five-paragraph essay format
I. The Introductory Paragraph begins with a general statement about the world, life, people, etc. as a way to introduce the topic. The scope of the paragraph gradually narrows until the last sentence in the paragraph is the specific thesis (the statement of the author's position on the topic) to be proven in the essay. The paragraph starts broadly and comes to a definite point. Basic information about the book, name of author, and central characters should be included in the course of the introductory paragraph. Remember, the most important sentence of the whole essay appears at the very end of the introduction--the thesis statement.
II. Body Paragraph One--starts with a clear topic sentence that states the writer's first reason in support of the thesis statement. For example, if my thesis stated that "Canadian Bacon and pineapple pizza is the best food for humanity," then my first (topic) sentence in my first paragraph might say: "Canadian Bacon and pineapple pizza includes elements of all five essential food groups." The rest of this paragraph will provide examples and support of this topic sentence.
Clincher/Transition sentence: The last sentence of each body paragraph should be a "clincher" for the paragraph. To form a clincher, include one or two key words from the topic sentence and restate the essential idea of the topic sentence. In addition, the best clincher sentence will also echo the thesis. As one becomes more confident in writing essays, one may also use the clincher sentence to lead into the next paragraph.
III. Body Paragraph Two--states the second point in support of the thesis and develops that point throughout the paragraph. Of course, this body paragraph ends with a clincher sentence.
IV. Body Paragraph Three--states the third point in support of the thesis statement and develops that point throughout the paragraph. Usually this is the strongest argument, saved for last. The paragraph ends with a clincher sentence.
V. The final Concluding Paragraph begins with a restatement of the thesis. By restating the thesis one need not use such phrases as "in conclusion" since the reader will recognize the end of the essay from the restatement of the thesis. This paragraph is in some ways an inversion of the introductory paragraph. Next, the concluding paragraph includes one or two sentences that review the major points (from the body paragraphs) in support of the thesis. Finally, the conclusion must answer the "So what?" question. Why is the thesis important? How is it relevant to the life and world of the reader? Try to conclude with force and power and some idea of why the thesis is important or compelling. The very last sentence should be memorable.
Remember: Never say “I.”
Many thanks to Ole Anderson, my eximious Shakespeare instructor at Washington State University.