• Learning Tips
  • Exam Guides
  • School Life

Types of Paragraphs: Based on Writing, Structure and Format

  • by Joseph Kenas
  • November 21, 2023
  • Custom Essay writing

Types of paragraphs

A paragraph is a section of writing that covers a single point that explains something specific or argues a specific thing to support the thesis of the whole writing or an essay. This paragraph contains a collection of sentences that argue about the specific item.

You can approach each new paragraph by beginning it on a new line. In some cases, you can construct indented or numbered paragraphs. 

Types of Paragraph 

There exist different types of paragraphs to help you convey the message as intended originally. Here are the most used ones in the writing career.

In writing, the 5 main types of paragraphs In writing, the 5 main types of paragraphs are descriptive, narrative, persuasive, explanatory, and illustration based on their content and structure. Let us explore each in detail.

1. Descriptive Paragraphs

We use a descriptive paragraph to describe a person, a thing or a theme, or an idea to your audience. We often use this type if you want to provide details about something or an event.

All descriptive phrases utilize five senses such as smells, tastes, feels, looks and sound. 

Paragraph writing

The author becomes clearer to the reader as you use more descriptive phrases.

The correct descriptive paragraph should paint a perfect picture to make the readers as if they were there.

A descriptive paragraph is suitable for fiction writers. 

When writing a descriptive paragraph, put the item you are describing in the topic sentence.

In the supporting sentences, provide specific details about the characteristics and functions of that item.

You can also use transitional sentences in the middle, foreground, or far distance. 

In the last sentence, you can transition it to the preceding paragraph if it relates to your describing item. Generally, the words should paint a picture in the mind of the audience as indicated in the following section:

There are six horrible men in the vehicle. They want to rescue a naked man. One of them has a pistol to scare the violent naked man. 

2. Narrative Paragraphs

The purpose of a narrative paragraph is to tell an event or a story. It could be a natural phenomenon, an account of someone’s life, or a novel.

The author should arrange the events in the narrative paragraph chronologically. That is, they should come in the order of when they happened. 

The narrative paragraph should have a central idea and the characters involved. You should provide enough description and set the stage for the reader to understand where they happened. 

One should organize such a paragraph into three basic components. They should be a piece of background information, then give the story and end with a conclusion. The topic sentence should include the story or the event and where it happened. 

The event can happen in three different stages. They are the beginning, middle, and end of the story. The beginning could be a problem that makes the story.

The middle captures the important activities of the story. The end should serve as the conclusion of the story, as indicated in the following example:

Last week I met John, and we enjoyed a mouth-watering pizza together. After eating, we went to a golf competition where we had fun together. 

3. Persuasive Paragraphs

The persuasive paragraph is whereby the writer is offering his opinion on the topic or the subject. The purpose of having such a paragraph is to convince the reader over soothing in the writer’s opinion, like a controversial topic or any project. 

The structure of this paragraph follows that of any expository piece, as it helps explain soothing about the subject.

You can sway the reader’s position by employing a rhetorical question. You can use highly charged language to trigger a reaction in the audience. 

Such a paragraph should have facts and details to promote the author’s opinion. We can apply such paragraphs in editorial essays or speeches in different forms of writing. The primary goal of such writing is to achieve a reasonable level of persuasion. 

Keys to paragraph development

We use such occasions to convince the reader to have specific feelings concerning a place or a character. Let’s see the following example. 

The best holiday vacation should be on the beach.

Such is so because you can have more fun on the beach.

Such include surfing, swimming or hiking. You can relax as you listen to the ocean wave’s sound and cool breeze. 

4. Explanatory Paragraphs

We need an explanation paragraph if you need to describe how a particular thing works. You can sue it if you are explaining a process step by step. Such a paragraph will offer the reader specific details concerning a particular subject. 

Such paragraphs contain directions, or you will have to describe that particular process logically. Ensure that such paragraphs provide correct facts to enable the consumer to understand the process well. 

You begin by introducing what you are explaining in the topic sentence. Let the supporting sentences explain every step in the whole process. It should include the details of why soothing should happen and provide relevant information. 

In this section, you can still use transitional words or phrases. Such could include words like next, eventually, finally, and more.

In the conclusion section, you should offer a summary of the process as indicated in the following example: 

The process of making tea is very simple:

  • Begin by boiling milk.
  • Pour the right amount of water into the milk and let it boil again. After that, add some tea leaves to attain the correct color.
  • Remove it from your cooking apparatus and serve while hot. 

5. Illustration Paragraphs

Authors use such a paragraph to clarify the idea by giving specific examples. However, you should indicate how they relate to the key points. 

The paragraph should follow a specific structure to enable the author to pass the idea to the audience well. One can state the general idea in the topic sentence.

Furthermore, you can use transitional words or phrases to illustrate a particular point. When writing a 5-paragraph essay , for instance, the 3 body paragraphs require such transitional words.

Let the supporting sentences have suitable examples which will amplify the key idea. The role of the examples is to enable the writer to apply a particular point coherently. The conclusion should create a link between the examples and the key idea. 

Before you buy land, ensure to involve a real estate agent. The agent can provide resourceful information to help you land a better deal.

Such includes the best and most secure area to buy land and to quote the correct price. Generally, buying land is a slow process that requires keenness. 

How to Build a Good Paragraph 

A paragraph should provide a structure and the flow of your ideas. Such allows one to move from one thought to the next. The purpose of a paragraph is to adhere to the key idea and paint a clear image. 

Whether the author is writing a long or short paragraph, let is follow the basic rule structure. Ensure that the flow of information relates to the preceding paragraphs.

Also, do not make it long. Check our word count tool to help you keep things short. Here are some of the tips to follow when writing a paragraph:

1. Create a Topic Sentence in the First Sentence 

The first line of your paragraph should hint at what type of information to expect when reading through the piece.

The first sentences should establish a scenario that sets the audience’s pace in other preceding sentences. In other words, these sentences should begin with a central focus which the remaining part should aim to uphold. 

2. Let the Middle Sentences Provide Support

The middle sentence should complement the key sentences in the paragraph or the previous paragraph. You can take advantage of this middle sentence to convince the reader of the key idea you mentioned in the first paragraphs.

Expound every detail concerning the original idea to allow the audience to see everything from your point of view. 

3. Let the Final sentence be a transition or conclusion

You can use the last sentences of the paragraph to conclude the idea of that particular paragraph. This ending sentence should provide a summary of the details you provided before moving on to the ideas of the sentences.

How to write a paragraph

Suppose you did not exhaust the information in the previous paragraph, then let this final sentence transition the reader to the next paragraph.  

4. Know When to Begin a New Paragraph

When you are starting a new topic, then you need to have a paragraph break. If you are introducing a new idea, then it is vital to use a new paragraph.

The role of paragraph breaks is to set a new stage for other ideas or characters to flow. They are great in generating new moods or feeling for the reader. 

In this case, there is no particular amount of sentences for each paragraph. Some instances can have a single sentence paragraph acceptable as long as it compliments your central idea. You must avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information. 

5. Use Transition Words 

The role of transition words is to tie separate paragraphs together. The transition phrase connects the sentences to form a coherent idea. The reads use such powers to track your ideas by understanding how they relate to one another. 

Such words include phrases like “even so,” which makes the idea flow smoothly and gives one a pleasant reading experience. The approach serves bloggers and essay writers who will focus on a single idea as they share it with their audience. 

YouTube video

Joseph is a freelance journalist and a part-time writer with a particular interest in the gig economy. He writes about schooling, college life, and changing trends in education. When not writing, Joseph is hiking or playing chess.

Library homepage

  • school Campus Bookshelves
  • menu_book Bookshelves
  • perm_media Learning Objects
  • login Login
  • how_to_reg Request Instructor Account
  • hub Instructor Commons
  • Download Page (PDF)
  • Download Full Book (PDF)
  • Periodic Table
  • Physics Constants
  • Scientific Calculator
  • Reference & Cite
  • Tools expand_more
  • Readability

selected template will load here

This action is not available.

Humanities LibreTexts

9.1: Paragraph Types and Purposes

  • Last updated
  • Save as PDF
  • Page ID 20638

  • Athena Kashyap & Erika Dyquisto
  • City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative

ice-3009009__340.jpg

Paragraphs Types and Purposes

Paragraph types and paragraph purpose are two different things. Paragraph types can generally be categorized as introduction, body, or conclusion. They can also be described by their form, generally inductive and deductive. Finally, paragraphs can also be categorized by their purposes, which can be to introduce, to conclude, to compare or contrast, to narrate, to describe, to classify, to define, to show cause and effect, to show a process, to inform, to summarize, to evaluate, to synthesize, and to persuade. Many times, a paragraph may do more than one of these things at the same time, so sentences serve these purposes instead. Conversely, sometimes a whole essay will generally serve one of these purposes. In this chapter, examples will focus on paragraphs (rather than an entire essay) because the paragraph is the form in which your purpose most likely will take shape in a college essay.

Inductive Paragraphs

Inductive paragraphs begin generally and end more specifically with a point, topic sentence, major idea or thesis. There are a few reasons someone might write an inductive sentence. In an introduction when a reader needs to be drawn into your topic before learning what your point about that topic is going to be. The second reason someone might write an inductive paragraph is if they believe the reader might disagree with their point. Therefore, they may begin with a number of facts to persuade the reader to logically lead the reader to the writer's conclusion. The other major situation in which a writer might want to use an inductive paragraph form would be to introduce an argument or idea that they are arguing against. That idea must be introduced first before arguing against it and eventually leading to the writer's point.

Using an inductive paragraph is a rhetorical choice based upon the needs and relationship of the reader to the writer. Questions writers might ask themselves when deciding whether to use an inductive paragraph are: How much does my reader know about my topic? Does my reader know what I am going to write about? Is the reader likely to agree with what I have to say?

