The Rule of Three for Writing Effective Paragraphs and Essays

All academic writing can be presented effectively by following the rule of three. In a single paragraph, one needs three development elements: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. In the case of a one paragraph writing, the introduction is often the thesis statement, although some writers may prefer to have a hook, an attention getting sentence prior to the thesis, but both are part of the essential first element, the introduction. The second element is the body of the paragraph, those sentences that develop the idea stated in the thesis. This may be as simple as a single sentence or may involve as many as five or six sentences. The important thing is to be sure you have included all of the details and support necessary for your reader to accept your original thesis. The third element is a clearly worded sentence that expresses what the writer wants his or her reader to gain from the paragraph as a whole.

For a multiple paragraph essay of three or more paragraphs, the introduction is presented in the first paragraph starting with a well thought out attention getting sentence that will draw the reader into the writer's topic. The second element will include from two to five sentences, or even more, of background information that links the writer's topic to his or her thesis statement. This often called the bridge. The third element is a thesis statement that may or may not include the writer's controlling idea or ideas. These controlling ideas are the key points the writer intends to develop in the body of the essay. Such key points are consider forecast and make one's writing reader friendly. If not included as part of the thesis, these may be presented in a sentence prior to or following the thesis.

The second and following paragraphs of a multiple paragraph essay are the body, or development, of the essay. There should be one paragraph for each of the key points presented in the introduction. The three elements of a body paragraph are the topic sentence which restates the first of the writer's key ideas. This is followed by a number of sentences that support and illustrate the main point with examples from the writer's own knowledge and experience or form his or her research into the topic. The third element of a body paragraph may be either a concluding statement that signals to the reader that this is all that will be presented on this particular point. Or, the writer my choose to link this point to the point of the following paragraph by the use of a transitional sentence.

It is often a good idea when writing a persuasive essay to include a paragraph in which the opposing point of view is presented and then clearly refuted although this would not be part of the original thesis or forecast.

The final element in a multiple paragraph essay is the conclusion. The three elements of an effective conclusion are a restatement of the thesis followed by the second element, one or more sentences that summarize the points made in the development paragraphs of the essay. The final element in a concluding paragraph will be a general statement that makes it clear to the reader the lesson he or she is expected to gain through what the writer has presented.


R.L. C.

45 Years of Experience Teaching at High School and University Level

1750+ hours
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