11 Rules for Essay Paragraph Structure (with Examples)
How do you structure a paragraph in an essay?
If you’re like the majority of my students, you might be getting your basic essay paragraph structure wrong and getting lower grades than you could!
In this article, I outline the 11 key steps to writing a perfect paragraph. But, this isn’t your normal ‘how to write an essay’ article. Rather, I’ll try to give you some insight into exactly what teachers look out for when they’re grading essays and figuring out what grade to give them.
You can navigate each issue below, or scroll down to read them all:
1. Paragraphs must be at least four sentences long 2. But, at most seven sentences long 3. Your paragraph must be Left-Aligned 4. You need a topic sentence 5 . Next, you need an explanation sentence 6. You need to include an example 7. You need to include citations 8. All paragraphs need to be relevant to the marking criteria 9. Only include one key idea per paragraph 10. Keep sentences short 11. Keep quotes short
Paragraph structure is one of the most important elements of getting essay writing right .
As I cover in my Ultimate Guide to Writing an Essay Plan , paragraphs are the heart and soul of your essay.
However, I find most of my students have either:
- forgotten how to write paragraphs properly,
- gotten lazy, or
- never learned it in the first place!
Paragraphs in essay writing are different from paragraphs in other written genres .
In fact, the paragraphs that you are reading now would not help your grades in an essay.
That’s because I’m writing in journalistic style, where paragraph conventions are vastly different.
For those of you coming from journalism or creative writing, you might find you need to re-learn paragraph writing if you want to write well-structured essay paragraphs to get top grades.
Below are eleven reasons your paragraphs are losing marks, and what to do about it!
Essay Paragraph Structure Rules
1. your paragraphs must be at least 4 sentences long.
In journalism and blog writing, a one-sentence paragraph is great. It’s short, to-the-point, and helps guide your reader. For essay paragraph structure, one-sentence paragraphs suck.
A one-sentence essay paragraph sends an instant signal to your teacher that you don’t have much to say on an issue.
A short paragraph signifies that you know something – but not much about it. A one-sentence paragraph lacks detail, depth and insight.
Many students come to me and ask, “what does ‘add depth’ mean?” It’s one of the most common pieces of feedback you’ll see written on the margins of your essay.
Personally, I think ‘add depth’ is bad feedback because it’s a short and vague comment. But, here’s what it means: You’ve not explained your point enough!
If you’re writing one-, two- or three-sentence essay paragraphs, you’re costing yourself marks.
Always aim for at least four sentences per paragraph in your essays.
This doesn’t mean that you should add ‘fluff’ or ‘padding’ sentences.
Make sure you don’t:
a) repeat what you said in different words, or b) write something just because you need another sentence in there.
But, you need to do some research and find something insightful to add to that two-sentence paragraph if you want to ace your essay.
Check out Points 5 and 6 for some advice on what to add to that short paragraph to add ‘depth’ to your paragraph and start moving to the top of the class.
- How to Make an Essay Longer
- How to Make an Essay Shorter
2. Your Paragraphs must not be more than 7 Sentences Long
Okay, so I just told you to aim for at least four sentences per paragraph. So, what’s the longest your paragraph should be?
Seven sentences. That’s a maximum.
So, here’s the rule:
Between four and seven sentences is the sweet spot that you need to aim for in every single paragraph.
Here’s why your paragraphs shouldn’t be longer than seven sentences:
1. It shows you can organize your thoughts. You need to show your teacher that you’ve broken up your key ideas into manageable segments of text (see point 10)
2. It makes your work easier to read. You need your writing to be easily readable to make it easy for your teacher to give you good grades. Make your essay easy to read and you’ll get higher marks every time.
One of the most important ways you can make your work easier to read is by writing paragraphs that are less than six sentences long.
3. It prevents teacher frustration. Teachers are just like you. When they see a big block of text their eyes glaze over. They get frustrated, lost, their mind wanders … and you lose marks.
To prevent teacher frustration, you need to ensure there’s plenty of white space in your essay. It’s about showing them that the piece is clearly structured into one key idea per ‘chunk’ of text.
Often, you might find that your writing contains tautologies and other turns of phrase that can be shortened for clarity.
3. Your Paragraph must be Left-Aligned
Turn off ‘Justified’ text and: Never. Turn. It. On. Again.
Justified text is where the words are stretched out to make the paragraph look like a square. It turns the writing into a block. Don’t do it. You will lose marks, I promise you! Win the psychological game with your teacher: left-align your text.
A good essay paragraph is never ‘justified’.
I’m going to repeat this, because it’s important: to prevent your essay from looking like a big block of muddy, hard-to-read text align your text to the left margin only.
You want white space on your page – and lots of it. White space helps your reader scan through your work. It also prevents it from looking like big blocks of text.
You want your reader reading vertically as much as possible: scanning, browsing, and quickly looking through for evidence you’ve engaged with the big ideas.
The justified text doesn’t help you do that. Justified text makes your writing look like a big, lumpy block of text that your reader doesn’t want to read.
What’s wrong with Center-Aligned Text?
While I’m at it, never, ever, center-align your text either. Center-aligned text is impossible to skim-read. Your teacher wants to be able to quickly scan down the left margin to get the headline information in your paragraph.
Not many people center-align text, but it’s worth repeating: never, ever center-align your essays.
Don’t annoy your reader. Left align your text.
4. Your paragraphs must have a Topic Sentence
The first sentence of an essay paragraph is called the topic sentence. This is one of the most important sentences in the correct essay paragraph structure style.
The topic sentence should convey exactly what key idea you’re going to cover in your paragraph.
Too often, students don’t let their reader know what the key idea of the paragraph is until several sentences in.
You must show what the paragraph is about in the first sentence.
You never, ever want to keep your reader in suspense. Essays are not like creative writing. Tell them straight away what the paragraph is about. In fact, if you can, do it in the first half of the first sentence .
I’ll remind you again: make it easy to grade your work. Your teacher is reading through your work trying to determine what grade to give you. They’re probably going to mark 20 assignments in one sitting. They have no interest in storytelling or creativity. They just want to know how much you know! State what the paragraph is about immediately and move on.
Suggested: Best Words to Start a Paragraph
Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: Writing a Topic Sentence If your paragraph is about how climate change is endangering polar bears, say it immediately : “Climate change is endangering polar bears.” should be your first sentence in your paragraph. Take a look at first sentence of each of the four paragraphs above this one. You can see from the first sentence of each paragraph that the paragraphs discuss:
When editing your work, read each paragraph and try to distil what the one key idea is in your paragraph. Ensure that this key idea is mentioned in the first sentence .
(Note: if there’s more than one key idea in the paragraph, you may have a problem. See Point 9 below .)
The topic sentence is the most important sentence for getting your essay paragraph structure right. So, get your topic sentences right and you’re on the right track to a good essay paragraph.
5. You need an Explanation Sentence
All topic sentences need a follow-up explanation. The very first point on this page was that too often students write paragraphs that are too short. To add what is called ‘depth’ to a paragraph, you can come up with two types of follow-up sentences: explanations and examples.
Let’s take explanation sentences first.
Explanation sentences give additional detail. They often provide one of the following services:
Let’s go back to our example of a paragraph on Climate change endangering polar bears. If your topic sentence is “Climate change is endangering polar bears.”, then your follow-up explanation sentence is likely to explain how, why, where, or when. You could say:
Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: Writing Explanation Sentences 1. How: “The warming atmosphere is melting the polar ice caps.” 2. Why: “The polar bears’ habitats are shrinking every single year.” 3. Where: “This is happening in the Antarctic ice caps near Greenland.” 4. When: “Scientists first noticed the ice caps were shrinking in 1978.”
You don’t have to provide all four of these options each time.
But, if you’re struggling to think of what to add to your paragraph to add depth, consider one of these four options for a good quality explanation sentence.
>>>RELATED ARTICLE: SHOULD YOU USE RHETORICAL QUESTIONS IN ESSAYS ?
6. Your need to Include an Example
Examples matter! They add detail. They also help to show that you genuinely understand the issue. They show that you don’t just understand a concept in the abstract; you also understand how things work in real life.
Example sentences have the added benefit of personalising an issue. For example, after saying “Polar bears’ habitats are shrinking”, you could note specific habitats, facts and figures, or even a specific story about a bear who was impacted.
Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: Writing an ‘Example’ Sentence “For example, 770,000 square miles of Arctic Sea Ice has melted in the past four decades, leading Polar Bear populations to dwindle ( National Geographic, 2018 )
In fact, one of the most effective politicians of our times – Barrack Obama – was an expert at this technique. He would often provide examples of people who got sick because they didn’t have healthcare to sell Obamacare.
What effect did this have? It showed the real-world impact of his ideas. It humanised him, and got him elected president – twice!
Be like Obama. Provide examples. Often.
7. All Paragraphs need Citations
Provide a reference to an academic source in every single body paragraph in the essay. The only two paragraphs where you don’t need a reference is the introduction and conclusion .
Let me repeat: Paragraphs need at least one reference to a quality scholarly source .
Let me go even further:
Students who get the best marks provide two references to two different academic sources in every paragraph.
Two references in a paragraph show you’ve read widely, cross-checked your sources, and given the paragraph real thought.
It’s really important that these references link to academic sources, not random websites, blogs or YouTube videos. Check out our Seven Best types of Sources to Cite in Essays post to get advice on what sources to cite. Number 6 w ill surprise you!
Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: In-Text Referencing in Paragraphs Usually, in-text referencing takes the format: (Author, YEAR), but check your school’s referencing formatting requirements carefully. The ‘Author’ section is the author’s last name only. Not their initials. Not their first name. Just their last name . My name is Chris Drew. First name Chris, last name Drew. If you were going to reference an academic article I wrote in 2019, you would reference it like this: (Drew, 2019).
Where do you place those two references?
Place the first reference at the end of the first half of the paragraph. Place the second reference at the end of the second half of the paragraph.
This spreads the references out and makes it look like all the points throughout the paragraph are backed up by your sources. The goal is to make it look like you’ve reference regularly when your teacher scans through your work.
Remember, teachers can look out for signposts that indicate you’ve followed academic conventions and mentioned the right key ideas.
Spreading your referencing through the paragraph helps to make it look like you’ve followed the academic convention of referencing sources regularly.
Here are some examples of how to reference twice in a paragraph:
- If your paragraph was six sentences long, you would place your first reference at the end of the third sentence and your second reference at the end of the sixth sentence.
- If your paragraph was five sentences long, I would recommend placing one at the end of the second sentence and one at the end of the fifth sentence.
You’ve just read one of the key secrets to winning top marks.
8. Every Paragraph must be relevant to the Marking Criteria
Every paragraph must win you marks. When you’re editing your work, check through the piece to see if every paragraph is relevant to the marking criteria.
