CoverObjectivesParagraphsShapeOrganizationParagraph TypesIntroduction to EssaysShapeOrganizationIntroduction ParagraphsBody ParagraphsConclusion ParagraphsExample EssayThe Writing ProcessPrewritingWritingRevisingNarrative EssaysExample Essay #1PrewritingWritingRevisingExample Essay #2Descriptive EssaysExample Essay #1PrewritingWritingRevisingExample Essay #2Classification EssaysExample Essay #1PrewritingWritingRevisingExample Essay #2Refining WritingDevelopmentUnityCohesionNuts and BoltsAudienceWord FormsPunctuation & CapitalizationGrammarVocabularySummariesWriting for the TOEFLIntegrated Writing TaskIndependent Writing TaskGlossaryTeachers' GuideTeacher NotesActivity IdeasAnswer KeyParagraphs AKIntroduction to Essays AKThe Writing Process AKNarrative Essays AKDescriptive Essays AKClassification Essays AKRefining Writing AKSummaries AKWriting for the TOEFL AK


Before anyone reads your essay, you communicate something about your skill by the shape of the essay. You should divide your essay (more or less evenly) into paragraphs. The introduction and conclusion can be a little shorter than the body paragraphs if they need to be, but they should be pretty equal to each other.

Short essays typically have four, five, or six paragraphs: one introduction paragraph; two, three, or four body paragraphs; and one conclusion paragraph. The number of body paragraphs you need can change depending on the essay's topic, style, or time requirement.

When your essay will be printed (especially for your teacher to give you feedback), you should be careful to format the essay according to the directions your teacher gives you.


Here are some common formatting directions you may need to know about:

  • Write your name at the top of the paper (at left or right).
  • Use 12 point font.
  • Use 1 inch margins (2.54 cm).
  • Double-spaced (2.0 spacing).
  • Make each paragraph left-aligned.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph.