Skip to main content

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.

Scroll to Continue

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.

  • How to Improve Writing Skills with Word Games
    Tips for improving writing skills by using word games and writing exercises, provided by a retired writing and literature teacher.
  • How to Improve Reading Comprehension
    How to improve reading comprehension, with reading strategies from a retired teacher.
  • Poetry Analysis: How To
    Tips for writing a poetry analysis, from a retired high school teacher.
  • Free Online Writing Courses: Teach Kids to be Better Writers
    Its really never too soon to start teaching basic writing skills, and with this installment of my free online writing courses, Ill provide you with some tips. I use these with my grandchildren, and...
  • Online Writing Courses: Gerunds
    Welcome to another lesson in my free online writing courses. The main purpose of my online writing classes is to help students, but some adult writers might find them helpful, also especially as a...
  • Online Writing Courses: Subjective vs. Objective Pronouns
    This is another entry in my free online writing classes. Today's writing skills topic is about pronouns and whether the pronoun used is subjective or objective. Many writers make mistakes with case, and...
  • Online Writing Classes: Commas Part I
    This is another installment of my online writing classes. Several people have requested that I write an article about comma usage, so consider me your online writing tutor! Using commas correctly can be...
  • Improve Writing Skills with Connotation: Verbs and Adjectives
    This is the second entry in my writing courses hubs. The first covered the basic essay format. This entry in my writing courses will discuss how to improve writing skills by using colorful verbs and...
  • Parent-Teacher Conference: Tips for Teachers
    As a retired teacher, I have certainly had my share of parent-teacher conferences. When I was young and inexperienced, I hated these meetings. I always felt a little on the defensive, like I was having to...
  • Parent-Teacher Conference: Tips for Parents
    Little Johnny is having problems at school, in Mrs. Smith's class. Being a responsible parent, you've requested a parent-teacher conference. Or worse, you've been invited to a meeting at the teacher's...
  • How to be a Good Teacher
    Teachers and their individual teaching styles cover the spectrum. Some are strict, some are lenient, some are funny, and some dont hang around long enough to develop a style at allyou get the picture....
  • High School Teachers: Host Your Own Renaissance Fair - with Photos
    If you're looking for a great way for school clubs to raise money, for students to experience hands-on learning, and for everyone to have a blast, to boot, consider hosting your own high school Renaissance...
  • The Birth of the English Romantic Movement
    In the second half of the eighteenth century, a spirit of rebellion swept across the world. The American colonies fought for their independence from the British, and in 1789, the masses in France revolted...
  • Online College: How to Be Successful
    Attending college on line is a great way to further your education. I've attended all kinds of classes, and I've found that online college programs are by far the most enjoyable. There's no driving to a...
  • Beowulf, Epic Hero?
    Beowulf is perhaps the most important work from Anglo-Saxon literature. It was probably composed in the seventh or eighth century but was not written down until around the eleventh century. Like most...
  • Creative Teaching Strategies: Macbeth
    Let's face it: Most high school students had rather suffer through a root canal than endure a typical lecture on Shakespeare. It doesn't have to be that way, however. A creative teacher can come up with...
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 .................

YCessays on March 03, 2013:

Articles and Essays? Business plans? Presenations? Powerpoints? YCEssays team got it all!

They also feature the following services:

- FREE works cited pages!

- FREE revisions at your request!

- Guaranteed completion dates

- 100% original and custom (no plagiarism)

- Everything is based on YOUR specifications

- Payment will be done through Paypal, so your CC is 100% safe!

- FREE 24/7 virtual assistance

For more details:

Our contact number is (786)340-0224.

We're available 24/7 via phone, text, or email (

Visit our website for more details:

"We serve YOU!"

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