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How To Write An Essay Structure: A Complete Guide

Structure of an essay

Writing essays is not merely putting together some ideas in order. An academic essay requires you to be focused and develop an idea expressed using relevant evidence, analysis, and interpretation. However, let’s not forget about one critical element: the structure. Good essays, be they academic or informative, are based on proper structures, which helps writers understand the expectations of writing and concisely present the key details. Keep reading for more details on how to write the structure of an essay.

What is an Essay Structure?

The structure of an essay is a brief outline for organizing your writing and presenting your main idea or argument coherently. Most essays follow a distinct structure that comprises an introduction, the body of the essay, and a conclusion. Using a structure for writing will help you to identify the main point of your essay and determine which information to add in which section to make your writing more reader-friendly.

Types of Essay Structure

A lot of students struggle with writing because they don’t know how to write the structure of an essay. Understand that the structure depends on the topic and the purpose of your essay writing. While there are several essay structures for presenting different ideas, the following four are the most common types:

Compare and Contrast Structures:

The compare-and-contrast structure is the best choice when your essay focuses on two or more main points. This includes two key methods: the alternating method and the block method. The alternating method is suitable for writing argumentative essays or comparative essays where you need to compare different subjects in each paragraph and review differences simultaneously. In comparison, the block method addresses each subject in different paragraphs.

Chronological Structures:

A chronological structure lists the main points of discussion or research in the order of their occurrence and relevancy to the essay. Ideally, this structure is useful for historical essays or essays based on a series of particular events.

Problems, Methods, and Solutions Structures:

The problems, methods, and solutions structures are suitable for essays that aim to address a particular issue, be it theoretical or practical. This structure of an essay focuses on explaining an issue, discussing a relevant theory for resolving it, and evaluating the issue to determine the effectiveness of the solution.

Signposting Essay Structures:

The Signposting structure is used to guide a reader into the expected outcome of the essay. Such a structure generally includes an overview after the introduction, written in the present tense, describing the key points. Furthermore, the structure also includes transitions to guide readers and connect ideas. The use of facts is also a good way to improve the quality and readability.

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How to Write an Essay Structure in Different Formats?

An essay format is the blueprint you can use to present your ideas. Knowing how to write an essay structure will allow you to organize the main arguments in an interesting way so your message is conveyed clearly. Let’s look at the key elements of an essay format:

  • Title page
  • Abstract
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Methodology
  • Research Question or Hypothesis
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Reference List
  • Appendices

Structuring an Essay in the MLA Format

  • Font: 12pt Times New Roman
  • Spacing: Double-spaced everywhere, but no extra spaces between
  • paragraphs
  • Heading:
  • Your name
  • Professor’s name
  • The class
  • Date
  • Margins: One-inch margin on all sides
  • Page numbers: The last name and page number will appear as a "header” on every page of the essay.
  • Title: Accurately formatted title, cantered and above the first line of the essay in the same font and font size
  • Indentation: ½ inch
  • Align: Left-hand side alignment

Structuring an Essay in the APA Format

  • Font: 12pt Times New Roman
  • Spacing: Double spaced
  • Headings: Written in bold and title case following specific writing criteria
  • Margins: One-inch margin on all sides
  • Page numbers: Insert a “header” at the top left of each page of your essay within 50 characters with spacing. Write the number in the top right corner.
  • Title:
  • Title of the essay
  • Your name
  • Your college name
  • Course title
  • Instructor name
  • Date

Essay Structure Outline

Before you start writing, it’s important to know how to write an essay paragraph structure in order to get a clear idea of what you want to discuss in each of the paragraphs and how you want to say it. The best way to start is to follow a few key steps, such as:

  • Understand the central idea
  • Define a goal and brainstorm topics
  • Research to find concrete evidence
  • Develop a thesis statement
  • Create a structure of the essay

Writing the Introduction Section

The introduction sets the tone and gives an idea to readers what the context is about. It should be written in an interesting way to grab a reader’s attention and push them to read one paragraph after another. Generally, the introduction section comprises 10-20% of your paper. Also,

  • Use a hook in the first sentence of the introduction to piqué a reader’s interest. A hook can be a question, a surprising fact, or a bold statement relevant to the idea expressed in your essay.
  • Provide background information for your reader to understand the key point or argument. Avoid giving away too much information in the introduction. You can explain everything in the body paragraph.
  • Formulate a solid thesis statement focusing on your stand on the topic. A thesis statement is usually one to two sentences long. So, keep it short and crisp.
  • For longer essays, end your introduction paragraph with a brief outline of what you will cover in each body paragraph. It will give the reader a preview of what to expect.

Writing the Body Paragraphs

The body is where you make and develop your argument with supporting evidence. Remember,

  • The body text length depends on the essay type. Typically, the body text of an essay consists of 60-80% of paper.
  • Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence introduces the point you will discuss in that section. The entire discussion in the section will be centered on one main idea relevant to the topic section. You can define the topic sentence for each section while preparing your outline. It will not only make writing easy but also help you develop main arguments focusing on the specific idea/argument.
  • You can use transitional words to connect sentences logically. Find relevant transitional words to enhance the flow of your writing.
  • Support each argument with an example. You can also use data or quotes from relevant sources to explain your stand with evidence.

