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Proper Essay Format

All basic essays will have a standard essay format, that is, they will follow a specific organizational structure.  When university students ask, “What is an essay format,” the response is this:  if, as a high school student, you wrote essays for English classes, you already understand essay formatting.  The only difference at the university level is that the topics become more complex and the body paragraphs may number more than three, dependent upon those topics.

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A basic essay format example is as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraph 1
  • Body Paragraph 2
  • Body Paragraph 3 (Additional body paragraphs may be warranted)
  • Conclusion

This standard essay format provides the beginning structure of the outline for your composition.  Completing the details under each of these Roman numeral headings will then provide you will a full and proper essay format from which you are easily able to write your piece.  A completed essay format example would look like this:

TITLE:    The Sad State of American Education

  • Introduction – Thesis Statement:  The quality of American education is in significant decline and will render the United States unable to compete in an increasingly global economy and society.
  • Body Paragraph 1:  Teachers

 – Low Salaries

 – Low Esteem

 – Current and Predicted Shortages – numbers and quality

  • Body Paragraph 2:  Funding

 – Research Funding Decline

 – Prohibitive Costs for Students

 – Wasteful and Unnecessary Course Work

 – Exodus to Foreign Countries

  • Body Paragraph 3:  Higher Education

 – Cuts at the state level

 – Cuts at the federal level

 – School Infrastructure Issues

 – Lack of equipment, materials, supplies

  • Conclusion:  Unless significant and definitive action is taken now, American education will become fully second-rate in the near future.  What we should do!

If this essay formatting template is kept in mind, no one should have to ask, “What is an essay format?”   One can never go astray if this standard essay format is utilized to construct an essay.  As well, this essay format example can easily be expanded for use in term/research papers that rely on much more breadth and depth.  The body paragraphs or sections will certainly be more numerous, but the standard essay format does not change!

Essay formatting is rather universal, no matter what the academic discipline and no matter what the breadth or depth of the topic.  If one is able to consistently stick to this proper essay format, the production of any essay or paper will be ever so much easier!

From the standard essay format example above, the student should begin to get a strong idea of the purpose for each of the paragraphs or sections of an academic piece.  The introduction is just that – it introduces your topic and provides some type of thesis statement, research question, or hypothesis.  Each of the body paragraphs must relate to this thesis and will provide the evidence or information that supports your thesis or answers your research question.  The conclusion re-states the thesis in some manner and, as well, provides the opportunity to pose additional questions, point toward additional response, and/or calls readers to action. 

The KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) principle is certainly relevant to a proper essay format.  It is not a nefarious, obtuse, or complicated structure; it is, rather, a simplistic, yet effective way in which to organize all information, thought, and opinion for written works.

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