Shmoop Writing Guide

The Five-Paragraph Essay: A Template
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The Five-Paragraph Essay: A Template

What are you bellowing from the picket line? That writing should be about creativity and discovery? That following some template can box us in, turn us into faceless essay-drones? We completely agree. Most of the time.

Sometimes it is useful to have a solid foundation on which to build. When you are struggling to find your voice or uncover your thoughts, a cookie-cutter template can actually be a huge help. In fact, it’s rare that anything with the word “cookie” in it doesn’t make things better.

The basic five-paragraph essay is a pretty failsafe way to attack the high-school or college essay. It gets the job done. It makes a point and then supports that point, which is the central task of any essay. Use it when you're in a bind. Or use it as a mere starting point and build crazy-creative essays on top of it.

What is a five-paragraph essay? Simply put, it's an intro, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. (1 + 3 + 1 = 5. Math nerds… BEHOLD!)

Here's the template. Learn it, know it, keep it in your back pocket. It will come in handy. More so than all that other junk you keep in your back pocket, anyway.