Cohesion (see section 6.5 ) in inductive paragraphs can be especially tricky. Because your reader doesn't know where you are leading, writers must be careful to lead the reader slowly to the point. Transition words, semantic ties (words that relate to each other in terms of topic), and pronouns are all important to help create a cohesive inductive paragraph. The following is an example of an inductive introduction paragraph using a compare-contrast mode.

Deductive Paragraphs

Deductive paragraphs begin with their point (topic sentence), and then go on to support and develop that point. This is the most common type of paragraph in academic essays and the type with which you are probably most familiar. Many times body paragraphs are deductive, and conclusions almost always are deductive paragraphs, beginning with a more nuanced restatement of the thesis. There are a number of strategies to develop deductive paragraphs found in Chapter 6, including developing PIE paragraphs .

Summary Paragraphs

A summary shrinks a large amount of information into only the essentials. You probably summarize events, books, and movies daily. Think about the last blockbuster movie you saw or the last novel you read. Chances are, at some point in a casual conversation with a friend, coworker, or classmate, you compressed all the action in a two-hour film or in a two-hundred-page book into a brief description of the major plot movements. While in conversation, you probably described the major highlights, or the main points in just a few sentences, using your own vocabulary and manner of speaking.

Similarly, a summary paragraph condenses a long piece of writing into a smaller paragraph by extracting only the vital information. A summary uses only the writer’s own words. Like the summary’s purpose in daily conversation, the purpose of an academic summary paragraph is to maintain all the essential information from a longer document. Although shorter than the original piece of writing, a summary should still communicate all the key points and key support. In other words, summary paragraphs should be succinct and to the point.

Example of a Summary Paragraph

Below is a "mock" paper that a student summarized.

A summary of the report should present all the main points and supporting details in brief. Read the following summary of the report written by a student:

Notice how the summary retains the key points made by the writers of the original report but omits most of the statistical data. Summaries need not contain all the specific facts and figures in the original document; they provide only an overview of the essential information.

Evaluation Paragraphs

An evaluation judges the value of something and determines its worth. Evaluations in everyday experiences are often not only dictated by set standards but also influenced by opinion and prior knowledge. For example, at work, a supervisor may complete an employee evaluation by judging the subordinate’s performance based on the company’s goals. If the company focuses on improving communication, the supervisor will rate the employee’s customer service according to a standard scale. However, the evaluation still depends on the supervisor’s opinion and prior experience with the employee. The purpose of the evaluation is to determine how well the employee performs at their job.

An academic evaluation communicates your opinion, and its justifications, about a document or a topic of discussion. Evaluations are influenced by your reading of the document, your prior knowledge, and your prior experience with the topic or issue. Because an evaluation incorporates your point of view and reasons for your point of view, it typically requires more critical thinking and a combination of summary, analysis, and synthesis skills.

Notice how the paragraph incorporates the student’s personal judgment within the evaluation. Evaluating a document requires prior knowledge that is often based on additional research.

Analysis Paragraphs

An analysis separates complex materials in their different parts and studies how the parts relate to one another. The analysis of simple table salt, for example, would require a deconstruction of its parts—the elements sodium (Na) and chloride (Cl). Then, scientists would study how the two elements interact to create the compound NaCl, or sodium chloride, which is also called simple table salt.

Analysis is not limited to the sciences, of course. An analysis paragraph in the humanities fulfills the same purpose. Instead of deconstructing compounds, analysis paragraphs in the humanities typically deconstruct documents. An analysis takes apart a primary source (an essay, a book, an article, etc.) point by point. It communicates the main points of the document by examining individual points and identifying how the points relate to one another.

Take a look at a student’s analysis of the journal report.

Notice how the analysis does not simply repeat information from the original report; rather, it considers how the points within the report relate to one another. By doing this, the student uncovers a discrepancy between the points that are backed up by statistics and those that require additional information. Analyzing a document involves a close examination of each of the individual parts and how they work together.

Synthesis Paragraphs

A synthesis combines two or more items to create an entirely new item. Consider the electronic musical instrument aptly named the synthesizer. It looks like a simple keyboard but displays a dashboard of switches, buttons, and levers. With the flip of a few switches, a musician may combine the distinct sounds of a piano, a flute, or a guitar—or any other combination of instruments—to create a new sound. The purpose of the synthesizer is to blend together the notes from individual instruments to form new, unique notes.

The purpose of an academic synthesis is to blend individual documents into a new document. An academic synthesis paragraph considers the main points from one or more pieces of writing and links the main points together to create a new point, one not replicated in either document. Just like the musician creates new music with the synthesizer, so does the writer create a new idea by bringing together various texts.

Take a look at a student’s synthesis of several sources about underage drinking.

Notice how the synthesis paragraphs consider each source and use information from each to create a new thesis. A good synthesis does not repeat information; the writer uses a variety of sources to create a new idea.

Introductions and Conclusions

Introductions.

Introductions are generally inductive, meaning that they start out very general and become very specific, ending at your thesis statement (the most specific sentence of the paragraph). The trick about how general to begin is to think about your audience. For general academic essays, the audience is other students or educated people who are NOT in your class. Choose a topic for the first sentence that everyone will know about in order to hook them in.

Once you’ve written your first, very general sentence, become more specific in your next sentence. Begin by mentioning the already given information, then discuss the new information. Then do the same thing in your next sentence, and so forth, until you arrive at your thesis statement (main idea for your essay). If discussing a text is part of the main purpose of your essay, be sure that the titles and authors (at least) of those texts are incorporated into the middle of your introduction with given information first then the new information (the name of the text and the author).

There are a number of different ways you can focus an introduction, depending on the purpose and topic of your essay overall.

Types of Introductions

  • Current events
  • State of a controversy
  • Common knowledge versus reality

Other Ways to Begin an Introduction

  • Start off with a thought-provoking quotation that relates to your topic.
  • Begin with a brief (2-3 sentence) story or anecdote that illustrates what you are writing about.
  • Begin with an interesting fact or statistic.
  • Begin with an analogy.

Example Introduction

For more information about introductions and conclusions, see Chapter 5.4, " Writing Introductory and Concluding Paragraphs."

Conclusions

Conclusions are almost opposite in structure from introductions. Conclusions are generally deductive , meaning they start off with your main point (a reworded thesis) and then become more general. Many times, in addition to making a final statement about your main ideas, a conclusion will “look to the future” by discussing how the author hopes this topic will be treated in the future, the next step in a solution if the essay discusses a problem, or what additional study needs to be done on the topic (especially in research papers).

Example Conclusion

Exercise 2: article paragraph structure and purpose.

For each of two articles assigned for your class, in the left hand column write down what the author is “doing” in the paragraph or section (i.e., describing something, telling the history of something, explaining theories, etc.). In the right hand column, explain the purpose (why) the author is doing that in that paragraph or section. How is helpful to the audience? Break this down by paragraph for each of the articles.

Article Name: _________________________

Contributors and Attributions

  • Adapted from Writing for Success . Provided by: The Saylor Foundation. License: CC-NC-SA 3.0 .

This page most recently updated on June 5, 2020.

The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout will help you understand how paragraphs are formed, how to develop stronger paragraphs, and how to completely and clearly express your ideas.

What is a paragraph?

Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students define paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, a paragraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as “a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit” (Lunsford and Connors 116). Length and appearance do not determine whether a section in a paper is a paragraph. For instance, in some styles of writing, particularly journalistic styles, a paragraph can be just one sentence long. Ultimately, a paragraph is a sentence or group of sentences that support one main idea. In this handout, we will refer to this as the “controlling idea,” because it controls what happens in the rest of the paragraph.

How do I decide what to put in a paragraph?

Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must first decide on an argument and a working thesis statement for your paper. What is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader? The information in each paragraph must be related to that idea. In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your thesis and the information in each paragraph. A working thesis functions like a seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The whole process is an organic one—a natural progression from a seed to a full-blown paper where there are direct, familial relationships between all of the ideas in the paper.

The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with the germination of a seed of ideas; this “germination process” is better known as brainstorming . There are many techniques for brainstorming; whichever one you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped. Building paragraphs can be like building a skyscraper: there must be a well-planned foundation that supports what you are building. Any cracks, inconsistencies, or other corruptions of the foundation can cause your whole paper to crumble.

So, let’s suppose that you have done some brainstorming to develop your thesis. What else should you keep in mind as you begin to create paragraphs? Every paragraph in a paper should be :

  • Unified : All of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea (often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph).
  • Clearly related to the thesis : The sentences should all refer to the central idea, or thesis, of the paper (Rosen and Behrens 119).
  • Coherent : The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development (Rosen and Behrens 119).
  • Well-developed : Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paragraph’s controlling idea (Rosen and Behrens 119).

How do I organize a paragraph?

There are many different ways to organize a paragraph. The organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Below are a few possibilities for organization, with links to brief examples:

  • Narration : Tell a story. Go chronologically, from start to finish. ( See an example. )
  • Description : Provide specific details about what something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, or feels like. Organize spatially, in order of appearance, or by topic. ( See an example. )
  • Process : Explain how something works, step by step. Perhaps follow a sequence—first, second, third. ( See an example. )
  • Classification : Separate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic. ( See an example. )
  • Illustration : Give examples and explain how those examples support your point. (See an example in the 5-step process below.)

Illustration paragraph: a 5-step example

From the list above, let’s choose “illustration” as our rhetorical purpose. We’ll walk through a 5-step process for building a paragraph that illustrates a point in an argument. For each step there is an explanation and example. Our example paragraph will be about human misconceptions of piranhas.

Step 1. Decide on a controlling idea and create a topic sentence

Paragraph development begins with the formulation of the controlling idea. This idea directs the paragraph’s development. Often, the controlling idea of a paragraph will appear in the form of a topic sentence. In some cases, you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraph’s controlling idea.

