second strongest argument is, and where secondary examples of importance will go. Like the first paragraph of the body, you need to make sure it transitions well from the last sentence of the previous paragraph. You want your paper to flow smoothly, and this is the best way to do that and ensure cohesion.

The Third Paragraph

The third paragraph is where your weakest supporting evidence will go. This does not mean that you should just throw whatever you want into this paragraph. Your third argument simply isn’t as critical or powerful in comparison to the previous two—it should still be relevant to the paper and a strong, valid point.


Use your conclusion to bring a strong close to your essay. Restate your thesis in a different way (you’re free to use some of the original wording) and give a summary of your three main points. The final sentence of your paper should signal that the essay has come to an end.

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