BCCC Tutoring Center
Outline for a Five-Paragraph Essay
Paragraph 1: Introduction
Paragraph 2: Body Paragraph
Paragraph 3: Body Paragraph
Paragraph 4: Body Paragraph
Paragraph 5: Conclusion
Think of the introduction and conclusion as “bookends” that serve to hold the essay tightly together. The
introduction will “push” into or initiate the examination of your topic and the angle you decide to focus on, while
the conclusion will “pull” tight all the ideas that you have gathered together for a unified essay.
Remember, the five-paragraph model can be expanded to include more body paragraphs that probe more deeply
into your subject. Check with your instructor to ensure whether or not you can exceed this length for an
The introductory paragraph should include the following elements:
Background information: Enough information necessary for your reader to understand your topic
Thesis statement: Indicates your paper’s topic, makes your paper’s purpose clear, and provides an overview of the three main supporting points that will unify the essay. The thesis statement is typically
the last sentence.
If you are writing in response to a text, the introduction should include the title, author, and genre of that piece.
Begins with a topic sentence that identifies one main idea that will be discussed as support or proof for the thesis statement
Supporting sentences use specific details, demonstrated through closely related examples or evidence, to expand and explain the main idea. Generally, a well-developed paragraph has at least five to eight
Paragraph unity means that all ideas in a paragraph are closely related to its topic sentence and further develop that topic sentence. That is, all sentences in a single paragraph must be unified around a central
point or idea.
This paragraph, and any subsequent body paragraph, should begin with a topic sentence that signals the reader that a new idea or point is being introduced.
As you organize your essay, keep in mind its coherence. Coherence refers to connections among paragraphs and ideas—the logical sequence of your thoughts.
o Use transition words or phrases at the outset of your body paragraphs and to move from one idea to another within your paragraphs.
o Have you transitioned logically from the main idea in the previous paragraph to this one? Are you making clear connections among the paragraphs and ideas? Be sure to think about coherence during
the revision stage of the writing process.
This paragraph begins with the final topic sentence that relates back to the remaining point mentioned in the thesis statement. Each paragraph should contain a new main idea.
Again, flesh out this main idea with specific examples, details, and relevant support.
Be sure to maintain paragraph unity. That is, each sentence must relate to your topic sentence.
The conclusion revisits your overall purpose for writing and often invites your reader to consider the implications of why your ideas are significant.
The conclusion may restate the thesis, summarize the paper’s major points, or leave the reader with a final thought to ponder. Several other methods for writing conclusions are included on a separate Tutoring Center
handout. If you choose to restate the thesis or summarize the essay’s main ideas, do not repeat the same
wording from the introduction or body paragraphs. Remember not to introduce new, unrelated ideas in the