Controlling idea and topic sentence — Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans.

Step 2. Elaborate on the controlling idea

Paragraph development continues with an elaboration on the controlling idea, perhaps with an explanation, implication, or statement about significance. Our example offers a possible explanation for the pervasiveness of the myth.

Elaboration — This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media.

Step 3. Give an example (or multiple examples)

Paragraph development progresses with an example (or more) that illustrates the claims made in the previous sentences.

Example — For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman.

Step 4. Explain the example(s)

The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example and its relevance to the topic sentence. The explanation should demonstrate the value of the example as evidence to support the major claim, or focus, in your paragraph.

Continue the pattern of giving examples and explaining them until all points/examples that the writer deems necessary have been made and explained. NONE of your examples should be left unexplained. You might be able to explain the relationship between the example and the topic sentence in the same sentence which introduced the example. More often, however, you will need to explain that relationship in a separate sentence.

Explanation for example — Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear.

Notice that the example and explanation steps of this 5-step process (steps 3 and 4) can be repeated as needed. The idea is that you continue to use this pattern until you have completely developed the main idea of the paragraph.

Step 5. Complete the paragraph’s idea or transition into the next paragraph

The final movement in paragraph development involves tying up the loose ends of the paragraph. At this point, you can remind your reader about the relevance of the information to the larger paper, or you can make a concluding point for this example. You might, however, simply transition to the next paragraph.

Sentences for completing a paragraph — While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.

Finished paragraph

Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans. This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media. For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman. Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear. While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.

Troubleshooting paragraphs

Problem: the paragraph has no topic sentence.

Imagine each paragraph as a sandwich. The real content of the sandwich—the meat or other filling—is in the middle. It includes all the evidence you need to make the point. But it gets kind of messy to eat a sandwich without any bread. Your readers don’t know what to do with all the evidence you’ve given them. So, the top slice of bread (the first sentence of the paragraph) explains the topic (or controlling idea) of the paragraph. And, the bottom slice (the last sentence of the paragraph) tells the reader how the paragraph relates to the broader argument. In the original and revised paragraphs below, notice how a topic sentence expressing the controlling idea tells the reader the point of all the evidence.

Original paragraph

Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.

Revised paragraph

Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.

Once you have mastered the use of topic sentences, you may decide that the topic sentence for a particular paragraph really shouldn’t be the first sentence of the paragraph. This is fine—the topic sentence can actually go at the beginning, middle, or end of a paragraph; what’s important is that it is in there somewhere so that readers know what the main idea of the paragraph is and how it relates back to the thesis of your paper. Suppose that we wanted to start the piranha paragraph with a transition sentence—something that reminds the reader of what happened in the previous paragraph—rather than with the topic sentence. Let’s suppose that the previous paragraph was about all kinds of animals that people are afraid of, like sharks, snakes, and spiders. Our paragraph might look like this (the topic sentence is bold):

Like sharks, snakes, and spiders, piranhas are widely feared. Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless . Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.

Problem: the paragraph has more than one controlling idea

If a paragraph has more than one main idea, consider eliminating sentences that relate to the second idea, or split the paragraph into two or more paragraphs, each with only one main idea. Watch our short video on reverse outlining to learn a quick way to test whether your paragraphs are unified. In the following paragraph, the final two sentences branch off into a different topic; so, the revised paragraph eliminates them and concludes with a sentence that reminds the reader of the paragraph’s main idea.

Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. A number of South American groups eat piranhas. They fry or grill the fish and then serve them with coconut milk or tucupi, a sauce made from fermented manioc juices.

Problem: transitions are needed within the paragraph

You are probably familiar with the idea that transitions may be needed between paragraphs or sections in a paper (see our handout on transitions ). Sometimes they are also helpful within the body of a single paragraph. Within a paragraph, transitions are often single words or short phrases that help to establish relationships between ideas and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph. This is especially likely to be true within paragraphs that discuss multiple examples. Let’s take a look at a version of our piranha paragraph that uses transitions to orient the reader:

Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, except in two main situations, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ instinct is to flee, not attack. But there are two situations in which a piranha bite is likely. The first is when a frightened piranha is lifted out of the water—for example, if it has been caught in a fishing net. The second is when the water level in pools where piranhas are living falls too low. A large number of fish may be trapped in a single pool, and if they are hungry, they may attack anything that enters the water.

In this example, you can see how the phrases “the first” and “the second” help the reader follow the organization of the ideas in the paragraph.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Lunsford, Andrea. 2008. The St. Martin’s Handbook: Annotated Instructor’s Edition , 6th ed. New York: St. Martin’s.

Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Make a Gift

University of Newcastle

Writing strong paragraphs: Types of paragraphs

  • What's in this guide
  • Paragraph Structure

Types of paragraphs

  • Writing a logical paragraph
  • What are linking words?
  • Transitions and their uses
  • Additional resources

Write with purpose: what do you want your paragraph to do?

The type of paragraph you write will depend on a number of factors:

  • The kind of writing you are producing. For example, paragraphs in a report tend to have a different purpose to paragraphs in an essay.
  • The position of the paragraph in a longer piece of writing. A body paragraph in an essay has a different purpose to an introduction or conclusion.
  • The logical order of the ideas and information in your writing. You may be presenting an argument, organising facts,comparing and contrasting ideas, defining a key concept, explaining the steps in a process, giving an example or recounting a series of events.

Using clear paragraph structure will help the reader understand the purpose of your writing.

Argument paragraph

Used to present a point of view, and provide evidence to support the position. Evidence can include reasons, personal experience, statistics, confirmed facts and expert research. 

Classification paragraph

Group separate items together according to shared characteristics.

Compare or contrast paragraph

Used for examination of similarities and/or differences. Compare focuses on similarities. Contrast focuses on differences. 

Definition paragraph

Start with a simple definition in the first or topic sentence. Use support sentences for examples, description and explanation.

Description paragraph

Includes specific details of the most important features of the topic.

Explanation paragraph

Used to explain how something works, or how something happens.

Illustration paragraph

Uses specific examples to clarify and support a general statement. 

Adapted from a resource previously published by the University of New England

  • Types of paragraphs This handout provides an outline of the structure for different types of paragraphs

Pathways and Academic Learning Support

PALS logo

  • << Previous: Paragraph Structure
  • Next: Writing a logical paragraph >>
  • Last Updated: Oct 5, 2023 2:30 PM
  • URL: https://libguides.newcastle.edu.au/writing-paragraphs
  • Organization

Paragraph Types

  • Timed Writing (Expectations)
  • The Writing Process
  • Writing Skill: Development
  • Timed Writing (The Prompt)
  • Integrated Writing (Writing Process)
  • Narrative Writing
  • Example Narrative Writing #1
  • Writing Skill: Unity
  • Example Narrative Writing #2
  • Timed Writing (Choose a Position)
  • Integrated Writing (TOEFL Task 1)
  • Descriptive Writing
  • Example Descriptive Writing #1
  • Writing Skill: Cohesion
  • Example Descriptive Writing #2
  • Timed Writing (Plans & Problems)
  • Integrated Writing (TOEFL Task 2)
  • Introduction to Essays
  • Introduction Paragraphs
  • Conclusion Paragraphs
  • Example Essay
  • Body Paragraphs
  • Personal Experience Essay
  • Example Essay #1
  • Writing Skill: Summary
  • Timed Writing (Revising)
  • Integrated Writing (Summary)
  • More Writing Skills
  • Punctuation & Capitalization
  • Simple Sentences
  • Compound Sentences
  • Complex Sentences Part 1
  • Teachers' Guide
  • Teacher Notes
  • Activity Ideas
  • Translations

Choose a Sign-in Option

Tools and Settings

Questions and Tasks

Citation and Embed Code

essay paragraph types

Although each paragraph is organized in a similar way (topic, supporting, and concluding sentences), there are different types of paragraphs. Each paragraph type has different features and styles of prompts.

Descriptive Paragraphs

The purpose of a descriptive paragraph is to create a vivid mental picture of a subject. A descriptive paragraph uses clear and specific adjectives to talk about the characteristics or qualities of the subject (ingredients of a dish, personality traits of a person, traditions of a holiday, etc.).

Example: Descriptive Paragraph

Kolaches are very popular for breakfast in Texas. A kolache is a small, round dinner roll made with white bread and a variety of fillings. The fillings give the flavor to a kolache. Some kolaches are spicy because they are filled with spicy ingredients like peppers. Other kolaches are sweet because they are filled with fruit fillings like strawberries. Many kolaches are filled with savory foods like seasoned eggs or meat. This delicious breakfast food is a great way to start your day!

Example: Descriptive Prompts

  • Describe a person you know. What is the person like? What are some of his or her characteristics?
  • Describe your favorite or least favorite meal. Be sure to tell how the food tastes, smells and looks.
  • Describe a famous place. What does it look like? What feelings does the place inspire in you?

Comparison Paragraphs

The purpose of a comparison paragraph is to show how two subjects are similar or different. A comparison paragraph is a type of descriptive paragraph. It is unique because there are two subjects that are being described in comparison to each other.

Example: Comparison Paragraph

Spring and Fall are very different seasons. Although the average temperature during both seasons is often very similar, the beginning and ending temperatures are very different. Spring starts out cold and ends with warmer temperatures. Fall starts out warm and slowly gets colder. Another difference is that in Spring, everything is coming to life. In the Fall, many plants go dormant in preparation for winter. Even though there are some similarities between spring and fall, they have some important differences.

Example: Comparison Prompts

  • Write about the similarities between high school and college in your country.
  • Describe the advantages and disadvantages of having a cell phone.
  • Explain the differences between being single and being married.

