College of San Mateo Benefits of Immigration Pie Paragraphs Essay PIE Paragraphs are the building blocks of essays and are used for the body paragraphs. Each PIE Paragraph has three layers:
Top Crust = P – Point or Main Idea of the Paragraph = Topic Sentence
Filling = I – Information or Supporting Details
Bottom Crust = E – Explanation or Analysis
recreate a pie paragraph HOW CAN I WRITE A PARAGRAPH?
One way to ensure that each of your body paragraphs is clearly focused, convincingly
developed, and connects back to thesis is to use
the PIE strategy:
I = Information
The P part of your paragraph The I fills out the body of your
is your topic sentence: a clear paragraph with concrete
statement of the main claim you evidence that supports the main
are making in the paragraph. claim.
The E is the writer’s explanation of
the significance of the provided
information, especially as it relates to
Another way to look at it:
Tell me what your main
Show me, with evidence
and examples, how or why your
point is true.
Help me understand so what is the
significance of the information.
Choose one arguable point
to prove per paragraph.
Prove the claim in your topic
sentence with evidence that can
come in different forms:
Interpret, analyze, explain the
information, opinions or quotes
Write this point out as a
sentence and this will be
your topic sentence.
Examine some consequences,
ramifications of the information
you just gave your audience.
Your topic sentence should
be more general than the
rest of the paragraph but
more specific than your
Make it clear why your reader
should care or be concerned.
– Short direct quotes/
paraphrases from class
readings and discussions
– Data from reputable sources
(facts, statistics, polls)
– Personal experience (real
life stories, anecdotes,
– Relevant examples from
pop culture (song lyrics,
movies, TV, celebrities)
– Representations in mass
Clarify any ambiguous ideas or
After you write the
paragraph, look again at
your topic sentence to be
sure that it fits the
Comment on the credibility of the
information, discussing its biases,
Relate the information explicitly
to your thesis.
Sample PIE Paragraph
See the PIE paragraph structure in the first body paragraph from an essay on
Malcolm X’s “Learning to Read”:
The diligence and persistent effort Malcolm X showed in learning to read has
become disappointingly rare. Malcolm X in his autobiography tells us that when he
went to prison, he could hardly read or write. He decided the way to improve would be to
copy the entire dictionary word for word by hand. He said to copy just the first page alone
took an entire day. The next day he reviewed all the words he did not remember, so he
slowly built his vocabulary, and at the same time he started educating himself about the
larger world as he describes the dictionary as a miniature encyclopedia (2). Malcolm X
carried on until he copied the entire dictionary cover to cover. However, the time he
dedicated to his writing was not confined to this amazing achievement alone: Between
what I wrote in my tablet, and writing letters, during the rest of my time in prison I would
guess I wrote a million words (2). The dedication to his own education and how he
strengthened his own intelligence and abilities through sheer force of will is impressive
but unfortunately is the exception rather than the norm. In Generation Me, the author Jean
Twenge addresses the present generation of people who have been taught to put
themselves first and expect instant results without working hard to achieve them. Twenge
states: They are less likely to work hard today to get a reward tomorrowan especially
important skill these days, when many good jobs require graduate degrees (157). If
people are less willing today to work hard, then we are going to have increasingly
uneducated, lazy people who spend more time complaining than achieving. With a
lack of education, we won’t be strong critical thinkers so will be easily taken in by
people who want to exploit us for profit like advertisers and corporate America.
Instead of defining who we are, people who want to sell us things will continue to
shape our wants, desires and perceptions of ourselves.
Of course, PIE paragraphs don’t always need to look exactly like this; while you
want to start a paragraph with your main Point, you might alternate between
Information and Explanation, so that your paragraph could look like this:
Creating Paragraphs Using the
PIE Paragraph Approach
Let’s practice creating paragraphs using the PIE paragraph approach.
First, select a topic:
legalizing all drugs
the health care system
the minimum wage
a topic raised in your
current class reading
Second, using the topic you selected, write a topic sentence that states the main
claim (your specific opinion) that you want to argue that fits the size of the paragraph:
Third, brainstorm concrete evidence/information you can use to prove your main claim:
Fourth, analyze and explain the significance, importance or impact of your evidence and claims:
Finally, using all the advice in this chapter, put it all together into a complete paragraph.
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