For the British: In the British university system (I’m including Australia and New Zealand here – I’ve taught at universities in all three countries), you’ll usually have a ‘marking criteria’. It’s usually a list of between two and six key learning outcomes your teacher needs to use to come up with your score. Sometimes it’s called a:
- Marking criteria
- Marking rubric
- (Key) learning outcome
- Indicative content
Check your assignment guidance to see if this is present. If so, use this list of learning outcomes to guide what you write. If your paragraphs are irrelevant to these key points, delete the paragraph .
Paragraphs that don’t link to the marking criteria are pointless. They won’t win you marks.
For the Americans: If you don’t have a marking criteria / rubric / outcomes list, you’ll need to stick closely to the essay question or topic. This goes out to those of you in the North American system. North America (including USA and Canada here) is often less structured and the professor might just give you a topic to base your essay on.
If all you’ve got is the essay question / topic, go through each paragraph and make sure each paragraph is relevant to the topic.
For example, if your essay question / topic is on “The Effects of Climate Change on Polar Bears”,
- Don’t talk about anything that doesn’t have some connection to climate change and polar bears;
- Don’t talk about the environmental impact of oil spills in the Gulf of Carpentaria;
- Don’t talk about black bear habitats in British Columbia.
- Do talk about the effects of climate change on polar bears (and relevant related topics) in every single paragraph .
You may think ‘stay relevant’ is obvious advice, but at least 20% of all essays I mark go off on tangents and waste words.
Stay on topic in Every. Single. Paragraph. If you want to learn more about how to stay on topic, check out our essay planning guide .
9. Only have one Key Idea per Paragraph
One key idea for each paragraph. One key idea for each paragraph. One key idea for each paragraph.
Too often, a student starts a paragraph talking about one thing and ends it talking about something totally different. Don’t be that student.
To ensure you’re focussing on one key idea in your paragraph, make sure you know what that key idea is. It should be mentioned in your topic sentence (see Point 3 ). Every other sentence in the paragraph adds depth to that one key idea.
If you’ve got sentences in your paragraph that are not relevant to the key idea in the paragraph, they don’t fit. They belong in another paragraph.
Go through all your paragraphs when editing your work and check to see if you’ve veered away from your paragraph’s key idea. If so, you might have two or even three key ideas in the one paragraph.
You’re going to have to get those additional key ideas, rip them out, and give them paragraphs of their own.
If you have more than one key idea in a paragraph you will lose marks. I promise you that.
The paragraphs will be too hard to read, your reader will get bogged down reading rather than scanning, and you’ll have lost grades.
10. Keep Sentences Short
If a sentence is too long it gets confusing. When the sentence is confusing, your reader will stop reading your work. They will stop reading the paragraph and move to the next one. They’ll have given up on your paragraph.
Short, snappy sentences are best.
Shorter sentences are easier to read and they make more sense. Too often, students think they have to use big, long, academic words to get the best marks. Wrong. Aim for clarity in every sentence in the paragraph. Your teacher will thank you for it.
The students who get the best marks write clear, short sentences.
When editing your draft, go through your essay and see if you can shorten your longest five sentences.
(To learn more about how to write the best quality sentences, see our page on Seven ways to Write Amazing Sentences .)
11. Keep Quotes Short
Eighty percent of university teachers hate quotes. That’s not an official figure. It’s my guestimate based on my many interactions in faculty lounges. Twenty percent don’t mind them, but chances are your teacher is one of the eight out of ten who hate quotes.
Teachers tend to be turned off by quotes because it makes it look like you don’t know how to say something on your own words.
Now that I’ve warned you, here’s how to use quotes properly:
Ideal Essay Paragraph Structure Example: How To Use Quotes in University-Level Essay Paragraphs 1. Your quote should be less than one sentence long. 2. Your quote should be less than one sentence long. 3. You should never start a sentence with a quote. 4. You should never end a paragraph with a quote. 5 . You should never use more than five quotes per essay. 6. Your quote should never be longer than one line in a paragraph.
The minute your teacher sees that your quote takes up a large chunk of your paragraph, you’ll have lost marks.
Your teacher will circle the quote, write a snarky comment in the margin, and not even bother to give you points for the key idea in the paragraph.
Avoid quotes, but if you really want to use them, follow those five rules above.
I’ve also provided additional pages outlining Seven tips on how to use Quotes if you want to delve deeper into how, when and where to use quotes in essays. Be warned: quoting in essays is harder than you thought.
Follow the advice above and you’ll be well on your way to getting top marks at university.
Writing essay paragraphs that are well structured takes time and practice. Don’t be too hard on yourself and keep on trying!
Below is a summary of our 11 key mistakes for structuring essay paragraphs and tips on how to avoid them.
I’ve also provided an easy-to-share infographic below that you can share on your favorite social networking site. Please share it if this article has helped you out!
11 Biggest Essay Paragraph Structure Mistakes you’re probably Making
1. Your paragraphs are too short 2. Your paragraphs are too long 3. Your paragraph alignment is ‘Justified’ 4. Your paragraphs are missing a topic sentence 5 . Your paragraphs are missing an explanation sentence 6. Your paragraphs are missing an example 7. Your paragraphs are missing references 8. Your paragraphs are not relevant to the marking criteria 9. You’re trying to fit too many ideas into the one paragraph 10. Your sentences are too long 11. Your quotes are too long
Chris Drew (PhD)
Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ 13 Effective Classroom Management Theories
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Extrinsic Reward: Definition & 28 Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Social Climate: Definition and 10 Examples
- Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/admin/ Contingency Contracting: Definition, Examples & Benefits
4 thoughts on “11 Rules for Essay Paragraph Structure (with Examples)”
Hello there. I noticed that throughout this article on Essay Writing, you keep on saying that the teacher won’t have time to go through the entire essay. Don’t you think this is a bit discouraging that with all the hard work and time put into your writing, to know that the teacher will not read through the entire paper?
Thanks so much for your comment! I love to hear from readers on their thoughts.
Yes, I agree that it’s incredibly disheartening.
But, I also think students would appreciate hearing the truth.
Behind closed doors many / most university teachers are very open about the fact they ‘only have time to skim-read papers’. They regularly bring this up during heated faculty meetings about contract negotiations! I.e. in one university I worked at, we were allocated 45 minutes per 10,000 words – that’s just over 4 minutes per 1,000 word essay, and that’d include writing the feedback, too!
If students know the truth, they can better write their essays in a way that will get across the key points even from a ‘skim-read’.
I hope to write candidly on this website – i.e. some of this info will never be written on university blogs because universities want to hide these unfortunate truths from students.
Thanks so much for stopping by!
This is wonderful and helpful, all I say is thank you very much. Because I learned a lot from this site, own by chris thank you Sir.
Thank you. This helped a lot.
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What this handout is about
This handout will help you understand how paragraphs are formed, how to develop stronger paragraphs, and how to completely and clearly express your ideas.
What is a paragraph?
Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students define paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, a paragraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as “a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit” (Lunsford and Connors 116). Length and appearance do not determine whether a section in a paper is a paragraph. For instance, in some styles of writing, particularly journalistic styles, a paragraph can be just one sentence long. Ultimately, a paragraph is a sentence or group of sentences that support one main idea. In this handout, we will refer to this as the “controlling idea,” because it controls what happens in the rest of the paragraph.
How do I decide what to put in a paragraph?
Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must first decide on an argument and a working thesis statement for your paper. What is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader? The information in each paragraph must be related to that idea. In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your thesis and the information in each paragraph. A working thesis functions like a seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The whole process is an organic one—a natural progression from a seed to a full-blown paper where there are direct, familial relationships between all of the ideas in the paper.
The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with the germination of a seed of ideas; this “germination process” is better known as brainstorming . There are many techniques for brainstorming; whichever one you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped. Building paragraphs can be like building a skyscraper: there must be a well-planned foundation that supports what you are building. Any cracks, inconsistencies, or other corruptions of the foundation can cause your whole paper to crumble.
So, let’s suppose that you have done some brainstorming to develop your thesis. What else should you keep in mind as you begin to create paragraphs? Every paragraph in a paper should be :
- Unified : All of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea (often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph).
- Clearly related to the thesis : The sentences should all refer to the central idea, or thesis, of the paper (Rosen and Behrens 119).
- Coherent : The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development (Rosen and Behrens 119).
- Well-developed : Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paragraph’s controlling idea (Rosen and Behrens 119).
How do I organize a paragraph?
There are many different ways to organize a paragraph. The organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Below are a few possibilities for organization, with links to brief examples:
- Narration : Tell a story. Go chronologically, from start to finish. ( See an example. )
- Description : Provide specific details about what something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, or feels like. Organize spatially, in order of appearance, or by topic. ( See an example. )
- Process : Explain how something works, step by step. Perhaps follow a sequence—first, second, third. ( See an example. )
- Classification : Separate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic. ( See an example. )
- Illustration : Give examples and explain how those examples support your point. (See an example in the 5-step process below.)
Illustration paragraph: a 5-step example
From the list above, let’s choose “illustration” as our rhetorical purpose. We’ll walk through a 5-step process for building a paragraph that illustrates a point in an argument. For each step there is an explanation and example. Our example paragraph will be about human misconceptions of piranhas.
Step 1. Decide on a controlling idea and create a topic sentence
Paragraph development begins with the formulation of the controlling idea. This idea directs the paragraph’s development. Often, the controlling idea of a paragraph will appear in the form of a topic sentence. In some cases, you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraph’s controlling idea.
Controlling idea and topic sentence — Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans.
Step 2. Elaborate on the controlling idea
Paragraph development continues with an elaboration on the controlling idea, perhaps with an explanation, implication, or statement about significance. Our example offers a possible explanation for the pervasiveness of the myth.
Elaboration — This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media.
Step 3. Give an example (or multiple examples)
Paragraph development progresses with an example (or more) that illustrates the claims made in the previous sentences.
Example — For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman.
Step 4. Explain the example(s)
The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example and its relevance to the topic sentence. The explanation should demonstrate the value of the example as evidence to support the major claim, or focus, in your paragraph.
Continue the pattern of giving examples and explaining them until all points/examples that the writer deems necessary have been made and explained. NONE of your examples should be left unexplained. You might be able to explain the relationship between the example and the topic sentence in the same sentence which introduced the example. More often, however, you will need to explain that relationship in a separate sentence.
Explanation for example — Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear.
Notice that the example and explanation steps of this 5-step process (steps 3 and 4) can be repeated as needed. The idea is that you continue to use this pattern until you have completely developed the main idea of the paragraph.
Step 5. Complete the paragraph’s idea or transition into the next paragraph
The final movement in paragraph development involves tying up the loose ends of the paragraph. At this point, you can remind your reader about the relevance of the information to the larger paper, or you can make a concluding point for this example. You might, however, simply transition to the next paragraph.
Sentences for completing a paragraph — While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.
Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans. This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media. For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman. Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear. While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.
Problem: the paragraph has no topic sentence.
