An essay can have many purposes, but the basic format is usually similar. Whether you’re arguing a point of view or explaining a concept, the essay includes certain kinds of paragraphs. A strong introduction, context, well-organized body paragraphs and a strong conclusion are all key paragraphs in any essay.
Every essay should have an engaging introduction. The introduction should accomplish two things. One, it should grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more. Two, it should make the purpose of the essay clear to the reader. For example, a persuasive essay would include a thesis statement at the end of the introduction that summarizes the point of view you’ll be arguing in the body of the essay. Creative essay introductions include starting with an interesting anecdote or highlighting a surprising fact that will capture the reader’s interest.
Essays often include a paragraph after the introduction that provides context for the rest of the essay. These paragraphs help the reader understand key concepts, characters or definitions that you’ll discuss in the rest of the essay. In a literary analysis essay or a film critique, for example, you would include a plot summary. When writing an essay about a current event, you could include historical context.
The majority of your essay is made up of body paragraphs. These paragraphs contain information that support the focus of your essay. For example, in a persuasive essay, the body paragraphs are where you develop the points that support your thesis statement. Body paragraphs begin with a topic sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph is about, followed by detail sentences that provide evidence, context or more information about the main idea in that paragraph. For example, a topic sentence in a persuasive essay about the benefits of online education could be: “One reason online education is a better choice for students is that it's more flexible than traditional classes.” The detail sentences would include evidence from research showing how online education is flexible and why that's beneficial to students.
A powerful final paragraph is a critical element in an essay. The conclusion is your last opportunity to leave an impression on the reader. In a persuasive essay, the final paragraph is where you restate your thesis and remind the reader of your point of view. In a narrative essay, you can use the conclusion to reflect on the experience you wrote about in the essay or guide the reader to an important insight or lesson.