Writing a Basic Five Paragraph Essay: A Tutorial on How to Create a Detailed Outline


Although a five-paragraph essay may seem easy enough to plan the whole of it in your head, writing an outline is not a waste of time. Just the opposite, it is the most efficient first step you can make. Many academic writers note that writing an essay takes much less time and effort if you begin with an outline and elaborate on it rather than write your first draft from scratch.

A detailed outline will help you keep track of your argument and produce the best paper you can, so it is time to learn how to do it. Below find the basic steps of outlining a five-paragraph essay explained.

  • Take a stance.
  • Look at your essay topic. What do you think about it? What is the problem here? What solution would you suggest? For example, if your topic is “Should teachers assign five-paragraph essays to students?” you should decide whether you are for or against this practice.

  • Write a thesis statement.
  • Express your stance in the form of a sentence. It must include “should” or “should not.” A good example is “Teachers should no longer make students write five-paragraph essays”.

  • Pick three arguments in support of your thesis.
  • Look at your thesis statement. Why do you think so? You must have at least three reasons. For example, five-paragraph essays leave too little room for creativity, they do not allow for deep analysis, and there are too many of them assigned as your homework. Write them down as bullet points. Each argument will become a main idea for one of your body paragraphs.

  • Find three supports for each argument.
  • Search your sources for facts, statistics, and examples that support your points. Direct quotes and paraphrases may also serve as supports. “Teacher R. L. Brown (2007) writes that students who are the best at writing five-paragraph essays often show poor performance at creative and unusual tasks.” Write three quotes or pieces of evidence under each argument. Do not aim at a greater number – it can make your paragraph too long.

  • Craft a hooking introduction.
  • Make a bold statement on your topic that will make your reader curious why you are saying so. Share an interesting fact or anecdote. Give a piece of background information. Try all these ways to open your essay until you find which works best.

  • Sketch your conclusion.
  • Restate your thesis in different words. In the next sentence, answer the “So what?” question – call to action or discuss future implications. For example, “Teachers should use less common forms of essay writing to develop creativity in their students and provide them with more diverse writing experiences.”