Approx. 2 pages
12 font, double spaced, standard margins
no cover page – name upper right hand corner
title – centered (size 12 font) at top of first page


You must use at least two sources for your essay.
Works cited is required.

Landmark Citation Machine (Use MLA style)

Introductory paragraph
A. Catches the reader's interest
B. Gives brief background on your topic
C. Begins or ends with the thesis statement

Body (paragraphs 2, 3, etc.)
A. Develops, expands, and/or supports the thesis statement
B. Includes a topic sentence for each paragraph
C. Includes supporting details which reinforce the topic sentence.

Concluding paragraph
A. Restates the thesis or sums up the argument.
B. Tells the reader what you think is important to remember. (Often, this is a personal response).
C. Never introduce new information in the conclusion. Extend your thinking on something from the essay.


Use the following format for developing a good thesis statement.
A) Write your topic.
B) Write your opinion about the topic.
C) Write three or four reasons why you hold that opinion.

Example:
A) Topic: nuclear power
B) Opinion: should not be used
C) Why:
  • 1. It is potentially dangerous.
  • 2. It is more expensive than other alternatives.
  • 3. It causes water, land and air pollution.

Thesis statement = A+B+C
Nuclear power should not be used because it is potentially dangerous, it is more expensive than other alternatives, and it causes water, air and land pollution.

Three parts of a paragraph:
  1. Topic sentence: Use this formula for building a good topic sentence: a specific topic + a specific feeling or attitude.
  2. Body of paragraph: Contains sentences that develop or explain the idea given in the topic sentence. Generally 3-5 sentences are necessary per paragraph.
  3. Closing/Clincher sentence: Reminds the reader what the main idea of the paragraph is and what it means (why it is important). Closing sentences can also be a transition to the next paragraph.

Paragraph Unity:
Limit paragraphs to one main idea that is presented in the topic sentence and eliminate all sentences that do not support that idea.

Strategies for developing a paragraph:

Develop the body of the paragraph
  • with reasons
  • by giving examples
  • by using a story/incident to illustrate the idea
  • by using statistics
  • with descriptive details

Ordering the details in a paragraph:
Use the following methods of organization:
  • Chronological order: time order, as things happen
  • Order of location: in reference to where things are located
  • Order of importance: go from most to least important or from least to most important
  • Cause and Effect: Start with cause of a problem; continue with possible effects
  • Comparison: Explain a subject by showing how it is like another subject
  • Contrast: Explain a subject by showing how it is different from another subject

Don't Even Think About It!:

  • Don’t use "I" or first person in paragraphs other than personal narratives: use third person point of view (he, she, it etc.)
  • "This paragraph will explain," or "This paragraph will be about" beginnings are bad. Instead, write a clear topic sentence that eliminates these unnecessary words and focuses on the subject and purpose. For example, instead of "This paragraph is about the space program and all the innovations that have helped society" write "Innovations from the space program have helped advance society."
  • Straying from the main idea: check each sentence to make sure it belongs in your paragraph. If it doesn’t, take it out.
  • Wordiness: take out all unnecessary words.
  • Unclear pronoun references: never start a sentence with the words "this" or "that" etc. Your reader may not know what you mean.
  • Insufficient transitions: you need to link ideas to one another.

STILL CONFUSED? NEED MORE HELP? Follow these links...
Elements of Language: Model Bank