Cause-Effect Paragraphs

The purpose of a cause/effect paragraph is to explain the relationship between an action and its result. Cause/effect paragraphs show this relationship in different ways. For example, some cause/effect paragraphs may show the benefits of doing something (e.g., benefits of studying English in the U.S.), the problems caused by a certain action (e.g., what leads to miscommunication), or the reasons for doing something (e.g., why peo- ple start their own business).

Example: Cause-Effect Paragraph

Exercising during the day has great benefits in our lives. When we exercise, our bodies have more energy, and it is easier for our brains to focus. Exercise also  helps our bodies to sleep well at night, which makes the rest of the day better. Another benefit of exercise is that we keep our bodies in good shape. It is easier for us to participate in physical activities because our bodies are healthy and strong. Exercise is a great way to improve your life.

Example: Cause-Effect Prompts

  • Explain the benefits of improving your fluency.
  • Write about the causes of car accidents.
  • Tell about the effects of eating too much sugar.

Definition Paragraphs

The purpose of a definition paragraph is to define or explain a term or idea (e.g., what is body language?). The paragraph may list examples (e.g., smiling, folding your arms, making eye contact, etc.) or non-examples (e.g., sneezing, sign language, shivering, etc.). It may describe behaviors, characteristics, or responsibilities.

Example: Definition Paragraph

When people have courage, they do things that are usually challenging or scary. Courage is a unique quality that not everyone has. When we refer to someone as courageous, it is because we think the person will do something difficult no matter how scared they may be. For example, police officers, firemen and soldiers are often considered very courageous people. People who avoid new or scary situations are not very courageous people. Therefore, courage is essential because very few things in life are easy to do and we need to be brave enough to do them anyway.

Example: Definition Prompts

  • Choose an emotion, such as happiness or anger. How does the dictionary define this emotion? Is it a good emotion or a bad emotion? Who usually feels this emotion and why?
  • Write a paragraph describing the word "legend." What is it?
  • What is a folk dance? Define the idea and give examples (and non-examples if possible).

Classification Paragraphs

The purpose of a classification paragraph is to divide a topic into specific groups or categories. For example, a classification paragraph could be about types of books, kinds of restaurants, or styles of dance. It identifies the different categories within a topic (e.g., fiction and nonfiction books) and briefly describes specific characteristics for each category within the general topic. A classification paragraph is a specific type of descriptive paragraph.

Example: Classification Paragraph

Two of the most popular types of movies are action adventure movies and romantic comedies. An action adventure movie is exciting and has a story that focuses on a hero that has to do something difficult or dangerous. Some action adventure movies are about superheroes, while others tell stories based on real experiences from history. Romantic comedy movies are another type of movie. These movies tell a story about love and introduce us to interesting characters. These movies make the problems in a relationship look funny instead of dramatic. Both action adventure and romantic comedy movies are popular because they are entertaining and interesting for the audience.

Example: Classification Prompts

  • Classify different types of students.
  • Describe different types of social media apps.
  • Classify different kinds of cars.

Process Paragraphs

The purpose of a process paragraph is to explain the actions that are necessary to complete a specific process. Sometimes these actions are linear (e.g., how to get a driver's license) and sometimes these actions are not necessarily done in a specific order (e.g., how to manage stress).

Example: Process Paragraph

It's easy to get a good grade if you follow some basic steps. First, before you go to class, you need to do all of the assigned homework. Good preparation will help you to understand the teachers more easily, ask good questions, and keep up with the lessons. Second, arrive to class a few minutes early. Doing this will make sure you don't miss important instructions or announcements at the beginning of class. You will also feel more prepared. Next, always participate actively throughout the lesson. You should write important things in a notebook like new phrases or vocabulary words. Finally, at the end of the class, you should write down any homework assignments you will complete for the next class. If you follow these steps in all of your courses, you will get the good grades that you deserve.

Example: Process Prompts

  • Write about something easy to cook. What things do you need to make it? What are the steps to make it?
  • Write about what you need to do to get a driver's license.
  • Explain the steps of how to shop online.

Opinion Paragraphs

The purpose of an opinion paragraph is to give the writer’s opinion about a topic. It states the opinion and provides facts to support it. An opinion paragraph is usually about an issue that has two sides (e.g., human cloning or students using cellphones in class) and usually tries to persuade the reader to agree with the writer.

Example: Opinion Paragraph

The current minimum age requirement in many places to get a driver's license is 16 or 17. However, the minimum age should be increased to 21. Being able to drive is a huge responsibility which many teenagers don't take seriously. Many teens that are 16 or 17 are not mature enough to drive. They think driving is fun and want to show off to their friends, when they should care more about safety. They become easily distracted listening to music, talking to friends, or texting. Driving is a luxury that holds great responsibility because with one distraction a lot of harm can be done. That is why I believe the age limit should be increased to 21. In turn, it will provide safer roads because there are more mature drivers.

Example: Opinion Prompts

  • Which is more difficult to learn: English or your native language? What parts of the language do you find hard?
  • Should students be required to purchase a personal computer when they enter university?
  • Do you think professional athletes receive too much money? Why or why not?

Narrative Paragraphs

The purpose of a narrative paragraph is to tell a story or a part of a story. A narrative paragraph includes a description of the story's setting, characters, and events so that readers can create a mental picture of the story.

Example: Narrative Paragraph

The first time I visited Arches National Park was with my brother on a holiday weekend. We decided to go on a little vacation because we did not have a lot of homework. When we got to the park, we drove around to see all of the incredible rocks. The rocks were red and orange. We hiked and saw so many interesting places. I was surprised by how unusual the area was. I told my brother it looked like we were on Mars instead of Earth! I will never forget the first time I visited Arches National Park. 

Example: Narrative Prompts

  • Write about something very scary that you experienced. What happened? What was it? How did you feel?
  • Tell about your favorite childhood memory. Why was it so memorable?
  • Describe an event that had an influence on you. What happened? Why was it so important for you? How did you change?

An  essay is a group of organized paragraphs. A paragraph organizes sentences, an essay organizes paragraphs. Your teacher will talk about essays whenever you should write more than one paragraph to answer the question. The content of these paragraphs will be different depending on the requirements for the assignment. 

In a typical essay, you will have an introduction paragraph, supporting paragraphs (called  body paragraphs ), and a concluding paragraph. However, the number of paragraphs and the exact organization will depend on the assignment requirements.

Example: Essay

     Sports are a cultural universal. It seems that you can go almost anywhere in the world and find people playing some type of sport or game. While playing sports is generally universal, the type of sports people play varies from region to region based on weather and culture. For example, people who live in very cold countries often have special sports that you can only do in cold weather. This is why ice hockey is very popular in Canada for example, where there are lots of winter sports. Sports may also vary by culture. There are some sports in many countries that are culturally significant sports. These sports pull families and friends together and create social situations. The three most popular sports in the United States are baseball and American football.

     Baseball is one of the most popular sports in the United States. Many people play baseball because it is a very simple game that can be adjusted depending on the players and space available. Small teams can be formed with just a few friends, while larger teams can be formed if more players are available. The game is either played in a diamond-shaped field with four bases or any large grassy area. The only equipment necessary is a bat and a small ball, but some players also use gloves and helmets. There is one player who gets to try to hit the ball with his bat at a time. If he hits the ball, he can run from the home plate to the other bases and try to get home again. If he gets home again, his team gets a point. If he misses the ball three times, he is out, and another player can try to hit the ball. If one team has three players who all miss the ball, the other team gets to try to hit the ball. Baseball may be so popular in the United States because it is such a simple, flexible game.

     American football is another very popular sport that many people watch and play in the United States. The game is usually played on a 100-yard rectangle field with goal posts on each end, but it can be played in any large grassy area. The equipment that is needed for the game is a football and protective gear for the players. When the players play football, the teams line up on the field facing the opposite team. The team with the ball tries to get the ball to the end of the field. They can either have a player run with the ball or one player can throw the ball to another player. If they reach the end of the field with the ball, they get six points and it is called a touchdown. However, the other team tries to stop the player with the ball by tackling them. The team with the ball has four tries to run a distance of ten yards and if they can't do it, the other team gets the ball. Most high schools and colleges have their own football team and football field at their school because football is such a popular sport in America.

     While these sports are different, football and baseball are all very popular sports for people to play and watch in the United States. There are organized teams for high schools and colleges as well as people who play them just for recreation with their friends. These sports may not be the same sports that are popular in every country because each country has unique cultural influences and regional conditions that shape the games and sports that are played there. While the individual sport may differ, it is very likely that anywhere you go, you will find people playing sports.

This content is provided to you freely by BYU Open Learning Network.

Access it online or download it at https://open.byu.edu/foundations_c_writing/paragraph_types .

Pasco-Hernando State College

  • The Writing Process
  • Definition of a Paragraph
  • Parts of a Paragraph; Multi-Paragraph Documents
  • Rhetorical Modes; Review of Paragraphs
  • Unity and Coherence in Essays
  • Proving the Thesis/Critical Thinking
  • Appropriate Language

Related Pages

What is a paragraph.

A paragraph is a series of sentences on a specific point or topic.  A well written paragraph must have a topic sentence which states the main idea: what the paragraph is about.  While some say the  topic sentence can be anywhere in the paragraph, it is best to put it as the first sentence in a paragraph.  The rest of the sentences in the paragraph support, elaborate, and/or further explain the main idea expressed in the topic sentence.

Paragraphs have varying length depending upon various factors.  An average paragraph in an academic essay is about six to eight sentences.

Types of Paragraphs

There are various types of paragraphs such as summaries, abstracts, and answers to questions for a specific assignment.  In addition, there are specialized types of paragraphs for various reports such as feasibility studies or performance reports.

The types of paragraphs covered in this lesson are general paragraphs as would be used in the body of a letter or an academic essay, including general research papers (research essays).

