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I have always been taught to write essays in the same format:

First paragraph – Introduction including a thesis statement

Second to fourth paragraph – Body with details supporting/rejecting/analyzing the points in the aforementioned thesis.

Fifth paragraph – Conclusion summarizing the covered material.

If I were to write an essay on my favorite types of yarn, my thesis statement might look like this:

My favorite types of yarn are cashmere, mohair, and silk.

My body paragraphs would then proceed to address each type of yarn separately.

I find this structure, however, to be increasingly hard to follow as my papers become lengthier and, my prompts and topics, more complex.

In the above example, I might have to talk about six types of yarn rather than three. My thesis might become:

My favorite types of yarn are cashmere, mohair, silk, rayon, cotton, and alpaca.

The issue, though, is not how many points I have but, rather, the types of points that I wish to include. What if I were righting about, say, religion in the United States, with the following points needing to be addressed (understand that this is a brutally rough example and under no circumstance am I saying that this would make for a good paper):

Separation of church and state

The First Amendment

Religions in the United States

The presence and influence of protestants in the US

How would I go about writing a thesis statement that includes everything?

I can’t just list everything using commas or semicolons. But I can’t break up my thesis into multiple sentences, either, lest the thesis’ presence becomes unobvious and I am accused of not including it or being disorganized.

I always have this problem, and I’m not sure if it is because I have missed something fundamental to formal writing or something else. Maybe all the above.

Whenever I look at the professionally written essays and papers that I encounter in class, I can hardly recognize the format and essay structure that the author is using—certainly not the introduction-body-conclusion format we’re taught in school. They usually appear to flow organically like a journal entry, whilst still maintaining organization and formality. I love reading such texts, but I hardly think that that’s going to cut it as long as I have a grade attached to my paper!

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Did someone really say "paragraph one", "paragraphs two through four", and "paragraph five"? As if all essays must have exactly five paragraphs? Or do you just mean, the first paragraph, the body, and the last paragraph?

But in any case, this is an excessively rigid format. I wouldn't take advice like this too absolutely. It's probably fair to say, "start out with an introduction, then give the body of your exposition or argument, then give a conclusion". But supposing that your introduction and conclusion must each be exactly one paragraph is rather limiting.

If you are writing a 300 page book, I would expect the introduction and the conclusion to each be more than one paragraph.

But perhaps more to the point: If you are writing an essay, it should normally have some coherent subject. If someone said, "I am writing an essay about how to build automobiles, freedom of religion, and why tomatoes are good for you", I'd ask him what connects these things. If he has an answer, if he can say, "because they all follow logically from X", then the subject of the essay is X. If he can't connect them, except to say that these are three subjects that he is interested in, then I would suggest he write three essays instead of one.

So what is it that connects these ideas in your essay? If your answer is, say, "I want to discuss the history of protestant churches view of religious freedom in America", then there's a basis for your thesis statement.

Like if you wrote an article listing your 20 favorite types of yarn, I wouldn't expect you to being, "My favorite types of yarn are ..." and list the 20. That would be tedious. I'd look for something that links them together. Like, "My favorite types of yarn are those that are tough and have a silky feel" or whatever. Or if there's no connection between the 20 other than that they're all types of yarn, perhaps something like, "I like some types of yarn better than others" or "We all have our favorite types of yarn" or some such.

  • I simply meant "first paragraph, the body, and the last paragraph". – rainier Jun 25 '18 at 22:35
  • But thank you @Jay! This helps immensely; no one has ever described the art of thesis-formulating like this to me :) So helpful +1 – rainier Jun 25 '18 at 22:37
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What you wrote in your thesis?
I have a future submittion, my guide said to write in a paragraph air two. The following is my intended plan: A -> Using passive voice of what has been already done. The abstract statement is written after works over. B -> The thesis seems to be a descriptive thesis, you should always use some adjectives and adverbs. Beautiful smooth and placid etc per point. C -> One final Generalised sentence about all types, and individual specialised points about each will do.

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