Writing a Five-Paragraph Essay Step-by-Step

• Posted on • Updated
Writing a Five-Paragraph Essay Step-by-Step
Table of Contents
  1. Writing a Five-Paragraph Essay Step-by-Step
  2. What is a Five-Paragraph Essay?
  3. Length
  4. Types of Five Paragraph Essays
  5. 5-Paragraph Essay Topics
  6. How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay in 5 Steps
  7. Five-Paragraph Essay Outline
  8. Introduction
  9. Body Part
  10. Conclusion
  11. General Tips on Writing a 5-Paragraph Essay
  12. Bottom Line

Writing an excellent five-paragraph essay is a choice. Some students may choose to exert their efforts and time to meet all requirements. But others may opt for the easy path and submit a poorly-crafted paper which ultimately will lead them nowhere. To ensure that your next five-paragraph essay will shine, our professional essay writers have collected the best tips on creating an excellent piece. Let's look at the writing process stages and crucial ingredients that will make your essay stand out.

What is a Five-Paragraph Essay?

As its name suggests, a five-paragraph essay is a composition that includes five paragraphs: an essay introduction, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph. Due to its structure, five-paragraph writing is otherwise called a hamburger essay. This three-tier structure is commonly used to provide an in-depth exploration of three main points related to the subject.


A standard length for a five-paragraph essay ranges 500 to 750 words. A 500 word essay offers enough space to discuss the subject matter without going too much into detail. A general rule of thumb is to keep a paper concise and to-the-point. When composing a three-tier essay, it is also critical to evenly distribute information related to the topic so that your piece looks neat.

Types of Five Paragraph Essays

In an academic context, the five-paragraph essay fits various tasks. Be it a standardized test or a high school assignment, students will mostly need to develop their ideas within 5 paragraphs. However, depending on the purpose of writing, a five-layer structure may be used in over a dozen essay types. Therefore, a student should be familiar with each academic writing type and tailor their essay to the writing prompt.

Some of the most common essay types that stick to the five-paragraph structure are:

  • Persuasive essay: convinces a reader to accept a specific viewpoint by providing supportive examples
  • Argumentative essay: presents a writer's opinion on the topic
  • Expository essay: offers factual information about a subject
  • Narrative essay: shares a personal story that has a valuable takeaway
  • Descriptive essay: creates a picture with the help of demonstrative details
  • Analytical essay: offers an in-depth analysis of a literary work or an issue

These essay types require much more than a simple answer to a question. Students also need to showcase their critical and research skills. In this respect, a five-paragraph essay is a perfect choice since it offers enough room for profound reflection.

5-Paragraph Essay Topics

A good topic should arouse curiosity and invite readers in. Consider these great topic ideas recommended by our professional writers.

  • Do we learn from other people's mistakes?
  • Who is responsible for our destiny?
  • Is it ethical to use animals for tests?
  • What are the advantages of same-sex marriage?
  • How can the government minimize criminal activity?
  • Who must be punished to death?
  • Is LSD that dangerous as most people think?
  • Why should education become entirely free?

These are just several topics commonly used in academic writing. Feel free to choose one of them for your future paper. You can also use this list as a reference to come up with topic ideas yourself.

How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay in 5 Steps

The best five-paragraph essays are those that clearly communicate the writer's idea and address the main issues. Besides, such academic papers should contain supporting evidence. Let's take a closer look at each step of composing a great five-paragraph essay:

  1. Decide on the topic. It should be memorable and, by its nature, give a hint on the major issue addressed in academic work. Regardless of what subject you select to discuss, be ready to develop your writing around the central idea.
  2. Conduct in-depth research. If you were asked to write a five-paragraph paper as part of your homework, be certain to research your topic thoroughly. This step involves working with the primary and secondary sources, gathering all necessary information, and interpreting related examples. In case you need to compose an essay for a standardized test, you naturally won't have time for research. Still, a student will be expected to reflect deeply on the question in the prompt.
  3. Carefully organize the essay outline. After research, it's time to mind map your thoughts on the subject. All related arguments act like branches for your central idea, so writing them down makes it easier to structure information. Try to be as specific as possible; this way, you will be able to spark off writing ideas.
  4. Craft a structured essay. The next step is to make your creative juices flowing. Needless to say, that the essay should contain 5 paragraphs: an introduction, body part, and conclusion. Make sure to have an outline in front to explore each aspect in great depth.
  5. Provide examples. Your paper won't be complete without evidence that backs up your reasoning. Carefully gathered examples help bridge the gap between your central idea and audience. Don't forget to provide proof; this way, you will convey your key message to the reader.

