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Writing: Essays


What is an essay?

The word ‘essay’ comes from the Latin word ‘exagium’, meaning the presentation of a case.

When you write an essay you are making a case for a particular point of view, analysis, interpretation, or set of facts or procedures.

There are many types of essays. Some of the more common types are listed below.



Although the types of essays differ, they all have the common objective of presenting and defending a topic or stance to the reader. 

Essay structure

An essay is typically made up of an introduction, body, and conclusion. The number and length of paragraphs within your essay is dictated by the word count allowed for your essay.


Follow this structure to write your essay.


Essay structure image/svg+xml Essay structure A diagrammatic view of the structure of essay introductory paragraph concluding paragraph middle paragraphs State the Thesis Restate the Thesis PREMISE 1 PREMISE 2 PREMISE 3 a rgument



The "premise" of each body paragraph is a different main point that supports your overall argument. Each premise needs to be backed up by credible evidence, and supported by explanations of what each point means, and how it relates to the broader topic. Making sure these premises relate to each other is vital to ensuring your essay flows logically, and makes sense to your reader. 

Paragraph structure

Work through these activities to look at paragraph and essay structure.

The middle paragraphs support your thesis statement and build up the argument of your essay. Once you have developed your argument through the middle paragraphs, you are better able to write an opening paragraph (the introduction) that introduces your argument to the reader.


A middle or body paragraph's structure is similar to the overall essay structure, with the middle sentences forming the body of the paragraph. Click on the options below to look at the typical structure of a body paragraph. 



Note: There may be more or less than three middle sentences in your body paragraphs. 




Example body paragraph



Throughout your essay assignment you will be integrating the work of others, and citing your sources appropriately. For more information on how to do this effectively, check our our Citing in your writing or Writing with integrity programs.