Five-Paragraph Essay Outline

A five paragraph essay is one of the most common essay formats you’ll find used in schools and universities. It’s a basic layout that anyone can use and it works well for a variety of essay styles. If you need more length, it’s simple to add to the 5 paragraph essay and expand it a little.

Before you get started with the five paragraph essay outline, you need to do a little research. What is your topic? What point do you want to make? Figuring this information out first gives you a launching point and from there, you can do your research and collect evidence.

All your information and evidence needs to come from qualified sources. Using Wikipedia isn’t a good plan, but university and government sites are much more reputable and can be used in your quotes. Remember that most essays end with a bibliography or a section where all your references are listed. Professors check these, so taking the time to do the research ahead of time means you will be able to prove that you know what you’re doing and how to research correctly.

Doing the pre-writing tasks, such as research and creating an outline, will help you write smoothly and transition from one section to the next in your essay. It’s worth the time it takes to improve your essay.

5 Paragraph Essay Outline

The basic five paragraph essay outline has three main parts, the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Each section has its own specific needs and should be written accordingly.

Introduction: The first paragraph of the essay will introduce the topic and lay out the main idea in a single sentence. This sentence is your thesis statement. If you have been given a topic, or asked a question for the essay, the answer to it is usually the thesis statement. Once you have this, you can build on it to let people know what your three main points are. Depending on the style of the essay, these points may be arguments or just statements.

Body: The three paragraphs that make up the middle or the meat of the essay are called the body. Take the three points that support the thesis statement and make each sentence the base of its own paragraph. These paragraphs should include information and details that will support the main topic of the entire essay, but there’s no need to be dull about it. Include facts, statistics and interesting points, as well as quotes, to keep it interesting and convincing.

Conclusion: Your final paragraph is the conclusion of our story. Here, you will remind people of the thesis statement by restating it. This paragraph also contains a brief recap of the rest of the essay, giving a summary of the main points and how they connect to the thesis and prove your point.

5 Paragraph Essays

Which essays use the five paragraph essay method? It’s a very common formula for writing, so you’ll use it just about everywhere you need to create a quality essay. In nearly all essay questions, you’ll find that you can use this.

An expository essay focuses only on the facts and analyzes a specific topic. The first paragraph will introduce the topic and explain what the reader will learn. The first body paragraph will give a better description of the topic and the following two paragraphs give more details, with quotes and statistics to prove that it is true. In some cases, the first and second body paragraphs will look at the pros and cons of the topic in a neutral manner, with more details in the third paragraph. The conclusion will wrap it all up into a neat, tidy package for the reader.

Persuasive essays are also five paragraph essays, but they are designed to convince the reader of a specific point, which is made in the first and last paragraphs. The body covers three arguments to prove your point, one in each paragraph, with the strongest argument last. Each argument must have evidence to back it up and the conclusion will cover each of these points in brief, while restating the main point.

A narrative essaytells a story and usually focuses on a real life event or experience. In this type of essay, the body paragraphs will generally give details and tell the story in chronological order. The conclusion recaps the lesson learned or makes a personal statement about the story.

The descriptive essay tends to be similar to a narrative essay, but focuses on describing an element of a story. It uses colorful adjectives and descriptions to create the feeling of being there and will draw the reader in emotionally. Each body paragraph builds on the details, making you feel the emotions and see the colors more vividly. Finally, in the conclusion, you can recap the story and make your point.

Nearly any essay can be written in five paragraphs, but these are the most commonly used options.

Five Paragraph Essay Topics List

When it comes to writing your essay, you may have access to a five paragraph essay topics list. This will give you a good head start on writing, but if you are able to come up with a topic on your own, that gives you even more flexibility.

There is no one topic for a five paragraph essay, so you can choose anything that works with the type of essay you are working on. If you’re supposed to write an argumentative essay, for example, you’ll select a very different topic than a narrative essay.

Five Paragraph Essay Outline Template

To make writing your five paragraph essay simpler, it’s a good idea to work from a template outline. You’ll have each of the five paragraphs laid out for you, with examples and tips to help you choose what to write. A template can smooth the difficulties of writing a quality essay and make it something you can turn out fairly quickly.

Grab one of our 5 paragraph essay outline templates today and get started!
Five Paragraph Essay Templates

five paragraph essay outline

expository essay

argumentative essay

Persuasive essay

narrative essay

descriptive essay

 

Have you ever made an awesome chocolate cake without looking at a recipe first? Unless you are an extremely talented baker, most likely the answer is “no.” Just one cup of flour too many and your chocolate dessert will be a chocolate mess!

The same goes for writing a 5-paragraph essay. If you are an extremely talented writer, you may be able to intuitively create a compelling essay with all the components needed to be both persuasive and easy to swallow…or follow.

However, if writing doesn’t come easily to you, you can benefit from creating a 5-paragraph essay outline before jumping into your writing assignment. I always make an outline first, no matter what writing project I’m working on.

There are endless, different ways to write a compelling essay. But, if your teacher is demanding that you sum up your argument in five succinct paragraphs, follow this easy tutorial on how to create a 5-paragraph essay outline.

