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Essay Writing - How to Write an Essay

Online writing courses - 5 paragraph essay format

I’m a retired teacher of literature and writing. I really miss teaching, so I decided to do a little online teaching with free online writing classes. Of course, it won’t be the same because I won’t have that wonderful interaction with students. Perhaps it will somewhat satisfy my need to share information, however. Today’s topic in my online writing courses is essay writing.

Essay writing is a required skill in high schools and colleges across the nation. I assume it’s a necessary skill in other countries, as well. I was always surprised on the rare occasion when I had a senior who didn’t know how to write an essay. How did such a student reach the twelfth grade without knowing how to write an essay?

If you’re having trouble with essay writing, I’m offering free essay help. This is a basic “short course” in essay writing. Remember – this is for basic essay writing. In future online writing courses, I’ll get into more advanced essay writing. For now, however, beginners will learn the basic essay format. A good place to start is with the 5 paragraph essay.

What’s a 5 paragraph essay?

First of all, I apologize for the “5” instead of “five.” For search engine purposes, I must refer to the essay writing as a 5 paragraph essay. Now that we have that out of the way…

A 5 paragraph essay is made up of five paragraphs – hence the name. The first paragraph is the introduction. Following the introduction are three body paragraphs. The last paragraph is the conclusion.

Essay format for a 5 paragraph essay

I. introduction

II. body paragraph

III. body paragraph

IV. body paragraph

V. conclusion

Essay format – the introduction

The introduction introduces your essay topic to the reader. It should start off broad and general. Picture your introduction as an inverted triangle, starting broad and gradually narrowing to a point. The point is your thesis statement. The focus should tighten into the last sentence, which is the thesis. The thesis statement controls your entire paper.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you’re writing an essay about the qualities that a good leader should possess. Since this is a 5 paragraph essay, you’ll choose three such qualities. A simple thesis statement might be something like “A good leader must have intelligence, good judgment, and courage.” This sums up the entire essay into one sentence.

Essay writing – body paragraphs

Your first body paragraph will be about a leader’s need for intelligence. The first sentence of this paragraph should be a topic sentence – something like “An effective leader must be intelligent.” Then you’ll write four or five sentences supporting that topic sentence. In other words, you’ll explain why it’s important for a good leader to be smart.

You’ll need to do the same thing with the next two body paragraphs. Later, after you get the basic essay format down pat, your topic sentence won’t necessarily need to be the first sentence. For now, however, it will help you to organize your essay and teach you how to write an essay.

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Essay writing – the conclusion

When writing an essay, you’ll need a conclusion. This should be your last paragraph. Your conclusion should sum up what you’ve already said. Some teachers and instructors sometimes require that beginners, those just learning how to write an essay, reword the thesis statement and use it as the first sentence of the conclusion. This is followed by three or four more sentences.

If you use this essay format, your conclusion should be like an upright triangle. It should start with your thesis statement and gradually get broader in the way of information – just the opposite of your introduction.

In the conclusion, be careful not to introduce new information.

More essay help

Each teacher is a little different in her requirements. For example, traditionally, instructors frown upon the use of second person (you) when writing an essay. This rule has relaxed, however, and second person is often allowed in essays now. In order to be sure, ask your teacher before you commit pen to paper when writing an essay.

When you’re writing an essay, plan ahead. Make an outline of some sort. The outline doesn’t have to be in any formal essay format. Even a jot list will help you organize your thoughts.

When you’ve finished writing an essay, let it “rest” before you do final editing. Your mistakes are difficult to spot while your essays are still “fresh.” Your brain will often correct the mistakes so that you won’t notice them. After the essays get “cold,” your errors will be much easier to identify.

Give your essays titles. Do not put the title in quotation marks.

Don’t begin your conclusion with “in conclusion.” Don’t use “I think” or “I feel” when writing an essay. Your educator knows that you’re thinking and feeling! Don’t use clichés, either. Don't use "The end" at the bottom of your essays.

I haven’t addressed voice or style in this essay help article. Both are very important elements of essays, but those are lessons for the future. Your first attempts at essay writing should focus on organization and essay format. Once you master the basics, we can move on to word choice, transition, and varied sentence patterns.

Essay writing doesn’t have to be difficult. Just master the basic essay format first, beginning with a simple 5 paragraph essay. Once you learn to organize and control your content, you can move on to more essay help to make your essays interesting and more polished.

To learn more about how to improve writing skills, visit my free online writing classes below! I'll be adding more tips for improving writing skills, but for now, just click the links for more online writing courses.

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Essay writing doesn't have to be difficlut!