Imagine each paragraph as a sandwich. The real content of the sandwich—the meat or other filling—is in the middle. It includes all the evidence you need to make the point. But it gets kind of messy to eat a sandwich without any bread. Your readers don’t know what to do with all the evidence you’ve given them. So, the top slice of bread (the first sentence of the paragraph) explains the topic (or controlling idea) of the paragraph. And, the bottom slice (the last sentence of the paragraph) tells the reader how the paragraph relates to the broader argument. In the original and revised paragraphs below, notice how a topic sentence expressing the controlling idea tells the reader the point of all the evidence.
Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.
Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.
Once you have mastered the use of topic sentences, you may decide that the topic sentence for a particular paragraph really shouldn’t be the first sentence of the paragraph. This is fine—the topic sentence can actually go at the beginning, middle, or end of a paragraph; what’s important is that it is in there somewhere so that readers know what the main idea of the paragraph is and how it relates back to the thesis of your paper. Suppose that we wanted to start the piranha paragraph with a transition sentence—something that reminds the reader of what happened in the previous paragraph—rather than with the topic sentence. Let’s suppose that the previous paragraph was about all kinds of animals that people are afraid of, like sharks, snakes, and spiders. Our paragraph might look like this (the topic sentence is bold):
Like sharks, snakes, and spiders, piranhas are widely feared. Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless . Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.
Problem: the paragraph has more than one controlling idea
If a paragraph has more than one main idea, consider eliminating sentences that relate to the second idea, or split the paragraph into two or more paragraphs, each with only one main idea. Watch our short video on reverse outlining to learn a quick way to test whether your paragraphs are unified. In the following paragraph, the final two sentences branch off into a different topic; so, the revised paragraph eliminates them and concludes with a sentence that reminds the reader of the paragraph’s main idea.
Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. A number of South American groups eat piranhas. They fry or grill the fish and then serve them with coconut milk or tucupi, a sauce made from fermented manioc juices.
Problem: transitions are needed within the paragraph
You are probably familiar with the idea that transitions may be needed between paragraphs or sections in a paper (see our handout on transitions ). Sometimes they are also helpful within the body of a single paragraph. Within a paragraph, transitions are often single words or short phrases that help to establish relationships between ideas and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph. This is especially likely to be true within paragraphs that discuss multiple examples. Let’s take a look at a version of our piranha paragraph that uses transitions to orient the reader:
Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, except in two main situations, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ instinct is to flee, not attack. But there are two situations in which a piranha bite is likely. The first is when a frightened piranha is lifted out of the water—for example, if it has been caught in a fishing net. The second is when the water level in pools where piranhas are living falls too low. A large number of fish may be trapped in a single pool, and if they are hungry, they may attack anything that enters the water.
In this example, you can see how the phrases “the first” and “the second” help the reader follow the organization of the ideas in the paragraph.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Lunsford, Andrea. 2008. The St. Martin’s Handbook: Annotated Instructor’s Edition , 6th ed. New York: St. Martin’s.
Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.
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Paragraphs and Essays
- The Writing Process
- Unity and Coherence in Essays
- Proving the Thesis/Critical Thinking
- Appropriate Language
Sentences are a basic structure of language. They convey the action or existence of a person, place, or thing. Sentences are combined to form paragraphs to form longer written documents. This may sound simplistic, but to build an effective written communication, sentences have to be combined in certain ways to form the paragraphs which in turn an be combined to write longer works. Even the longest novel is made up of sentences which are organized into paragraphs except for dialogue. An essay is a special type of writing is a paper focused on proving a point called the thesis. Essays are composed of special types of paragraphs with very particular content.
The rules for punctuation and sentence structure are covered in the Grammar section. This section will cover how to compose paragraphs and an academic essay which is also, generally, the way beginning level research papers are organized. Research papers are also called research essays.
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Improve Your Paper by Writing Structured Paragraphs
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In academic writing, effective paragraphs serve as building blocks to construct a complex analysis or argument. Paragraphing helps readers to understand and process your ideas into meaningful units of thought.
What do paragraphs do?
Imagine reading this page without paragraph breaks. Paragraphs create order and logic by helping your reader recognize the boundaries where one point ends and another begins.
How long should a paragraph be?
In a first draft, it may make sense to set a goal for length. For example, you can set a goal of writing four to six sentences per paragraph: in that number of sentences you can announce an idea, prove that idea with evidence, and explain why this evidence matters by linking it to the overall goal of your paper.
In the final version of your paper you may have a shorter paragraph or two. Short paragraphs call a lot of attention to themselves, so they can effectively emphasize a point. Too many short paragraphs, however, may indicate that your ideas are not developed with evidence and analysis.
You’ll generally read and write longer paragraphs in academic papers. However, too many long paragraphs can provide readers with too much information to manage at one time. Readers need planned pauses or breaks when reading long complex papers in order to understand your presented ideas. Remember this writing mantra: “Give your readers a break!” or “Good paragraphs give one pause!”
Kinds of sentences in a paragraph
Thinking about paragraphs rigidly in terms of length may lead to formulaic writing. Instead, as you revise your draft think about how each sentence is functioning in your paragraph, and whether your paragraph has sufficient functional sentences to make its point.
Transition sentences guide your reader smoothly from the topic of the preceding paragraph into the topic of your new paragraph. Writers sometimes begin with a transition sentence before introducing the topic of the new paragraph.
A topic sentence states the main idea of a paragraph. Beginning a paragraph with a topic sentence ensures your reader recognizes early in the paragraph what larger idea the paragraph is going to demonstrate. Expert writers may not introduce the topic until the middle or end of the paragraph, and often imply their topics without ever writing a topic sentence.
Body sentences develop the topic of the paragraph. These sentences work to analyze data or quotations, describe a text or event, set up a comparison, showcase evidence, and sometimes they enumerate the logical points for readers to give them a sense of a paper’s bigger picture. In body sentences, you need to consider how much quoted data or evidence will demonstrate or prove your point.
Linking sentences relate back to the paper’s main argument by showing how the idea of that paragraph matches the overall goal of the paper.
Concluding sentences may bring a section to its end before you move on to a new section of the paper.
Some sample paragraphs
Undergraduate art analysis.
Notice how the writer develops the idea in the body sentences, as promised in the first sentence, and concludes her paragraph by offering a keen, close observation of specific details.
In order to understand how Manet’s work echoes or communicates with Titian’s, one must first consider the similarities between their paintings. To begin with, both take a nude woman as the subject. More than that, however, Manet directly copies the composition of Titian’s Venus; the overwhelming similarity in color and the figures’ arrangement in each painting prove this. Both women are lying in the same position with their heads on the left-hand side of the canvas. Both women have their left leg crossed over the right. Both women have flowers and accessories. Other key elements unite these paintings, as well: the arrangement of the sheets on the bed; the green curtains; the servants; and the small animal at the foot of the bed. All these features clearly indicate that Manet echoes Titian. If one stopped at the similarity in the composition, it would appear that both paintings communicate the same thing; both would be a celebration of the beauty of the human figure, and Manet’s voice would have added nothing new to the conversation; it would have no additional meaning besides venerating the masterful work of Titian. ( Used with permission .)
Undergraduate literary analysis
In this paragraph from a 2012 Lewis Prize-winning English essay, UW–Madison undergraduate Abby Becker organizes her sentences savvily. She first transitions her reader into her topic, then introduces the source of evidence for that paragraph before analyzing that source and returning to the topic with the new critical perspective that her analysis suggests.
In order for a political or social revolution to occur, connections must be formed. More means of communication lead to more opportunities to make connections. In Dos Passos’ The 42nd Parallel, J. Ward Moorehouse focuses on making business connections but never forms any relationships. He explains at a party that “he had come down in a purely unofficial way you understand to make contacts” (249). In business and politics, making contacts denotes an impersonal, removed way of dealing with people. This type of communication does not result in connections. Moorehouse’s connections are for his own political personal gain. There may be a connection but no insight or true relationship. Moorehouse views people as a tool to advance his own business and political agendas demonstrating that connections with people are often made out of selfish, egotistical motives.
From a September 2006 The Atlantic article , by Marshall Poe, describing Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia, and collaborative knowledge. Notice how the first sentence introduces a philosophical issue that the body sentences define and link to both Wikipedia and Wales’s own personality.
Wales was an advocate of what is generically termed “openness” online. An “open” online community is one with few restrictions on membership or posting-everyone is welcome, and anyone can say anything as long as it’s generally on point and doesn’t include gratuitous ad hominem attacks. Openness fit not only Wales’s idea of objectivism, with its emphasis on reason and rejection of force, but also his mild personality. He doesn’t like to fight. He would rather suffer fools in silence, waiting for them to talk themselves out, than confront them. This patience would serve Wales well in the years to come.
From Spontaneous Gestures Influence Strategy Choices in Problem Solving (2011). UW-Madison Psychology Professor Martha Alibali et al. present empirical research on how children use physical gestures to acquire mathematical problem-solving knowledge. Notice the clarity of expression in the first paragraph’s topic sentence: the writer provides sufficient set-up to prepare readers for the data which comes at the end of each paragraph.
We predicted that participants in the gesture-allowed condition would be less likely than participants in the gesture-prohibited condition to generate the parity strategy, because the availability of gesture would promote use of perceptual-motor strategies instead. This was indeed the case; the proportion of participants who used the parity strategy on at least one trial was .74 in the gesture-allowed condition and .91 in the gesture-prohibited condition, _2(1, N = 85) = 4.17, p = .04 (Fig. 1). Once they generated the parity strategy, most participants (89%) used it on all subsequent trials.
From Mounting methodologies to measure EUV reticle nonflatness (SPIE Proceedings 7470, 2009), by the lab of UW–Madison Professor Roxanne L. Engelstad. Notice how Battula et al. signal the practical consequence of their findings and also suggest that another result would be possible depending on further research.
Unfortunately, to map the entire reticle with a single measurement, a 12 in. beam expander is needed. With such a large optical system, the expander must be held rigidly, not allowing it to tip or tilt. Since the UW-CMC mount must remain vertical to be effective, it cannot be used in this scenario. Consequently, the application of this mount is limited. Thus, a number of new designs have been proposed by industry to address the alignment issues and provide for other options, such as automated handling. Three of these designs are described and evaluated in the following sections.
From Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color (2012), by UW–Madison Professor Sherrard-Johnson. Notice how the first two sentences give crucial background information in order to set up the topic sentence.
In Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America, Jeff Wiltse examines how U.S. swimming pools were transformed from interracial single-sex spaces in which class and gender were more important than race to “leisure resorts, where practically everyone in the community except black Americans swam together.” His study then follows what he calls the second social transformation—”when black Americans gained access through legal and social protest” and “white swimmers generally abandoned them for private pools.” The various iterations of West’s story, which discuss the span from 1950 to 1980, fall between these two moments in social and legal history. I am particularly intrigued by how the national history of segregated bathing areas informs the local, particular event described by West. Does the exclusion of blacks from the high beach parallel the segregation of public pools? In the early twentieth century, public bathing spaces were notoriously violent. The Chicago Riot in 1919 was touched off when white bathers threw rocks at black teenagers who had drifted into a white beach on Lake Michigan. Northerners’ use of pools during the Progressive era reinforced class and gender but not racial distinction. Working-class folk did not swim with the upper classes, but they were not as concerned about color. Following the Great Migration, the concerns about intimacy and sexuality that have always been latent in conversations about public space (in particular the public space of the pool) were directed at blacks. The peculiar democracy of the beach—in bathing suits it is more difficulty to determine class‐worked against black Americans. Wiltse marks this shift between the years of 1920 and 1940. The social changes that took place during this period shape West’s complex politics. (26)
Former UW–Madison School of Law Professor Arthur F. McEvoy wrote this model paragraph as part of a memorandum on effective writing. Notice that each of the body sentences illustrates and develops the main idea or topic sentence.
