Five Paragraph Essay Outline

five paragraph essay outline

The five paragraph essay outline is one of the most basic essay writing formats that is used as a standard for teaching theme writing from grade 4 onwards. As a teaching tool, the five paragraph essay outline serves as a guideline to help students explain, and exemplify their ideas and concepts in an organized and concise manner. Known also by other names such as theme writing, five paragraph theme, conventional student essay, or 500-word essay, the five paragraph essay outline is structured to have 3 major sections made up of five paragraphs namely the introduction (1paragraph), the body (3 paragraphs), and the conclusion (1 paragraph).

Rigidly structured, it is specifically designed to train upstart writers in organizing their ideas and developing their thoughts in a way that they are able to effectively express and explain them through a thoroughly written and concise essay. This is the raison d’être or the very essence of its structured existence – to train writers to express their thoughts smoothly, un-deviated and highly focused. Its popularity is rooted on the fact that it is something that is easy for teachers to teach their students as well as for their students to learn and hone their basic writing skills.

Considered by some as formulaic writing, this particular outline helps inexperienced writers develop their composition skills and in expressing their ideas by following a rudimentary fundamental formula that is structured to include a one paragraph introduction which stakes a particular claim, a three paragraph body that provides proof in support of the claim, and a conclusion which summarizes the claim and all statements supporting said claim.
Writers are expected to follow the specific structure of the five paragraph essay outline the elements of which are described below to ensure that they remain focused on the claim being made or the idea being propounded.

The Introductory Paragraph

The introductory paragraph presents your case and tells your readers what the essay is all about. It should start with an interesting statement that piques the readers’ interests followed by an insight into the writer’s assertion and ending with a transition to the next paragraph. The first paragraph serves as a mini-outline of what the author wishes to convey.

The First Paragraph of the Body

The first paragraph of the body should relay the strongest point and the most interesting argument in support of the author’s claim or assertion. The first sentence must contain a reference to the introductory paragraph while the last sentence must have a transitional hook to the next paragraph.

The Second Paragraph of the Body

The second paragraph provides the readers with the second strongest argument and the second most interesting argument supporting the author’s claim. As in the first paragraph, the first sentence must contain a reference to the introductory paragraph while the last sentence must have a transitional hook to the succeeding paragraph.

The Third Paragraph of the Body

The third paragraph must be an obvious follow up to the second paragraph and must contain the weakest argument and the least interesting aspect supporting the thesis. Again, the first sentence must contain a reference to the introductory paragraph while the last sentence must have a transitional hook to the next paragraph.

The Concluding Paragraph

The concluding paragraph serves as a summary of all the major points asserted by the author. It should strongly re-state the initial assertion as well as the author’s supporting arguments without duplicating any of its previous statements. It must be written in a very persuasive and powerful way as to gain the reader’s sympathy and influence his opinion. It is essentially a mirror of what has been presented in the introductory paragraph but also stresses the point that the assertion has been proven.

People may find the five paragraph essay outline as too rigidly structured as to limit the creativity and imagination of the more prolific and experienced writers. However, all things considered, it certainly is a great tool for budding writers to help them develop their writing skills. It serves as the starting point to hone their composition skills and later serve as their springboards to more advanced, more creative, un-structured writing styles that truly spur the imagination and promote intellectual growth.

Author:

Kathy Seelinger is a Professor of Education at Marshall University, Huntington, WV.