Parts of a Paragraph

Topic sentence – purpose of a paragraph.

Unless you are writing specialized report such as a scientific research paper or a feasibility study that may otherwise show the purpose of a paragraph such as a heading , a well written paragraph must have a topic sentence which states what the paragraph is about.

Whether you are writing a paragraph for a specific assignment, an academic essay, a research paper, or a simple letter, each paragraph

The topic sentence should be the first sentence of the paragraph so that the reader knows what the paragraph is about.  The topic sentence in a body paragraph of an essay must be support for the thesis: a reason why the thesis is true or accurate.

The rest of the sentences in the paragraph of an essay support, elaborate, and/or further explain the topic sentence.

Here is an example of a paragraph:

The first sentence is the topic sentence. See how the rest of the sentences support, elaborate, and/or or further explain it.

Almost every aspect of modern life has been improved through convenience provided by technology.    From the alarm clock in the morning to the entertainment center at night, everyday life is improved.  The automatic coffee maker has the coffee ready at a certain time. Cars or public transportation bring people to work where computers operate at the push of a button.  At home, there’s the convenience of washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and power lawn mowers.  Modern technology has made life better with many conveniences.

Everything in this paragraph is about how modern life has been improved through convenience provided by technology.

Unity and Coherence

A paragraph must have unity.

All of the sentences of a particular paragraph must focus on one point to achieve one goal: to support the topic sentence.

A paragraph must have coherence.

The sentences must flow smoothly and logically from one to the next as they support the topic sentence.

The last sentence of the paragraph should restate the topic sentence to help achieve unity and coherence.

Here is an example with information that  does not  support the topic sentence.

Almost every aspect of modern life has been improved through convenience provided by modern technology.  From the alarm clock in the morning to the entertainment center at night, everyday life is improved. The automatic coffee maker has the coffee ready at a certain time. People are more concerned about health issues and good air quality, so they have started walking or riding a bike to work even though they have the option of using a car or public transportation.   There’s the convenience of washing machines and dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, and power lawn mowers.  Modern technology has made life better with many conveniences.

See how just one non-supporting sentence takes away from the effectiveness of the paragraph in showing how modern conveniences make life better since the unity and coherence are affected.  There is no longer unity among all the sentences.  The thought pattern is disjointed and the paragraph loses its coherence.

Here’s another example of a paragraph

Not only has modern technology improved life through convenience, it has improved life through efficiency.  The time saved with machines doing most of the work leaves more time for people to develop their personal goals or to just relax.  Years ago, when doing laundry could take all day, there wasn’t time left over to read or go to school or even just to take a leisurely walk.  Nowadays, people have more time and energy than ever to simply enjoy their lives thanks to the efficiency of modern technology.

Note: See how all the sentences work together to support the point that technology has improved lives through efficiency.

Transitions – Words that Connect

Transitions  are words, groups of words, or sentences that connect one sentence to another or one paragraph to another.

They promote a logical flow from one idea to the next.

While they are not needed in every sentence, they are missed when they are omitted since the flow of thoughts becomes disjointed or even confusing.

There are different types of transitions such as the following:

  • Time – before, after, during, in the meantime, nowadays
  • Space – over, around, under
  • Examples – for instance, one example is
  • Comparison –  on the other hand, the opposing view
  • Consequence – as a result, subsequently

These are just a few examples.  The idea is to paint a clear, logical connection between sentences and between paragraphs.

Here’s how transitions help make a paragraph unified and coherent

Not only  has modern technology improved life through convenience, it has improved life through efficiency.  The time saved with machines doing most of the work leaves more time for people to develop their personal goals or to just relax.   Years ago,  when doing laundry could take all day, there wasn’t time left over to read or go to school or even just to take a leisurely walk.   Nowadays , people have more time and energy than ever to simply enjoy their lives thanks to the efficiency of modern technology.

Each part of a paragraph must support the topic sentence.  In addition, the sentences must flow logically from one to the other.

See how the following paragraph has ideas that don’t seem to belong

Growing flowers is fun.  The sun rises in the morning and warms the soil.  Flowers come in all different sizes, shapes, and colors.  Sometimes, there is not enough rain.  Flowers also bloom during different times of the year.  Flowers need nutrients to grow strong and beautiful.  There are some children who like to pick the flowers. There are different growing seasons in different parts of the country.  Flowers that will grow high should be planted behind those that will not grow as high.  Some people let their dog’s leash extend allowing the dog to go into the flower beds which is not very nice. Designing a flower bed has to consider the different times the flowers will bloom.  A substitute for rainfall should be planned.  It is fun to grow flowers.

Here is a revised version with unity and coherence.  See how each sentence is clearly part of the whole which is to show how it is fun to grow flowers.

Growing flowers is fun.   Planning the garden is the first step, and it is part of the fun.  Flowers must be selected for their size, color, and time of bloom.  Selections should be made so that there is at least one type of flower blooming throughout the season and that taller flowers are behind shorter ones.  Meeting the challenges to assure growth such as with an irrigation system or hand watering and fertilizing when needed is also part of the fun.   It’s wonderful to check the garden every day to see the little green sprouts starting to appear.  It gives a great sense of accomplishment and joy to see the flowers in bloom.  It is fun to grow flowers.

An example of a paragraph from a business letter  which does  have unity and coherence:

There are several reasons to select my company to do this job.  We are a family owned and operated business and have been in business in this county for thirty-five years.  In addition to thousands of satisfied customers, we have proudly sponsored many community events and organizations.  All of our employees live in this county, and most have stayed with us for years.  We have successfully kept our overhead low and pass those savings onto our customers.  By far, we are the best company to complete this project.

Note: See how all the sentences work together to support the point that we are the best company to hire.

Here’s a version of the paragraph which  does not  have unity and coherence:

I am happy that the warm weather is finally here! It’s been a cold winter. There are several reasons to select my company to do this job.  By far, we are the best company to complete this project.  I have a large family, and in addition to having Sunday dinners, we work together in the company which has many satisfied customers.  Some of my employees take the bus to work, so I am concerned about our public transportation system.  We have proudly served our community, and we use cost saving methods to keep prices low.

An example of a paragraph in an inter-office memo

Beginning January 1, we will have a revised policy concerning new customers.  The updated intake form includes additional information, so please be sure to read through and complete each section.  Pay particular addition to the additional questions at the bottom as they are now required by the insurance company.  We would like to have e-mail addresses as well.  You can assure customers that we will not be sending them solicitations nor giving the list to any other business.  Be sure to fill in the information neatly and accurately. It is preferred that the information be entered directly into the computer although we realize there are times when that is not practical and a hard-copy form will have to be completed by hand.  Review the instructions on the back page of the form for more details on the revised policy for new customers.

Note:  See how all the sentences work together to support the point shown in the topic sentence that modern technology has expanded accessibility.

Closing/Transitional Statements in Paragraphs

The last sentence of a paragraph should remind the reader of the point of the paragraph and transition into the next paragraph if there is one.  See how the last sentence, for example, in the above paragraph reminds the reader of what the paragraph is about: Review the instructions on the back page of the form for more details on the revised policy for new customers.

Multi-Paragraph Documents

Most paragraphs we see are part of a multi-paragraph document: newspaper and magazine articles, books, business letters and inter-office memorandum, “how-to” documents, and other informational documents.  Usually, there is an organization of the paragraphs in a specific way.  The opening paragraph generally gives some idea of what the document is about.  The middle paragraphs give more details about the specific point.  The last paragraph ends the writing, generally by summing up and repeating the point.

There are some context-specific documents that have moe clearly defined paragraphs which are something included as sections of the writing.  For example, a feasibility report might have paragraphs as follows: abstract and/or summary, introduction, discussion, conclusion, recommendations.

Paragraphs in Business Letters and Inter-Office Memorandum

Business letters and inter-office memoradums basically have the same organization of the content:  an introduction paragraph, paragraphs that prove or further explain, and a concluding paragraph which sums up and repeats the point.  A business letter, however, is generally written on company stationery and has the date and address block in the upper left, a Re: line, a salutation such as Dear Mr. Haller (although some are no longer using a formal salutation), and a complimentary closing such as Sincerely.    An inter-office memorandum is generally written on plain paper, sometimes with the company logo as part of the template, lines with To:, From:, Date:, and Re: in the upper left, and no complimentary closing.

Paragraphs in Informational Documents and Academic Essays

Informational documents.

This refers to groups of writings that are designed to give information about a topic or position on a topic.  While they all include a specific thesis (point), have an introduction and concluding paragraph, and have paragraphs that proof or explain the point, there can be wide variety on where the thesis is expressed and the ancillary information presented that is supplemental to the thesis.  These are sometimes called essays.  However,  academic  essays do have a very specific organizational pattern.

Academic Essays

The introduction paragraph and the concluding paragraph of an essay are different from a general paragraph.  An introduction contains general background information on a topic and leads into a thesis statement.  The sentences with background information should be general and not contain proof of the thesis. The sentences should be relevant, however, and logically flow into the thesis.  Background sentences include information about the topic and the controversy. Some instructors may prefer other types of content in the introduction in addition to the thesis.  It is best to check with an instructor as to whether he or she has a preference for content.  In any case, there must be unity and coherence in an introduction paragraph as well. 

While the body paragraph of an academic is the same as a general paragraph in that they have a topic sentence and sentences that support it, the topic sentence must be a reason why the thesis of the essay is accurate.  Body paragraphs should clearly support the thesis and not contain any extraneous information. However, one way of proving your thesis is right is by presenting the opposing view and then rebutting it, that is, showing how it is not valid.  

Some instructors say that any opposing information should be in a separate rebuttal paragraph before the concluding paragraph.  If not specifically indicated by your instructor, either putting opposing information into the paragraphs related to the specific information or having a separate rebuttal paragraph is appropriate, but not both in the same essay.