The ideal paragraph contains five sentences. The topic sentence almost always comes first and states as clearly as possible the point that the paragraph makes, just as the first sentence of this paragraph did. The three middle sentences of the paragraph follow the topic sentence in some rational order and substantiate it with examples, analysis, or other kind of development; if written clearly, middle sentences may employ conjunctions or subordinate clauses to put across complex ideas without breaking the basic form. Every well-written paragraph ends with a “clincher” sentence that in some way signals completion of the paragraph’s point and places it in context, either by restating the topic sentence, relating the topic back to the thesis of the writing as a whole, or by providing a transition to the paragraph that follows. While good style may require a writer to vary this basic form occasionally, the five-sentence model captures the Platonic essence of the paragraph and most effectively accomplishes its purpose, which is to state a single idea, in sequence, discretely and comprehensively.
Writing Process and Structure
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Getting Started with Your Paper
Interpreting Writing Assignments from Your Courses
Generating Ideas for Your Paper
Creating an Argument
Thesis vs. Purpose Statements
Developing a Thesis Statement
Architecture of Arguments
Working with Sources
Quoting and Paraphrasing Sources
Using Literary Quotations
Citing Sources in Your Paper
Drafting Your Paper
Developing Strategic Transitions
Revising Your Paper
Revising an Argumentative Paper
Revision Strategies for Longer Projects
Finishing Your Paper
Twelve Common Errors: An Editing Checklist
How to Proofread your Paper
Collaborative and Group Writing
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How to Structure Paragraphs in an Essay
Last Updated: April 12, 2023 References
This article was co-authored by Christopher Taylor, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Danielle Blinka, MA, MPA . Christopher Taylor is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Austin Community College in Texas. He received his PhD in English Literature and Medieval Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 176,491 times.
Writing an essay can be challenging, especially if you're not sure how to structure your paragraphs. If you’re struggling to organize your essay, you’re in luck! Putting your paragraphs in order may become easier after you understand their purpose. Additionally, knowing what to include in your introduction, body, and conclusion paragraphs will help you more easily get your writing assignment finished.
Essay Template and Sample Essay
Putting Your Paragraphs in Order
- A basic introduction will be about 3-4 sentences long.
- Body paragraphs will make up the bulk of your essay. At a minimum, a body paragraph needs to be 4 sentences long. However, a good body paragraph in a short essay will be at least 6-8 sentences long.
- A good conclusion for a short essay will be 3-4 sentences long.
- For example, let’s say you’re writing an essay about recycling. Your first point might be about the value of local recycling programs, while your second point might be about the importance of encouraging recycling at work or school. A good transition between these two points might be “furthermore” or “additionally.”
- If your third point is about how upcycling might be the best way to reuse old items, a good transition word might be “however” or “on the other hand.” This is because upcycling involves reusing items rather than recycling them, so it's a little bit different. You want your reader to recognize that you're talking about something that slightly contrasts with your original two points.
Structuring Your Introduction
- Provide a quote: “According to Neil LaBute, ‘We live in a disposable society.’”
- Include statistics: “The EPA reports that only 34 percent of waste created by Americans is recycled every year.”
- Give a rhetorical question: “If you could change your habits to save the planet, would you do it?”
- Here’s an example: “Recycling offers a way to reduce waste and reuse old items, but many people don’t bother recycling their old goods. Unless people change their ways, landfills will continue to grow as more generations discard their trash.”
- Here’s how a basic thesis about recycling might look: "To reduce the amount of trash in landfills, people must participate in local recycling programs, start recycling at school or work, and upcycle old items whenever they can."
- If you’re writing an argument or persuasive essay, your thesis might look like this: “Although recycling may take more effort, recycling and upcycling are both valuable ways to prevent expanding landfills.”
Crafting Good Body Paragraphs
- A good body paragraph in a short essay typically has 6-8 sentences. If you’re not sure how many sentences your paragraphs should include, talk to your instructor.
- Write a new paragraph for each of your main ideas. Packing too much information into one paragraph can make it confusing.
- If you begin your essay by writing an outline, include your topic sentence for each paragraph in your outline.
- You might write, “Local recycling programs are a valuable way to reduce waste, but only if people use them.”
- Your evidence might come from books, journal articles, websites, or other authoritative sources .
- The word evidence might make you think of data or experts. However, some essays will include only your ideas, depending on the assignment. In this case, you might be allowed to take evidence from your observations and experiences, but only if your assignment specifically allows this type of evidence.
- You could write, “According to Mayor Anderson’s office, only 23 percent of local households participate in the city’s recycling program.”
- In some cases, you may offer more than one piece of evidence in the same paragraph. Make sure you provide a 1 to 2 sentence explanation for each piece of evidence.
- For instance, “Residents who are using the recycling program aren’t contributing as much trash to local landfills, so they’re helping keep the community clean. On the other hand, most households don’t recycle, so the program isn’t as effective as it could be.”
- For instance, you could write, “Clearly, local recycling programs can make a big difference, but they aren’t the only way to reduce waste.”
Arranging Your Conclusion
- You could write, “By participating in local recycling programs, recycling at work, and upcycling old items, people can reduce their environmental footprint.”
- As an example, “Statistics show that few people are participating in available recycling programs, but they are an effective way to reduce waste. By recycling and upcycling, people can reduce their trash consumption by as much as 70%.”
- Give your readers a call to action. For example, “To save the planet, everyone needs to recycle."
- Offer a solution to the problem you presented. For instance, "With more education about recycling, more people will participate in their local programs."
- Point to the next question that needs to be answered. You might write, "To get more people to recycle, researchers need to determine the reasons why they don't."
- Provide a valuable insight about your topic. As an example, "If everyone recycled, landfills might become a thing of the past."
- Ask a friend to read your essay and provide you with feedback. Ask if they understand your points and if any ideas need more development. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Writing gets easier with practice, so don’t give up! Everyone was a beginner at some point, and it’s normal to struggle with writing. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- If you copy someone else’s writing or ideas, it’s called plagiarism. Don’t ever plagiarize, as this is a serious offense. Not only will you get in trouble if you plagiarize, you probably won’t receive credit for the assignment. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
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- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/introductions/
- ↑ https://www.student.unsw.edu.au/writing-your-essay
- ↑ https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/conclusions/
- ↑ https://www.plainlanguage.gov/guidelines/organize/use-transition-words/
- ↑ https://www.esu.edu/writing-studio/guides/hook.cfm
- ↑ https://www.deakin.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/810596/Guide-to-essay-paragraph-structure_Deakin-Study-Support.pdf
- ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/how-to-write-a-thesis-statement.html
- ↑ https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/writing-paragraphs/structure
- ↑ https://lsa.umich.edu/sweetland/undergraduates/writing-guides/how-do-i-write-an-intro--conclusion----body-paragraph.html
- ↑ https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/writing-center/writing-resources/parts-of-an-essay/essay-conclusions
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How Many Paragraphs Are There In An Essay?
- How Many Paragraphs?
- Five-Paragraph Essay
- Types Of Five-Paragraph Essays
- Best Practices For Five-Paragraph Essays
- Three-Paragraph Essay
- Types Of Three-Paragraph Essays
- Best Practices For Three-Paragraph Essays
So you need to write an essay. You’ve picked out your topic, determined your thesis, and now you’re ready to put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) to start writing your epic piece. Before you get rolling, there’s only one thing left to decide: how many paragraphs does this essay actually need?
Unless you’re working under a strict assignment, essays can come in all shapes and sizes. Choosing the right format can help you present your ideas in the clearest way possible and make your writing process even easier. Here are the most common formats to consider and what to know before you decide which one to choose.
How many paragraphs are in an essay?
There’s no hard and fast rule for deciding how many paragraphs an essay should have, but it’s important to know that a single paragraph is generally not considered an essay. Standard essays have a designated introduction and conclusion, along with supporting details. This means that even a short essay will still have about three paragraphs, and many have more.
Things to consider before you write an essay
Before you can decide how to divide the information, you need to consider a few things:
- What type of essay are you writing?
- How many supporting details do you need to share?
- Do you have enough information to write a three- to five-sentence paragraph for each supporting detail?
- Do you have a required word count?
- What will be the clearest format for the reader?
There are a lot of different kinds of essays you might be assigned. Generally, multi-paragraph essays are used to compare and contrast things, in persuasive writing, as a form of narrative writing, and for informative or researched essays. Most of these essays end up fitting nicely into one of two main categories:
The five-paragraph essay
Arguably the most common essay format is the standard five-paragraph essay. This essay devotes a paragraph each to the introduction, conclusion, and three different supporting details. Let’s break down what each of those sections includes.
Parts of a standard five-paragraph essay
This part of the essay includes your thesis statement , introduces your reader to your topic or point of view, and lays out the main ideas of your following three body paragraphs. Generally, this paragraph is brief and intended to grab your reader’s attention.
2. Body paragraphs
A five-paragraph essay includes three body paragraphs. Each of these paragraphs should focus on one supporting detail that aligns with your thesis. They will begin with a topic sentence and share the relevant research, quotes, and anecdotes you’ve gathered.
The conclusion to a five-paragraph essay will restate your thesis, sum up your supporting details, and present the reader with one final takeaway from reading your piece.
Wondering what goes into nailing each of these categories? Here’s a sample five-paragraph essay outline and some examples to help you get started.
Which kinds of essays work best with five paragraphs?
Five-paragraph essays are best used to convey complex and detailed topics that require extra information, like:
A five-paragraph essay allows you to devote one paragraph to each item you’re comparing, as well as include one paragraph on the similarities between the two things.
In the five-paragraph format, there is ample space to explore multiple sides of an argument and include plenty of supporting facts and research.
Complex topics are broken down in simple and intuitive ways when the information is spread across multiple paragraphs.
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Best practices for writing a five-paragraph essay
If you’re considering a five-paragraph format for your essay, remember:
- These essays must have a clear thesis and conclusion.
- Each body paragraph should contain a strong and complete supporting detail.
- Transition words are necessary to help the flow of the essay.
- These essays usually involve research.
- This is among the most organized ways to present complex topics.
The three-paragraph essay
Three-paragraph essays are shorter and more simplified than the standard five-paragraph essay. Typically, these essays include a conclusion, introduction, and only one body paragraph. This single body paragraph might focus on one supporting detail or it may include a comprehensive summary of a lot of supporting information.