Five-Paragraph Essay Outline

As said earlier, a 5-paragraph essay structure is self-explanatory and includes neither more nor less than five separate sections. Below are the basic components that make a perfect five-paragraph paper:

  • Introductory paragraph including a thesis statement
  • Three-body paragraphs exploring your arguments
  • Concluding paragraph that briefly sums up all critical points
  • References page (depending on guidelines)

Following this three-tier structure ensures consistency of thought as you write a five-paragraph essay. Whether you're aiming for an A+ or simply striving to make your reader satisfied, this paper outline fits any intent of academic writing. Now let's learn more about each of these parts in detail.


The first paragraph presents the central idea of the entire essay. In essence, the introductory paragraph is the most significant part of your writing since it navigates the readers throughout the whole piece. It also determines the tone of voice and essay angle. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't focus on the rest of the paper; however, you need to make sure that your introduction sparkles the interest and grabs the reader's attention from the opening line.

There are several essential components that a great introduction should have:

  • A hook for essay. It may be a rhetorical question, shocking fact, joke, quote, or some real-life experience. In case you start your essay with a rhetorical question, make sure that you don't answer it; otherwise, it will lose its function.
  • Background information. Briefly introduce the main topic as if you were creating a trailer of a movie. Don't be a spoiler - there is no need to go into detail. It should take around 2-3 sentences to make a brief overview of the topic.
  • A thesis statement. It serves as a solid basis for the rest of the 5-paragraph essay. Make sure that the body paragraphs are closely related to the thesis statement made in the introduction.

Body Part

The three body paragraphs contained in this part serve as stuffing for your essay. This section is where you discuss the main points of the subject. Here, you should provide specific details - factual information, examples, statistics, or any other supporting evidence that will make your essay easier to digest.

Stick to the following structure when working on each body paragraph:

  • A topic sentence that describes the main point
  • An explanation why this point is crucial
  • An example that supports your reasoning

Make sure to discuss each point in the right order. One brilliant suggestion is to present the most powerful point in the first body paragraph. Then, a writer should provide a less significant aspect in the second part. And the last body paragraph should go for another strong point.


The concluding paragraph should nicely wrap up your ideas and give your final thoughts on the subject. Here are several things you need to include to end your 5-paragraph essay:

  • A rephrased thesis statement presented in the first paragraph
  • An overview of three main points discussed in each body paragraph
  • Final thoughts that provide some space for consideration

The final stage is the so-called concluding paragraph hook. You may include it to add the last touch to your essay. It is a good idea to finish your writing with something your reader can't expect. In other words, you need to put some sugar and spice to leave a lasting impression. Check out our conclusion paragraph examples for more inspiration.

General Tips on Writing a 5-Paragraph Essay

Students write 5-paragraph essays to improve their academic performance. The grades are part of their final score per course. That's why it is vital to know what other things teachers take into consideration when grading your academic papers writing.

  • Focus. The entire essay should be developed around the main idea presented in a thesis.
  • Organization. This means providing a smooth transition between sentences/ paragraphs and following a logical order.
  • Grammar. A paper should be free of grammar, spelling, punctuation, or stylistic mistakes.
  • Content. Your writing should be compelling and have enough examples.

These simple tips will keep you on track to composing an excellent essay for high school or college.

Bottom Line

Long story short, a five-paragraph contains five sections, each having a different purpose. While the introduction is an eye-catching wrapping that should grasp the reader's attention, the following three body paragraphs work like rich stuffing. That's why you should carefully mix all ingredients - three main points and proper examples. Conclusion, on the other hand, should briefly summarize all arguments and leave your reader thinking.