Essay writing doesn't have to be difficlut!


Amy DeMarco from Chicago on October 03, 2018:

I decided to go back to college and my English Lit class starts next week. I could not have found this hub at a better time. I always struggled to write my conclusion and wrap things up. I will Start following your hubs.

Elaina on September 12, 2013:

This is very helpful I have to write a 5 paragraph essay by next week here’s the question “Has the U.S. government gone too far in the various aspects of our lives?” well now i know how to set it up my answer is yes but i have writers block i dont know what to write!!!! can someone help?

Meril Marya John on May 06, 2013:

Can you please show 1 or 2 essays ? It will be very helpful for us.......................And thanksssssssssssssss .................

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Reba on February 04, 2013:

Thanks, just wondering if you have any follow-up lessons, such as how to write a desriptive essay, or a persuasive essay, etc.???

KE Morgan from Arizona on May 16, 2012:

Very good.

alyssa on January 25, 2012:

hey do u know what website i could to to right a essaay

eissa on December 04, 2011:

Thanks from ksa

pink_k10 on November 10, 2011:

so nice!!!!this info can help me a lot to win the essay writing competition!!!GODBLESS

Carolyn Sands from Hollywood Florida on November 06, 2011:

Hi Habee. I was reading another hub this morning which linked me to this one. It is awesome and I voted you up. Thanks a bunch.

A/Rahman amare on October 30, 2011:

This my first time that i read this page,really it helps me thank you .

Chloe on October 09, 2011:

very helpful thnx

nelly Medina on August 25, 2011:

Thanks for help me, God bless you.

GHANI222 from hyderabad india 00919293056189 on August 07, 2011:



Carlon Michelle from USA on July 26, 2011:

Thank you so much for your generosity in providing these free classes. This one brought me back to high school and watching to my English teacher Ms. Buckles write these five steps on the blackboard. Smile!

htodd from United States on July 10, 2011:

Great post ..Thanks

Beatrice G. from New York State on June 06, 2011:

This is such a great resource! I've just linked to it on a hub I recently published on college writing skills.

memurugan on March 30, 2011:

every doing good work make if positivity. goo oon. great

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on March 28, 2011:

I like your teaching style. Reading this has given me comfort in the sense of we all are learning at some point along a line of points. Those who take time to dash back rendering encouragement, prompting learning, challenging application deserve praise. Thank You! I look forward to reading your other free learning tools.

Bilalnr from Islamabad, Pakistan on March 06, 2011:

Great Hub habee!!!

patsposts from London on February 25, 2011:

Wish this Hub had been around back when I was going to school.....:)

Roxielady on February 24, 2011:

Great Hub article. I have to say that the material presented in clear and concise and should be of great assistance to those wanting to write a good essay. I also want to wish you great success with your online courses. It is wonderful to see someone who is just as successful out of the classroom.

Emma from Houston TX on February 24, 2011:

Habee, i like your articles. At least College school students will benefit from your article

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 05, 2011:

Thanks, Jacques! I wish you success!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 05, 2011:

True, Shahid, but you also have to have some organization! lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 05, 2011:

Thanks, Dpatullo! Glad you liked it!

jacques.gim from Lancashire on February 04, 2011:

Good info I need to practice my essays being French it can be difficult specialy at the moment. I am doing a certed at UCLAN and I am finding my second year dificult

however I am enjoying it, so your hub pages will come handy thanks for your tips.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on February 04, 2011:

Dnemesis, I always enjoyed essay writing, too! Are we nerds? lol

Sue, that's great! Hope it provides essay help.

Shahid Bukhari from My Awareness in Being. on January 21, 2011:

Just write ... describing as best as you can ... and you will have a good essay ... maybe, a masterpiece.

dpatullo741 from UK on January 16, 2011:

You have suggested great ideas of essay writing. It will help me a lot.


Sue on January 15, 2011:

Great helpful advice for my grandchildren. THANK YOU

DNemesis on January 15, 2011:

Essays had always been the fun part of my school days. Thnks for a great hub.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on January 12, 2011:

Caroline, thanks for reading, and God bless you, too!

Darcy, glad you stopped by!

Darcy30 from Atlanta on January 09, 2011:

Very useful. Thank you.

CarolineVABC on January 08, 2011:

Thank you for sharing such a very informative hub! I think we can all use some "better writing tips." I will definitely review these things with my son. Although I'm sure that now he is in 9th grade, he is aware of these, but just needs some tuning and more practice won't hurt, either. Thanks again, habee! Keep at it. God bless!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 19, 2010:

Thanks, Rick!

