How to Structure an Essay: Different Ways To Go

There are many ways that you can structure an essay based on the type of essay you are writing. For example:

If you are writing a compare and contrast essay you can structure your essay as follows:

  • You can open with the introduction and follow it with an ABAB style structure. This means that you present one comparison and/or one contrast for the first event/item/character/author. After that you present the second comparison and/or contrast for the second event/item/character/author all in the same paragraph. You then follow this same method for every subsequent paragraph. You follow this with the conclusion.
  • You can also use AABB style. This means that you have an introduction and then you present all of the comparisons and/or contrasts for the first event/item/character/author and then in the next paragraph you offer all of the comparisons/contrasts for the second event/item/character/author. You follow this with your conclusion.

If you are instead writing a cause and effect essay you can structure your essay as follows:

  • You can start with the introduction and list all of the causes in one paragraph followed by all of the effects in a second paragraph and then close with the conclusion.
  • Or you can write one cause in a single paragraph followed by another cause in a second paragraph and a third cause in a third paragraph etc…this can also be used for effects
  • Or you can write one cause and one effect in the first paragraph followed by the second cause and second effect in the second paragraph and a conclusion to wrap everything up.

*Note that for each of these you can expand the number of causes and/or effects

If you are writing a research paper you can structure the essay based on the style guide you must use:

  • Harvard
  • Chicago
  • APA
  • MLA

And you can then structure it based on the sections and/or chapters you have. If you are using APA format for example and you are conducting a literature review as part of the introduction to your research paper then you will want the following sections:

  • Cover sheet
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Body
  • Conclusion
  • References

But if you are conducting a trial experiment yourself then you may want to include:

  • Cover sheet
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

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