How to Write a Paper: Title, Introduction, Body & Conclusion

by Melissa Harr

Writers and teachers use a well-established set of guidelines for paper writing. Any paper, whether it’s argumentative, informative or personal opinion, nearly always has several component parts including a title, intro, body and conclusion. Once you learn how to compose these parts and put them together, you’ll be able to not only write on any subject but also draft papers that inform, rather than confuse readers. You’ll probably also find that writing becomes less stressful.

Titillate With a Title

The title is the first part of your work readers see, so it needs to grab attention and invite further reading. The title should also reflect the topic and tone of your paper; readers then have a preview of the subject matter and type of writing they’ll find. For example, if you’re writing a paper on the fascinating abilities of ants, don’t title the paper "Ants’ Abilities." The title is dry and doesn't indicate the feeling of the work. You might use a title like "Ants: The Hercules of the Insect World" or "Move Over Frank Lloyd Wright: Ants and Their Amazing Architectural Ability." Creating these types of titles is often easier said than done, so concrete strategies can be helpful. Richard Leahy, in his article “Twenty Titles for the Writer” (available online), offers 20 short exercises which are designed to help writers find the perfect title. Examples of exercises include creating a title using ‘on’ or identifying a sentence in the paper that could act as a title.

Illuminate With an Introduction

After you’ve piqued a reader’s interest with the title, you need an introduction that not only holds his or her attention but also clearly states the main point of your paper. This main point is usually asserted in a thesis statement. A thesis statement explains, in one sentence, what you will be arguing, explaining or analyzing in your work; it is usually the last sentence in the first paragraph of the paper. According to Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, a thesis statement can also be useful in a narrative paper. This statement must accurately reflect the information that will be handled in the rest of the paper. If not, readers may become frustrated or confused as they read.

Create an Ample Body

The body of a paper gives information that supports your main topic. When writing the body of a paper, it’s important to consider how ideas or arguments will be organized. There are many ways to organize information in the body of a paper, including by time, by relevance of argument, from general to specific or vice versa or through logical progression. Choose an organizational structure that will make the impact of your work stronger and your ideas clearer. Each paragraph within the body should contain a topic sentence at the beginning to help guide the reader along and a transition at the end so the reader has an idea of what is coming next.

Avoid Confusion Through Conclusion

Conclusions are necessary because they are the last part of a paper readers see, and often, they’re the part readers remember best. Don’t introduce any new ideas in the conclusion. If there’s more you must say, place it in the body of the paper. In writing a conclusion, you shouldn’t regurgitate your main points or thesis statement. You should, instead, show the reader how the information is important, how it works as a whole, and perhaps entice the reader to think about or use the information you’ve presented.

About the Author

Melissa Harr is a writer and knitting pattern designer with a range of publication credits. Her latest work includes blogging for Smudge Yarns, judging fiction for Ink & Insights 2015 and creating patterns for I Like Knitting magazine. Harr holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a CELTA.

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