The Five Paragraph Essay Format

General Guidance:

The five-paragraph essay structure is the simplest and most commonly used structure when it comes to writing History essays in high school. It is a simple and straight-forward technique that makes the most complicated essay easy. The overall structure of a five-paragraph essay is fairly simple. The first paragraph is an introduction that ends in a thesis. The three body paragraphs each cover one of three main points that you are trying to argue in your thesis. The final paragraph is a conclusion.

It starts off with an introductory paragraph that concisely gives the reader background knowledge needed to understand the content of the paper. The background information should be kept short, straight to the point, and relevant to the prompt. You should avoid starting with trite phrases such as “Since the beginning of time…” if at all possible. Try to put some general and interesting information about your topic up front to draw your reader into the main part of your argument that will occur in the body of the paper.

Usually around the end of the introductory paragraph, the writer should include a thesis statement that emphasizes the main argument of the paper and what will be discussed in the following body paragraphs. Mostly, in the case of five paragraph essays, the thesis will have three parts for it, each part representing component of the deconstructed prompt as well as reflecting the evidence to be deployed in the evidence paragraphs. For all writing assignments, you should avoid thesis constructions that read like “In my paper I will prove…” and try to form more complex arguments, “White majority cultural misappropriation of other cultures’ artifacts objectifies both majority and minority culture because…”

In the following evidence paragraphs, you should provide a strong argument for the overall position (thesis) and provide specific details which are shaped by your analysis to help depict the argument. Each paragraph should start out with a topic sentence that tells the reader approximately what to expect in the paragraph, and should conclude with deliberate analysis of the significance of the evidence and a transition to the next paragraph. In the case of especially long paragraphs, a brief summary can also occur as the last sentence to ensure that the thesis is being supported. Each of your details should be supported by specific examples that usually come from outside sources and an effort should be made for attribution (proper citation if required). These examples help prove to the reader that your position and your argument is legitimate and debatable.

The final concluding paragraph should restate the thesis, but not directly. This paragraph serves to give the entire paper a sense of completeness, and merely restating the thesis will not do the job. Some teachers ask for a summary or synthesis of your analysis of th evidence in support of the thesis. You not only want to provide the answer to the problem you are discussing in your essay, but you want to reach a judgment. Since you will most likely be writing about a historical event, you may extend your judgment forward alluding to a significant consequence.

This initial formulaic approach is meant for you to hone your skills as a historical writer. Later as you develop confidence you will be introduced to several different types of essays. There are the informative ones where the writer throws out three different topics to write about. Another type of essay is a compare and contrast essay, and when it is applied to the five paragraph format, it includes the introduction and the thesis, followed by body paragraphs, where the first talks about one topic, the next compares itself to the first topic, and the final contrasts the two points. Of course, there is a conclusion that sums up the entire paper. There are also cause and effect essays, where the introduction can include the cause, followed by the three body paragraphs that depict the different effects, or visa versa. In general, there are many ways of writing a five paragraph writing assignment, and it all depends on the nature of the prompt assigned.