How to Structure an Essay: Writing in Context

The basic structure of an essay includes the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Each part has some basic requirements that need to be met. Essays need to be focused on one topic and present the material in a logical order. Each essay is different in keeping with the subject you are addressing. Writing essays also requires you to write in context. This requires making some decisions about the essay before beginning the research and writing phases.

Writing in Context

Determine your audience to decide which tone you want your writing to take by asking yourself some questions. For whom are you writing? What information are you trying to impart to them? Why do you want them to know this? What is their education level?

Focus on how you want them to react to your essay. Are you trying to make them think about something? Are you trying to educate them about a topic?

Keep the answers to these questions in mind when you research and write your essay. This will keep you on track and in context. Do not deviate, as essays should be about one topic and viewpoint only.

Structuring the Essay

Write your thesis statement to include in the introduction. It does not have to be the last sentence in your introduction. The thesis statement must clearly define the point or argument you will be making in your essay.

Write the introduction to introduce the readers to the topic. Grab their attention so they will wish to continue reading the essay. This can be accomplished by sharing shocking statistics; sharing an amusing anecdote or recent news story; quoting a celebrity, scholar or public figure; or posing a difficult question. The introduction can be more than one paragraph long if necessary to educate the reader about the background of the topic or to define the topic.

Create the body of your essay. It should be two to four paragraphs long. Each paragraph should be able to stand independently. The body should include the main argument or idea and supporting examples. All the paragraphs should be connected to one another either with an idea or transition words. Refer to your thesis statements in the body of the essay by referring to key words or ideas in it.

Write the final paragraph, the conclusion of your essay, by summarizing your point briefly and tying everything together. Do not bring up any new ideas in the conclusion.This will be the last opportunity to influence or educate your readers. Make sure you are leaving them with the final conclusion that is supported by the context of your writing.


About the Author

Annabelle Lee has been working in the journalism field since 1990. She was a teacher and yearbook adviser for four years and holds two associate degrees from her local community college where she currently teaches computer classes. Lee also writes for a local newspaper and was a proofreader for McGraw-Hill.