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The 5-Paragraph Essay Format: A Complete Guide

If you’ve never looked into the 5-paragraph essay format before, you’ve been missing out and we want to help you correct that. When it comes to writing essays, we all need a starting point, and that’s what this format provides.

The 5-paragraph essay format is a simple process anyone can follow to write a good essay. It’s particularly useful for beginner essay writers and timed assignments, so it’s an amazing tool to be aware of.

What Is the 5-Paragraph Essay Format?

The 5-paragraph essay format is a structure students can use to write good essays quickly. It consists of an introduction, a three-paragraph body, and a conclusion, so it’s a very short format.

That’s why it’s most commonly used in assignments such as papers and timed writing exercises. So, you should look at it as an essay-writing tool instead of an essay genre.

Part of the beauty of the 5-paragraph essay format is that it can be applied to any type of essay. So, it doesn’t matter what the assignment is, you will be able to use this format to explore simple topics clearly and logically in only five paragraphs.

The Elements of the 5-Paragraph Essay Format

When you want to make a first draft or write the outline of a 5-paragraph essay, it will help to know what each section should include. Each paragraph has a purpose and a clear goal, so here’s a short overview of each and what you should include in each of them:

● The Introduction

The introduction is the first paragraph in the structure and it serves to grab the reader’s attention, express the basic ideas you will cover, and provide a thesis statement. It’s one of the most important paragraphs because it’s where you set the tone and let readers know what to expect.

Consider using a hook to open your essay in an attention-grabbing way. Whether that’s by making a bold statement, appealing to the reader’s emotions, creating urgency or mystery, etc.

Then, you can mention the points you’ll be expanding in the body and provide a thesis statement. Overall, you can apply all the basic principles of introductions to the 5-paragraph essay format. Just make sure you condense everything into just one paragraph and make it as clear as possible.

● The Body

The body will be divided into three paragraphs, which allows you to make three different but connected points. It’s recommended you start each paragraph with a transition word or phrase to connect them all together. The first sentence of each paragraph needs to be a topic statement and the rest of the sentences should explain it further to the reader.

Every sentence in each of the paragraphs should address the topic statement and the thesis statement provided in the introduction. If one of the points you want to make is not directly connected to the topic statement, write a separate paragraph about it. In other words, you should strictly dedicate each paragraph to a specific point instead of combining them.

The body of the 5-paragraph essay format is where you can provide more detail, share evidence, and provide explanations that will advance the thesis statement. Make sure the arguments you use in each of the body paragraphs are persuasive. Use logical reasoning, quotes, and empirical data to truly drive each point across. Don’t include any filler or irrelevant details.

● The Conclusion

Last but not least, we have the conclusion, which is the last paragraph of the 5-paragraph essay format. This is where you wrap everything up in a bow and close things off with a bang. You want to start by reminding the reader of the ideas you explored in the body and the thesis statement. Just keep it super simple.

The conclusion is not the place to sneak in new evidence or further support for your ideas. It’s the place to summarize everything you’ve already said and connect it all. If your goal is to convince the reader to take a specific action, you should include a call to action. A call to action is a statement that expresses exactly what you want the reader to do in very simple terms.

If you don’t need the reader to take a specific action at the end of the essay, you should still close it with a thought-provoking sentence or question. Leave the reader mulling over your essay. Overall, the basic principles of writing a conclusion apply here, so use this paragraph to explain why the topic matters or provide an overview of your opinion.

Example of a 5-Paragraph Essay Outline

Before we go, here’s an example of what the outline of a 5-paragraph essay should look like:

Essay topic: Meditation


  • Introduction about meditation, thesis statement, and three main points
  • Body focused on meditation for stress management, increased creativity, and emotion regulation
  • Conclusion reviewing the thesis statements, three main points, and call to action or thought-provoking statement

Bottom Line

As you can see, the 5-paragraph essay format is very simple and it can come in quite handy. It’s a great tool not only when you’re a beginner or you’re being timed during a writing assignment, but also when you’re writing a longer essay.

Writing a 5-paragraph essay about the topic of a long paper you need to turn in will allow you to organize your ideas. Once you have a neat summary, expanding it won’t be as challenging or time-consuming. In other words, the 5-paragraph essay can be your northern star in that scenario.

Another great thing about the 5-paragraph essay tool is that it can help you beat writer’s block. When you’re assigned a long, challenging, or overwhelming paper and the blank page paralyzes you, this short and simple exercise can get those creative juices flowing!

Whatever use you give to this essay-writing tool, you will be happy you finally got familiar with it. As far as formats go, this one is very simple, so it often gets overlooked. But sometimes, simple is best!