Parts of a standard three-paragraph essay
The introduction to a three-paragraph essay typically includes a hook or attention-grabbing first sentence , followed by a summary of your supporting details and then your thesis. The thesis statement helps lead into the rest of your essay.
Refresh your memory on the different types of thesis statements to get your essay started!
2. Body paragraph
This is the one and only body paragraph in a three-paragraph essay, so it needs to be clear, concise, and as detailed as possible within the space constraints. The body paragraph should include a topic sentence, as well as any details or facts that underscore your thesis. It may focus on one element of your supporting argument or sum up several in brief, clear sentences that relate to the topic sentence.
Much like in a five-paragraph essay, your conclusion is the place to restate your thesis, summarize the points you made in the body paragraph, and leave your reader with a final takeaway or call to action.
Which kinds of essays work best with three paragraphs?
For less complex topics, the three-paragraph essay provides enough space to thoughtfully explain a topic and provide additional information.
Personal essays that don’t necessarily need multiple paragraphs of supporting information work well in this format.
For emerging writers, one body paragraph provides ample space to compare and contrast two items or ideas. Single sentences can be devoted to each comparison or similarity.
Best practices for writing a three-paragraph essay
If you’re considering a three-paragraph format for your essay, remember:
- Even short essays still need a clear thesis.
- Organize your body paragraph so your ideas are presented clearly.
- The introduction and conclusion should each be a separate paragraph.
- This format provides excellent practice for new writers.
- One body paragraph still leaves room for strong supporting information.
Avoid confusing sentences and write with clarity with these tips.
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Reports and essays: key differences
Know what to expect
Explore the main differences between reports and essays and how to write for your assignments.
You'll complete assignments with different requirements throughout your degree, so it's important to understand what you need to do for each of them. Here we explore the key differences between reports and essays.
This page describes general features of academic reports and essays. Depending on your subject you may use all of these features, a selection of them, or you may have additional requirements.
There is no single right way to write a report or essay, but they are different assignments. At a glance:
- Reports depend heavily on your subject and the type of report.
- Essays usually have specific content and a planned structure with a focus on sense and flow. You subject might need different types of information in your introduction – some disciplines include a short background and context here, while others begin their discussion, discuss their resources or briefly signpost the topic.
Differences between reports and essays
This table compares reports and essays and provides an outline of the standard structure for each. Your assignment will also depend on your discipline, the purpose of your work, and your audience – so you should check what you need to do in your course and module handbooks, instructions from your lecturer, and your subject conventions.
Table adapted from Cottrell, 2003, p. 209.
The structure of reports
Most reports use an IMRaD structure: Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion.
Below are some common sections that also appear in reports. Some sections include alternative headings.
1. Table of contents
Your contents shows the number of each report section, its title, page number and any sub-sections. Sub-section numbers and details start under the section title, not the margin or the number.
2. Abstract or Executive summary
This brief summary of the report is usually the last thing you write.
Your introduction describes the purpose of the report, explains why it necessary or useful, and sets out its precise aims and objectives.
4. Literature review
This describes current research and thinking about the problem or research question, and is often incorporated into the introduction.
5. Methods or Methodology
This describes and justifies the methods or processes used to collect your data.
6. Results or Findings
This section presents the results (or processed data) from the research and may consist of mainly tables, charts and or diagrams.
7. Discussion, or Analysis, or Interpretation
This section analyses the results and evaluates the research carried out.
The conclusion summarises the report and usually revisits the aims and objectives.
In this section the writer uses the results and conclusions from the report to make practical suggestions about a problem or issue. This may not be required.
You can include raw data or materials that your report refers to in the appendix, if you need to. The data is often presented as charts, diagrams and tables. Each item should be numbered : for example, write Table 1 and its title; Table 2 and its title, and so on as needed.
Structure of essays
Your essay introduction contextualises and gives background information about the topic or questions being discussed, and sets out what the essay is going to cover.
Your essay body is divided into paragraphs. These paragraphs help make a continuous, flowing text.
The conclusion summarises the main points made in the essay. Avoid introducing new information in your conclusion.
Bibliography or Reference list
This is a list of the resources you've used in your essay. This is usually presented alphabetically by authors’ surname.
Reference for the Table of Distinctions above:
Cottrell, S. (2003). The Study Skills Handbook (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Download our report and essay differences revision sheet
Download this page as a PDF for your report and essay revision notes.
Key features of academic reports
Basic essay structure
Writing clear sentences
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- How to write an argumentative essay | Examples & tips
How to Write an Argumentative Essay | Examples & Tips
Published on July 24, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.
An argumentative essay expresses an extended argument for a particular thesis statement . The author takes a clearly defined stance on their subject and builds up an evidence-based case for it.
Table of contents
When do you write an argumentative essay, approaches to argumentative essays, introducing your argument, the body: developing your argument, concluding your argument, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about argumentative essays.
You might be assigned an argumentative essay as a writing exercise in high school or in a composition class. The prompt will often ask you to argue for one of two positions, and may include terms like “argue” or “argument.” It will frequently take the form of a question.
The prompt may also be more open-ended in terms of the possible arguments you could make.
Argumentative writing at college level
At university, the vast majority of essays or papers you write will involve some form of argumentation. For example, both rhetorical analysis and literary analysis essays involve making arguments about texts.
In this context, you won’t necessarily be told to write an argumentative essay—but making an evidence-based argument is an essential goal of most academic writing, and this should be your default approach unless you’re told otherwise.
Examples of argumentative essay prompts
At a university level, all the prompts below imply an argumentative essay as the appropriate response.
Your research should lead you to develop a specific position on the topic. The essay then argues for that position and aims to convince the reader by presenting your evidence, evaluation and analysis.
- Don’t just list all the effects you can think of.
- Do develop a focused argument about the overall effect and why it matters, backed up by evidence from sources.
- Don’t just provide a selection of data on the measures’ effectiveness.
- Do build up your own argument about which kinds of measures have been most or least effective, and why.
- Don’t just analyze a random selection of doppelgänger characters.
- Do form an argument about specific texts, comparing and contrasting how they express their thematic concerns through doppelgänger characters.
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An argumentative essay should be objective in its approach; your arguments should rely on logic and evidence, not on exaggeration or appeals to emotion.
There are many possible approaches to argumentative essays, but there are two common models that can help you start outlining your arguments: The Toulmin model and the Rogerian model.
The Toulmin model consists of four steps, which may be repeated as many times as necessary for the argument:
- Make a claim
- Provide the grounds (evidence) for the claim
- Explain the warrant (how the grounds support the claim)
- Discuss possible rebuttals to the claim, identifying the limits of the argument and showing that you have considered alternative perspectives
The Toulmin model is a common approach in academic essays. You don’t have to use these specific terms (grounds, warrants, rebuttals), but establishing a clear connection between your claims and the evidence supporting them is crucial in an argumentative essay.
Say you’re making an argument about the effectiveness of workplace anti-discrimination measures. You might:
- Claim that unconscious bias training does not have the desired results, and resources would be better spent on other approaches
- Cite data to support your claim
- Explain how the data indicates that the method is ineffective
- Anticipate objections to your claim based on other data, indicating whether these objections are valid, and if not, why not.
The Rogerian model also consists of four steps you might repeat throughout your essay:
- Discuss what the opposing position gets right and why people might hold this position
- Highlight the problems with this position
- Present your own position , showing how it addresses these problems
- Suggest a possible compromise —what elements of your position would proponents of the opposing position benefit from adopting?
This model builds up a clear picture of both sides of an argument and seeks a compromise. It is particularly useful when people tend to disagree strongly on the issue discussed, allowing you to approach opposing arguments in good faith.
Say you want to argue that the internet has had a positive impact on education. You might:
- Acknowledge that students rely too much on websites like Wikipedia
- Argue that teachers view Wikipedia as more unreliable than it really is
- Suggest that Wikipedia’s system of citations can actually teach students about referencing
- Suggest critical engagement with Wikipedia as a possible assignment for teachers who are skeptical of its usefulness.
You don’t necessarily have to pick one of these models—you may even use elements of both in different parts of your essay—but it’s worth considering them if you struggle to structure your arguments.
Regardless of which approach you take, your essay should always be structured using an introduction , a body , and a conclusion .
Like other academic essays, an argumentative essay begins with an introduction . The introduction serves to capture the reader’s interest, provide background information, present your thesis statement , and (in longer essays) to summarize the structure of the body.
Hover over different parts of the example below to see how a typical introduction works.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
The body of an argumentative essay is where you develop your arguments in detail. Here you’ll present evidence, analysis, and reasoning to convince the reader that your thesis statement is true.
In the standard five-paragraph format for short essays, the body takes up three of your five paragraphs. In longer essays, it will be more paragraphs, and might be divided into sections with headings.
Each paragraph covers its own topic, introduced with a topic sentence . Each of these topics must contribute to your overall argument; don’t include irrelevant information.
This example paragraph takes a Rogerian approach: It first acknowledges the merits of the opposing position and then highlights problems with that position.
Hover over different parts of the example to see how a body paragraph is constructed.
A common frustration for teachers is students’ use of Wikipedia as a source in their writing. Its prevalence among students is not exaggerated; a survey found that the vast majority of the students surveyed used Wikipedia (Head & Eisenberg, 2010). An article in The Guardian stresses a common objection to its use: “a reliance on Wikipedia can discourage students from engaging with genuine academic writing” (Coomer, 2013). Teachers are clearly not mistaken in viewing Wikipedia usage as ubiquitous among their students; but the claim that it discourages engagement with academic sources requires further investigation. This point is treated as self-evident by many teachers, but Wikipedia itself explicitly encourages students to look into other sources. Its articles often provide references to academic publications and include warning notes where citations are missing; the site’s own guidelines for research make clear that it should be used as a starting point, emphasizing that users should always “read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says” (“Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia,” 2020). Indeed, for many students, Wikipedia is their first encounter with the concepts of citation and referencing. The use of Wikipedia therefore has a positive side that merits deeper consideration than it often receives.
An argumentative essay ends with a conclusion that summarizes and reflects on the arguments made in the body.
No new arguments or evidence appear here, but in longer essays you may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your argument and suggest topics for future research. In all conclusions, you should stress the relevance and importance of your argument.
Hover over the following example to see the typical elements of a conclusion.
The internet has had a major positive impact on the world of education; occasional pitfalls aside, its value is evident in numerous applications. The future of teaching lies in the possibilities the internet opens up for communication, research, and interactivity. As the popularity of distance learning shows, students value the flexibility and accessibility offered by digital education, and educators should fully embrace these advantages. The internet’s dangers, real and imaginary, have been documented exhaustively by skeptics, but the internet is here to stay; it is time to focus seriously on its potential for good.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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An argumentative essay tends to be a longer essay involving independent research, and aims to make an original argument about a topic. Its thesis statement makes a contentious claim that must be supported in an objective, evidence-based way.