Structure of the 5-Paragraph Essay Outline

The 5-paragraph essay is made of…you guessed it…five paragraphs. Each paragraph serves a specific purpose:

  • Paragraph 1: Amazing introduction (hook) and the all-important thesis statement
  • Paragraph 2: Argument A and supporting facts or quotes
  • Paragraph 3: Argument B and supporting facts or quotes
  • Paragraph 4: Argument C and supporting facts or quotes
  • Paragraph 5: Conclusion, made up of your restated thesis and the broader significance of your argument

Here’s how this outline would look if you sketched it out:

A Note on Formatting Your 5-Paragraph Essay Outline

Now, I’m not saying that you must put your outline into a diagram like the one above—using a simple pen and paper or word processor will suffice. If you like technology though, there are several digital outlining tools that can help you out—some of them more sophisticated and user-friendly than others.

It’s not really about making a perfect 5-paragraph essay outline, rather, it’s about developing an outline that makes the most sense to you. An outline ensures that you have the necessary components to write an awesome essay.

Without further delay, let’s jump into more detail about each of the outline components.

Step One: Identify Your Topic

First we need a topic. Typically, your instructor will give you a subject to write about, or at least parameters for a topic. Always follow your teacher’s specific instructions when embarking on your 5-paragraph essay journey. After all, you don’t want the wrath of your instructor to come down upon you for completely ignoring instructions.

For our sample topic, we’re going to use the following prompt:

What are the arguments for or against writing a 5-paragraph essay? Should teachers continue requesting this writing method from students?

Step Two: Take a Stance on Your Topic

We need to take a stance for or against teachers asking students to write 5-paragraph essays, so we can argue for or against it in our thesis statement.

Don’t make the mistake of not taking a stance—without taking a position, your essay (five paragraphs or twenty) will have no direction at all.

When deciding on your position, you have to choose one that can be backed with valid and supportable arguments, either from your research or from the course materials provided in your class.

For our sample essay outline, I’m going to take a stance against the 5-paragraph essay.

Step Three: Write a Clear Thesis Statement

Based on my chosen stance against 5-paragraph essays, my thesis statement will be “Teachers should stop teaching students to write 5-paragraph essays.”

Notice the word “should” in the thesis statement? More power can be added to your position by creating a statement about what should or shouldn’t be done. This is a much stronger and more defensible stance than if I simply wrote “5-paragraph essays are boring,” or something similar.

Step Four: Develop Three Arguments to Underscore Your Thesis

Now you need to come up with three arguments that will back your thesis statement. Here are mine:

The 5-paragraph essay is too basic.

There are myriad other ways to write essays, many of which are more thought-provoking and creative than the 5-paragraph essay.

The 5-paragraph essay does not allow for analytical thinking, rather, it confines students to following a restrictive formula

Step Five: Develop Three Supports for Each of Your Arguments

Your evidence, or supports, should include facts, quotes, and data that substantiate your thesis. This is a great place to include quotes directly from your research sources.

For example, to support argument A (“The 5-paragraph essay is too basic”), I might offer the following evidence:

Similarly, in regards to argument C (“The 5-paragraph essay does not allow for analytical thinking, rather, it confines students to following a restrictive formula”), I might support it with this quote:

  • Support 1C: According to an article in Education Week, “There is a consensus among college writing professors that ‘students are coming [to college] prepared to do five-paragraph themes and arguments but [are] radically unprepared in thinking analytically.’”

Remember, for the 5-paragraph essay structure, you typically need to come up with three supports for each of your three arguments. In our example, I only show three of the total nine supports needed to round out the argument.

Step Six: Develop Your Intro Hook

Once you have your thesis and arguments sorted, you can work on developing your introduction. (*Hint* it’s an exercise in futility to develop your introduction first, because you won’t really know what you’re introducing yet.)

Your intro should start with an interesting “hook” that will draw the reader into your paper.

For example, my hook could be, “English teachers across the nation have been teaching students to become ineffective writers.” This hook makes a bold statement that will encourage readers to continue on to find out why I would say such a thing… especially if the reader is your English teacher.

Step Seven: Develop Your Conclusion

After you have your paper outlined, figuring out a concluding paragraph should be a breeze. In a traditional 5-paragraph essay, the first step in writing your conclusion is to restate your thesis using different words.

For example, I might write, “The 5-paragraph essay is an outdated and useless writing tool that should be phased out of the classroom.”

To close out the paper, I would open a discussion on the broader significance of this argument. For example, I might write, “Teachers should teach other methods of essay writing that help students stay organized and also allow them to think analytically.”

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve established all the components of your 5-paragraph essay outline, you’ll need to actually sit down, avoid social media for a while (I know, it’s hard), and write your 5-paragraph essay. Believe me, it will be much easier to do now that your thoughts are organized and you have somewhere to start.

Ask any writer. There is nothing more frightening than the pure white of an empty page. An outline is a great remedy for this.

Oh, and a couple more things:

As you start writing, you’ll want to be sure to connect all the pieces of your essay together with strong transition sentences. Don’t just line up the notes from your outline and call it done.

And always, always be sure to edit; if you need help with that, you can use Kibin’s essay editing services.

Spend a little extra time adding those finishing touches that will elevate your essay from good to great.

How about you? Do you work from an outline? Or are you more accustomed to writing by the seat of your pants? Let us know in the comments.

Psst... 98% of Kibin users report better grades! Get inspiration from over 500,000 example essays.

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