30 Writing Templates

Templates for Writing Papers

To many students, writing seems an impossibly complex task. However, it’s important to remember that are specific patterns writers frequently use. Recognizing these patterns is a step to writing more effectively.

MLA Style

There are different styles to format your papers in, but your Instructor for this class is most likely to have you write in MLA format. MLA format requires that you make your page look a certain way. Here is an example of this format.


You may have been told by teachers that your introductions should gain the reader’s attention. It’s more accurate to describe an introduction as a place to prepare readers for your writing, whether the writing is an argument or an informative piece. This may seem like a daunting task, but there are a limited number of ways to do this. Consider the following introductory paragraphs:

Sample Introduction Strategies

Could you look through a rifle’s scope into the long-lashed eyes of an elk and pull the trigger if it would be the only meat you ate for the year? Would your conscience be more or less troubled if instead you slit the necks of animals you planned to eat after they were nurtured like adored pets on an idyllic farm?
Does the thought of doing either send you to the grocery store or farmers’ market, where neat packages conceal the violence committed on your behalf? Or do you forswear meat altogether?
From “Blessed Be my Freshly Slaughtered Dinner” by Kate Murphy in The New York Times. This introduction begins with a series of rhetorical questions that ask readers to question their own ethical preferences. In addition to the questions, Murphy uses specific details, such as “the long-lashed eyes” and “slit the necks” to heighten the readers’ interest in her article.

Watching the horrific images of Syrian refugees struggling toward safety—or in the case of Aylan Kurdi, 3, drowning on that journey—I think of other refugees. Albert Einstein. Madeleine Albright. The Dalai Lama.
And my dad.
In the aftermath of World War II, my father swam the Danube River to flee Romania and become part of a tide of refugees that nobody much cared about. Fortunately, a family in Portland, Ore., sponsored his way to the United States, making this column possible.
If you don’t see yourself or your family members in those images of today’s refugees, you need an empathy transplant.
From “Refugees Who Could Be Us” by Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times. Kristof’s introduction uses well-know public figures like Albert Einstein to remind the readers that refugees aren’t bad people. He also uses his father’s example from the second world war to show his own interest in the topic. Finally, he uses figurative language by suggesting that some people may need an “empathy transplant,” a procedure which doesn’t exist.

Donald Trump’s call to end birthright citizenship has roiled the Republican presidential primary. Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio embrace the traditional view that the Constitution bestows citizenship on anyone born on U.S. territory. Ben Carson and Rand Paul agree with Trump that Congress could dismantle birthright citizenship by itself. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz acknowledges birthright citizenship but seeks a constitutional amendment to abolish it.
Conservatives should reject Trump’s nativist siren song and reaffirm the legal and policy vitality of one of the Republican Party’s greatest achievements: the 14th Amendment. Under its text, structure and history, anyone born on American territory, no matter their national origin, ethnicity or station in life, is a U.S. citizen.
From “Ignore Trump—the Issue of Birthright Citizenship Has Been Settled” by David Rivkin and John Yoo in the Los Angeles Times. Rivkin and Yoo summarize a variety of views on the issue of birthright citizenship, mentioning presidential candidates’ views on the subject. They then transitions to their own thesis which forecasts the focus of the article.

Let’s start indoors. Let’s start by imagining a fine Persian carpet and a hunting knife. The carpet is twelve feet by eighteen, say. That gives us 216 square feet of continuous woven material. Is the knife razor-sharp? If not, we hone it. We set about cutting the carpet into thirty-six equal pieces, each one a rectangle, two feet by three. Never mind the hardwood floor. The severing fibers release small tweaky noises, like the muted yelps of outraged Persian weavers. Never mind the weavers. When we’re finished cutting, we measure the individual pieces, total them up—and find that, lo, there’s still nearly 216 square feet of recognizably carpetlike stuff. But what does it amount to? Have we got thirty-six nice Persian throw rugs? No. All we’re left with is three dozen ragged fragments, each one worthless and commencing to come apart.
Now take the same logic outdoors and it begins to explain why the tiger, Panthera tigris, has disappeared from the island of Bali. It casts light on the fact that the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, is missing from Bryce Canyon National Park. It suggests why the jaguar, the puma, and forty-five species of birds have been extirpated from a place called Barro Colorado Island—and why myriad other creatures are mysteriously absent from myriad other sites. An ecosystem is a tapestry of species and relationships. Chop away a section, isolate that section, and there arises the problem of unraveling.
From David Quammen’s The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinctions. This introduction is from a non-fiction book, so the author has more room for elaborate imagery. Quammen begins with an elaborate description of a Persian carpet, asking the reader to imagine slicing it into pieces. He includes sentences that aren’t necessary for the comparison, but add flavor to the description: “Is the knife razor-sharp? If not, we hone it.” There is no knife, nor is there a need to hone one; he’s asking us to imagine this.
We see the authors in the above introductory paragraphs performing basic tasks: asking questions, citing examples, summarizing others’ views, noting their own connections to an issue, telling stories. Even though these pieces were written by professional writers, they use the basic skills discussed in most writing classes. You can use these techniques in your own writing, choosing the method or methods that are most fitting for your topic and your assignment.


A few more templates can be found here.

Body Paragraphs

Once you’ve introduced your text, your body paragraphs will vary depending on your topic and your assignment. However, continuing your paper can be easier if you remember the importance of each paragraphs first sentence, also called the topic sentence. Topic sentences not only forecast the subject of each paragraph, but also keep a paper organized and focused. A good topic sentence will forecast the topic of the paragraph while clearly connecting the evidence in that paragraph to the paper’s position. By using transitions, you can show relationships between points in a topic sentence. They provide the reader with reminders of your writing’s purpose.

Sample Topic Sentences

Consider the following sentences:

  • “Our country’s economy is the most important reason for lowering college tuition.” In this sentence, a reader knows what will be discussed and why it’s being discussed. Taken out of context, a reader could also guess that this paragraph would be near the paper’s beginning.
  • “In addition to the morality of executions, the death penalty is often applied arbitrarily.”  This sentence signals the beginning of a new point and offers a summary of the previous point. It also reinforces that the paper is making an argument about the death penalty.
  • “After considering these points, we can see that de-criminalizing drugs is the best solution.” This sentence shows a transition from evidence to a conclusion, while focusing the paper on an argument.
As you draft a paper and decide the points you’ll discuss, remember to consider how you’ll arrange those points, and how you’ll signal to readers that you’re changing points, and why those points are important.



As you can see from the last example above, you can signal a conclusion with a topic sentence. You don’t even have to use “in conclusion” to begin such a paragraph. Along with recapping your paper’s main points, you should also offer a next step for readers. This is often a call to action: “Write to your representative to support the repeal of this legislation,” “Now that we know there’s a problem, we can start the solution,” or “We can solve this problem by changing our habits.” When you’re assigned readings, pay attention to how the authors construct their essays, articles, or stories. Along with completing assigned work, you will learn more about writing.

Sources and Transitions

When it comes to academic writing, it’s necessary to be able to navigate between the source material and your own assertions effectively. Often one of the most challenging aspects of this process is constructing claims that exhibit a thorough understanding of the material and are both specific and assertive. Another element that frequently troubles students is transitioning among those claims throughout the body of the text. This link will take you to a variety of templates that can assist in framing your ideas, transitioning, and constructing claims that are clear and conscientious. Be aware that the templates are not “one size fits all,” so you will have to use discretion to ensure you’re selecting the appropriate templates as dictated by the needs of your assignment.


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Writing and Rhetoric by Heather Hopkins Bowers; Anthony Ruggiero; and Jason Saphara is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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