An expository essay also aims to be objective, but it doesn’t have to make an original argument. Rather, it aims to explain something (e.g., a process or idea) in a clear, concise way. Expository essays are often shorter assignments and rely less on research.
At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).
Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.
The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .
The majority of the essays written at university are some sort of argumentative essay . Unless otherwise specified, you can assume that the goal of any essay you’re asked to write is argumentative: To convince the reader of your position using evidence and reasoning.
In composition classes you might be given assignments that specifically test your ability to write an argumentative essay. Look out for prompts including instructions like “argue,” “assess,” or “discuss” to see if this is the goal.
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Do essays have paragraphs
Yes, essays do have paragraphs. Paragraphs are essential to the overall structure of an essay. They provide organization and structure by breaking up large chunks of text into smaller, more manageable pieces. Each paragraph should focus on one central point or idea, and should be connected to the main argument of the essay.
Paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence that states the main point of the paragraph. This sentence should be followed by supporting sentences that provide evidence and examples to back up the claim made in the topic sentence. All the sentences in the paragraph should be connected to each other in some way, and each should contribute to the overall point being made.
The length of a paragraph can vary depending on the type of essay and the point being made. A five-paragraph essay, for example, would typically consist of three body paragraphs, each one roughly four or five sentences long. However, in longer essays with more complex ideas, individual paragraphs may be much longer.
In conclusion, essays do have paragraphs, and these help to give the essay structure and organization. They should all be connected to the main argument of the essay, and each one should have a clear topic sentence that states the main point of the paragraph. Paragraphs can be of varying lengths depending on the type of essay and the points being made.
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Can an Essay Be One Paragraph? How To Write a One Paragraph Essay
You may have written a lot of essays in your academic journey. So you might have come across a descriptive, an expository, a narrative, or a persuasive essay.
Some people may not have written an essay their entire life and don’t know the writing procedures. So, whether you are an experienced essay writer or a newbie, you might be wondering; Can an essay be one paragraph?
Often, a standard essay is considered to have three or five paragraphs. However, the number of paragraphs in an essay would be influenced by the author’s objectives, instructions, word count, etc.
To answer the question above, kindly read through this article.
Can an Essay Be One Paragraph?
It is possible to have a one-paragraph essay, especially for question and answer essays.
A one-paragraphed essay comprises all the three major components of an essay, an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.
Such an essay would have a topic sentence, a short introduction of 1-3 sentences, followed by some additional lines stating your main points and the conclusion.
The problem with such kind of an essay is it may lack sufficient quality content. The supporting sentences that substantiate the chief points in a one-paragraphed essay contain minimal information.
Also see: How to make a paper longer
Can a Short Essay Be One Paragraph?
A short essay can be one paragraph. 100-300 is the number of words a short essay would often consist of.
A one-paragraph short essay comprises three elements: a topic sentence to draft the chief concept, a body comprising of the supporting sentences, and a concluding statement.
You can find all the three components written in one paragraph if the writing is a short essay. Such essays cover easy topics, those which require few details to explain fully.
Can I Write One Paragraph for an Essay?
You could write one paragraph for an essay especially when the essay aims at giving a short answer.
Many writers could argue that one-paragraph writing is a memo or simply a brief answer. However, this is not the case.
You can write a complete essay with an introduction, a body, and a conclusion that is only one paragraph long.
In a single paragraph essay, you exclude the comprehensive details and only write briefly on the main statements. Keep your main points as few as possible to avoid your essay being too long and wordy.
When writing a one-paragraph essay, make sure that your details are as concrete as they would be in a standard complete essay. Leave no room for a reader getting dissatisfied due to shallow content.
How Long is a One Paragraph Essay?
A single-paragraph essay is often comprised of 10-14 sentences. This length depends on the number of concrete details the author has included in the essay.
For example, a one-paragraph sentence would have one line for the topic sentence, nine sentences for three main points and their commentaries, and two sentences for the concluding statement.
The length of such an essay is twelve sentences and is very standard.
Also see: Can I survive college if I am bad at writing essays?
Can a Paragraph Be 500 Words?
A standard paragraph cannot be 500 words. A 500 words paragraph is estimated to be a full page with too much content for a single paragraph.
A good paragraph represents a single thought and the thought’s eloquent progression, explained by closely associated sentences. The universally used paragraph form comprises a topic, a body, token sentences, and a wrap.
Even if a paragraph elaborates a complex point or thought, less than 300 words should be enough. A 500-word paragraph would be too wordy and may fail to observe the objectives of the paragraph.
A well-written paragraph is often considered less than 200 words long, depending on the intensity of the idea being explained. Such a paragraph is expected to be no more than 15 sentences.
How Long is a Short Paragraph?
A paragraph that is made up of a single word can be said to be a short paragraph. A paragraph that consists of a sentence, two, three, four, five, or six sentences may also be considered short.
There is no definite length for a paragraph to be considered short. The length depends on the objectives and the topic that the paragraph is covering.
Many writers, however, consider a paragraph that is less than 150 words to be short. Such a paragraph would contain up to eight sentences.
How Do You Write a One Paragraph Essay?
One-paragraph essays are rare to find but indeed not unavoidable. Writing such an essay is not a walk in the park. As a writer, one paragraph might seem inadequate to present a compelling essay.
Below are some valuable tips to help you write a one-paragraph essay;
- Utilize your words
To maintain the structure of the essay, which is supposed to be short, use few words without additional illustrations. Explain the main thoughts and points with words that are direct to the point.
- Use a one-paragraph paper design
A one-paragraph paper design ensures that the readers of your essay can conveniently follow your line of thoughts. A design paper also ensures that your essay is not too long or too short.
- Select a suitable topic
One-paragraph essays should present topics that are simple to cover. Select a topic whose coverage can comfortably fit in a one-paragraph essay.
- Conduct a necessity test
Apply this test when your essay is giving you trouble condensing to the correct length. Drop some sentences one by one to see if they affect the weight of your content.
Replace those that affect the strength of the essay.
- Use the correct writing outline
A one-paragraph essay’s format consists of four main components. These components are a thesis sentence, concrete details, their commentaries, and the concluding sentence.
- Write a fitting summary
Make sure your concluding statement is meaningful. Wrap up your essay by convincing your reader about the exactness of the explanations in your essay.
Also see: Will My Instructor Tell If I Hired An Online Essay Writer?
It is pretty clear the length of your essay is a vital aspect to take note of. You want to leave the readers of your essay satisfied. You do so by composing an essay that is neither too short nor too long. So, can an essay be one paragraph?
Yes, it can but only for topics that do not need too much content and explanations eg. a question-answer essay
- Basic Essay and Paragraph Format
- Components of a Good Essay
Post-ABC poll: Biden faces criticism on economy, immigration and age
A finding that shows trump leading biden by a wide margin does not match other recent polling, however, suggesting it is an outlier.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll finds President Biden struggling to gain approval from a skeptical public, with dissatisfaction growing over his handling of the economy and immigration, a rising share saying the United States is doing too much to aid Ukraine in its war with Russia and broad concerns about his age as he seeks a second term.
Biden and former president Donald Trump appear headed for a rematch of their 2020 contest, although more than 3 in 5 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they would prefer a nominee other than the president. But Biden’s advisers have argued that he is the strongest Democrat for 2024 and those who wish for someone else share no consensus on who that should be, with 8 percent naming Vice President Harris, 8 percent naming Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and 20 percent saying they prefer “just someone else.”
The Post-ABC poll shows Biden trailing Trump by 10 percentage points at this early stage in the election cycle, although the sizable margin of Trump’s lead in this survey is significantly at odds with other public polls that show the general election contest a virtual dead heat. The difference between this poll and others, as well as the unusual makeup of Trump’s and Biden’s coalitions in this survey, suggest it is probably an outlier.
In his bid to become the Republican presidential nominee for a third time, Trump is in a strong position nationally despite facing multiple criminal charges . He is favored by 54 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, little changed from 51 percent in May. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is second at 15 percent, down from 25 percent in May. No other Republican reaches double digits. Trump also leads his GOP rivals in recent state polls, which are likely to be more reliable indicators than national polls of the shape of the GOP race in the coming months.
Trump faces 91 felony counts in four jurisdictions, including two cases in which he has been indicted on charges of attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Asked whether the former president is being held accountable under the law like anyone else would be or unfairly victimized by his political opponents, 53 percent of Americans say he is being held accountable like others and 40 percent say he is being unfairly victimized. Three-quarters of Republicans say the latter.
A similar question was asked about the recently launched impeachment inquiry aimed at Biden by House Republicans, despite the absence of direct evidence of an impeachable offense by the president. On this question, 58 percent of Americans say Biden is being held accountable under the law like any other president while 32 percent say he is being unfairly victimized by political opponents.
The public is more evenly divided on whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against Biden, with about 7 in 10 Republicans and Republican leaners in support while about 8 in 10 Democrats are opposed.
Biden’s overall approval stands at 37 percent, about where it was in May but lower than in February when it was 42 percent. The Post-ABC poll finds 56 percent of Americans disapproving of Biden, a figure on par with other recent polls.
Full Post-ABC poll results
The poll also asked people whether, looking back, approve or disapprove of the way Trump handled the job of being president. The result was 48 percent saying they approve and 49 percent saying they disapprove. That 48 percent approval is 10 points better than when he left office in January 2021 and higher than it was through nearly the entirety of his presidency.
Biden has spent recent weeks promoting his economic record — “Bidenomics,” as he calls it — and has cited low unemployment, infrastructure spending and investment in programs to deal with climate change among other indicators as evidence of success. But worries about inflation have persisted and, in the Post-ABC survey, his approval on handling the economy has dropped to 30 percent, the lowest of his presidency.
Overall, roughly 3 in 4 Americans say the economy is not so good or poor, and despite the unemployment rate staying below 4 percent for more than a year , 57 percent rate it negatively. There are even worse ratings of gas or energy prices (87 percent say not so good or poor), which have recently risen again, and food prices (a 91 percent negative rating).
Three in 4 also have a negative perception of the state of the average American’s income. Asked whether they are better off financially than when Biden took office, not as well off or in about the same shape, 44 percent say not as well off, compared with 15 percent who say better off and 39 percent who say about the same.
The Biden administration has faced repeated challenges on immigration and has shifted its policies amid clamor for help by communities at the border and in some states and big cities elsewhere run by Democratic mayors. Last week, the administration announced that it would offer temporary work permits for nearly 500,000 Venezuelans to relieve some of the pressure.
Asked about Biden’s handling of the immigration situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, 23 percent say they approve while 62 percent say they disapprove. That compares with 28 percent approval and 59 percent disapproval in February.
On another issue that has figured into political campaigns over the past year, abortion remains a flash point. Opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization , which overturned the constitutional right to abortion and turned the issue back to the states, stands at 64 percent. That has changed little since the decision, and it is an issue that Biden and Democrats say they intend to continue to adjudicate in the 2024 elections.