Writing the Conclusion

The next paragraph is our conclusion. A conclusion typically takes up 10-15% of your text. For writing a strong conclusion:

  • Reiterate your thesis statement
  • Summarize the key points
  • Highlight the significance of the argument
  • End with a concluding sentence

A lot of students write general conclusions to finish the paper fast. Don’t do that. Unlike general conclusions, a well-thought-out conclusion can create a deeper impact on the reader and leave them satisfied.

What to Avoid in the Conclusion Paragraph?

Avoid these common mistakes to make your conclusion paragraph rock solid:

  • Including new arguments or information
  • Writing long final sentences
  • Undermining your claims
  • Using generic concluding phrases
  • Closing your paper without a concluding sentence.

Why Do You Need to Know How to Write an Essay Structure?

An essay is not a random collection of words, facts, and ideas. Everything should focus on the central idea and have all the elements to catch the reader’s interest and keep them glued to the text, from the first to the final sentence. Also, using a relevant transitional word and example will make your text easy to follow.

Structuring and using a neutral sentence at the beginning of the text is important because it helps a reader follow the overall point. Furthermore, it improves their comprehension and strengthens the argument. Whether writing a thematic essay or a research essay, your structure will help plan the entire paper, from making the essay title to crafting the final sentences.

That said, there are papers where you are given a structure map for your document, like a scientific report. You will have to abide by the specified guidelines to avoid unnecessary deductions. For other kinds of writing, you can devise your own structure to present your argument logically. Discuss one point per paragraph and begin with a topic sentence. A topic sentence introduces the point and helps readers follow the explanation.

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Examples of Essay Structure

The introductory paragraph sets the scene with a neutral sentence, tells readers what is important and why, and highlights what the paper will do.

Here’s a fictional example: “Are cats a better pet than dogs?”

Example of Opening Statements:

People have been living with dogs and cats since the beginning of time. Which is a better pet completely depends upon the preference of the owner.

Now, provide more detail about both the animals before writing the closing statement.

Example of a Closing Statement:

The paper will examine the characteristics and behavior of both cats and dogs, the benefits of petting them, and people's perceptions of their nature and abilities.

Main Body Example:

Discuss the characteristics, abilities, and usefulness of each animal in separate sections. Here's a short example:

It is of common knowledge that the Ancient Egyptians held cats in high regard and treated them as sacred, as they were mummified and entombed with their owners. Additionally, cats were also treated as aiding hunters and used as intelligent working companions. However, today, they are entirely owned as domestic pets.

In contrast, dogs have been widely used for hunting for ages in Europe. With time, they became domesticated animals and were widely preferred for their loving, loyal, and protective nature.

Conclusion Example:

All conclusions review the main statements and draw together the main elements to remind readers what the paper is meant to do.

Both cats and dogs are highly valued among owners for their affectionate nature. However, each of them is very different from the other and has unique traits. Dogs are considered a man's best friend but can cause problems if not trained in time. These animals are considered as more intelligent, loyal and close to humans, whereas cats are perceived as aloof. They only seek affection when hungry. However, recent studies suggest that cats are more affectionate than dogs, but it’s yet to be widely accepted. Therefore, which animal is a better pet depends on personal preference and their purpose. While dogs are better as working animals, cats are easier to manage.

Final Thoughts:

Writing an essay can inform the best of students when they lack the time, subject knowledge, or the necessary resources. Due to various stringencies, many either hire professional writers or buy essay papers to complete their work on time. However, writing essays doesn't have to be an uphill task. You have to follow the right tricks and know how to write an essay structure to streamline the process of writing.

Frequently Asked Questions on How to Write an Essay Structure

How do I know if my paper structure is effective? arrow

Here are tips to check if your structure is effective:

  • Find the major sections
  • Find important points in each section
  • Check if the current arrangement helps to understand the overall point

Should I include counterarguments in my structure? arrow

You can include counterargument paragraphs when writing argumentative papers. It shows your understanding of both positions, increases your credibility, and strengthens your argument.

How do I ensure coherence and cohesion in my structure? arrow

To ensure coherence, write sentences in the same tense, use correct grammar and synonyms, discuss one idea in one paragraph, and use relevant transitions and linking words and closing sentences to improve the flow of your sentences.

How to write an essay structure for the conclusion? arrow

Your concluding paragraph should include:

  • The restatement of your thesis
  • Summary of the key supporting ideas
  • Final impression of the primary idea

What should be included in the introduction? arrow

The introduction should include:

  • An opening hook to grab attention
  • Relevant background details
  • A strong thesis presenting the main argument.

How do I structure the body of the essay? arrow

Here’s what you should do:

  • Start with a topic sentence
  • Give evidence
  • Study the evidence
  • Prove your purpose
  • Use a relevant transitional word
  • Give an example with each paragraph
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 Bella Phillips
Bella Phillips

Bella Phillips As a passionate blogger for Essay Help USA by #1 Writing Expert 50% Off.I am currently employed at a leading Business Law firm in White Plains. I am associated with for several years and helping the Law students with their essays.

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