How to Write a Good Essay

Moving from the general to the specific, a good introduction to an academic essay should:

(1) Capture the reader's attention with an interesting "hook" (such as a compelling fact or anecdote)

(2) Provide a clear thesis statement that provides a strong, debatable argument

(3) Refer to the arguments that will be made to support the thesis statement throughout the essay

View the video or follow the links below for more tips and instructions for writing an essay introduction:

Watch The Power of a Great Introduction:

The body of an academic essay contains a series of paragraphs with ideas, arguments and/or interpretation that supports your thesis statement.
Each paragraph should contain the following elements:
  • Tells the reader what will be discussed in the paragraph, indicating the central point or argument that will be made
  • Claims with cited research and/or interpretation that provides supporting evidence
  • These sentences may define key terms, provide explanations, give examples and additional details, or otherwise support or expand on your thesis statement
  • Provide a transitional link or cue that leads the reader to the next paragraph or a concluding sentence that briefly summarizes the paragraph

Peel paragraph structure [digital image] (n.d.). Teach Starter. Retrieved from
Follow these links for more tips and advice on developing effective body paragraphs:

How to Use Transitional Devices, Voice Markers & Signal Phrases

These terms refer to words and phrases that improve the flow of academic essays by helping the reader follow a main line of thought.

Common Signal Phrases:

Common Transitional Devices:

  • According to
  • Contended
  • Declared
  • Found
  • Disputed
  • Illustrated
  • Implied
  • Stated
  • Argued
  • Noted
  • Suggested
  • Furthermore
  • Moreover
  • In this way
  • However
  • Conversely
  • Similarly
  • Consequently
  • Subsequently
  • In contrast
  • Lastly
  • Finally

This video tutorial from the Suny Empire State College library explains how to use signal phrases to effectively incorporate sources into your writing:


Follow the links below to learn more and view additional examples of transitional devices and signal phrases:

How to Incorporate Sources into Papers

This video tutorial explains how to use summary, paraphrase and quotation to incorporate sources into academic research papers. It demonstrates how to effectively structure sources, include analysis and use sources to support an argument.

For help citing sources according to APA guidelines, go the the APA Style Citation guide. 


Follow these links for more help using summary, paraphrasing and quotations to incorporate sources into an academic essay:

Why You Must Cite Sources

When using sources such as books, journal articles, or websites, you must always properly cite the original source of the ideas and research findings that you are reproducing and using in an essay or research paper.

This video tutorial explains some of the reasons why it is important to cite sources when writing an academic research paper.

For help citing sources according to APA guidelines, go the the APA Style Citation guide. 


In contrast to the essay introduction, the conclusion should move from the essay's specific arguments and thesis statement to a more general view of the research topic:

  • Restate the focal argument of the essay (the thesis statement)
  • Briefly summarize the primary supporting arguments and evidence made in the essay's body paragraphs
  • Finish by mentioning directions for future research, actions that should be followed based on the essay's findings, and/or general discussion of the topic's importance


  • The content of an essay conclusion should follow logically and align closely with the information provided in the introduction and body paragraphs
  • No new information or arguments should be included in an essay conclusion

Follow the links below for tips, instructions, and examples to help you build a strong concluding paragraph in an academic essay:


Need help? Use the RGO Library's online webchat service to ask for assistance from a friendly library assistant! Or contact us by phone or email:

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