General Paper Structure

Your finished paper should be linear and logical and will include an introduction, body and conclusion.

Your introduction grabs the reader's attention and gives a general overview of the paper. Within the introduction is your thesis statement: the main idea of your paper that outlines your topic and your position. The thesis statement is the most important sentence in your paper. Everything that you write in the rest of the paper must connect to your thesis statement.

The body of the paper contains paragraphs with main ideas that prove your thesis statement. In addition, the paragraphs contain support that develops the main ideas. You may have generated these main ideas using your prewriting strategy. Over time, these ideas can be put into your outline.

Regardless of the format of your outline, be sure that each paragraph in the body begins with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph. It controls the content of the rest of the paragraph, just as your thesis statement controls the content of your paper.

After you've fully developed your body paragraphs, you need to tie your paper together in your conclusion. The conclusion captures your thesis and main ideas and reinforces your position on the topic.