Look up “MEAL Plan” on a search engine and it would yield results for all sorts of nutrition plans and alternatives. Unless you put some other writing-related keywords in the search bar, you won’t see results about a framework perfected by Duke University, which goes by the same name. The MEAL plan is as essential to your academic writing, as is the daily meal to your body & mind.

Academic writing gives you an opportunity to display your writing flair by describing the contents of a given topic with precision and accuracy. The MEAL method, with its planned sense of paragraphing, helps you achieve exactly that!

“One way to envision a body paragraph is as a “complete MEAL,” with the components being the paragraph’s Main idea, Evidence, Analysis, and Link back to the larger claim.”


M: Main Idea
Just as an effective essay focuses on one main idea (the thesis statement), an effective essay paragraph should also focus on one main idea (the topic sentence). Most professors will expect this topic sentence to be the first sentence of the paragraph. However, depending upon what style of paper you’re writing, it can come later. But it must be present for sure.

It’s important that the reader has a take away from each paragraph with a clear understanding of its main idea. He or she shouldn’t have to go back to reading the paragraph, trying to understand what’s it saying.


E: Evidence
Evidence gives plausibility, validity, and correctness to the main idea in a paragraph. Providing context is important before you introduce the evidence to form a link with the main idea of a paragraph.

If its an essay review about a novel, short story, film or work of art you can derive the evidence directly from the work itself. In this case, it could be in the form of examples, quotations, and details from the primary source.

Research Papers draw evidence from multiple outside resources so your evidence can come from any source relevant to your topic. Evidence usually comes in the form of quotations, statistics, or description. It’s a good idea to introduce the source of your evidence (you can do this with the help of proper citations).


A: Analysis
Once you have introduced the evidence, you can then provide an analysis to expound it. Be careful to not water down the Evidence in a paragraph with the expectation that on readers will figure out on their own, how this evidence supports your argument.

The style of academic writing is such that it does not allow anything to “speak for itself.” It is the writer’s job to precisely relate the evidence to the main idea of the paragraph. This connection is what makes your paragraph cohesive and logical.


L: Link to the larger Claim
The link back is a way to show the readers how this paragraph fits into the larger scheme of your paper’s themes and arguments.

A paragraph should close by linking the topic sentence to the main idea in the next paragraph. The writer should ascertain that each paragraph’s conclusion is revised to connect the current paragraph’s main idea to the next paragraph’s main idea.

This prelude prepares the audience for the next main idea and for what might be expected from the writer’s research. The writer’s revisions may include transitional phrases such
as however, so, thus, still, despite, nonetheless, although, or in spite of to help signal relationships between paragraphs and connections to the main idea in the paragraph to follow.


So that’s how you put together “the meal” in your writing diet to improve the reading outcomes for your audience. To bring remarkable clarity to your papers and make them thoroughly error-free, always have them checked by Papertrue!