Basic Essay Structure

Essays written for an academic audience follow a structure with which you are likely familiar: Intro, Body, Conclusion.

Here is a general overview of what each of those sections “does” in the larger essay. Be aware, however, that certain assignments and certain professors may ask for additional content or require unusual formatting, so always be sure to read the assignment sheet as carefully as possible.

Introductory Section

  • Hook: Begins with information to draw the reader in:
    • Compelling quote about your topic (signal phrase and citation are needed!)
    • Interesting fact about your topic
    • Brief story about your topic
  • Context: Provides basic information about your topic that leads into the thesis
  • Thesis: Ends with the statement that provides a focus for the entire essay: the thesis

Body of the Essay

  • Paragraph order should follow the order of ideas that you laid out in the thesis
  • All paragraphs should remain focused on the thesis
  • Each paragraph discusses ONE idea; a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph will indicate that one idea


  • Goes beyond merely summarizing and restating your thesis and all of your main points.
    • A strong conclusion leaves the reader with a sense of why this paper – and its topic – matter, and to whom, and in what way.
    • A strong conclusion could issue a call to further action, or a call for further research
    • A strong conclusion could revisit the “Hook” from the intro and elaborate on it as a way to close the essay