Academic Essay Structure

28.04.20 Structuring academic essays Time to read: 6min

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Academic essay structure: Definition

Academic essay structure has a lot to do with the way you have presented your thoughts and logic in an academic essay. For instance, you want to ensure that you present one idea at a time, and then support them with facts to convince your readers. A good essay structure should also use an active voice and conclude with thoughts that are focused on summarizing the aforementioned ideas. Also, in the concluding paragraph, let your readers know your ground based on the subject.

To write a good academic essay, you need to come up with coherent ideas and use them to create a striking argument. Your academic essay structure should be one that lures the reader into following what you have to say closely. In this bit, we have shared valuable tips to help you learn and use the right academic essay structure in your next creative writings.

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The general structure of an academic essay contains three main parts. These include the introduction, body, and conclusion. Using this format, you can easily write and ensure that your academic essay is perfectly organized. With this basic academic essay structure in mind, you should stick to the topic to guide your ideas and their sequence.

The basic academic essay structure is not only crucial to the writer but also to the readers. It helps them comprehend the logic and flow of your thoughts as a writer. The main intention of the academic essay should be clearly stated in the introduction. The readers should get detailed information about the topic in the body of the academic essay. Summarize everything and share your thoughts with your readers in the concluding paragraph.

There are four main types of academic essays, however the structures stay the same for the most part:

  1. Expository essay, descriptive essay and narrative essays
  2. Argumentative essay or persuasive essay
  3. Compare and contrast essays
  4. Analysis, or cause and effect essay structures

Each one of these academic essays will still have an introduction, followed by body paragraphs with a conclusion at the end.

It is your plan that determines the structure of your academic essay. You should always create an essay outline before you begin writing. The outline also helps you to come up with elaborate arguments. At a minimum, your academic essay structure should include the three main parts, namely, introduction, body, and conclusion.

There is no specification for the number of sentences you should have in each of your paragraphs. For neatness and readability, make sure that each paragraph has a maximum of four sentences. You need to ensure that every paragraph is long enough to cover everything, but also short enough to be interesting.

Tip: Be sure to use transition words when writing your paragraphs to enhance the flow and readability of your academic essay.

Parts of an academic essay

As mentioned above, the essential parts of an academic essay include introduction, body, and conclusion. Now let us take a closer look at what is entailed in each part of an academic essay.


To give your academic essay a good introduction, you want to make it broad, but be careful not to go too broad. Also, this is the part in which you should share some background information related to the topic. However, you want to be careful not to start your argument just yet. Towards the end of your introduction, drop a thesis statement. Some writers also prefer throwing their thesis in the last sentence, but that relies greatly on your style of writing.

The Body

The body is the term used to refer to the paragraphs that come after the introduction but before the conclusion. A typical essay should feature multiple body paragraphs. However, the overall length of the body of your academic essay is determined by the number of ideas you have to share. The details you use to back up your thoughts also have an impact on the overall length of the body. Make sure that you present one idea after the other, and then support them with substantial facts to convince your readers.

Conclusion Section

Your conclusion might look a bit similar to the introductory paragraph. In this section, make sure to restate your thesis because your readers might have lost it somewhere while reading the body. Also, in the conclusion, you need to create a summary of the main points your academic essay touches. Do not forget to remind the readers of what you think about the entire subject in discussion.

GOOD TO KNOW: Read our article about the Parts of a Research Paper!

Different academic essay types

There are different types of academic essays. While they could take different formats, the structure still remains the same. Your academic essay, despite its nature, must have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Other details might come in, but they should not interfere with the recommended basic essay structure. Now, what are some of the main types of academic essays?

  • Narrative essays: In this academic essay, the writers communicate to the readers while sharing a real-life experience. Though this might sound quite easy, the students are usually challenged to tell a story about themselves.
  • Descriptive essays: This is more of painting a picture. It has a close relationship with the narrative essay. In this case, the writers are expected to use words to create clear, descriptive images.
  • Expository essays: This is an informative piece that mainly presents a well-balanced analysis of a given topic. In this case, the writer is expected to use facts, examples, and statistics to define a topic.
  • Persuasive essays: This is a tool that is used by writers to convince the readers to agree with their point of view. Facts and logic must be used strategically in this case.

Academic Essay Structure – In a Nutshell

  • As a writer, you are free to use unique styles to communicate with your readers. However, you still have to introduce them to what you are about to share.
  • You will need to employ the right academic essay structure throughout your writing, and this is usually determined by the type of essay.
  • With an academic essay structure, you will look and sound professional.
  • Depending on the type of academic essay you are writing, you can add some details to help your readers follow through.
  • The basic academic essay structure includes the introduction, body, and conclusion.
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