What Does It Look Like?

Select the video below to see a presentation which will provide you with a basic outline for developing a cause and effect essay.

Video Transcript
Outline for a Five Paragraph Cause & Effect Essay

In a basic five paragraph cause & effect essay, you will follow a traditional structure common to most academic essays. You will have an introduction, plus body paragraphs, plus your conclusion.

In this example outline for a cause & effect essay, we will use the topic The Effects of Returning to School.

A cause and effect thesis that might work well within that topic would be: Although I decided to go back to school to improve my financial situation, one of the surprising effects of my return is a greater sense of self worth.

Now we will take a look at how we could outline our introduction using our thesis with the goal of writing a cause and effect essay. A good introduction provides background on a topic, transitions to the thesis, and then presents the thesis.

In this example, we would first provide background on the topic of returning to school and explaining our need to return. Since the financial benefits was the effect we were focusing on at first, we would mention that first and then transition to the personal benefits. This gives us a nice transition to our thesis on the effect of college increasing self worth.

It is important to note as you think about creating a cause and effect essay, that you will have a particular focus in your essay on creating a causal chain. In other words, how do certain events lead to others.

The body paragraphs for our essay on the effects of returning to school should focus on presenting our sequence of events to show how events lead to certain effects. In this sense, cause and effect essays can sometimes follow a chronological order.

In our example, we would first focus on the initial thinking about returning to school, how more education led to more ability, and then how this led to a different way of perceiving the self.

In a good cause and effect body, transitions will be very important. As you shift from one body paragraph to the next, make sure you provide good transitions for your audience.

A good conclusion will generally reinforce information from the body of the essay and remind readers of the thesis. In the outline for our conclusion, we could begin by summarizing key points or events from our body, emphasize our change in thinking, and then conclude with an emphasis on our thesis. Remember, you should not repeat the exact words of your thesis in your conclusion, but you should emphasize the main idea.

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