A concluding paragraph sums up the proof and restates the thesis. Some instructors ask for a statement drawing an implication of the information presented instead of or in addition to a restatement of the thesis.  In either case, while a concluding paragraph as with the introduction paragraph does not start with a topic sentence and have the rest of the sentences support the topic sentence, the concluding paragraph is similar in that the summary of the proof ties directly into the thesis or statement of general implication.  There are not extraneous, off-topic sentences

Rhetorical Modes as Types of Paragraphs

Narration is when an author writes as though telling a story.  This mode is used more often in fiction, but it can be used in academic essay writing when the best way to help prove the thesis is by relating a sequence of events.

Description/Definition/Exemplification, and Classification

These closely related modes use specific information about certain aspects of a thing, event, or situation. The terms speak for themselves.  Description uses details describing the thing, event, or situation. Definition defines it. Exemplification uses examples, and classification uses categories.

The rose was red. (description)

A rose is a flower with soft petals and a beautiful, brief bloom. (definition)

Roses comes in a variety of colors such as red, yellow, and white. (example)

Roses come in a variety of types including miniature, climbing, hybrid tea, and floribunda. (classification)

Compare/Contrast

Comparing and/or contrasting one thing, event, or situation is a helpful way to show what it is and isn't.  If someone were arguing that a particular type of sneaker was the best, it would be useful to compare to others for support, durability, and price.

Cause and/or Effect

This mode is useful in arguing for or again an action.  Showing the cause and/or effect of an action can be persuasive.  For example, if someone were arguing for an increase in the speed limit, statistics showing an increase in fatalities where limits are higher would be a persuasive argument.

Persuasion/Argumentation

In a sense, the ultimate intent of all communication is persuasion.  Argumentation is one way of talking about debate.  We think of arguing as what we do among friends or family members - and it is - but there is a formal way to argue to prove our point.  Actually, we can learn how to better have civil arguments which will be constructive.  In thinking about persuasion/argumentation as a rhetorical mode, it refers to a type of writing that is clearly arguing in support of a specific point.

  • A paragraph is a series of sentences on a particular point.
  • A paragraph should begin with a topic sentence which states that point.
  • Sentences with supporting details such as examples should follow.
  • A paragraph must have unity and coherence where the sentences smoothly and logically flow from one to the next and stay focused on supporting the topic sentence.
  • Transition words and phrases should be used to connect sentencs and paragraphs for unity and coherence
  • Paragraphs that are part of multi-paragraph documents serve specific functions
  • Special Types of Paragraphs in Business Letters and Inter-Office Memorandum
  • Special Types of Paragraphs in Informational Documents and Academic Essays
  • Rhetorical Modes can be used as types of paragraphs
  • Printer-friendly version

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email

Learn American English Online

UPDATED DAILY

cegast academy test prep tips and support

11 Types of Paragraphs in Academic Writing (with Examples)

The types of paragraphs in academic writing whose examples you will discover in this tutorial include the narrative paragraph, descriptive paragraph, expository paragraph and persuasive paragraph. Others are the definition paragraph, process paragraph, compare and contrast paragraph, introduction paragraph and concluding paragraph.

But the above is not the complete list of types of paragraphs we shall be looking at. You really need to continue reading if you want to learn more about the various types and examples of paragraphs in academic English writing.

Are you ready? Let’s do it.

Types of Paragraphs

There are several types of paragraphs. In writing, each paragraph has a specific purpose.

Please note that it is possible to combine these types of paragraphs within a larger piece of writing to create well-structured essays, reports, and articles.

Also, the choice of a particular paragraph type depends on the writer’s purpose as well as the message they want to convey to their audience.

If you are a high school or university student, here are some common types of paragraphs you need to know.

1. Introduction Paragraph

The introduction paragraph is one of those types of paragraphs you cannot afford to overlook in most academic English writing situations.

An introduction paragraph is the opening section of an essay, article, or any written piece. Its primary purpose is to grab the reader’s attention, provide essential context, and present the thesis statement or main idea of the entire work.

Please, note the following vital features of a typical introduction paragraph.

An introduction paragraph starts with a hook.

A hook is a compelling sentence or phrase designed to capture the reader’s interest. It can be a surprising fact, a thought-provoking question, a relevant quote, or a vivid description.

Always ensure that the hook has a bearing on the topic of your essay.

Background Information

Another important element of an introduction paragraph is its background information.

After the hook, you often provide some background information. The purpose of this background information is to help readers understand the broader context of your topic.

For instance, if you are writing about a historical event, you might briefly mention when and where it happened.

Thesis Statement

The most critical part of an introduction in paragraph writing is the thesis statement. This is a clear and concise sentence that states the main argument or purpose of your essay.

It is the thesis statement that tells the reader what your essay will be about and what position you’re taking.

Always ensure that your thesis statement is as specific and arguable as possible.

You can find practical examples of thesis statements at the end of this post.

Finally, some introduction paragraphs include a brief roadmap. Think of the roadmap as an outline of the main points that will be covered in the essay.

Thus, the roadmap gives readers a preview of what to expect in the main essay.

Please, check out examples of roadmaps in paragraph writing at the end of this tutorial.

What is a paragraph? (Definition, Parts and Functions)

30 Free Online Essay Writing Courses

Accredited English Composition Course Online (Coursera)

2. Narrative Paragraph

Narrative paragraphs tell a story or recount a series of events. They often include details about characters, settings, and actions as part of the overall narrative structure.

3. Descriptive Paragraph

Descriptive paragraphs focus on details that paint a clear picture of a person, place, object, or experience.

They appeal to the reader’s senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch among others.

4. Expository (Informational) Paragraph

Expository paragraphs provide factual information and explanations about a specific topic. They aim to educate the reader and often include statistics, examples, or evidence to support their points.

5. Persuasive Paragraph

The primary purpose of persuasive paragraphs is to convince the reader to adopt a particular viewpoint or take a specific action.

Such paragraphs present arguments and evidence that appeal to the audience’s emotions as a way to convince them.

6. Compare and Contrast Paragraph

Among the types of paragraphs that high school and college students will, at some point in their academic journey, be compelled to write is the compare and contrast paragraph.

These paragraphs highlight the similarities and differences between two or more subjects or ideas.

Typically, compare and contrast paragraphs help readers understand the relationships between the concepts, ideas or objects under consideration.

7. Cause and Effect Paragraph

Cause and effect paragraphs explain the reasons (causes) behind a particular event or situation and the outcomes (effects) that result from such.

Simply put, compare and contrast paragraphs show the cause-and-effect relationship between events.

8. Process Paragraph

Have you ever written an essay in which you needed to describe how something is done? For example, you might have described the process of preparing a particular dish.

Types of paragraphs that describe a series of steps or actions in an orderly sequence are what we call process paragraphs.

Process paragraphs provide a clear guide on how to do something or how something works.

9. Definition Paragraph

Definition paragraphs clarify the meaning of a term, concept, or idea. This type of paragraph often includes both dictionary definitions and explanations in the writer’s own words.

10. Illustration (Example) Paragraph

Illustration paragraphs provide specific examples to support a point. In other words, they illustrate a concept.

The main objective of illustration paragraphs is to make abstract ideas more concrete and relatable.

7 Steps You Need to Start A Blog as A Beginner

20 Best Content Writing Tips for SEO

11. Concluding (Summarizing) Paragraph

Concluding paragraphs summarize the main points of an essay or section. This type of paragraph gives a brief recap of the key ideas discussed.

In a nutshell, a concluding paragraph helps tie the piece of writing together.

Types of Paragraph Examples

Find below a practical demonstration of the various types of paragraphs in academic writing. These paragraph examples should further clarify the points we’ve been discussing in this tutorial (and related ones) about paragraph writing best practices.

I’ve tried to use a wide variety of paragraph-writing topics to help you get a full feel of the things you need to do to come up with your best paragraphs.

Introduction Paragraph Example

Here’s an example of an introduction paragraph for an essay about the importance of lifelong learning:

“Did you know that in today’s rapidly changing world, the skills and knowledge you acquire today may become obsolete in just a few years? The concept of lifelong learning has never been more crucial. In this essay, we will explore the significance of continuous learning in personal and professional development. Lifelong learning empowers individuals to adapt to new challenges, seize opportunities, and lead fulfilling lives. We are about to discuss the reasons why lifelong learning is a key to personal growth and success in the 21st century.”

This introduction begins with a hook (the mention of rapidly changing skills), provides background information (the importance of lifelong learning), presents a clear thesis statement (the significance of continuous learning), and offers a roadmap (mentioning the reasons why it’s essential).

An effective introduction sets the tone for your entire essay. It entices the reader to continue reading so as to learn more about your topic.

Narrative Paragraph Example

The sun hung low in the sky, casting long shadows across the sandy beach. As I walked along the shoreline, the gentle waves lapped at my feet, and seagulls soared overhead. It was the perfect evening for a beachside picnic with friends, a memory I’ll cherish forever.

Descriptive Paragraph Example

Nestled in the heart of the forest, the cabin stood in solitude. Its weathered wooden walls, adorned with ivy, seemed like a time capsule from another era. A small creek whispered nearby, and the scent of pine trees filled the air. This tranquil retreat offered respite from the chaos of city life.

Expository Paragraph Example

Photosynthesis is a crucial process in the plant kingdom. During this remarkable transformation, plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce glucose and oxygen. This energy-conversion process not only sustains plants but also provides the oxygen we breathe, underscoring its significance in the ecosystem.

Persuasive Paragraph Example

The impact of climate change on our planet is undeniable. Rising temperatures, extreme weather events, and melting ice caps are clear signs of the crisis. It’s our moral duty to take action now. By reducing our carbon footprint, supporting renewable energy, and advocating for sustainable policies, we can collectively combat this urgent threat and preserve our planet for future generations.

