Tips on Structuring Paragraphs

Structuring Your Essay Paragraphs

This handout provides guidance for how to structure the paragraphs in your essays. Most likely, you already know that essays have three different types of paragraphs: the introduction, the body paragraphs, and the conclusion. These different types of paragraphs serve different functions, and therefore follow different patterns to communicate ideas.

Many methods for organizing paragraphs exist. No method is perfect. You may already have an approach that works for you; if you do, stick with it.

If you need pointers or want to try to something new, read through the method outlined here. It provides a tried-and-true formula that helps many students. The method uses acronyms to help you remember the different parts of the paragraphs. An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of successive words connected to the same concept.

The acronym for the introductory paragraph is E.D.I.T., which stands for Engagement, Development, Inquiry or Insight, and Thesis Statement. All introductory paragraphs include these four parts. Each part builds upon the one that precedes it, and sets up the part that follows it. Note that the method specifies four parts and not four sentences. Most introductions need more than four sentences to adequately express the controlling idea of the essay. Each of the first three parts might have two or three sentences, although the fourth part (Thesis Statement) should be one sentence.

The acronym for body paragraphs is T.E.X.T., which stands for Topic Sentence, Example, Explanation, and Tie-up. Every essay has several body paragraphs forming the bulk of your argument that comes between the introduction and the conclusion. Body paragraphs also have four parts; the first part should be a single sentence, but the next three may each have several sentences.

The acronym for concluding paragraphs is S.S., which stands for Strategy for Closing and Summary.

The pages that follow provide more detailed explanations for the organizational method for each type of paragraph.