Types of Structures for Effective Essays

An essay’s structure is the order in which your ideas…

An essay’s structure is the order in which your ideas are presented. It provides a map to readers, so they can make sense of what you’ve written.

That’s why it’s essential to choose the right type of essay structure for your topic. There are different types of essay structures that you can implore in your writing. Each type of structure will present certain advantages over another, and we’ll discuss them all in this article.

A fountain pen placed on the pages of a notebook.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Importance of an Essay Structure

Essays aren’t just a jumble of words or a loose collection of facts and ideas. Every element of the essay should be related to your central argument and summarized in your thesis statement. 

The structure is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. Having well-structured essays helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and better understand your message.

Three Main Parts of an Essay

Every essay comprises three main parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion. All of these parts need to be structured properly to make your piece flow as smoothly as possible.

Here’s a quick look at the role each of these parts plays in your essay.

Introduction

  • Presents your main topic
  • Discusses relevant background information
  • States your thesis or argument

Body

  • Presents evidence, core arguments, and analysis
  • Discusses one important point per paragraph
  • Starts every paragraph with a topic sentence
  • Relates to your thesis statement

Conclusion

  • Ties together all the main points in your essay
  • Shows the significance of your topic
  • Restates your thesis statement

Which Type of Essay Structure Should You Use?

There are three different essay structures that you can apply to your writing. The decision on which you should use will ultimately depend on the type of essay you’re writing.

Here are the three different types of structures that you can use for an effective essay.

Chronological

This structure guides the reader through a series of events. This is an ideal structure if you’re writing about:

  • A historical event
  • An interesting book or article you read in class
  • A walkthrough of a process or procedure

You’ll need to briefly introduce your topic to the readers in your first paragraph. Each body paragraph then takes the reader through key milestones in the event or book. This may be a decisive battle in history, a pivotal scene in a novel, or a critical stage in judicial proceedings.

As you conclude your essay, you’ll be able to show how these events led to a particular result.

Compare and contrast

Compare-and-contrast essays discuss multiple topics, such as novels or concepts. There are several different ways to structure a compare-and-contrast essay.

The most obvious way to start is to discuss similarities between topics. You can then detail their differences and follow them up with a paragraph exploring whether they are more similar or different.

You may also compare the subject matter in your body paragraphs focusing on their similarities. Or you can go for contrast only, wherein your body paragraphs highlight only the differences between the two.

Problems-methods-solution

This kind of structure organizes itself into three segments:

  • The problem
  • Ways to solve the problem 
  • Which methods for resolution were able to solve the problem

This works best for discussing methods that aim to solve a particular problem. You can also use it to explain why specific solutions failed.

Quick Tips for Effective Essay Writing

1. Start writing early – the earlier you write, the better.

Getting a head start on your essay will reduce anxiety, beat procrastination, and give you time to develop your ideas fully.

2. Keep in mind the essay topic.

Don’t forget to stick to your assigned topic and keep your essay relevant. You can keep a copy of the topic in front of you while you draft, edit, and work out your argument.

3. Don’t try to write an essay from beginning to end.

There will be times when you’ll lack inspiration, and you won’t be able to finish your essay in one sitting. In this case, you can start with a few sentences or bullet points and work from there.

You don’t necessarily have to start with your introduction. Sometimes writing your introduction last can give you an advantage because you already know what your essay is about.

4. Use transitional words in your writing.

Transition signals can help your readers follow the order and flow of your ideas much more easily.

5. Introduce your evidence carefully.

You can paraphrase quotations and insert them with introductory phrases to support your arguments.

6. Revise your first draft thoroughly.

Keep the entire essay flowing smoothly. And ensure the paragraphs are ordered logically. Also, make sure to proofread it so it’s free of any grammatical, spelling, or structural errors.

Wrapping Up

An essay structure can help you organize your thoughts and ensure your reader gets the point you are trying to make. There are different types of structures that apply to different types of essays.

When choosing the type of essay structure, remember to choose one that best specifies how you want to share your ideas with your readers.

Frequently asked questions

Types of Structures for Effective Essays

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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