Basic Elements of an Essay: Detailed Overview

Many students often ask themselves a question:‘What are the basic elements of an essay?’ To answer it fully and comprehensively, it is essential to know the key elements an academic paper is comprised of. Failure to do so can land you in a lot of trouble with your professor and result in you getting a lower score.

To stay on track and avoid writing yourself into a corner, it is important to come up with a detailed outline. In it, you should list everything you plan to include in your essay in chronological order. Keep in mind that arranging sections chronologically is just a recommendation, and as such, and you shouldn't follow it blindly. For example, many students make the common mistake of starting to work on the introduction just because it comes first in their essay’s hierarchical structure. However, it makes no sense because it is impossible to compose the intro or conclusion unless you know exactly what you’re going to write about in the body paragraphs. Therefore, it is not until you have a clear idea of what will be included in the body paragraphs that you can set about composing your thesis statement based on the topic sentences that open each new paragraph.

So, what are the elements of a good essay? On the whole, there are only three basic elements, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion. However, we can make a more detailed outline:

  • Title page (optional) — It may vary depending on the chosen citation format. If you are not sure about it, ask your teacher or see which format corresponds to specific subjects. Include your name, paper’s title, institution details, and date.
  • Abstract — a summary of the paper, which should be no longer than 300 words (1/3 of a page).
  • Introduction and thesis statement.
  • Body part with examples or evidence.
  • Conclusion with a final statement.

Students are often required to add the Bibliography section (aka Works Cited or References), which is is a list of literature you used in your essay. In other words, mention every source cited on the last page of the paper.


This part should contain the hook sentence meant to catch the reader’s eye, background information, reasons for the reader to keep on reading, and a solid thesis statement.

To grab the reader’s attention, you may use one of the following:

  • Fact;
  • Statistics;
  • Joke or anecdote;
  • Metaphor, simile, or some other literary tool;
  • Quote of a famous person;
  • Rhetorical question.

Then, tell your audience why the selected problem may be interesting to review. Finish with a 1-2-sentence thesis statement. The body paragraphs should prove/back your main idea.

Body Paragraphs

Each of the three body paragraphs should have the topic sentence, which is the underlying claim of a paragraph. Support each of the sentences using the evidence collected from primary and secondary sources during your research. Each paragraph should end with the transitions word(s) to ensure the logical flow of the entire paper.


The conclusion should begin with a paraphrased thesis statement which restates your main idea. Prepare a summary of the topic sentences from each of the body paragraphs. Conclude by saying whether you succeeded in proving the thesis and provide some forecasts for the future. You may finish your paper with an attention-grabbing hook, which can be something like a rhetorical question.

To sum up, the basic elements of an essay are the introduction, 3-5 body paragraphs, conclusion, and bibliography.

Parts of an Essay with Definition and Requirements

Different essay types have different basic elements. For example, the elements of an argumentative essay include a controversial thesis, background info on the problem, transitions, research, logos, pathos, and ethos.

This type of essay is pretty similar to the persuasive paper, the only difference being that the argumentative essay should also spur the audience into wanting to accept the author's position. The elements of a persuasive essay include a defined thesis, impressive intro, well-developed argument, powerful conclusion, purposeful word choice, and varied sentence structure.

One of the easiest papers is the narrative essay which requires the student to tell a story. Thus, one of the essential elements of narrative essay students are required to demonstrate their creativity.

But, some more peculiar essay types should be covered. What about the elements of an expository essay? It definitely must have a topic sentence, thesis, subtopics, transition words, evidence, examples, and a conclusion.

The elements of a personal essay depend entirely on the writer as they are the ones who make the decision what topic to discuss. The main task here is to provide the audience with more information about yourself or make it through the application process if it is a personal college essay.

That is pretty much everything there is to know about the structure of the academic paper and main elements of an essay. Keep in mind that coming up with a perfect essay at the first try is very difficult and may take a lot of time and effort. Therefore, our recommendation would be to hire trusted professionals like ourselves to do the job for you. All you need to do is specify the kind of essay you need, the topic, deadline, and a number of pages. We’ll take care of the rest and provide you with the best paper ever!