Parts of an Essay

An essay is a piece of continuous, flowing, paragraphed text that is (usually) uninterrupted by headings, so it can appear to be unstructured. In fact, good essays need to be very carefully structured indeed.

Exactly how an individual essay is structured is very much the choice of the individual writer. There is no prescribed ‘recipe’ for structuring essays. Most essays, however, do follow the same very basic pattern. This pattern is described below.

There are four parts of an essay:

  1. An introduction
  2. The body of the essay
  3. A conclusion
  4. A reference list this does get its own heading

Additionally, essays you submit for your course will have a title page and author declaration. You may need to add other sections – check task instructions, or your course or unit handbook, for further details.

  1. Introduction – one of the first parts of an essay

The introduction to an essay usually has two purposes:

  • It ‘sets the scene’ by providing just a little background information about the topic – in other words, it contextualises the topic.
  • It tells the reader what the essay is going to do. This is known as signposting.

You should aim to restrict your introduction to one or at most two paragraphs.

  1. Body – the second part of an essay

The body of the essay is the part that addresses the title. It should be organised into paragraphs. Each paragraph should deal with a different aspect of the issue, but each paragraph should also link in some experienced academic writers. Don’t expect to be able to paragraph perfectly when you are new to academic writing!)

There are many ways to successfully structure and use paragraphs in an essay. Here’s one:

  1. The first sentence might show a link to the previous paragraph (a kind of retrospective signposting – see the handout Better essays: signposting).
  2. Another sentence introduces the main theme of this paragraph (this is often called the topic sentence). This topic sentence can also come first in the paragraph.
  3. The next few sentences elaborate the point, perhaps by explaining more, giving supporting evidence or demonstrating differences or alternatives.
  4. The last sentence summarises the main point made in the paragraph.

3. Conclusion – part of an essay

The conclusion often does three things:

  • It reminds your readers what the essay was meant to do.
  • It provides an ‘answer’ to the title.
  • It reminds your readers how you reached that answer.

The conclusion should normally occupy just one paragraph.

Essay outline template

From the early stages of education, we have been thought of how to write an essay. Basically, the parts of an essay were just three divisions. But as we grow and learn more, essays gets deeper as well. It no longer stays at three parts but it becomes more complex.

Before starting an essay, it is important to know what you are writing for. Descriptive essay examples encourages writers to create essays for a particular experience. How can it be made easier for writers to create essays with different topics? Essay outline template answers that.

Essay outline template serves as a spine for writing essays. It becomes a bit more complex when you have no structure to start writing an essay. This essay outline will help you write more effectively. Rather than wasting time writing an essay, with an outline, writing will flow more naturally and quickly.

Here are steps on creating an outline:

  • Choose a topic you want to discuss in your essay. If this is an argument, choose where you stand on that.
  • With the main topic, create three or more arguments for that and label them with Roman numerals.
  • To dig much deeper, research and build three or more supporting statements with each argument.
  • Make a summary writing that wraps up the whole topic

Here is an essay outline template:
A. Background Information
A.1. General background information that grabs attention (reference)
A.2. More specific background information to lead into the thesis (reference)
B. Thesis statement
B.1. Topic
B.2. Outline your key points
A. Support Paragraph 1
A.1. Thesis statement
A.2. Supporting Ideas
A.1.a. Reason/Detail/Fact and transition (reference)
A.1.b. More information and transition (reference)
A.1.c. Maybe even more information (reference)
A.3. Summarizing/Concluding/Transition sentence

B. Support Paragraph 2
B.1. Thesis statement
B.2. Supporting Ideas
B.2.a. Reason/Detail/Fact and transition (reference)
B.2.b. More information and transition (reference)
B.2.c. Maybe even more information (reference)
B.3. Summarizing/Concluding/Transition sentence

C. Possible Support Paragraph 3
C.1. Thesis statement
C.2. Supporting Ideas
C.2.a. Reason/Detail/Fact and transition (reference)
C.2.b. More information and transition (reference)
C.2.c. Maybe even more information (reference)
C.3. Summarizing/Concluding/Transition sentence

D. Maybe even another Support Paragraph 4 (or more)
D.1. Thesis statement
D.2. Supporting Ideas
D.2.a. Reason/Detail/Fact and transition (reference)
D.2.b. More information and transition (reference)
D.2.c. Maybe even more information (reference)
D.3. Summarizing/Concluding/Transition sentence
A. Summarize/Review key points
B. Concluding thought
IV. REFERENCES (use APA or MLA format)

High school research paper topics

Your research paper, and the resulting thesis statement, must be an ARGUABLE issue. Be prepared to present the actual findings of your research convincingly even if you discover that your findings differ from your personal opinions. Remember, research is objective and not a “soap box” for personal views. The following high school research paper topics have been divided by subject:

High school research paper topics on GAY MARRIAGE:

  • Same-sex adoption and access to reproductive technologies
  • Immigration rights for gay partners of citizens
  • Sodomy laws
  • Partnership benefits at state and federal institutions
  • Health care benefits and gay couples
  • Property rights and gay couples
  • Inheritance law and gay couples

High school research paper topics on HUMAN ISSUES:

  • ƒ Women in combat
  • Surrogate motherhood
  • Career vs. family

High school research paper topics on LEGAL ISSUES:

  • ƒ Censorship of student newspapers
  • Religious displays on public property
  • Affirmative action
  • Reverse discrimination
  • DNA profiling of criminals
  • Insanity defense
  • Tougher sentencing to reduce crime
  • Flag burning
  • ƒ Welfare

High school research paper topics on MASS MEDIA:

  • Does mass media shape American values?
  • Media images of Blacks
  • Privacy in the Information Age
  • Advertising: is it ethical?

