Note: An essay can be structured in many ways. The five paragraph essay is the most basic essay structure.
Because the required length for your essay in this course is 500 words, the five paragraph model best suits
your writing objectives. However, do not allow these guidelines to limit your writing; if you wish to write
more than three body paragraphs to illustrate your paper’s thesis, then do so. The guidelines that follow can
be applied to all the essays you write for this course. Your essays should vary in type (i.e. descriptive;
narrative, comparison/contrast; argumentative), and not so much in structure.
THE FIVE PARAGRAPH (500 word) ESSAY OUTLINED
TITLE: The title should reflect the main idea of the essay. The title should be concise and interesting.
PARAGRAPH 1: Introduction
The essay’s introduction should consist of a minimum of five sentences. The introductory paragraph
should begin with a general statement that reflects the essay’s topic. The paragraph will likely include
transitional sentences or background information sentences that will then lead the reader into the writer’s
purpose – the thesis statement. The thesis statement is what the writer will prove throughout his/her essay in
the body paragraphs. The thesis should include a plan of development; it should consist of the writer’s
position on the paper topic and the three points the writer will describe in the essay’s body to prove his/her
position (Thesis example: The hiking trip was a disaster because (1) it rained the whole time, (2) we lost our
camping equipment, (3) and our guide broke his leg.)
BODY PARAGRAPHS 2,3,& 4:
Each of the body paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence. If the writer has used the three point
thesis model, writing each body paragraph’s topic sentence should be easy. The first body paragraph’s topic
sentence, for example, should reflect the first point in the thesis statement (refer to the above thesis example
– i.e. The torrential rains ruined the trip.). It then becomes the writer’s task to develop and support the point
– these are your body paragraph’s supporting sentences. Once the writer effectively illustrates the first point,
he/she will then proceed to the second point and follow the same guidelines for paragraph development
(point two will introduce body paragraph two, and point three will introduce paragraph three).
PARAGRAPH 5: The Conclusion
In this paragraph, the writer’s task is to “complete” the essay. The function of the conclusion is to
provide closure for the reader. The writer will remind the reader of his/her thesis by reviewing the points
made in the essay’s body (Note: be careful not to restate the point’s exactly). To close the last paragraph, the
writer may include his/her final perspective on the essay’s topic.
[Student’s Last Name]1
26 September 2018
[Research Paper Title]
The Modern Language Association (MLA) provides guidelines for documentation style.
This template is based on commonly used guidelines from the MLA Handbook for Writers of
Research Papers (6th edition) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing
(2nd edition). For more information about MLA style and publications, go to the MLA website
For example, quotations with fewer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse are
quoted directly in the sentence. Enclose them in quotation marks, followed by the author’s last
name and the page or pages of the source from which you are quoting in parenthesis, for
example: “inline quotation here” (AuthorSurname 31).
Quotations that are longer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse follow different
guidelines. Introduce these quotations with a colon:
Start long quotations on a new line. Indent the quote one inch from the left
margin. Double-space the lines and omit quotation marks. Reference the source as
you would for a shorter quotation. To quickly format a quotation of over four
lines or three lines of verse, use the Long quotation style provided in this
Microsoft Word template.
Per MLA guidelines, all sources must be listed on a Works Cited page at the end of the
paper. Center the title, Works Cited, and then list sources in alphabetical order by author last
[Student’s Last Name]2
name. Some examples are provided on the next page. To format sources, start with the Works
cited style provided in this template but refer to the MLA publications listed above for complete
[Student’s Last Name]3
Author’s last name, first name. Title of Book. City: Publisher, Year.
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of Article.” Title of Publication Date Published: Pages.
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of Online Article.” Title of Online Publication Version
(Year Published): Pages. Date Accessed .
“Title of Article.” Title of Media. CD-ROM. City: Publisher, Year.
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