WRAC: The Shape of an Essay

The Shape of an Academic Essay

This is essentially an essay formula to help shape our brainstormed ideas, quotes, and analysis into an effective, powerful essay. we can organize our thoughts and ideas into strategic locations to help support our claims and arguments.


  • Broad, general, opening statement and hook to encapsulate the audience
    • Example: reality of the state of America today
  • Transition to the topic by opening with ideas
    • Introduce book and author (if applicable)
  • Make more points that build up to and support the thesis


  • A statement that is specific, and to-the-point

  • Three main points: A, B, and C

Body Paragraphs

  • The body paragraph topics are derived from main points in the thesis

  • A = Paragraph #1

  • B = Paragraph #2

  • C = Paragraph #3

  • Can divide into more paragraphs depending on length of essay

Each Paragraph should have

  • Topic Sentence
  • PIE Formula (Point, Illustration, Explanation):
    • Present ideas
    • Specific evidence (quotes, examples, facts, statistics anecdotes, facts, testimony)
    • Analysis


  • Start off specific by restating the thesis and main points
  • Do not include any new information!
  • Avoid saying “in conclusion” or “in summary”
  • The conclusion should end broadly by suggesting ideas for further study, offering a solution, lessons learned, and/or how your thesis impacts you, your society, or the world in a call-to-action. 


This WRAC Handout was adapted from a handout by Instructor Segedy, Chabot College