How to Structure An Essay

Do you want to learn how to structure an essay? With our step-by-step guide, mastering essay structure is straightforward.

Writing essays is a necessary element of going through college as an excellent student. Learning to write a good essay is essential for a student's communication and writing skills. You can not write a perfect essay if you do not know how to structure it. Knowing what essay structure is and how to apply it helps you communicate your ideas in the most logical order to your reader. Therefore, students must understand the essay structure to write an outstanding essay.

What Is An Essay Structure?

An essay structure is a plan for organizing your content and ordering your writing. Before you write, it is crucial to have a unique structure for two reasons.

First, a good structure enables your reader to interact with and comprehend your essay's subject. The second reason is that having the proper structure acts as a narrative's skeletal framework. What distinguishes your essay from a mere collection of facts and figures is the inclusion of a narrative.

Having a narrative in your essay structure makes it easier for your reader to engage with the text. Now that you know what an essay structure is, let's get into the details of how to structure an essay.

The Basics of Essay Structure

The basic structure of an essay comprises an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. Understanding these structural elements is as essential as understanding your essay. Therefore, this article will explain the primary objectives of each of these structural elements and show how you can best achieve them in your essay.


Writing a strong introduction is the first step in understanding how to structure an essay. The introduction of your essay sets the direction and the tone for the body and conclusion of your essay. If you get the introduction wrong, your essay will be flawed. An excellent introduction has three primary objectives;

  1. To help readers understand your main point. You can start your introductory paragraph with a statement that catches your reader's attention called a Hook. 

  1. To narrow the scope of your essay. There is far too much information available on your essay topic; therefore, you must narrow it down to a more specific subject.

  1. To ensure that you provide your reader with your thesis statement and an idea of how you intend to approach your entire essay.

Main Body

When composing the body of your essay, keep in mind that it must accomplish three objectives:

  1. It must be relevant to the title of the essay you are discussing. Make sure you address the topic given by the supervisor and do not deviate from it. 

  1. It must methodically approach the topic as stated in the introduction. You can accomplish this through a series of paragraphs.

  1. Establish a narrative flow in writing an essay's body. Simply put, a narrative flow is when your paragraphs are logically connected.


The main aim of the conclusion paragraph is to summarise the subjects you have discussed in your essay. You should create a general perspective or a crucial point regarding the essay's topic. Also, consider the difficulties or arguments that may have arisen from writing your essay. This can help you avoid having your conclusion section become a simple repetition of your essay's body.

How Many Paragraphs Are in An Essay?

You may be familiar with the five-paragraph essay format. This is a relatively often taught structure of writing an essay, especially in high school. It consists of one paragraph for the introduction, three paragraphs for the body, and one paragraph for the conclusion. However, an essay with only five paragraphs is too brief and insufficient for academic writing.

Unless otherwise specified by your professor, there is no hard and fast rule about the number of paragraphs an essay should contain. The number of paragraphs you write might be determined by the number of arguments you intend to provide in your essay. However, keep in mind that the evaluation of your essay will depend on each paragraph's content and not necessarily the number of paragraphs.

When writing an essay structure, organize the paragraphs meticulously. Each paragraph should contain only one central theme. It should also explain the evidence that supports your viewpoint.

Finally, include a concluding sentence at the end of your paragraph that ties the entire paragraph back to your thesis statement. This will result in a coherent essay. 

You must link your paragraphs in such a way that they tell a story. One way to accomplish this is to incorporate text that provides a narrative flow, such as Furthermore, However, In addition, etc.

Essay Structure Examples

Having established that an essay structure comprises an introduction, a body, and a conclusion, here is a brief typical structure essay example;

The above structure of an essay example shows the implementation of the objectives of each component of an essay structure.

Chronological Structure

The chronological structure organizes concepts according to the sequence in which they occur. It is used when describing a special event, relating historical events, presenting a story, or when a sequential description is required. Here are three tips to help you have good essay construction while using a chronological structure.

  1. Make a thesis statement that describes the process and the sequence of events.

  1. In the order they occur, write about the steps in your method. Separate each of the steps or sequence of events into different paragraphs.

  1. Use words and phrases that signal chronological order to show the sequence of events. For instance, first, second, in the meantime, after, etc.

For example, suppose you are writing an essay about a research project that requires you to provide a detailed description of your processes. Start with a description of the process followed by the period you conducted the research and the reason for using it. Then, you can explain how you conducted your research by separating your steps into paragraphs and arranging them sequentially. 

The chronological structure of a good essay will offer both the writer and the reader a logical and straightforward outline.

Compare-and-Contrast Structure

You may adopt a compare-and-contrast structure if you have over one concept in your essay. This essay writing structure is typically employed while writing argumentative essays. The purpose of a compare-and-contrast framework is to present a comprehensive understanding of each concept before identifying its similarities and differences.

After you have determined the concepts, conduct in-depth research on the two concepts. This research will include a general idea of each concept, the similarities, and the differences. As you develop your ideas, distribute them across the three basic writing structures, i.e., the introduction, body, and conclusion, by the guidelines we provided earlier. There are two approaches to adapting this structure in your essay;

  • Block Method

This method involves explaining each concept separately. For example, you are comparing and contrasting Vaccination and Medication. You can decide to go the route of explaining Vaccination, the aspects it shares with Medication, and the aspect it does not. You can explain Medication the same way.

  • Alternative Method

With this method, you compare and contrast the two concepts side by side. For instance, if you are comparing and contrasting fiction and nonfiction, you compare the two concepts side by side from a specific aspect of both.


The best structure for an essay that focuses on specific problems, either practical or theoretical, is the Problem-method-solution structure. To begin with, you need to identify and adequately define the problem. This step is essential as it helps you persuade your reader about the existence of a problem and its importance. 

Here is a strategy we recommend for using the problem-method-solution structure:

  • First, in your introduction, explain the problem in its simplest form.

  • Second, emphasize how the problem will affect their lives.

  • Third, present a practical solution to the problem. When brainstorming, remember that not all solutions are equal in effect. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses before using them.

  • In the body of your essay, you must detail each problem and then propose a solution. Your solution should be easy to implement, cost-effective, realistic, and objective.

  • It would be best to back up your arguments with facts and stats or cite experts' opinions.

  • In your conclusion, you can summarise the subject and briefly restate the problem without delving into many details. Highlight the main points and provide brief overviews of your solution, central elements, and your essay’s primary argument.

Regardless of whichever format you want to employ in structuring an essay, with the stated guidelines, you can navigate your content into a well-written essay that will earn you your desired grades.

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