Trump has bragged that, by appointing three conservative justices to the Supreme Court, he was able to overturn Roe v. Wade after other elected officials opposing abortion had failed. But he has wobbled of late on the issue, criticizing other Republicans, including governors who have enacted bans on abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. His recent comments have drawn criticism from some of the groups who applauded his Supreme Court appointments.
Biden met Friday at the White House with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who also met with congressional leaders of both parties on that day. The president reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to aid the Ukrainian war effort against Russia, but on Capitol Hill, some House and Senate Republicans are resisting authorizing additional assistance.
Since the start of the war in February 2022, public opinion has shifted away from supporting the Ukrainians. The current survey finds 41 percent saying the United States is doing too much to help, 31 percent saying it is the right amount and 18 percent saying it is too little. In February, 33 percent said they thought levels of assistance were too much while in April 2022, 14 percent held that view.
The issue of aid to Ukraine is just one of several issues that have split House Republicans, making the possibility of a government shutdown at the end of next week increasingly likely. But when asked whom they would blame if that were to happen, 40 percent say Biden and the Democrats while 33 percent say Republicans in Congress.
That finding is at odds with previous Post-ABC polls taken over many years at times when the government was partially shut down due to spending disputes. In all those cases but one, Americans pinned the blame more on Republicans than Democrats, and in that lone instance, the public was evenly divided over which party bore responsibility.
Biden’s travails have been well documented this year in Post-ABC and other polls, although those surveys have shown that a general election contest between the two men remains a toss-up. The latest Post-ABC survey, however, produced a surprising result, with Trump ahead of Biden among registered voters by 10 percentage points — 52 percent to 42 percent. In May, a Post-ABC survey found Trump with a six-point lead among registered voters, 49 percent to Biden’s 43 percent.
In his two campaigns for the White House, Trump did not approach a majority in the popular vote, winning 46 percent in 2016 and 47 percent in 2020.
Looking at some of the support levels among different demographic and political groups also points to reasons for caution on this finding. For example, in the new poll, men favor Trump by 62 percent to 32 percent, a margin of 30 points. In May, Trump’s margin among men was 16 points.
Among voters under age 35, Trump leads Biden in the new Post-ABC poll by 20 points. Some other recent public polls show Biden winning this group by between six and 18 points. In 2020, Biden won voters under age 35 by double digits. Among non-White voters, the poll finds Biden leads by nine points. In four other public polls, Biden’s lead among non-White voters ranges from 12 points to 24 points.
Another group that backs Trump by a big margin in the poll are those who say they did not vote in 2020. They account for about 15 percent of the overall sample of registered voters, and they favor Trump over Biden by 63 percent to 27 percent. That level of support is significantly stronger than among those in the poll who say they voted in 2020. Among that group, Trump is at 50 percent, Biden at 45 percent.
Outlier results occasionally occur in polls due to random error and nonresponse issues, although the political composition of the poll is typical on other metrics. Self-reported 2020 voters say they supported Biden over Trump that year by a 50 percent to 46 percent margin, similar to Biden’s 51 percent to 47 percent margin in the national popular vote . In the poll, Republicans have a four-point advantage on party identification when including independents who lean toward either party, slightly more Republican than other recent polls.
A majority of Americans (60 percent) say they believe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020. That result has held relatively steady since early 2021 even as Trump continues to claim falsely that the election was marred by widespread fraud.
But Trump’s persistent false claims have found an audience in the Republican Party. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, 55 percent say they believe Biden was not legitimately elected, with 44 percent saying there is solid evidence of fraud.
The issue of age affects perceptions of both of them, though more often with Biden, who would be 82 at the start of a second term while Trump would be 78. Overall, 74 percent of adults say the president would be too old to serve another term, while 50 percent say that of Trump.
A near-majority of Americans (48 percent) say both men are too old to serve another term. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) say neither is too old. Roughly similar percentages of Democrats and independents say both men would be too old, while a slim majority of Republicans say only Biden is too old.
The Constitution prohibits someone who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution from holding office if they have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the United States. There are some legal experts who say this should disqualify Trump because of his role in the Jan. 6 , 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Americans are roughly divided on this, with 44 percent saying he should be prohibited from holding office again and 50 percent saying he should not be prohibited.
Democrats and Republicans are predictably split on this, with Democrats overwhelmingly saying he should be prohibited and Republicans the opposite. But 24 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say Trump should not be prohibited and 19 percent of Republicans say he should be.
Post-ABC poll crosstabs by group
The Post-ABC poll was conducted Sept. 15-20, among a random national sample of 1,006 U.S. adults, with 75 percent reached on cellphones and 25 percent on landlines. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The error margin is four points among the sample of 890 registered voters, and larger among other subgroups.
2024 presidential candidates
Republican candidates are vying for the 2024 presidential nomination in a crowded field. Catch up on the winners and losers from the second GOP debate and the attacks candidates hurled at front-runner Donald Trump .
Republicans: Top contenders for the GOP 2024 nomination include former president Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis . Here is The Post’s ranking of the top 10 Republican presidential candidates for 2024 .
Democrats: President Biden is running for reelection in 2024 , facing two long-shot challengers, author Marianne Williamson and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Here is The Post’s ranking of the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates for 2024 .
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A government shutdown looms.
The situation serves as a reminder that partisan polarization in Washington is not symmetrical.
By David Leonhardt and Ian Prasad Philbrick
Two basic facts are central to understanding why the federal government may shut down on Sunday morning:
First , the House Republican caucus contains about 20 hard-right members who sometimes support radical measures to get what they want. Many of them refused to certify the 2020 presidential election, for example, and now favor impeaching President Biden. They also tend to support deep cuts to federal spending, and they’re willing to shut down the government as a negotiating tactic. “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy — a fellow Republican — said last week.
Second , the Republicans’ House majority is so slim that McCarthy needs the support of most of these roughly 20 members to remain speaker. If he passes a bill to fund the government and keep it open without support from the hard-right faction, it can retaliate by calling for a new vote on his speakership and potentially firing him. Nobody knows who would then become speaker.
This combination has created a strange situation in Washington. Most House members — along with President Biden — want to avoid a shutdown. So does the Senate: A bipartisan group agreed this week on a spending bill that would keep the government open through mid-November. A similar bill could probably pass the House by a wide margin if it came to the floor.
Yet the small Republican faction has enough sway over McCarthy that he has resisted allowing a vote on such a bill. As a result, much of the federal government may shut down this weekend. The deadline is midnight on Saturday night.
We know that some readers find a potential shutdown to be both a complex and frustrating story. But it’s now a serious enough possibility to deserve some attention.
Feeling sold out
This conflict has its roots in the debt-limit increase that Congress passed and Biden signed in June. Most countries don’t have a debt limit; they debate taxes and spending when voting on whether to fund government programs. The U.S. government has a two-stage process in which Congress decides first how to spend money and later whether to pay back the debts it has already accumulated.
The more extreme parts of the Republican House membership — “the wrecking-ball caucus,” as Carl Hulse, The Times’s chief Washington correspondent, has called it — seemed as if they might use the debt-ceiling debate to insist on large spending cuts. They knew that if the U.S. breached its debt limit, a financial crisis could follow.
Ultimately, though, the Republican faction allowed McCarthy to negotiate a fairly normal deal. It cut some forms of spending, like tax enforcement, but only modestly. The deal also included agreements about spending levels over the next two years, meant to avoid future government shutdowns.
For Biden (and most American citizens), the deal’s main benefit was obvious: no economic crisis. For Republicans, the deal also offered the advantage of making McCarthy look like an effective leader who could negotiate on its behalf.
But the right-wing faction came to hate the deal once others began celebrating it. “A lot of hard-right Republicans held their nose and voted for the debt limit increase the first time to give McCarthy negotiating leverage,” Carl says, “and then felt like they were sold out even though everyone in Washington saw what was coming.”
The faction has since decided that it does not need to abide by the earlier spending agreements and wants to renegotiate them by threatening to shut down the government.
Both White House officials and some Senate Republicans are frustrated by the turnabout. “We settled this five months ago with a bipartisan budget agreement — which, by the way, two-thirds of Republicans in the House voted for,” Jeff Zients, the White House chief of staff, told us last night. If the government shuts down, Zients said, “A million active duty troops and their families could have to worry about how they pay their bills. People could have to worry about fewer food inspectors on the job. Cancer research would stall.”
One obstacle to a solution is that different parts of the Republican group have different demands, as Catie Edmondson, a Times reporter on Capitol Hill, said. Some want to increase spending on border security while cutting other programs. Others acknowledge that they want to weaponize the threat of a shutdown to force major spending cuts. “Most of what we do as a Congress is totally unjustified,” Bob Good, a Republican representative from Virginia, recently told Carl.
The outcome remains uncertain. The Republican faction might ultimately accept small, symbolic spending cuts and claim victory. Or the government might shut down this weekend.
The situation is a reminder that partisan polarization in Washington is not symmetrical. Yes, Democrats have moved significantly to the left on some major issues in recent decades while Republicans have moved significantly to the right. But a large number of only one party’s members — Republicans — is willing to take procedural steps that both parties would once have considered too extreme. It’s true about election certification, the debt ceiling and a government shutdown.
Matt Dallek, a historian at George Washington University, described the rise of this faction as “the fairly logical culmination of an increasingly radical and increasingly extremist Republican Party.”
A shutdown could disrupt air travel and hurt the economy .
“Fight like hell”: Meet 10 House Republicans who say they oppose a short-term funding bill .
The hard-liners have put Republicans who represent districts Biden won in a tough spot .
The House voted to cut Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s salary to $1, one of several hard-right proposals that are unlikely to become law .
House Republicans will hold their first public hearing about a Biden impeachment today. They have been grasping for evidence to support their case.
THE LATEST NEWS
Seven candidates talked over one another in the second Republican debate. Here are takeaways .
Donald Trump, who skipped the debate, still had a big presence onstage. Ron DeSantis said he was “missing in action,” while Chris Christie called him “Donald Duck.”
Multiple candidates targeted Vivek Ramaswamy , who commanded last month’s debate. “Every time I hear you, I feel a little bit dumber,” Nikki Haley said.
The debate was often chaotic: Senator Tim Scott falsely claimed that Haley spent lavishly on curtains, and Mike Pence exaggerated his record as vice president. Here’s a fact check .
Instead of attending the debate, Trump visited Michigan one day after Biden. He asked for an endorsement from the U.A.W. president.
The union’s president said he wouldn’t meet Trump , casting him as an out-of-touch billionaire who didn’t care about the workers.
The union said it would expand its strike against the big three automakers on Friday if substantial progress was not made in contract negotiations.
Senator Robert Menendez pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges. Dick Durbin, a leading Senate Democrat, joined the calls for his resignation.
The Senate reverted to its decades-old business attire dress code , one week after the rules were relaxed. The standards will now be enforceable.
The judge in Trump’s election interference trial rejected his request that she recuse herself.
Chinese hackers stole 60,000 emails from State Department accounts earlier this year.
Democratic and Republican leaders asked the Supreme Court to overturn lower court decisions that restrict them from removing homeless encampments .
