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Using the "Hamburger Method" to Write an Essay: Overview

Instructional Guide for using the Hamburger Method to structure essays and paragraphs

hamburger essay graphicThe "hamburger" essay method that is sometimes called the 5-paragraph essay or 1-3-1 model.

The diagram to the left can help you easily remember the simple essay structure.

Emma Dunn, Writing and Multimodal Communication Speciliast at the University of Waterloo, explains:

In short, each ingredient of the hamburger represents a different paragraph of the essay. It starts with an introduction paragraph and ends with a conclusion paragraph, represented by the top and bottom buns, respectively. Just like a real burger bun, these paragraphs frame the juicy contents inside – the body paragraphs – which are each represented by a different topping: lettuce, tomato, or patty.

Pay attention to the order of toppings in the hamburger essay. The lettuce comes first; it’s light and flimsy, representing one of the lighter arguments of the paper. The tomato is somewhat more robust (in terms of argument), while the patty at the end is the true “meat” of the essay. Just like the toppings of a hamburger in real-life, the body paragraphs build on one another to fill out the paper, giving it substance and flavour.

Dunn, Emma, "How to Turn the High School "Hamburger" Essay into a University-level Paper." Writing and Communication Centre: September 14, 2020. University of Waterloo. Accessed November 24, 2023.