How to write a paper:
There are many different ways to write a paper. If a professor or lecturer explains that he/she/they would like you to write an essay in a certain way, you should pay attention. If the teacher does not give you a format, you will need to research different ways to format your paper.
This guide will explain one way to write a paper. Think of this as a start to understanding how to write – not a place to stop.
The five paragraph structure:
Many people learn the five paragraph structure of an essay when they are younger – introduction, three body paragraphs, and conclusion. College essays can be similar to this setup, so it might help to review how to write one of these simple papers:
Introduction: This is where you need to grab the reader’s attention. You may want to use a surprising statistic, or a quote from a famous person. You usually do not reference yourself in an academic paper, but if the teacher says that it is alright you might tell a personal story. After you grab the reader’s attention, you need to transition to what you will be talking about in the essay.
In every essay, you should use a thesis sentence. A thesis sentence should state exactly what you are arguing in the paper. You can add a second sentence after the thesis explaining how you will make your argument. In a five paragraph structured essay you would bring up each point from the following paragraphs – one per paragraph. The thesis and the next sentence should be in your introductory paragraph.
The next three paragraphs are what are called “body paragraphs.” These expand on your argument. Each paragraph in a five paragraph essay should be a different point. These points should all point towards your larger argument. Each paragraph needs to fully explore each point and transition to the next point.
The conclusion of a five paragraph essay wraps up the paper. Some guides will tell you to briefly restate your thesis and the points that you made. There are three important pieces to a conclusion:
- The conclusion must end the paper. It should tie up loose ends.
- There should be nothing new.
- The audience should be left with something to think about.
There are a few differences between a college paper and the classic five paragraph essay. The most obvious difference is that the college essay is longer. When writing a ten page paper, a five paragraph essay will not work – it is simply too short.
There are many different ways of writing a college level essay. My favorite tactic is to break a paper into different sections. The introduction and conclusion can be extremely similar to the five paragraph paper if you write in different sections – you can focus your thesis section on the sections instead of individual paragraphs.
There are quite a few guides online that you can use to write – this particular guide from Washington.edu is an excellent example.
These sources are in MLA Format.
How to Structure & Organize Your Paper. University of Washington, https://depts.washington.edu/owrc/Handouts/How%20to%20Structure%20and%20Organize%20Your%20Paper.pdf.
Purdue Writing Lab. “Argumentative Essays.” Purdue Writing Lab, https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/argumentative_essays.html. Accessed 22 July 2019.