Rick Ogilvie on November 13, 2010:

I don't really use the basic formats all that much anymore, but the simplicity with which this article was written, concise and to the point, is refreshing.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on November 11, 2010:

Neverletitgo, so glad you liked it!

Yolly, thanks! LOVE your name!

Ironracer, it's easy to forget what you learned in school! lol

Ironracer from St. Louis, MO on November 05, 2010:

I really enjoy your writing articles - simple to read and well written! Even though I should already know everything you mention, it never hurts to refresh!

yolly rogers on October 29, 2010:

you are an excellent teacher! loved that lesson in essay!

Abdinasir Aden from Minneapolis, MN on October 28, 2010:

Thank you hubee for you tips about how to write an essay. I am using this hub as my reference. I will be reading you hubs especially free writing courses

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 04, 2010:

You're welcome, Nancy!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 04, 2010:

Great tips, Doc!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on October 04, 2010:

Good to see you, Granny!

nancy_30 from Georgia on October 02, 2010:

Great hub. It's been a long time since I've written an essay. Thanks for refreshing my mind.

Funom Theophilus Makama from Europe on September 30, 2010:

Such a great hub, you have here...

1. Research: Begin the essay writing process by researching your topic, making yourself an expert. Utilize the internet, the academic databases, and the library. Take notes and immerse yourself in the words of great thinkers.

2. Analysis: Now that you have a good knowledge base, start analyzing the arguments of the essays you're reading. Clearly define the claims, write out the reasons, the evidence. Look for weaknesses of logic, and also strengths. Learning how to write an essay begins by learning how to analyze essays written by others.

3. Brainstorming: Your essay will require insight of your own, genuine essay-writing brilliance. Ask yourself a dozen questions and answer them. Meditate with a pen in your hand. Take walks and think and think until you come up with original insights to write about.

4. Thesis: Pick your best idea and pin it down in a clear assertion that you can write your entire essay around. Your thesis is your main point, summed up in a concise sentence that lets the reader know where you're going, and why. It's practically impossible to write a good essay without a clear thesis.

5. Outline: Sketch out your essay before straightway writing it out. Use one-line sentences to describe paragraphs, and bullet points to describe what each paragraph will contain. Play with the essay's order. Map out the structure of your argument, and make sure each paragraph is unified.

6. Introduction: Now sit down and write the essay. The introduction should grab the reader's attention, set up the issue, and lead in to your thesis. Your intro is merely a buildup of the issue, a stage of bringing your reader into the essay's argument.

(Note: The title and first paragraph are probably the most important elements in your essay. This is an essay-writing point that doesn't always sink in within the context of the classroom. In the first paragraph you either hook the reader's interest or lose it. Of course your teacher, who's getting paid to teach you how to write an essay, will read the essay you've written regardless, but in the real world, readers make up their minds about whether or not to read your essay by glancing at the title alone.)

7. Paragraphs: Each individual paragraph should be focused on a single idea that supports your thesis. Begin paragraphs with topic sentences, support assertions with evidence, and expound your ideas in the clearest, most sensible way you can. Speak to your reader as if he or she were sitting in front of you. In other words, instead of writing the essay, try talking the essay.

8. Conclusion: Gracefully exit your essay by making a quick wrap-up sentence, and then end on some memorable thought, perhaps a quotation, or an interesting twist of logic, or some call to action. Is there something you want the reader to walk away and do? Let him or her know exactly what.

9. MLA Style: Format your essay according to the correct guidelines for citation. All borrowed ideas and quotations should be correctly cited in the body of your text, followed up with a Works Cited (references) page listing the details of your sources.

10. Language: You're not done writing your essay until you've polished your language by correcting the grammar, making sentences flow, incoporating rhythm, emphasis, adjusting the formality, giving it a level-headed tone, and making other intuitive edits. Proofread until it reads just how you want it to sound. Writing an essay can be tedious, but you don't want to bungle the hours of conceptual work you've put into writing your essay by leaving a few slippy misppallings and pourly wordedd phrazies..

Granny's House from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time on September 25, 2010:

habee, thank you so much for this hub. I think before I start a new hub I will have to go over your hubs Essay Writting- How to Write an Essay. I am trying to become a better writer. Everyone can learn a lot from your hubs

Will rate up and bookmark.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Thanks for stopping by, Art!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Chin, I'm glad you found the hub useful!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Caroline, I hope your son finds this useful!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Top, it would work for an article or hub, although I don't always use this approach.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Thanks a bunch, Jon!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 24, 2010:

Thanks, Old book!

