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Georgetown University Qatar Writing Center

Essay Structure

All academic essays share the same basic structure. However, there may be differences in content and style depending on the discipline. These resources will help you understand how to structure an academic essay:

Basic Essay Structure - from Utah Valley University

Argumentative Essays - from Purdue Online Writing Lab

Compare & Contrast Essays - from the Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


It is important to acknowledge, address and rebut counterarguments in your essay. This will help to make your argument stronger. Refer to the link below on how to develop your counterargument:

Counterarguments - from Harvard College Writing Center 

Create an Essay Outline

It can be useful to write an outline for your essay once you know about what you want to write about. The following link provides a sample outline for a 5 to 7 page paper:

Example Essay Outline - from Walden University Writing Center 

Model Five Paragraph Essay

Most essays that students write will be longer than five paragraphs. However, this model five paragraph essay provides a useful example of the structure of an essay and the organization of body paragraph (topic sentences and transitions):

Liberation of American Women

   Since the middle of the twentieth century, women in many countries have been seeking greater independence and opportunity.No longer content with their traditional roles as housewives and mothers, women have joined together to create what is known as the women's liberation movement. The impetus behind this movement varies from culture to culture, country to country, and individual to individual. In the United States, some of the major developments that led to the liberation of women were the creation of effective birth-control methods, the invention of labor-saving devices for the home, and the advent of World War II.

   The first cause of the liberation of American women was the development of safe and effective methods of birth control. Birth control devices gave women the ability to decide when and if they would bear children and how many they would have. While affluent women had always enjoyed some measure of independence, the development of birth control devices gave average women the ability to do more than have a family. They could complete their education and pursue a career. Between 1950 and 1987, the number of mothers going out to work tripled.

   Another reason why American women acquired more freedom outside the home was the invention of labor saving devices that lightened the burden of housekeeping. Machines and appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, clothes dryers, and dishwashers shortened the amount of time required to do household tasks. These machines dramatically shortened the time required to maintain a house. In fact, women devoted approximately twelve to fourteen hours per day to housework in 1950. However, by 1999, the number had dropped to approximately five hours per day.

   A final cause of the changed social status of American women was the advent of World War II. During the war, most able-bodied men were needed by the military, so great numbers of women joined the labor force as factory and office workers, filling the jobs that their husbands, fathers and brothers had vacated. For example, thousands of women moved into higher-paid factory work such as airplane welding. Others became business managers. Although many women returned to traditional roles after the war, this period of employment opportunity encouraged a sense of independence among U.S. women. In 1986, almost 48 million women age 16 and over were employed.

   In conclusion, a set of conditions and advancements — medical, technological,  and military — can explain the dramatic change in the status of American women. Currently, women in many societies are debating the costs and benefits of women's liberation. The full impact of this social change remains to be seen.

Adapted from Oshima, A. & Hogue, A. (1999). Writing Academic English (3rd ed.). White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman, pp. 111-113