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Essay Writing: Essay Writing Basics

The Monroe College Guide to Essay Writing presents the information necessary to write effective essays.

Basic Essay Format

Basic Essay Format

Please note: these guidelines are general suggestions. When in doubt, please refer to your assignment for specifics.

Most essays consist of three parts: the introduction (one paragraph); the body (usually at least three paragraphs); and the conclusion (one paragraph).

Standard Parts of an Essay

Introduction (including the Thesis Statement)

Begin your paper by introducing your topic. Capture your reader’s interest with a compelling quote, analogy, question or statement. Once you’ve got your reader’s attention, provide some background information about your topic.

Be sure your Introduction makes a clear, general point, which you can then back up with specifics as you lead to your Thesis Statement.

The final sentence in your Introduction paragraph should be your Thesis Statement: begin with a single, clear and concise sentence stating your essay’s main idea or argument; then, give your reader a roadmap for your essay. Include the limits of your argument, and an idea of the main points you will use to support your thesis. More help with Thesis Statements is available on this page from Rasmussen College Library.

Body Paragraphs (and using Transitions)

Now use the Body of your essay to support the main points you presented in your Thesis Statement. Develop each point using one or more paragraph, and support each point with specific details. Your details may come from research or from your direct experience. Refer to your assignment for required supporting documentation. Your own analysis and discussion of your topic should serve to tie your narrative together, and draw conclusions that support your thesis.

Use effective Transition words and phrases to give your paper “flow,” to connect your ideas and move from one supporting statement to another.


Use your conclusion to restate and consolidate all the main points of your essay. You should first restate your Thesis Statement (using slightly different phrasing this time). Give closure to your essay by resolving any outstanding points, and by leaving your readers with a final thought regarding the future or long-term implications of your argument. Your Conclusion is not the place to introduce new ideas or topics that did not appear earlier in your paper.


Don’t forget to cite each source of information that you used -  using In-Text Citations throughout your paper, and a References page at the end. There are tabs at the top of this LibGuide to help you with your In-Text Citations and your References page.