Definition Paragraph Example

Resilience is a quality that many admire and aspire to cultivate. It refers to the ability to bounce back from adversity, to withstand challenges and setbacks, and to adapt in the face of change. Resilience is not the absence of difficulties but the capacity to navigate them with strength and determination.

Concluding Paragraph Examples

The below two examples of concluding paragraphs are suitable for a school prefect’s speech about the achievements and challenges facing their school.

Example 1 – Inspirational Conclusion

In closing, as we reflect on our school’s remarkable achievements and the challenges we have faced, I want to leave you with this thought. Our school’s journey has been marked by resilience, unity, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Yes, we have encountered obstacles, but they’ve only strengthened our resolve to overcome them. Together, we can turn challenges into opportunities, and achievements into stepping stones for an even brighter future. Let’s carry the spirit of determination forward, and with our collective efforts, there’s no doubt that we shall continue to shine as a beacon of education and inspiration. Thank you.

Example 2 – Call to Action Conclusion

In conclusion, our school’s journey has been one of both triumphs and trials. But remember, challenges are what make our victories even sweeter. As we move forward, let’s not only celebrate our achievements but also channel our energy into addressing the challenges that lie ahead. Let’s work together, students, teachers, parents, and staff, to create solutions and forge a path toward an even more prosperous future for our school. With determination and collaboration, there’s no challenge too great, and there’s no limit to what we can achieve. Thank you for your attention, and let’s embrace this exciting journey ahead.

8 Best Books for Aspiring Millionaires

We cannot finish this discussion of the various types of paragraphs in academic English writing without taking a brief look at some examples of certain parts of the introduction paragraph.

I’m referring specifically to examples of the thesis statement and the roadmap.

Thesis Statement Examples

Next, we shall have examples of thesis statements that can be used as part of an introduction paragraph for different essay topics.

Essay on Climate Change

In this essay, we will explore the impact of human activities on climate change and argue that urgent action is needed to mitigate its consequences, protect our environment, and secure a sustainable future for generations unborn.

Essay on Technology’s Influence on Society

This essay will examine the profound influence of technology on modern society. We shall highlight both its benefits and challenges, and emphasise the need for responsible and ethical technological advancement.

Essay on the Importance of Education

In today’s knowledge-driven world, education plays a pivotal role in individual growth and societal progress. This essay will discuss the significance of education as a catalyst for personal development and social change.

Essay on Gender Equality

Gender equality is a fundamental human right, yet disparities persist in many aspects of life. This essay will analyze the ongoing challenges and advocate for a more equitable society that values and empowers all genders.

Essay on the Impact of Literature on Society

Throughout history, literature has served as a reflection of society, offering insights into culture, values, and human experiences. This essay will explore how literature has shaped and influenced societies, leaving a lasting impact on our collective consciousness.

Roadmap Examples in Paragraph Writing

Have a look at the below examples of roadmaps in paragraph writing.

Example 1 – Roadmap for an Argumentative Essay

“In this argumentative essay, we will explore the controversial topic of mandatory vaccinations. First, we will establish the importance of vaccinations in preventing the spread of diseases and protecting public health. Next, we will delve into the arguments against mandatory vaccinations, addressing concerns about personal freedom and potential risks. Then, we will present counterarguments to refute these concerns and emphasize the collective responsibility for community immunity. Finally, we will conclude with a call to action, advocating for informed vaccination decisions and the greater good.”

In this roadmap, each step of the argumentative essay is clearly outlined, from introducing the topic to presenting arguments and counterarguments to concluding with a call to action.

Example 2 – Roadmap for a Descriptive Paragraph

“This descriptive paragraph will paint a vivid picture of a bustling farmer’s market on a sunny Saturday morning. First, we will set the scene by describing the location and the time of day, creating a sense of time and place. Then, we will explore the vibrant colours and diverse array of fresh produce, capturing the sensory experience of the market. Next, we will highlight the sounds and aromas that fill the air, immersing the reader in the bustling atmosphere. Finally, we will conclude by conveying the overall sense of community and vitality that defines this beloved local market.”

In this roadmap, the descriptive paragraph is broken down into steps that guide the reader through a sensory journey of the farmer’s market, from the setting to the details that make it come to life.

Related Posts

  • 80 Paragraph Writing Topics for Students and Teachers
  • 90+ Likely Grammatical Name Questions and Answers
  • What is A Paragraph in English? (Definition, Parts and Functions)

Solutions to Environmental Pollution Essay Example

Effects of environmental pollution essay example, closing thoughts.

The above examples of types of paragraphs in academic writing should serve as a guide as you develop your skills in constructing your best paragraphs. In case you are a tutor, I believe that using this resource to help your students learn how to write the various types of paragraphs in any academic setting or in life situations, in general, will immensely advance your teaching objectives.

Finally, there is a lot more you can learn about essay writing at Cegast Academy. So make sure to look around for as much information as you can.

Did you find this information helpful? Then share it on your favourite social media platform for the benefit of others you care about. Thank you!

essay paragraph types

Ralph Nyadzi

Ralph Nyadzi is the Director of Studies at Cegast Academy. He is a qualified English tutor with decades of experience behind him. Since 2001, he has successfully coached thousands of High School General Arts WASSCE candidates in English, Literature and related subjects. He combines his expertise with a passion for lifelong learning to guide learners from varying backgrounds to achieve their educational goals. Ralph shares lessons from his blogging journey on BloggingtotheMax . He lives with River, his pet cat, in the Central Region of Ghana.

  • Ralph Nyadzi https://www.cegastacademy.com/author/misteraf/ The Grieved Lands of Africa Quiz: Objective Test Questions and Answers
  • Ralph Nyadzi https://www.cegastacademy.com/author/misteraf/ Caged Bird Questions and Answers (Multiple Choice)
  • Ralph Nyadzi https://www.cegastacademy.com/author/misteraf/ Bat Poem Questions and Answers (D.H. Lawrence)
  • Ralph Nyadzi https://www.cegastacademy.com/author/misteraf/ Black Woman Questions and Answers: Objective Practice Test (Poetry)

SHARE THIS POST

essay paragraph types

Recommended

solutions to environmental pollution essay

Causes of Environmental Pollution Essay Example

effects of environmental pollution essay

30 Examples of Sentences that Omit ‘that’

practice reading comprehension online

Reading Comprehension Practice Online

difference between figures of speech and literary devices

Figures of Speech vs Literary Devices: What’s The Difference?

waec lexis and structure questions part 4

WAEC Lexis and Structure Part 4: Past Questions and Answers

sentence structure types with examples

4 Types of Sentence Structure with Examples (Plus Definition)

how to identify a phrase in a sentence

The Easiest Way to Identify a Phrase in a Sentence

qs top universities in the world

QS World University Rankings: The Best Global Universities

the top business universities in the world

From Harvard to HEC Paris: 23 Top Business Universities in the World

waec lexis and structure questions part 3

WAEC Lexis and Structure Part 3: Past Questions and Answers

Leave a comment cancel reply.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

Sign me up for the newsletter!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed .

essay paragraph types

What is an Essay?

10 May, 2020

11 minutes read

Author:  Tomas White

Well, beyond a jumble of words usually around 2,000 words or so - what is an essay, exactly? Whether you’re taking English, sociology, history, biology, art, or a speech class, it’s likely you’ll have to write an essay or two. So how is an essay different than a research paper or a review? Let’s find out!

What is an essay

Defining the Term – What is an Essay?

The essay is a written piece that is designed to present an idea, propose an argument, express the emotion or initiate debate. It is a tool that is used to present writer’s ideas in a non-fictional way. Multiple applications of this type of writing go way beyond, providing political manifestos and art criticism as well as personal observations and reflections of the author.

what is an essay

An essay can be as short as 500 words, it can also be 5000 words or more.  However, most essays fall somewhere around 1000 to 3000 words ; this word range provides the writer enough space to thoroughly develop an argument and work to convince the reader of the author’s perspective regarding a particular issue.  The topics of essays are boundless: they can range from the best form of government to the benefits of eating peppermint leaves daily. As a professional provider of custom writing, our service has helped thousands of customers to turn in essays in various forms and disciplines.

Origins of the Essay

Over the course of more than six centuries essays were used to question assumptions, argue trivial opinions and to initiate global discussions. Let’s have a closer look into historical progress and various applications of this literary phenomenon to find out exactly what it is.

Today’s modern word “essay” can trace its roots back to the French “essayer” which translates closely to mean “to attempt” .  This is an apt name for this writing form because the essay’s ultimate purpose is to attempt to convince the audience of something.  An essay’s topic can range broadly and include everything from the best of Shakespeare’s plays to the joys of April.

The essay comes in many shapes and sizes; it can focus on a personal experience or a purely academic exploration of a topic.  Essays are classified as a subjective writing form because while they include expository elements, they can rely on personal narratives to support the writer’s viewpoint.  The essay genre includes a diverse array of academic writings ranging from literary criticism to meditations on the natural world.  Most typically, the essay exists as a shorter writing form; essays are rarely the length of a novel.  However, several historic examples, such as John Locke’s seminal work “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” just shows that a well-organized essay can be as long as a novel.

The Essay in Literature

The essay enjoys a long and renowned history in literature.  They first began gaining in popularity in the early 16 th century, and their popularity has continued today both with original writers and ghost writers.  Many readers prefer this short form in which the writer seems to speak directly to the reader, presenting a particular claim and working to defend it through a variety of means.  Not sure if you’ve ever read a great essay? You wouldn’t believe how many pieces of literature are actually nothing less than essays, or evolved into more complex structures from the essay. Check out this list of literary favorites:

  • The Book of My Lives by Aleksandar Hemon
  • Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
  • Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag
  • High-Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now and Never by Barbara Kingsolver
  • Slouching Toward Bethlehem by Joan Didion
  • Naked by David Sedaris
  • Walden; or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau

Pretty much as long as writers have had something to say, they’ve created essays to communicate their viewpoint on pretty much any topic you can think of!

