Five Paragraph Essay Outline

Five Paragraph Essay Outline

Why an outline is important

As the name suggests, the five paragraph essay is an essay that has 5 paragraphs; an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs with development and support as well as one concluding paragraph. Writing this kind of essay is not an easy task hence the importance of drafting a five paragraph essay outline before you begin.

By creating an outline, it becomes easier to organize your essay such that it flows with ease and has some sense of purpose. The five paragraph essay is used to measure your basic writing skills and most of the time, it is a timed exercise.

To get started writing the essay means you have to get organized. You can achieve this by analyzing the assignment and determining what is needed. Use a highlighter to note words defining your topic and organize a plan.

Guidelines for writing a five paragraph essay outline

In order to write the five paragraph essay outline, you need to include the following elements:

  • Introductory paragraph

Start by writing a general topic sentence and ensure it has a hook. Make it memorable.

  1. Subtopic one: the reason the assignment was given
  2. Subtopic two: provide description of the assignment
  3. Subtopic three: explain what you felt when the assignment was given
  4. Transition

First supporting paragraph

  1. Restate the first subtopic
  2. Provide supporting examples or details
  3. Transition

Second supporting paragraph

  1. Restate the second subtopic
  2. Offer supporting examples or details
  3. Transition

Third supporting paragraph

  • Restate the third subtopic
  • Provide supporting examples and details
  • Transition

Summary or closing paragraph

  1. Synthesis and thesis conclusion
  2. Rephrase the subtopics and main topics

Write your essay

While writing the essay, you are supposed to think broadly and build your essay gradually. It is advisable to divide the essay into sections then develop every piece incrementally and separately.

Introductory Paragraph

The tone of the essay is set by the introductory paragraph. This is not only because it helps introduce your topic but also shows where you are going with it (thesis). By doing a great job in the introductory paragraph, you draw the reader into your experience. Therefore, you should put effort in order to reap the rewards later.

  • Use the active voice

While writing the introductory paragraph, consider using the active voice which is more powerful. Ensure you do this for every sentence in the introduction unless you are working on a personal narrative. Always ensue you avoid using the pronoun “I.”

  • Vary sentence structure

Review your writing in order to avoid having the same dull pattern of beginning with the subject of the sentence.

  • Brainstorm for supporting ideas

While writing the five paragraph essay outline, you will find the best supporting ideas are those you are knowledgeable about. If you don’t know anything about supporting ideas, you will do a poor job writing them. Make sure you do not weaken your essay by having ineffective arguments.

  • Practice how to write introduction paragraphs on different topics

Though you might not use them now, practice writing introductory topics. This is important as it helps you see a pattern of the progress you are making.

Supporting paragraphs

  • In order to establish a sub-topic, write a transition. Ensure each paragraph has great flow to the next paragraph.
  • Write your topic sentence and if possible, include the transition in it.
  • Supporting details, ideas and examples should be specific to your sub-topic. The tendency to support paragraphs is putting just about everything. Avoid this by writing the five paragraph essay outline as it will keep you focused.
  • Always vary your sentence structure. You should avoid repetitious lists and pronouns. Also, you need to avoid starting sentences in the same manner (subject-verb-direct object.

The summary, ending paragraph

Often, this is the most difficult part of writing the five paragraph essay. You cannot make the assumption that your reader sees your point. Therefore, it is important that you:

  • Restate your introductory paragraph/thesis with originality. This means not simply copying the first paragraph.
  • Summarize the argument with a level of authority. This is because the summary paragraph should not leave your readers with any doubt regarding your conclusion or position of logic.
  • Make sure you are powerful as the summary is the last though you leave with your reader

Edit and revise the essay

  • Check grammar and spelling. Make sure the verbs and subjects agree and ensure the verb tenses are consistent as well.
  • Examine the entire essay for logic and get rid of gaps or giving too much detail.
  • Review individual sentences. Avoid sentences that begin with constructions or pronouns.
  • Be concise while varying the structure and length of sentences

Steps for writing the five paragraph essay outline

With these steps, you should be able to write a five paragraph essay outline:

Step 1

Start by writing the titles of the 5 paragraphs. Space the titles of the paragraphs such that you leave enough room where you can write some notes. The five titles include:

  1. Introduction
  2. Body paragraph 1
  3. Body paragraph 2
  4. Body paragraph 3
  5. Conclusion

The perfect example that depicts the outline given above can be found at here. Note what you are supposed to include in each of the paragraphs in order to write an impressive essay.

Step 2

Write the overall thesis statement of the essay underneath or next to the ‘introduction title’. The statement is supposed to represent purpose of your essay in once sentence. For instance, “The eco-consumerism movement has re-branded standard materialism with a façade of environmental ethics” serves as a broad thesis statement that can be part of the introduction and supported by body paragraphs.

Step 3

Write your topic sentences for each body paragraph at the right side of the paragraph title. Take this opportunity to make sure that each body paragraph has the ability to build on a previous paragraph.

Step 4

If you have any supporting information you intend to include in the essay, make sure you include it underneath your body paragraph titles in brief phrases. In order to have a list structure that is clear, use bullet points. Such information includes examples you intend to use in order to support the topic sentences, quotes you intend to use, scholarly literature and other information that might aid in building your argument.

Step 5

List broad implications of your essay under the “conclusion’ title. Give reasons on why the essay deserves attention or why it matters. Also, if there are related questions that arise from the information you have included in the essay list them and explore them further.

The five paragraph essay outline here is not only simple to follow through, but easy to understand. It breaks down the five paragraphs and highlights what need to be included in each section. Note that this should only be used a guideline for you to write your own outline that suits your essay topic.

What an ideal outline looks like

Introductory Paragraph

  1. Introduce General subject
  2. Transition to thesis through addressing the assignment/question
  3. Thesis

Support Paragraph One

  1. Topic/transition topic
  2. Introduce fact/quotation with information such as setting, who, when, where and why
  3. Quotation/facts
  4. Use your own words to paraphrase
  5. Analysis/explanation of quotation
  6. Conclusion/summary/transition where necessary

Support Paragraph Two

  1. Topic/transition sentence
  2. Introduce fact/quotation with orientation information such as why, setting, when, where and who
  3. Facts/quotation
  4. Use your own words to paraphrase
  5. Analysis/explanation of quotation
  6. Summary/transition if needed

To review the entire outline click here.

Writing your essay

Since you already have your five paragraph essay outline in place, it is time to sit down and write your essay. While the prospect might seem daunting, it is far easier to write it immediately since then, your thoughts are organized and you already have somewhere to begin.

While writing your essay, make sure you connect the pieces of the essay with strong transition sentences. You should not simply line up the notes from the outline and call it an essay. Also, be certain to edit the essay though it might take a significant amount of your time. It will save you from delivering low quality essays and at the same time, elevate the status of the essay from been simply good to great!


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