How do I organize a standard academic paper?

CWI Writing Center: Standard Paper Organization

Introduction Paragraph: The introduction is generally one paragraph long but can be two paragraphs for longer papers – one paragraph for history/summary and one to transition into the thesis statement. Ask your instructor if a one-sentence thesis statement is required.

Introduction Paragraph Example

Body of the Paper: Use as many paragraphs and sentences as you need to explore/support your thesis statement, main idea, and each main point.

General Body Paragraph Example

Conclusion Paragraph: The conclusion does not present new information. The conclusion of longer papers can have an additional summary paragraph before the final paragraph.

Conclusion Example

Notes on Paragraph Length:

  • A paragraph less than three sentences needs additional information or combining with another paragraph.
  • A paragraph that is a page long should have only one main point for the entire paragraph; if there is more than one main point, create a separate paragraph for each main point.

Paper Organization Practice

Please see the Thesis Statement and Paragraph Structure and Unity handouts for more help.

For more information, contact the Writing Center.