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    Janelle Harris

    Janelle Harris

    5 February, 2021

    The Ultimate Guide on Essay Structure

    An academic essay is generally defined as the type of academic paper characterized by relatively free composition. It aims at elucidating individual impressions and considerations of the author on a specific topic. Even though this piece of writing usually deals with one problem, the author may introduce several ideas in this respect that need to be structured and successfully tailored into a strong logical argument. Organizing a proper structure of an essay is essential as it affects the accuracy of the message conveyed and defines the overall sense of the paper. When it comes to essays, there is no set formula that would define their composition. Usually, the structure of an essay depends on several factors, such as the type of paper, its content, and objectives the writer pursues. The sequence of the critical ideas' revelation to the reader may also be important. In this case, the author chooses an essay writing structure based on mapping. Even if the composition of an essay is relatively free, a basic essay structure does exist. The types of information the paper presents are quite different and divided into sections for a better perception of the text sense. The beginning of a paper takes the introductory form and provides a general idea on the essay’s argument. The body section often deals with the fundamental data analysis and corresponding arguments. The conclusion logically wraps up the mentioned ideas, introducing the key standpoints of the author.
    Essay Structure

    Answering Questions: The Parts of an Essay

    To simplify essay structuring, you can organize your paper based on a three-question algorithm including What, How, and Why questions. These are the key questions a reader wants to get the answers to while reading any academic essay. Make sure your paper coherently interprets each of them.


    This is the first question asked by any reader when starting to read the essay. “What” refers to the persuasive proofs that confirm the authenticity of the phenomenon elucidated in the essay thesis. To answer this question accurately, you need to analyze the evidence you have and support your claims thoroughly. The part of the paper that is to provide the answer to the “What” question usually comes after the essay introduction. Also, this section is most extensive, as it describes the author’s observations. However, it is crucial not to make it too long to keep a proper balance between all the structural parts of the paper.


    Why is your essay essential for reading? Why should your standpoint be useful for somebody else? Explain the value of your work to give it a broader sense and a broader context. The Why question entails the explanation of the significance of your paper. The author’s answer is usually provided at the end of the essay but may be partially mentioned in the introduction. It is totally non-recommendable to leave readers without the answer, as they may consider your essay senseless or unfinished.


    Strong persuasive arguments are the basis of a successful academic essay. To prove that the introduced statements are factual, the author needs to provide a clear answer to the How question. These questions are usually interpreted as “How does the evidence and the personal standpoint of the writer contribute to the authenticity of elaborated claims?”. The average essay structure usually includes one How question – the part that comes right after the What section. However, if you are dealing with a complex paper, it may consist of several How-sections throughout the text.

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    Mapping an Essay

    A successive structure of essay represents a clear and logical presentation of information in order that is easy to grasp by the reader. Moreover, the chosen essay structure template should unfold each argument in the proper sequence, convincing a reader of its genuineness. To make your essay sound professional, it is recommendable to use the mapping method to narrate all your ideas, analyze them thoroughly, and finally structure them according to the readers’ expectations. Mapping helps you predict your reader’s needs and introduce proper information to prove your idea in each separate case. You may turn to the background data, in-depth analysis, or adduce arguments using secondary sources. The maps of the essay refer mainly to sections rather than to text abstracts.

    The tentative mapping can look like this:

    1. Write down the thesis and then confirm its importance right in the next sentence. Stress the novelty of your claim and the way it affects future research. This is where you should provide an answer to the Why question with its more detailed explanation in the conclusion.
    2. Your next phrase can begin in the following way: “To verify this thesis, the reader should know…”. After that, indicate the thing so crucial for the reader and support it with a couple of strong proofs that are up to the point. In such a way, you may introduce a good answer to the What question. All subsequent sentences may start like this: “The next important fact everybody needs to learn is…”. Then provide comprehensive answers to “Why?” and “How?” questions.

    A proper mapping should answer key questions; however, it is far from having any strict form and is characterized by a more flexible approach.

    How to Structure an Essay?

    As has already been mentioned, there is no set formula for essay tailoring; however, the basic essay structure still exists. Any type of academic paper is divided into introduction, body section, and conclusion. Read the guideline below to elaborate a perfectly structured logical piece of writing with a clear presentation of all its parts.


    Introduction is the most important section of any academic essay. It creates first impressions and affects the decision to keep reading your paper. A successfully developed introduction contains a hook, clearly stating the whole essay’s goal and defines the value of your arguments. It elucidates the points the author explores in their paper but doesn’t provide an in-depth observation or analysis.

    Body Paragraphs

    The body section is the longest part of the paper. It contains at least three paragraphs but usually more. Each paragraph depicts one of your points with strong arguments aimed to support it. Base each of your paragraphs on a separate idea, elaborate it in detail and provide corresponding evidence that proves its genuineness.


    Devote one or two paragraphs to wrap up your academic essay. The conclusion summarizes your ideas and arguments by encapsulating the phenomenon you have been dealing with. Overall, the conclusion sums up all the critical points of the essay and lays the foundation for further research.

    The conclusion should not contain any new ideas. It is designed specifically for the issues already covered in its body section. Briefly mention all the key points elucidated in your essay, and make sure you have answered all the crucial questions.

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    Tips on Structuring the Essay

    If you are still not sure how to structure an essay properly, read the tips below. They will help you brilliantly outline your paper and make it logical and easy to grasp:

    • Start with a simple statement and end with a more complex one. This recommendation refers to the body section of the essay. When you move from a widely accepted concept to quite a debatable issue, it helps readers understand the newly introduced phenomenon better as it was based on the popular claim.
    • Proper conveyance of the background information in your essay plays an essential role. Introduce it at the beginning of the paper or when writing a new abstract of a body section.
    • Each part of your essay should be connected with the central thesis and support it. Make sure neither of your arguments provided in the paper disclaims each other.
    • Mind chronological sequence. The events described in your essay should be organized in chronological order.
    • Always proofread your essay. To check it for mistakes, read it aloud several times. Such an approach will help you detect weak points and redundant words. If you have a chance to ask anyone to read your paper, this would help. Other people can take a look at it with fresh eyes and you could proofread it more effectively.
    • The essays covering two or more subjects are usually based on contrast and comparative principles of analysis. You may use an alternating method that represents the comparison of an essay’s subject according to several criteria. A separate paragraph should be devoted to each criterion. The block method will be effective for those who have more than two subjects to compare. Thus, you can dedicate several paragraphs to the analysis of each subject, one after another.
    • Use signposting. Signposting means introducing particular guidelines to your essay that gives the reader a hint about your paper’s structure and makes it easier to grasp. This way, the presentation of your ideas becomes more evident to the audience and helps understand the essay’s issues immediately.
    • Mind the transitions. Transitions serve as links that connect all your ideas forming logical sense chains. Using the right transition words and sentences makes the text sound smooth and easy to perceive, even if it is complex and has a narrow focus.


    Janelle Harris

    Written by:

    Janelle Harris

    Janelle Harris is a Colorado-based writer with over eleven years of academic writing experience. She graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver with an MBA degree. Janelle is a passionate expert who believes that assignment instructions must always be impeccably followed.

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