Guilford College Writing Manual

This is the official Guilford College Writing Manual. A collaboration between the English Department and the Hege Library.

Geography of a Thesis and Proof Essay


Let's begin with a structural model:

Not all thesis/proof essays look like the above diagram. What appears above is an archetype, one which can serve as a basic frame for organizing analytic writing, especially the main types of exposition. The latter types include definition, classification, order/sequence, cause/effect, comparison/contrast, listing/enumeration, and problem/solution.

Let's take classification, for example. If you are writing a paper whose purpose is to classify American presidents from George Washington to the present into categories based on degrees of effectiveness (e.g., best, average, worst), you might establish three categories. In laying these out in a paper, you probably would begin with a paragraph in which you established your purpose and introduced the classification system. Then in the body paragraphs you would systematically introduce each category (perhaps one per paragraph), define it, and give concrete examples of presidents who belong in it. You would then likely conclude with a paragraph in which you commented on the significance of what I had shown.

Let's look more closely at each part of the model.