Top essays in literature

The Essay in Academics

Not only are students required to read a variety of essays during their academic education, but they will likely be required to write several different kinds of essays throughout their scholastic career.  Don’t love to write?  Then consider working with a ghost essay writer !  While all essays require an introduction, body paragraphs in support of the argumentative thesis statement, and a conclusion, academic essays can take several different formats in the way they approach a topic.  Common essays required in high school, college, and post-graduate classes include:

Five paragraph essay

This is the most common type of a formal essay. The type of paper that students are usually exposed to when they first hear about the concept of the essay itself. It follows easy outline structure – an opening introduction paragraph; three body paragraphs to expand the thesis; and conclusion to sum it up.

Argumentative essay

These essays are commonly assigned to explore a controversial issue.  The goal is to identify the major positions on either side and work to support the side the writer agrees with while refuting the opposing side’s potential arguments.

Compare and Contrast essay

This essay compares two items, such as two poems, and works to identify similarities and differences, discussing the strength and weaknesses of each.  This essay can focus on more than just two items, however.  The point of this essay is to reveal new connections the reader may not have considered previously.

Definition essay

This essay has a sole purpose – defining a term or a concept in as much detail as possible. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, not quite. The most important part of the process is picking up the word. Before zooming it up under the microscope, make sure to choose something roomy so you can define it under multiple angles. The definition essay outline will reflect those angles and scopes.

Descriptive essay

Perhaps the most fun to write, this essay focuses on describing its subject using all five of the senses.  The writer aims to fully describe the topic; for example, a descriptive essay could aim to describe the ocean to someone who’s never seen it or the job of a teacher.  Descriptive essays rely heavily on detail and the paragraphs can be organized by sense.

Illustration essay

The purpose of this essay is to describe an idea, occasion or a concept with the help of clear and vocal examples. “Illustration” itself is handled in the body paragraphs section. Each of the statements, presented in the essay needs to be supported with several examples. Illustration essay helps the author to connect with his audience by breaking the barriers with real-life examples – clear and indisputable.

Informative Essay

Being one the basic essay types, the informative essay is as easy as it sounds from a technical standpoint. High school is where students usually encounter with informative essay first time. The purpose of this paper is to describe an idea, concept or any other abstract subject with the help of proper research and a generous amount of storytelling.

Narrative essay

This type of essay focuses on describing a certain event or experience, most often chronologically.  It could be a historic event or an ordinary day or month in a regular person’s life. Narrative essay proclaims a free approach to writing it, therefore it does not always require conventional attributes, like the outline. The narrative itself typically unfolds through a personal lens, and is thus considered to be a subjective form of writing.

Persuasive essay

The purpose of the persuasive essay is to provide the audience with a 360-view on the concept idea or certain topic – to persuade the reader to adopt a certain viewpoint. The viewpoints can range widely from why visiting the dentist is important to why dogs make the best pets to why blue is the best color.  Strong, persuasive language is a defining characteristic of this essay type.

Types of essays

The Essay in Art

Several other artistic mediums have adopted the essay as a means of communicating with their audience.  In the visual arts, such as painting or sculpting, the rough sketches of the final product are sometimes deemed essays.  Likewise, directors may opt to create a film essay which is similar to a documentary in that it offers a personal reflection on a relevant issue.  Finally, photographers often create photographic essays in which they use a series of photographs to tell a story, similar to a narrative or a descriptive essay.

Drawing the line – question answered

“What is an Essay?” is quite a polarizing question. On one hand, it can easily be answered in a couple of words. On the other, it is surely the most profound and self-established type of content there ever was. Going back through the history of the last five-six centuries helps us understand where did it come from and how it is being applied ever since.

If you must write an essay, follow these five important steps to works towards earning the “A” you want:

  • Understand and review the kind of essay you must write
  • Brainstorm your argument
  • Find research from reliable sources to support your perspective
  • Cite all sources parenthetically within the paper and on the Works Cited page
  • Follow all grammatical rules

Generally speaking, when you must write any type of essay, start sooner rather than later!  Don’t procrastinate – give yourself time to develop your perspective and work on crafting a unique and original approach to the topic.  Remember: it’s always a good idea to have another set of eyes (or three) look over your essay before handing in the final draft to your teacher or professor.  Don’t trust your fellow classmates?  Consider hiring an editor or a ghostwriter to help out!

If you are still unsure on whether you can cope with your task – you are in the right place to get help. HandMadeWriting is the perfect answer to the question “Who can write my essay?”

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

A life lesson in Romeo and Juliet taught by death

Due to human nature, we draw conclusions only when life gives us a lesson since the experience of others is not so effective and powerful. Therefore, when analyzing and sorting out common problems we face, we may trace a parallel with well-known book characters or real historical figures. Moreover, we often compare our situations with […]

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Ethical Research Paper Topics

Writing a research paper on ethics is not an easy task, especially if you do not possess excellent writing skills and do not like to contemplate controversial questions. But an ethics course is obligatory in all higher education institutions, and students have to look for a way out and be creative. When you find an […]

Art Research Paper Topics

Art Research Paper Topics

Students obtaining degrees in fine art and art & design programs most commonly need to write a paper on art topics. However, this subject is becoming more popular in educational institutions for expanding students’ horizons. Thus, both groups of receivers of education: those who are into arts and those who only get acquainted with art […]

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Essay Writing

OWL logo

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help.

The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Therefore, it is wise for the student to become capable and comfortable with this type of writing early on in her training.

Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing and are often assigned either to be done in class, which requires previous planning and practice (and a bit of creativity) on the part of the student, or as homework, which likewise demands a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. However, students can avoid the discomfort often associated with essay writing by understanding some common genres.

Before delving into its various genres, let’s begin with a basic definition of the essay.

What is an essay?

Though the word essay has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere , which means "to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out." Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic.

Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.

The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose; the writing must be deliberate and interesting.

This handout should help students become familiar and comfortable with the process of essay composition through the introduction of some common essay genres.

This handout includes a brief introduction to the following genres of essay writing:

  • Expository essays
  • Descriptive essays
  • Narrative essays
  • Argumentative (Persuasive) essays

COMMENTS

  1. The Four Main Types of Essay

    An essay is a focused piece of writing designed to inform or persuade. There are many different types of essay, but they are often defined in four categories: argumentative, expository, narrative, and descriptive essays. Argumentative and expository essays are focused on conveying information and making clear points, while narrative and ...

  2. Types of Paragraphs: Based on Writing, Structure and Format

    The approach serves bloggers and essay writers who will focus on a single idea as they share it with their audience. Joseph Kenas. In writing, the 5 main types of paragraphs are descriptive, narrative, persuasive, explanatory, and illustration based on their content and structure.

  3. 9.1: Paragraph Types and Purposes

    Deductive Paragraphs. Deductive paragraphs begin with their point (topic sentence), and then go on to support and develop that point. This is the most common type of paragraph in academic essays and the type with which you are probably most familiar.

  4. Paragraphs

    Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students define paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, a paragraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as "a group of sentences or a ...

  5. Writing strong paragraphs: Types of paragraphs

    The type of paragraph you write will depend on a number of factors: The kind of writing you are producing. For example, paragraphs in a report tend to have a different purpose to paragraphs in an essay. The position of the paragraph in a longer piece of writing. A body paragraph in an essay has a different purpose to an introduction or conclusion.

  6. Paragraph Types

    The content of these paragraphs will be different depending on the requirements for the assignment. In a typical essay, you will have an introduction paragraph, supporting paragraphs (called body paragraphs), and a concluding paragraph. However, the number of paragraphs and the exact organization will depend on the assignment requirements.

  7. Paragraphs

    An average paragraph in an academic essay is about six to eight sentences. Types of Paragraphs. There are various types of paragraphs such as summaries, abstracts, and answers to questions for a specific assignment. In addition, there are specialized types of paragraphs for various reports such as feasibility studies or performance reports.

  8. Writing 101: The 8 Common Types of Essays

    Writing 101: The 8 Common Types of Essays. Whether you're a first-time high school essay writer or a professional writer about to tackle another research paper, you'll need to understand the fundamentals of essay writing before you put pen to paper and write your first sentence.

  9. Types Of Paragraphs

    The persuasive paragraph. This type of paragraph tries to get the reader to accept a particular point of view or understand the writer's position. This is the type of paragraph that many teachers focus on because it's useful when building an argument. It often requires the collection of facts and research. An example of a persuasive paragraph:

  10. 11 Types of Paragraphs in Academic Writing (with Examples)

    Concluding paragraphs summarize the main points of an essay or section. This type of paragraph gives a brief recap of the key ideas discussed. In a nutshell, a concluding paragraph helps tie the piece of writing together. Types of Paragraph Examples. Find below a practical demonstration of the various types of paragraphs in academic writing.

  11. What is an Essay? Definition, Types and Writing Tips by HandMadeWriting

    Five paragraph essay. This is the most common type of a formal essay. The type of paper that students are usually exposed to when they first hear about the concept of the essay itself. It follows easy outline structure - an opening introduction paragraph; three body paragraphs to expand the thesis; and conclusion to sum it up. Argumentative essay

  12. How to Structure an Essay

    The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body. This article provides useful templates and tips to help you outline your essay, make decisions about your structure, and ...

  13. Essay Writing

    Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.

  14. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    this type of assignment is generally asking you to make some claim about the sources in relation to each other. • Consider the broader goals of the assignment. What kind of thinking is your instructor asking you to do? Are you supposed to be deciding whether you agree with one theorist more than another? Are you