How to Write a 4-Paragraph Essay

Used at all levels of education, the four paragraph essay offers a basic format that enables writers to present information in a concise manner. A four paragraph essay is an acceptable format for many types of essays, including cause and effect and compare and contrast essays. The four-paragraph essay consists of an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion. Each paragraph in the essay requires specific information in order for readers to follow a logical flow of information.

The four-paragraph essay consists of an introduction, two body paragraphs and a conclusion.

1. The Introduction

Begin this paragraph with a “hook” that will make readers interested in your essay.

The University of Maryland University College recommends using:

  • a surprising statement or statistic,
  • quote,
  • personal story
  • or rhetorical question.

Avoid the overused and unoriginal dictionary definition opening. After the opener, provide background information on the topic, which should tell readers the purpose of the essay, as well as what they should expect to read.

2. A Strong Thesis Statement

A thesis statement provides readers with a condensed version of the analysis or argument that you will discuss in the essay. These are typically one or two sentences, and are located at the end of the introduction paragraph.

A strong thesis statement avoids vague language and is specific and argumentative.

3. Topic Sentence

  • The topic sentence announces the main focus of the paragraph by stating one of the arguments identified in the thesis statement.
  • Provide supporting sentences that offer evidence for your claim.
  • End the paragraph with your own observation or analysis.

4. Structuring the Body Paragraphs

Your body paragraphs should consist of a clear topic sentence, quotes, and explanations of the supporting evidence you have found. This is where you have the chance to prove your thesis to your reader. In order to do this, you must have strong evidence that supports the claim you are trying to make.

5. The Conclusion

  • Rephrase your thesis statement in the concluding paragraph, stating how it has been proven throughout the body paragraphs.
  • The conclusion should have a summary of the essay’s main arguments and an explanation on how they are connected.
  • Lastly, explain why the topic of your essay is important and why it should matter to the readers.