Essay Map

Patten Essay Map (from Jean Wyrick)

Before you formulate your approach to a given topic, follow some of these helpful hints: 1) describe it, 2) compare and contrast it, 3) free associate it, 4) analyze it, 5) argue for or against it, and 6) apply or use it.

Now formulate your thesis statement.

Many thesis sentences will benefit from the addition of an essay map, a brief statement in the introductory paragraph introducing the major points to be discussed in the essay. Consider the analogy of beginning a trip by checking your map to see where you are headed. Similarly, an essay map allows the readers to know in advance where you, the writer, will be taking them in the essay.

The campus bookstore is the worst place in town to buy textbooks. The unreasonable prices, the lack of qualified employees, and the constant book shortages discourage all but the most loyal customers.

The essay map is often inserted after the thesis, but it can also appear before it. It is, in fact, frequently tacked onto the thesis statement itself, as illustrated below.

Unreasonable prices, unqualified employees, and constant shortages make the Campus Bookstore a terrible place to buy texts.

In addition to suggesting the main points of the essay, the map provides other benefits. It will provide a set of quidelines for organizing your essay, and it will help keep you from wandering off into areas only vaguely related to your thesis. A clearly written thesis statement and essay map provide a skeletal outline for the sequence of paragraphs.


The Campus Bookstore is a bad place to buy texts for three reasons. The reasons are high prices, unqualified employees, and book shortages.


Unreasonable prices, unqualifed employees, and book shortages combine to give the Campus Bookstore its well-deserved reputation of the worst place in town to buy texts.