This page offers information on the primary parts to a paper including: the thesis statement, introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion and documentation

Basic Parts of a Paper

Thesis/Purpose Statement

The thesis statement is sometimes called the focus statement, and papers may also contain a purpose statement.  Thesis statements are absolutely critical for writing a well focused and organized paper.  Do not attempt to write a paper without first creating a thesis statement.  For help understanding what a thesis statement is and how to create one, please click on the links below.

Some papers may also require a purpose statement.  For further understanding of the difference between thesis and purpose statements, and how to write a purpose statement, please view the following link.


Introductions are critical to setting up the rest of the paper and engaging the reader.  An introduction may contain background information for the subject being discussed, including attention-grabbing statistical information and the thesis statement.  For more information on how to write an introduction please see the links below.

Body Paragraphs

Once the Introduction has been written, the next piece of the paper is the largest, which is the main body of the paper.  This is where the thesis statement is broken down and supported using topic sentences that introduce the key points of the thesis statement and information is given to support the key points made.  For more information on writing the body paragraphs of the paper please view the links below.


The conclusion comes at the end of the paper in order to "conclude" what has been written.  For more information on what to include in a conclusion, and for keys to writing a conclusion please view the links below.

In-Text Citations and References/Works Cited Entries

In every paper that is written using ideas or information from an outside source, the sources used must be documented in the paper using in-text citations, and that source must also be documented at the end of the paper in the Reference or Works Cited page.   There are many different types of documentation styles/formats that can be used to document sources.  Make sure that you know which style/format you are supposed to be using before you attempt to document your sources.  Ask your professor if you are not sure.  For information on documenting sources in a particular style please view the following link.
    Documentation Styles


Additional Parts of a Paper



Abstracts are commonly included in research assignments, so make sure to find out from your professor if your assignment requires one.  Please view the links below to find out what an abstract is and how to write one.

Annotated Bibliography

There are several types of annotated bibliographies, so it is important to understand which type of annotated bibliography you are expected to write before you can begin doing so.  For more information on what an annotated bibliography is, types of annotated bibliographies, and how to write one, please view the links below. 

Literature Review

Sometimes you may be asked to write a literature review as part of your research paper and other times the assignment may be to write a literature review.  Either way the following links will be useful in understanding what a literature review is and how to go about writing one.