How To Write A Good Essay Body Structure

Body Paragraphs

A body paragraph is a group of related sentences about a particular topic or idea directly relating to the thesis. Because essays are composed of multiple body paragraphs, writing and organizing good paragraphs is one of the most important aspects of creating a well-organized and developed essay. 

The term body paragraph refers to any paragraph that follows the introduction and comes before the conclusion. The majority of any essay consists of multiple body paragraphs, and it is in these paragraphs where the main information is presented. The longer an essay is, the more body paragraphs there will be. Because the body paragraphs present the important facts and information from an essay, having well-written body paragraphs is essential in writing a successful essay. 
The following are important aspects of all body paragraphs:

  • A clear topic sentence
  • Specific evidence or supporting detail
  • Examples
  • Unity and cohesion
  • Transitions between sentences and paragraphs
  • A concluding sentence that ties the evidence or details back to the main point and brings the paragraph to a close

A topic sentence generally appears early in a body paragraph (often the 1st or 2nd sentence) and controls the paragraph. A topic sentence is like a mini thesis sentence for each paragraph and serves to unify the contents of the paragraph.  Everything that follows in the paragraph needs to relate to the topic sentence. Not all essays call for explicit topic sentences, but most beginning writers should learn how to write effective topic sentences early on in order to achieve paragraph unity. More on topic sentences

No matter what type of essay is being written, all body paragraphs need to be fully developed and provide supporting detail.  This detail can come in the form of personal examples, statistics, and/or quotes from an expert.  When writing an essay that requires the use of research and outside sources, this information should be used to support the topic sentence. 

All body paragraphs should also provide transitions. These transitions need to occur within the individual sentences of a paragraph and from one paragraph to the next. More on transitions

For more information on writing an effective body paragraph, please see the body paragraph exercise page on this site.

Body Paragraphs Exercise

Template for creating a body paragraph
The following template can be used for creating a body paragraph. Simply follow the formula and change the information to fit the topic you are writing about.

Write the thesis above the body paragraph. This will help you to ensure that everything in the body paragraph relates to the thesis.

Example thesis (taken from the thesis statement exercise page on this site): Because writing is a skill that is required in most classes, college students need to learn how to write well in order to succeed academically.

Sentence #1 – (topic sentence) – make one claim about the overall topic of the essay that relates to the thesis: Students who learn how to write well will earn better grades in most classes.

Sentence #2 – explain why the topic sentence is true, or develop it further: This is true because most instructors assign a variety of written assignments, and depending on the class, these written assignments often encompass a large percentage of a student’s final grade.

Sentence #3 – give an example of the claim made in the topic sentence (make a "for instance" statement): For instance, all college students seeking a degree will be required to take a composition class. In this class alone, students will write five different essays.

Sentence #4 – give another example of the claim to better support it: Furthermore, other classes, such as history, psychology, nursing, etc., also require students to write multiple essays.

Sentence #5 – support the claim with even more specific information (this is where integrating an outside source can be helpful): According to John Doe, a Professor of English at Aims Community College, the average undergraduate student will write twenty-five different essays while seeking a bachelor’s degree. This number increases dramatically for students who go on to seek a graduate degree(s).

Sentence #6 – write a sentence that wraps up the paragraph (an “in conclusion” sentence): Because all students, regardless of major, will be required to compose a large number of essays, it is important that they learn how to write well.

Now, simply put it all together and add transitions if needed. 

Complete body paragraph: Students who learn how to write well will earn better grades in most classes. This is true because most instructors assign a variety of written assignments, and depending on the class, these written assignments often encompass a large percentage of a student’s final grade. For instance, all college students seeking a degree will be required to take a composition class.  In this class alone, students will write five different essays. Furthermore, other classes, such as history, psychology, nursing, etc., also require students to write multiple essays. According to John Doe, a Professor of English at Aims Community College, the average undergraduate student will write twenty-five different essays while seeking a bachelor’s degree. This number increases dramatically for students who go on to seek a graduate degree(s).  Because all students, regardless of major, will be required to compose a large number of essays, it is important that they learn how to write well.

Notice that in this example, some sentences are actually broken into two. Also, any sentence other than the topic sentence and concluding sentence can be repeated to provide more evidence for the reader. Remember, the more evidence that is provided in a body paragraph, the better. The key is to make a claim (topic sentence), support it with specific detail (give examples and provide specific information), and then conclude the paragraph by reinforcing the original claim (final sentence). 

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