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How to Structure an Essay?

This guide is for anyone looking to vastly improve their essay writing skills - 'essay structure'.

How to Structure an Essay?
Table of Content

A Complete Guide on How to Structure Your Essay

 “Take care of your costume and your confidence will take care of itself.”

                                                                                                   -Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

It has been rightly said that writing an essay is just like wearing a trendy costume that you love to flaunt. If that costume is truly impressive, you confidence level tends to soar up!!   But, unfortunately students have a hard time dealing with how to write a good essay because they have unconnected ideas and thoughts. Even if they research or read a lot about the topic they fail to do justice with their essays because they do not know how to structure their essays. Poorly structured information in the papers can ruin your impression and grades.

Discussed here is a complete overview that can make writing essays easier for you.

Prior to Starting Your Essay:

Before you understand how to write an essay, you need to get hold of as much relevant materials as you can. Find out the relevant materials related to your topic. This will help you frame a wonderful essay.

What is Essay Mapping?

Structuring your essay according to the logic of readers is like examining your own thesis and anticipating what readers actually need to know and in what sequence to grasp and be convinced with the arguments as they unfold. There are a lot of things to be done so essay mapping is important. It predicts where your reader would get the background information, a close analysis of the primary source and counterarguments. These maps are not concerned with the paragraphs as much as the different sections of the essay.

Where to Start the Essay?

When you are writing an essay, just remember that not just an introductory or concluding paragraph but the every paragraph and sentence matters. But, you should aware of the fact that most of the instructors and professors begin grading your written pieces as soon as they start reading it. So, your introductory or the beginning paragraph decides on what scale your essay will be kept. So, the strongest of all paragraphs is the most important also in the essay.

Introduction or the opening paragraph:

Crispy, short, summarizing and captivating (120 words)

You need to develop an introduction which can set the aim of your essay clearly. So, be clear in the mind what your essay wants to achieve. The idea of this paragraph is to give an overview of your argument. It does not have to be too long or too elaborative. Just 120 words are good enough to introduce a compelling thesis statement which can grab the attention of readers instantly. If it is an analytical essay, it is good to discuss both the sides quickly in the introduction.  Introduction of the essay is the thumbnail picture of what is to be followed next and it is this point where the reader can approve or disapprove your essay.

Body Structure:

Soul of the essay, multiple thoughts and paragraphs….. (Multiple paragraphs)

There is no need to stick to the five paragraph structure of an essay. If the essay is descriptive or analytical then it can have as many words as you choose. Body of the essay is referred to be its soul because it is this area where bulk of the essay goes. Paragraphs between the introductory and the concluding paragraph comprise the body of essay. So, you need to be elaborative here. You can choose to strike a contention and justify it with adequate facts, statistics and figures.

Since this part of the essay comprises of several paragraphs. You need to take care that each heading and subheading should present a new topic, idea and subject. The paragraphs need to be coherent and full of supportive evidences. It is important that your paragraphs should have a proper cohesion and do not look messed-up with several thoughts mingled. Avoid clichés and do not drag a single point to a large extent. Make a smooth transition from one paragraph to the other. This will help the reader to identify the key areas that you want to discuss quickly.

It is good to keep in mind that instructors do not just look at your writing skills, they test your analytical and logical thinking as well. So, research a lot before you begin to write. Create a meaningful and persuasive argument in the body and justify that argument with a lot substantial evidences. The body of essay does not have bar over words and hence you are at liberty to present your arguments effectively at length.

Conclusion or Closing Paragraph:

Short, peppy, thought-evoking wrapping things up: (120 words or little more)

The last paragraph of essay is the conclusion and about wrapping things up in an organized manner. It leaves the reader with the best impression provided it is written well. Always take care of not introducing any new idea in this paragraph. Also, do not try to rush up things as it will ruin the spirit of essay. Wrapping things up does not mean that you will induce boredom and repetitions here. The conclusion shows how well the topic is being understood and written. So, a tempting paragraph or two that can evoke thoughts and make the instructors judge how good the essay is always a desirable one.

Citations or Bibliography:

Most of the people choose to overlook the importance of bibliography. But, in reality it helps the essay evaluator know how well-researched the essay is. This portion of the essay comes after the conclusion and states all the materials which have been referenced to prepare the paper. If the paper of essay has direct quotes or citation, it is good to state name of the writer beneath otherwise you will be penalized for plagiarism or can lose your grade also. Apart from that, if you do not add bibliography, you essay will be thought as poorly-referenced. So, take this additional pain and add it at the end after conclusion.

While you are structuring your essay to get a better flow when you write it, just keep in mind that a typical essay has different types of information that are located in specialized sections or parts. There are several short essays also that perform different operations like introducing an argument, analyzing the data and also raise the counter arguments and then wrap up.

Only introductory paragraph and concluding one have fixed places and other paragraphs do not have. Counter argument may appear in a paragraph as a free-standing section right in the beginning or before it ends. Background materials like the biological information, summary of any relevant theory or criticism somewhere between the first analytical section and the beginning paragraph. But, it is to be added only to the specific section of the paragraph to which it is relevant.

Background material is sometimes referred as biographical information or historical context that appears somewhere near the beginning of the essay between the first analytical section and introduction. It appears near the beginning of a specific paragraph that is relevant to it.

Different essay sections should answer different series of questions that have direct relevance to the topic. Readers should have questions in mind while reading the thesis. If your essay is not thought provoking, it is not better then compilation of facts blandly.

Here are the questions that you need to incorporate in your essays to make them more interesting.


This is the first and the foremost question. Every reader wants anticipate this. “What evidences show that the phenomenon described in the thesis is true? You need to examine the evidence carefully so that the truth of your claim can be easily demonstrated. You need to keep in mind that “what” comprises as much as one-third of your essay. So, your essays should be able to answer “what’s”. If it is not doing so it will read like a mere summary.


Readers are interested to know whether the claims that you make in the thesis are true. So, “how” becomes all the more important. The entire essay must have at least one how section that should come just below the section. But, it is needed for a counterargument or for justifying; you can use how any where it needs to be.


Readers also want to know how far your claims can be true. This question can answer several complications of your thesis. This is so because it allows the readers to understand the essay in a bigger context. You should know the significance of why and incorporate it in the structure of essay wherever necessary. Why question flesh out eventually in the closing paragraph.  If you leave that, your readers tend to experience an unfinished and bland essay.

Writing an essay is not just about flaunting your writing skills to impress. It is a lot more than that. It is a coherent reproduction of ideas to argument. Essays are essentially linear because they present just one idea.  Efforts of a good essay should be directed towards making that idea appear sensible to the readers. The focus of an essay is on furnishing information primarily. How well you present it depends on you!

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