A fire that killed more than 100 people at an Iraqi wedding was started when guests lit flares during the bride and groom’s traditional slow dance. The couple escaped.
An American soldier who crossed into North Korea in July has been released into U.S. custody .
The front line in Ukraine has barely moved since the start of the year, as these maps show .
Other Big Stories
A NASA astronaut returned to Earth after spending 371 days in space , a record spaceflight for an American.
The actors’ union will resume negotiations with Hollywood studios on Monday. With the writers’ strike over, most late-night talk shows will return next week .
Meta introduced new A.I. tools for its apps , including chatbots using the likenesses of famous people and image-editing tools for Instagram.
Gear for making 3-D-printed guns was found at a day care in an East Harlem apartment.
A Mississippi sheriff used grand jury subpoenas to spy on his married girlfriend .
The health care system should emphasize keeping patients healthy in their later years rather than increasing their life spans, Dave Chokshi argues.
Here are columns by Pamela Paul on sympathy and Thomas Edsall on Democrats’ approval ratings .
Tradition: In the town of Mountain View, Ark., residents play banjos, forge iron and preserve the Ozark way of life .
New home: North American birds have been spotted in Britain and Ireland after being blown off course by Hurricane Lee.
Lives Lived: Terry Kirkman helped found the Association, a blazer-and-tie-clad vocal group, in 1965. Its lush harmonies and folk-inflected sound made the group a hit machine in its heyday. Kirkman died at 83 .
N.B.A. blockbuster: The star point guard Damian Lillard was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks, where he will play alongside the two-time M.V.P. Giannis Antetokounmpo.
An exit: Michigan State fired its football coach, Mel Tucker, saying sexual harassment allegations against him “brought public disrespect” upon the school.
Soccer: The Houston Dynamo beat Inter Miami , 2-1, in the U.S. Open Cup Final. Lionel Messi sat out the game, but is expected to return before the season ends.
ARTS AND IDEAS
Learning the craft: Juilliard, the renowned arts school in New York, is making its graduate acting program tuition-free . School officials hope a broader range of students will apply to the program. “I know too many people who didn’t apply because they thought, ‘I couldn’t afford it,’” Damian Woetzel, the school’s president, said.
More on culture
Bruce Springsteen postponed his remaining 2023 tour dates as he recovers from peptic ulcer disease.
The British Museum opened a public hotline asking for help locating missing artifacts, Reuters reports.
Idea, the fashion industry’s go-to dealer of rare art books, is opening a bookstore .
THE MORNING RECOMMENDS …
Caramelize chiles for this colorful sheet pan dinner .
Treat yourself to restaurant-quality waffles at home.
Buy the best bath towels .
Here is today’s Spelling Bee . Yesterday’s pangrams were confluence and flounce .
And here are today’s Mini Crossword , Wordle , Sudoku and Connections .
Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow. — David and Ian
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David Leonhardt writes The Morning, The Times’s flagship daily newsletter. He has previously been an Op-Ed columnist, Washington bureau chief, co-host of “The Argument” podcast, founding editor of The Upshot section and a staff writer for The Times Magazine. In 2011, he received the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. More about David Leonhardt
Ian Prasad Philbrick is a writer for The Morning newsletter. More about Ian Prasad Philbrick
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How Many Paragraphs in an Essay?
May 15, 2020 // by Amit Kumar
There is no specific rule which states that an essay should have a certain number of paragraphs . However, an article should have nothing lesser than three sections.
Furthermore, lots of people think that the ideal amount of paragraphs for any given essay is five paragraphs. While this is a ballpark figure, it is a minimal one. Unless students have to write a piece of five sections, they have no reason to follow this rule.
Read More: Essay Introduction Paragraph Examples
A standard method of determining the number of paragraphs in an essay Naturally, the standard essay rule applies in this case: to write the essay in three primary sections. Firstly, you would introduce the topic of the theme to the reader.
Secondly, you would write down the body of the article, where you would discuss in detail the subject of the item. And lastly, you get to close out the essay with the conclusion where you let your reader know the final words of the text, after carefully analyzing the facts of the essay subject.
In its most basic format, an essay can contain three paragraphs. Each paragraph gets typically dedicated to each part of the article. Those who support the five-paragraph-essay have decided that the body of the essay should be three paragraphs. Realistically, you could write fewer or more sections in this part.
Table of Contents
How to Determine the Number of Paragraphs for Your Essays?
In determining the specific number of paragraphs to use in your essay, you get to use the rule of thumb. Using this rule means that the rule will not always work this way; however, the law is pretty helpful. With your schoolwork, you may likely have longer paragraphs than what you have in many blog posts.
Averagely, we usually have between 100 and 200 words within a section. Therefore, if you would like to use a ballpark figure, an essay of 1,000 words will have between five and ten paragraphs.
Read More: How Long is 500 Words Essay?
A different and more exact manner of determining the number of paragraphs is to consider all the main arguments to include in your essay. Your section should contain all the ideas which explain or support the subject of your article.
During the planning stage of your essay, you would research or think about the primary elements of the theme. These elements make up the body of the article. Typically, you would need a minimum of one paragraph for each idea or point. Indeed, if there is an abundance of information to include, then you shall need more paragraphs.
For example, when writing an essay on technology exposure and childhood development? You may look at psychological, physical, as well as the cognitive-developmental impacts of technology on kids.
You would discover several contrasting perspectives where researches have to identify many psychological, physical, and developmental implications of the use of technology in children.
The abundance of materials could easily translate to several paragraphs if you want to write genuinely on the subject matter. However, if there are polarizing views about the effects of technology on kids, you could find yourself writing about ten paragraphs.
Writing an essay with ten paragraphs ensures that you cover the two sides of the argument. More will help you examine how previous authors concluded their articles.
Indeed, you may have a relatively short word limit; then, you do not have the option to write an essay with profound analysis. In this case, you get one paragraph for every major sub-topic (physical, psychological development, as well as cognitive development), would probably be adequate.
Do not make your paragraphs more critical than your essay content. Eventually, your essay shall be evaluated based on the information presented by you and not on the number of paragraphs in the article. It is essential to pay attention to your essay content.
Marks gets awarded to you based on the points that you present and not your paragraphs. Unless otherwise stated, you should use your essay contents as a guide to your paragraph number.
Most writers often get carried away and limit their essay points because they believe that an essay of this word count has a specific number of paragraphs. Unless stated, essay contents by default are the most used criteria of awarding marks in an article.
In essays, paragraphs get applied in the structuring of information regarding sub-topics. When you carefully space out your items, people can easily read your article and understand it. This easy reading and understanding are made possible by the structure provided by the sections. When you carefully plan, you could work out the number of paragraphs needed to complete the essay.
How Many Paragraphs Do I Need for My Essay?
If you are looking for a general rule-of-thumb in deciding paragraphs, you need to use in our essay? Below are some excellent estimates that you could put to use in this regard. Indeed, you could base the number of paragraphs in your essay on various vital factors.
You could use the following guide in deciding on how many paragraphs to use in your essay.
These are the fundamental word count to paragraph conversions for essays.
- An essay of between 100 and 400 words, you need a minimum of 3 paragraphs.
- For an essay of 500 words, you need a minimum of 3 or 4 paragraphs.
- For an essay of between 600 and 700 words, you need a minimum of 4 paragraphs.
- For an essay of between 700 and 800 words, you need a minimum of 5 paragraphs.
- For an essay of between 900 and 1,000 words, you need a minimum of 6 or 7 paragraphs.
- For an essay of about 1,250 words, you need a minimum of 8 or 9 paragraphs.
- For an essay of about 1,500 words, you need a minimum of 10 paragraphs.
- For an essay of about 1, 750 words, you need a minimum of about 11 or 12 paragraphs.
- For an essay of a 2,000-word count, you need a minimum of about 13 or 14 paragraphs.
Furthermore, for essays with higher word count, 6,000 words, you use multiples of 2,000. This logic means that a 6,000-word piece will have a minimum of 39 or 42 paragraphs.
Students need guidelines to help them write an essay that can be read and understood easily. The above instructions can help in this regard.
Best Essay Writing Scholarships for International Students
Below we’ve listed some of the “Best Essay Writing Scholarships” which will be a great way to pay for your financial needs.
Student Scholarship Essay Contest at Fraser Institute
Highly motivated aspirants from all over the globe are invited to apply for the Student Scholarship Essay Contest in Canada. Organized by Fraser Institute, the program is designated just for high school students. Winning essays may be published in Fraser Institute journals and authors will have the opportunity to experience the peer-review process.
Provided By: Fraser Institute Course: Any degree Award: $9,000-$3,000 Application Deadline: June 1, 2020 Apply Now
Queen’s Commonwealth Scholarship Essay Competition
The Royal Commonwealth Society is inviting applicants to take part in the scholarship essay competition. The QCEC is open to all citizens and residents of the Commonwealth aged 18 and under. Entries can be submitted in a number of different formats: for example, a poem, letter, article, story, essay or a short play/script.
Provided By: Royal Commonwealth Society Course: Any degree Award: Varies Application Deadline: June 30, 2020 Apply Now
Ayn Rand Institute Scholarship Essay Contest 2020
The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) have open entries for Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest for the year 2020 from grade 12, college undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world. It offers various educational programs to enable students at all levels of knowledge. Candidates will get 1 winner receives $ 3,000, 2nd place: 2 winners receive $ 1,000 and 3rd place: 10 winners receive $ 500.
Provided By: Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) Course: Undergraduate and graduate Award: $ 3,000, $ 1,000 and $ 500 Application Deadline: April 30, 2020 Apply Now
Essaypro Writing Contest Scholarship 2020
Waiting for an opportunity to get a scholarship? If yes, then go ahead and apply for the EssayPro Writing Contest Scholarship for international aspirants having excellent writing skills. To apply for this opportunity, applicants need to demonstrate academic excellence. Top three winners will get the cash prizes. The first place holding applicant will receive $500, and the second and third place, winning candidates will receive $250 each!
Provided By: Essaypro Course: Any degree Award: $500, $250 Application Deadline: June 1, 2020 Apply Now
American Indian College Fund Scholarship Essay Competition
The American Indian College Fund is providing scholarships to American Indian and Alaska Native college students seeking undergraduate and graduate degrees at tribal colleges, nonprofit, and accredited schools. U.S. citizen or Canadian citizens are eligible to attend college in the U.S. under provisions of the Jay Treaty.
Provided By: The American Indian College Fund Course: Undergraduate and graduate Award: Fund Application Deadline: August 1, 2020 Apply Now
About Amit Kumar
FreeEducator.com blog is managed by Amit Kumar. He and his team come from the Oxford, Stanford and Harvard.
At FreeEducator, we strive to create the best admission platform so that international students can go to the best universities - regardless of financial circumstances.
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FreeEducator is a free study abroad and scholarships resource site for international students. FreeEducator was founded in August 2007 by Amit Kumar. The main goal of this site is to provide quality support to international students that allows them to improve their chances of success in life.
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