The essay structure and paragraphs

In English, an essay is a set of connected paragraphs that develop a linear argument, ie point 1 leads to point 2, to point 3 etc. It has a specific three part structure. All essays must have the following parts:

  • an introduction – introduces the essay topic
  • a body – contains the main essay content
  • a conclusion – concludes and once again summarises the main points of the essay.

This section will take you through the essential parts and structure of an essay

Essay structure

This is an outline of an essay’s structure. Click on the main parts to find out about the different sections.


A paragraph is a group of connected sentences that develop a single point, argument or idea. It should have a topic sentence and other sentences that support that sentence. Paragraphs are the building blocks of most forms of formal writing. They hold the main ideas of an essay and connect the essay together.

A paragraph should have the following features:

  • a topic sentence – a sentence stating what the paragraph is about
  • unity – one main idea (which every other sentence supports)
  • coherence – the sentences are linked so that they flow logically
  • content – enough information to warrant being a paragraph.

Paragraph length

Paragraph are generally between 4 and 12 lines in length. If a paragraph is shorter than this, it is usually not a developed idea. Look to see if it can be removed or put into another paragraph as a sub-point. If it is much longer that 12 lines, it will normally have more than a single idea.

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