Components of Writing a Paper

Whether at the elementary or doctorate level, writing a paper involves the same components in the process and the structure of the paper. Careful planning and attention to detail while researching and writing a paper helps to ensure that you will present the reader with information in a logical and coherent manner.


  • Although the research that goes into writing a paper may not all be included in the paper itself, it is this component that prepares you with information that develops the arguments and themes in the paper. Researching involves reading books, essays by other writers and other materials that give a rounded perspective on the topic.


  • List any materials that you referred to in writing your paper in the last section of the paper. This is referred to as the references, bibliography or works cited section. Many professors require that the references be formatted according to a particular style, and it is important that you follow this style exactly, down to whether there are commas or periods after the title and author.

Thesis Statement

  • All types of papers require a thesis statement; formulating the thesis statement is often the hardest part of writing a paper. The thesis statement should be one sentence long and should identify for the reader what the rest of the paper will explain. After reading the thesis statement, the reader should be able to anticipate what kind of information will be coming next.
  • Outline

    • Whether a brief overview or a detailed map of the paper, an outline helps to focus each paragraph as it is being written. The outline should include a list of all the major topics being covered in the order in which they will appear in the paper. When reading the outline, the flow of the argument should be clear, coherent and follow a logical order. Although the outline is not usually turned in, it helps to make the paper better.


    • The introduction of a paper should explain what the paper is about and how it fits into the broader picture. A hook at the beginning of the introduction should catch the reader's interest, and the rest of the introduction should narrow the topic until the last sentence, where the thesis is presented.


    • The main component of a paper is the body, and it can be anywhere from a few paragraphs to many pages long. Each paragraph in the body of the paper should be focused around one idea that is presented in the first sentence and relates to proving the thesis. Evidence should be included in each paragraph to show the reader that the topic sentence is true.


    • The conclusion of the paper needs to wrap things together into a logical paragraph without just restating information. The conclusion should not introduce new information, but should synthesize what has been presented and give the reader a sense of completion. In addition, the conclusion can suggest directions for further inquiry.


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