What Does It Look Like?

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

Video Transcript
Outline for a Five Paragraph Definition Essay

In a basic five paragraph definition 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 definition essay, we will use the topic Nontraditional Students in College. Remember, a good thesis in a traditional essay always makes some kind of assertion. A good definition thesis that might work well within this topic would be: It is imperative that colleges understand who comprises the nontraditional student population and the unique needs and concerns of these students.

Now, we’ll take a look at how we could outline our introduction using our thesis with the goal of writing a definition 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 about the need to understand this definition.

Next, we would want to briefly define nontraditional students and then make brief comparisons about how they are different from other students. This will help transition to our thesis.

When you write a definition essay, it is not enough to assume your audience just automatically understands what is important to read about this definition. You need to let your audience know why learning about this concept is important or beneficial.

The body paragraphs for our definition essay might look something like this.

First, we will provide more detail about how nontraditional students are unique compared to other students.

Then we would elaborate on those unique qualities.

Finally, we would explore the concerns and challenges of this unique student population.

Of course, each body paragraph should connect to our thesis, so as we make each point, we will want to emphasize the need for colleges to have a better understanding of this information.

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 should remind our audience of the need for understanding this definition and then summarize our main points about nontraditional students.

Finally, we will remind our audience of our thesis, or our main point.

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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