What is the most appropriate and generally recognized essay format?

This is a fairly easy question to answer because the most appropriate essay format is also the most generally recognized one. It's a format which has been in use since essay writing began and academics and teachers will no doubt continue to require students to write using this format. The saying that you should ‘keep it simple’ truly applies to this type of essay. It basically has three components which are as follows.

  • An introduction.
  • Two or sometimes three body paragraphs.
  • A conclusion.

Understanding the role of each of these components makes a huge difference in your ability to create a winning essay. The structure or formula of this appropriate essay format is easy to understand. But it is the content you include in the structure which will determine whether or not you are successful as an essay writer.

The purpose of an introduction is to whet the appetite of the reader. It's to tell the reader what they can expect to see in the remainder of the essay. Not actually telling them what they will discover but rather describing the main thrust of the essay. If you are using a thesis statement this will appear in the introduction and as early as possible.

The body paragraphs which form the middle part of the essay are where you include your main points. You only have one main point per paragraph and you state this main point at the beginning of the body paragraph. The rest of the paragraph is taken up with supportive material. You might add a minor point or points but whatever you add it will all point back to the main point. And if you have say three paragraphs and therefore three main points, the main points will appear in order of priority. The most important main point will appear in the first body paragraph, second main point in the second body paragraph and so on.

The conclusion to your essay is important. It needs to be as concise as possible, it needs to reinforce all of you have said before and be the summary of your essay but it must not include any new material. In fact one major failing with many students is that they write an essay and then suddenly think they have to include point such and such so they pop it into the conclusion. That is wrong.

How you go about such things as proofreading, editing and citing references is an important but additional part of the generally recognized essay format. You will always be guided by advice from your teacher or professor.


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