PIE Paragraphs

Basic PIE Outline

Topic Sentence. Your first sentence is your Topic Sentence: this is the assertion that directs your paragraph:

  • An assertion is a claim or declaration. It is not simply a fact-based statement.
  • An assertion needs to be proved – the purpose of your paragraph is to prove this assertion.
  • The Topic Sentence serves as the “umbrella sentence” — it contains the controlling (or main) idea of the paragraph.
  • Your Topic Sentence is an arguable, provable statement that clearly addresses the prompt.

Point (P). Your second sentence is a Point – which is an idea or an opinion.

  • Points are the primary claims that prove your Topic Sentence’s controlling idea (argument).
  • Your Points are interesting and informative statements that support your Topic Sentence.

Illustration (I). The third sentence of your paragraph is an Illustration which supports your Point.

  • An Illustration is evidence of your claim: specific examples, reasons, facts or other details.
  • Generally speaking, your Illustration should be a direct quotation or paraphrase that supports your Point. Whether you use direct quotations or paraphrases, you should cite your Illustrations correctly.
  • For direct quotations, make sure that you use a signal phrase (don’t just leave the quote “floating”). Ensure that every quote you use is integrated into one of your own sentences.

Explanation (E). Your fourth sentence is the Explanation, which provides analysis based on the Illustration.

  • Your Explanation should clarify the WHY and the HOW of your argument.
  • The Explanation often answers one or more of the following questions: How does it prove your point?  Why is it important/significant?  What is the author’s intention? What is the effect on the reader? How is it effective or ineffective? Why is it effective or ineffective?
  • Be sure to use the evidence you provide in the Illustration for your Explanation. Sometimes, you will need two or three sentences to fully prove your assertion.
  • Continually ask yourself if you are completely explaining how your Point helps to support your Topic Sentence.

Generally, your paragraph should have 2-3 PIEs–PointsIllustrations and Explanations.

Concluding Sentence: Your Concluding Sentence should summarize your paragraph, and extend your ideas if at all possible.

Copy this outline to write your own PIE paragraph:


Sample PIE Paragraph


2 thoughts on “PIE Paragraphs

  1. Pingback: 9/10–Mmmmm…PIE | bhsgraham

  2. Pingback: Final Exam Study Guide | bhsgraham

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