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Writing Toolbox

Essay Format


The purpose of an introduction is to identify the topic, give background information on the topic and to clearly identify the main point your paper will discuss (Thesis). The following simple format will always guide you in this process:

A. Identify the topic. Usually this will be the title and author of the work to be discussed. This should be done only in a complete sentence.

B. Give background information about the topic. This should briefly give the reader some information about the topic, but not the real meat of your paper. Consider this the appetizer before your meal.

C. Clearly, in one sentence, identify the main idea of the paper. This is called the thesis statement.

Body Paragraphs

The purpose of the body paragraph in an essay is to support the thesis with evidence. This evidence may be in the forms of facts from a story, reasons that are based in logic, or main points needed to be addressed. For our purposes, usually our support is going to be in the form of quotes from the literature that we study. All quotes should be documented using proper MLA Parenthetical Documentation. For information on Parenthetical Documentation please see the MLA handout. The general format for a body paragraph is as follows:

A. Topic sentence. This will be a complete sentence that identifies the main point of the paragraph.

B. Supporting Details. Find quotes from the reading material to prove the topic sentence.

C. Once you have quotes, the process is only half complete. Explain the quotes and clearly make the connection to the reader about how this quote proves the point.

D. Second Supporting Detail

E. Further explanation

The Body paragraph format can be repeated for as many body paragraphs that the paper requires. Some body paragraphs may have four supporting details and some may have less. Body paragraphs and what is enough will vary from paper to paper. The most important thing to note is that no matter how many body paragraphs the paper requires the format is always the same. Simply repeat the format.

A note on transition: As you move from body paragraph to body paragraph, or supporting detail to supporting detail, transitional words or phrases are necessary to help guide the reader along.

Conclusion Paragraph

The purpose of the conclusion paragraph is to restate the main point of the paper. Sounds simple, but it requires a little more creativity. When in doubt, follow this formula.

A. Restate the Thesis statement in different words

B. Restate ╦ćall the topic sentences from the body paragraphs; in different words

C. Write a concluding statement that will wrap up and close the paper.

Rockland Regional Adult Learning Center Final Life Skill Paper Format

  1. Paper

    Use clean, good quality 8 1/2" x 11" white paper, one side only.

  2. Margins

    Leave margins of your essay 1" (2.5 cm) at the top, bottom, left and right sides of each and every page.

  3. Font

    Times New Roman font, size 12.

  4. Title Page

    A title page is essential for your final portfolio ready life skill. Use the following format on the title page:

    Title is centered about one-third down the page.

    Your name is centered, around the middle of the page.

    South Coastal Adult Learning Center, Life Skill number, and date are centered near the bottom of the page.

  5. First Page

    Start typing your name flush against the left margin. Then under your name, on separate lines, double-spaced, and flush against the left margin, type the life skill number, and the date. Double-space after the date. On a new line, center the title of your essay. If you have a long title, double-space between lines of the title.

    Do not type your title all in capital letters. Do not put quotations marks before and after the title. Do not underline the title, or put a period at the end of the title. Proper names of people and places as well as important words are capitalized in the title, but prepositions and conjunctions are normally shown in lower case letters, e.g. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

  6. Spacing Between Lines

    The entire essay should be double-spaced between lines along with 1" margin on all sides for your teacher to write comments. You will NOT quadruple space between paragraphs. The indentation alone (see next section) is enough to show the start of a new paragraph.

  7. Indentation

    Indent 5 spaces or 1/2" at the beginning of each paragraph.

  8. Final

    Sheets of paper should be stapled at the upper left-hand corner. Use a paper clip if no stapler is available. Do not use a pin or fold the paper. Unless specifically requested by your teacher, do not hand in your paper in a folder, a binder, a plastic jacket, rolled up with an elastic band around it, or tied with a ribbon or a string. Do not spray perfume or cologne on your paper or use scented paper. And NEVER hand in your research or term paper in loose sheets even if the sheets are numbered and neatly placed in an envelope or folder.

Connecting Your Details

Once you've arranged all the details in your writing, you need to tie them together so they read smoothly. The words below can help.

Words used to: SHOW LOCATION
Above Away from Beyond Into Over
Across Behind By Near Throughout
Against Below Down Off To the right
Along Beneath In back of On top off Under
Among Beside In front of Onto
Around Between Inside Outside
Words used to: SHOW TIME
About Before Later Second Today
After During Meanwhile Soon Tomorrow
Afterward Finally Next Then Until
As soon as First Next week Third When
At Immediately Now Till Yesterday
To repeat To emphasize For this reason
Words used to: CONCLUDE or SUMMARIZE
Last Therefore To sum up In summary In conclusion
Words used to: ADD INFORMATION
Additionally For example Also As well Likewise
Again For instance And Besides Moreover
Along with In addition Another Finally Next
Words used to: CLARIFY
For instance In other words That is Put another way
Words used to: COMPARE THINGS (show similarities)
Also In the same way Likewise
As Like Similarly
Words used to: CONTRAST THINGS (show differences)
Although Even though Still On the other hand Otherwise
But However Yet