Writing Body Paragraphs

Writing body paragraphs, the bulk of your essays, doesn't have to be hard work. Here are some pointers for writing a body paragraph from the inside out. The numbers on the left refer to the order in which you should try writing.

4. Topic Sentence

2. Context

1. Quotation

3. Analysis

5. Return to Thesis


  1. Quotation – This part is very simple: just copy the passage that you think is worth looking closely at onto your screen. (Don’t forget to put it in quotation marks and include the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence.)

  2. Context – Tell us at what point in the text the quotation occurs. If there is dialogue, tell us who is speaking. Remember not to retell the whole story; assume that your reader has already read the work. Providing context helps remind the reader of specific details in the text.

  3. Analysis – Tell us, in your words, what the quoted passage is saying. Don’t assume that everyone will read the lines from the text exactly the same way that you do.

  4. Topic Sentence – The thesis of your body paragraph. Your paragraph’s first sentence should tell the reader what you’re going to say in this paragraph. Note: this sentence should do more than simply tell us what part of the text you’re dealing with (that’s what #2, Context, is for)

  5. Return to thesis – Arguably the hardest part of your body paragraph, and what guarantees a well-developed and organized essay. You should provide a link between the point you’ve just made in your analysis and your overall argument.