While the five-paragraph essay may be the most commonly known, the number of paragraphs an essay requires depends on the overall length and structure of the piece. The five-paragraph essay is formatted with a one-paragraph introduction, three-paragraph body and one-paragraph conclusion.
The five-paragraph essay is a very limited form because many papers will require several pages, and some theses may need more than three supporting points. The general format of introduction, body and conclusion, however, is present in almost all essays and serves as a helpful guide. While the introduction and conclusion are generally still kept to one paragraph for a standard essay, this format gives the writer more freedom in the body section.