Using the ‘funnel’ essay structure: Essay writing at UWA

Have you ever wondered how to go about turning your ideas into a polished essay? Today we will show you an easy way to do this using the funnel structure. When you first start researching a topic, your ideas are a bit like this bowl of candy.

They might be vibrant, but they’re probably a bit mixed up and jumbled together. You can think of your final essay as looking something like this- it’s clear, polished, and has a defined structure. Your ideas need to fit neatly into it. But if you try to pour them all in at once, they’ll spill everywhere, and you could lose some of your valuable thoughts in the process.

On the other hand, if you slowly put them in one by one, you’ll be working for hours! So how can you easily get all your jumbled, mixed up ideas to fit neatly into this clear, polished structure?

You can use a funnel! If you keep the shape of a funnel in mind while you are writing each paragraph, you’ll find it easier to structure your ideas. A funnel is wider up the top, and narrower down the bottom. You can think of the start of your paragraph as being like the wide top of the funnel. Your first sentence should be a broad, general introduction to the topic. But as you keep writing, your focus will start to narrow, and each sentence will become more direct and specific as you go along.

You can use the funnel structure for all the different elements of your essay: your introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. Notice how each funnel leads into the next one? If you think of this when you write, you will remember that each of your paragraphs should lead into the next in order to make your essay flow. In your introduction, you should start out broad by giving some background and context to the topic. Then you can become specific by stating your thesis statement, or the main aim of your essay.

In your body paragraphs, you should address one point per paragraph and introduce each with a broad topic sentence. You can then introduce more specific evidence and examples to support your point.

Your conclusion looks a little bit different- it’s an inverted funnel! That’s because you start your conclusion by directly restating your thesis, and then move back out to a general context to round out your essay. If you remember the funnel structure when you write essays, your ideas will be clear and well-structured, your writing polished, and you will get better marks.