Essay Structure

By: Tammy Karsten

What is essay structure? How to plan and write a well-organized essay.

Any piece of academic writing, whether large or small, should display these basic characteristics:


The introduction is the first paragraph of an essay or the first section of a dissertation or thesis.  It generally gives background information on the subject and then moves to introduce the specific information which the piece of writing will address.

An introduction must always include a thesis statement. For a small piece of writing such as an essay or project, the thesis statement is usually situated at the end of the first paragraph.  For larger pieces of writing, such as dissertations and theses, it is located somewhere within the first few pages of the introduction.

The thesis statement mentions the specific viewpoint or problem which the writer is going to discuss.  Larger pieces of writing may also include an ‘essay map’, which mentions the content of each section or chapter.

Main body

This is the largest section of an essay, project, dissertation or thesis.  This is the section in which the writer discusses and analyses information and answers research questions.

There any many ways to organise the main body, depending upon the nature of the topic being discussed or the data being analysed.  Some organisational types are:  sequence, comparison and contrast, cause and effect, and argumentation.  Larger pieces of writing usually include a combination of these types in different sections or chapters.


The conclusion is the final paragraph of an essay or the final section of a dissertation or thesis.  It may include a paraphrased restatement of the thesis statement, a summary of findings or suggestions for the future.

Writing Articles & Information.
About the Author:

Dr. Tammy Karsten taught English language, literature and academic writing and university level for many years before becoming a freelance writer.

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