High school research paper topics on MORALITY:

  • ƒ Do the ends justify the means?
  • Moral responsibility of rehabilitating criminals
  • Should the law enforce morality?
  • Animal rights
  • Do rich nations have an obligation to help poor nations?

High school research paper topics on PSYCHOLOGY:

  • Is behavior determined by biological processes?
  • Alcoholism as a disease: fact or myth?
  • Has science discredited ESP?
  • Can intelligence increase?
  • Academic instruction for preschool children
  • Daycare
  • Psychotherapy: is it effective?

High school research paper topics on TEEN ISSUES:

  • Adolescent health problems
  • Communications between parents and teens
  • Adolescent marriages
  • Adolescent suicide
  • Lack of discipline in American high schools
  • Teen pregnancy:
  • Emotional aspects
  • Psychological stresses
  • Short- and long-term affects
  • Socio-economic aspects
  • Dietary deficiencies of American teens
  • Is juvenile delinquency linked to family instability?
  • Spending/purchasing power of teens
  • Teenage alcoholism:
  • Socio-economic aspects
  • Short- and long-term affects
  • Emotional aspects
  • College vs. career
  • Runaways
  • Major causes of juvenile crime

Argumentative essay outline

Argumentative essay outline is a very popular form of essay that helps students and people to sharpen their logical reasoning skills and assist them in getting better at a debate. The argumentative essay outline has a specific format that needs to be followed to blow the mind of the reader, and it is especially useful for students as well as the corporate while making strategic proposals. 

It is important to note that an argumentative essay and an expository essay may be similar, but they vary greatly in terms of the amount of pre-writing and research involved. While the argumentative essay is normally given as a final project that demands lengthy and detailed research, an expository essay requires less research and are shorter in length since they are often used for class writing exercises.

An argumentative essay expresses a certain position on a subject and supports it with evidence. This generally requires a student to investigate a topic by collecting, generating, and evaluating evidence.

Here is an argumentative essay outline:


  • A declaration of what you believe and what you intend to prove
  • A one-sentence statement within the first or second paragraph
  • A clear, strong, and easy to find sentence

Example – Complex psychological factors, which many are unaware of, play an important part in the behavior of bystanders; knowing about these factors can help people to act more responsibly when faced with emergencies.

Topic Sentences

  • Tie directly back to the thesis
  • Act like mini-thesis statements for body paragraphs
  • Are the first or second sentence of each paragraph
  • Informs the reader of exactly what will be addressed

Opposing arguments

  • Anticipate, research, and outline common opposing views
  • Help your readers understand both sides
  • Be fair when presenting opposing views
  • Present opposing arguments towards the end of the paper or after main points they oppose
  • Concede or refute opposing points

Example – Some may argue that violent video games simply allow an outlet for children’s natural competitive instincts. This is true to an extent; competition can be a good thing. However, the level of violence in some video games goes far beyond healthy competition and instead encourages negative aggression.


  • Do not repeat the thesis word for word – restate the idea of the thesis
  • Do not present new information
  • Synthesize, or bring together in a meaningful way, the information presented
  • If appropriate, include a call to action or a call for more research to be done on your topic

How to cite a research paper?

Plagiarism is a big no-no when writing a research paper. Even if you are the author of a published paper and you copy your own work without proper citation, that is still considered as a violation. Another vital matter in research is the organization and presentation of a paper. Therefore, you have to know how to cite a research paper.

Notice that research paper samples have something in common when it comes to how the contents are arranged and presented. There are two popular research paper formats that are advised to follow when writing a research paper that is considered as the standard in different journals or scholarly articles. One is the Modern Language Association style or simply MLA style that will you help to know how to citea research paper.

The following are the general guidelines:

  • Keep the references on a separate sheet of paper, titled Works Cited.
  • Arrange the references in alphabetical order using the author’s last name. If no author name is given, use the reference title instead excluding articles like The, A, etc.
  • Left alignment for every start of an entry, and indentions are done from the left margin as well.
  • Double space the contents.
  • Whenever writing a publishing company, shorten its name while using UP initials whenever stating University Press.

Within text citations

These are all guidelines to help you avoid plagiarism. Proper citation should be observed, so whenever you cite an author, and you include the author’s name in the text, provide the title and year of publication placed within a parenthesis, at the end of the sentence that you paraphrased.

APA style is useful as a guide to writing a research paper that would help you avoid plagiarism and teach you proper citation so you will know how to cite a research paper. APA style is not limited to the content of the paper but also includes formatting style from cover pages for research paper to the references section.

  • Font style is Times New Roman, and font size is 12.
  • Margin should be one inch for every side.
  • Line spacing should be double spaced.
  • At the end of every sentence, use two spaces from the period of the last sentence.
  • Align all text to the left.
  • Running head. Use running head throughout every paper. Only include the words “Running head:” in the cover page.
  • Title of the paper, author’s name, institution’s name should be placed at the center.
  • When writing an abstract, limit it up to 250 words. Make sure that the information in the abstract are all found in the following subsections of the paper.
  • Reference page should be separate from the rest of the other sections.
  • The references should also be double spaced and arranged in an alphabetical order using the author’s last name. Titles and subtitles of books should be italicized, use abbreviations like “p.” or “pp.” for the page numbers of articles.