Artoflegendindia on September 15, 2010:

Nice hub. hank you for sharing your knowledge.I liked your method for writing essay.

Chin chin from Philippines on September 13, 2010:

Thanks again for sharing. It is great to have a refresher on learning the basics of writing essays. Honestly, it takes me quite a while before I can gather ideas for my writings. This lesson will help me better organize my thoughts.

CarolineVABC from Castaic on September 12, 2010:

Thank you for sharing this. I have a son who just entered high school and he has an English class which focuses on literature/writing. May I share this with him? Thanks for clarifying some points on how to write an essay. Great hub!:-)

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on September 07, 2010:

Mwatkins, it's alarming, isn't it??

TopUniverse on September 05, 2010:

It reminds me how to write an article.

Jon Law from Birmingham UK on September 05, 2010:

from general to the specific - thats what I was taught. It is good advice. The need to structure the essay for the sake of the reader is a good skill to learn.

If you are being assessed for college the reader is doing the assessing so it's a good idea to make it easy for that person! Good structure makes assessment that much easier and much more enjoyable.

Good advice here

oldbooklover on August 31, 2010:

I love your visual imagery of the triangular introduction and conclusion. In my mind I see three equal circles strung between them for the paragraphs. I will remember this.

Thank you very much Habee. You are a great teacher and thanks to the internet you will go on and on helping people.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 31, 2010:

Nicole, glad you found the info useful!

mwatkins from Portland, Oregon & Vancouver BC on August 30, 2010:

This is excellent! It should be a must read for all kids K-12! I used to grade papers and test at the college level and you would not believe what the students write - Some of the worst spelling and grammar around - Very sad testimony to teachers and parent involvement in kids education. Way to go, Habee!

nicole.reilly from Austin, TX on August 29, 2010:

This will greatly improve my skills in writing. Thanks again!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2010:

Quite alright, Mike. What are friends for?? lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2010:

Mrirvine, thanks for stopping by!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2010:

Kazeem, glad you liked it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 27, 2010:

I appreciate that, Passin!

Mike Lickteig from Lawrence KS USA on August 26, 2010:

Gosh, this takes me back. If only I had teachers as clear and thorough as you. In Freshman English at KU, I got an A on my first essay and an F on the second, so I was all over the board. I was usually good enough to defend my writing style, although I recall arguing with an instructor on whether "it's" was simply "it is" or was a singular possessive (or whatever that was called), like "his" or "hers." I won't say which side of the issue I was on except to say I was wrong...

Thanks so much for the lesson, and I apologize for going back over the old memories. Take care.


mrirvinemassage on August 24, 2010:

Very informative! Thank you for sharing this article.

kazeemjames01 on August 24, 2010:

Well detailed, instructive and educative.


PassinItAlong on August 24, 2010:

Nice share!

I'm really interested in writing articles,this is very helpful.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2010:

Awww...thanks, MArian! My students did love me - because I made learning fun.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2010:

Anglnwu, I really appreciate your comment!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2010:

Thanks, Boxxies!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2010:

HH, it's always good to see you!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 24, 2010:

Great minds, Mystery! lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

You're welcome, Donkey!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Leni, thanks for reading!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Chris, I ignore them, too, when I'm writing for myself!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Lita, I always enjoyed reading my students' papers!

Maria Cecilia from Philippines on August 22, 2010:

Habee now you have another Maria Cecilia, thanks for this hub it made me realized that I am doing the right thing...

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

buckie, I'm hoping high school students will find it!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Prasetio, thanks for the kind words, my friend!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Susie, I'm not sure how that happens, but it does!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

glad you liked it, Eth!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Hi, Anne! Good to see you!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Run, I LOVED teaching! I really miss it.

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Thanks, Rob. The basic essay format is good to know!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Hi, Marie! I don't usually write essays on HP, but I hope I never forget the basic format!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Thanks, Sheila. You get an "A"!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Cvanthul, I'm hoping this will help high school students!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Hi, Maria. I used to have a good friend named Maria Cecilia!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

De Greek, I'd take a kiss from you over an apple any day! lol

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

silver, I guess I'll always be a teacher at heart!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

You are welcome, drbj!

MarianG on August 22, 2010:

I loved writing essays when I was in school! I bet that you were a great a teacher and that your students loved you!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

thanks for stopping by, Pam!

Holle Abee (author) from Georgia on August 22, 2010:

Yep, Nifty - the basics are a firm foundation!

anglnwu on August 21, 2010:

I love your triangle analogy. Just picture that and everything else will fall into place. Great advice from a great teacher--rated awesome!

boxxies on August 21, 2010:

Excellent reminder.

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