Three parts of a paragraph
- Topic sentence: Use this formula for building a good topic sentence: a specific topic + a specific feeling or attitude.
- Body of paragraph: Contains sentences that develop or explain the idea given in the topic sentence. Generally 3-5 sentences are necessary per paragraph.
- Closing/Clincher sentence: Reminds the reader what the main idea of the paragraph is and what it means (why it is important). Closing sentences can also be a transition to the next paragraph.
Limit paragraphs to one main idea that is presented in the topic sentence and eliminate all sentences that do not support that idea.
Develop the body of the paragraph
- with reasons
- by giving examples
- by using a story/incident to illustrate the idea
- by using statistics
- with descriptive details
Ordering the details in a paragraph
Use the following methods of organization:
- Chronological order: time order, as things happen
- Order of location: in reference to where things are located
- Order of importance: go from most to least important or from least to most important
- Cause and Effect: Start with cause of a problem; continue with possible effects
- Comparison: Explain a subject by showing how it is like another subject
- Contrast: Explain a subject by showing how it is different from another subject
Don’t Even Think About It!
- Don’t use “I” or first person in paragraphs other than personal narratives: use third person point of view (he, she, it etc.)
- “This paragraph will explain,” or “This paragraph will be about” beginnings are bad. Instead, write a clear topic sentence that eliminates these unnecessary words and focuses on the subject and purpose. For example, instead of “This paragraph is about the space program and all the innovations that have helped society” write “Innovations from the space program have helped advance society.”
- Straying from the main idea: check each sentence to make sure it belongs in your paragraph. If it doesn’t, take it out.
- Wordiness: take out all unnecessary words.
- Unclear pronoun references: never start a sentence with the words “this” or “that” etc. Your reader may not know what you mean.
- Insufficient transitions: you need to link ideas to one another.