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Skip to main content. How do I improve my paragraph structure and unity? Download Paragraph Structure and Unity Handout.

Organizing an Essay

The sentence may also transition from the previous paragraph, but only one transition sentence is necessary in each paragraph. Body Sentences: The goal of the body sentences is to explore the topic sentence. These sentences can vary in number depending on what the paragraph is about. Suggestions for Improving Paragraph Structure: Develop strong main points that support your thesis statement.

Brainstorm ideas and evidence to support the main point of the paragraph s. Identify the main point of each paragraph within the topic sentence. Check the topic, body, and conclusion sentence s to ensure they match the main point.

4 Ways to Improve Paragraph Transitions - Professional Writing

Relocate body sentences that belong to a different main point. Use proper in-text citations and discuss information from sources. Imagine each paragraph as having three general layers of text. The core content is in the middle. It includes all the evidence you need to make the point.

However, this evidence needs to be introduced by a topic sentence in some way or your readers don't know what to do with all the evidence you have given them. Therefore, the beginning of the paragraph explains the controlling idea of the paragraph.

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The last part of the paragraph tells the reader how the paragraph relates to the broader argument and often provides a transition to the next idea. Once you have mastered the use of topic sentences, you may decide that the topic sentence for a particular paragraph really should not be the first sentence of the paragraph. This is fineā€”the topic sentence can actually go at the beginning, middle, or end of a paragraph; what's important is that it is there to inform readers what the main idea of the paragraph is and how it relates back to the broader thesis of your paper.

1. Transition Words

The paragraph has more than one controlling idea. This is the most common reason why a paragraph is too long. If a paragraph is more than a page long, it likely contains more than one controlling idea.

In this case, consider eliminating sentences that relate to the second idea, with the thought that maybe they don't really inform and help support the central research problem, or split the paragraph into two or more paragraphs, each with only one controlling idea. Transitions are needed within the paragraph. You are probably familiar with the idea that transitions may be needed between paragraphs or sections in a paper. Sometimes they are also helpful within the body of a single paragraph. Within a paragraph, transitions are often single words or short phrases that help to establish relationships between ideas and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph.

This is especially true within paragraphs that discuss multiple examples or discuss complex ideas, issues, or concepts. AP English Literature and Composition. Edublogs, ; Paragraphing.


Centre for Applied Linguistics. University of Warwick. General Structure.

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Most paragraphs in an essay parallel the general three-part structure of each section of a research paper and, by extension, the overall research paper, with an introduction, a body that includes facts and analysis, and a conclusion. You can see this structure in paragraphs whether they are narrating, describing, comparing, contrasting, or analyzing information. Each part of the paragraph plays an important role in communicating the meaning you intend to covey to the reader. Introduction : the first section of a paragraph; should include the topic sentence and any other sentences at the beginning of the paragraph that give background information or provide a transition.

Body : follows the introduction; discusses the controlling idea, using facts, arguments, analysis, examples, and other information. For long paragraphs, you may also want to include a bridge sentence that introduces the next paragraph or section of the paper. In some instances, the bridge sentence can be written in the form of a question. However, use this rhetorical device sparingly, otherwise, ending a lot of paragraphs with a question to lead into the next paragraph sounds cumbersome.

Arranging where each element goes in a paragraph can make a paper more engaging for the reader. However, do not be too creative in experimenting with the narrative flow of paragraphs. To do so may distract from the main arguments of your research and weaken the quality of your academic writing. Development and Organization. Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must consider what is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader.

This is the "controlling idea," or the thesis statement from which you compose the remainder of the paragraph.

Organizing an Academic Essay

In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your controlling idea and the information in each paragraph. The research problem functions like a seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with brainstorming about how you want to pursue the research problem. There are many techniques for brainstorming but, whichever one you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped because it lays a foundation for developing a set of paragraphs [representing a section of your paper] that describes a specific element of your overall analysis.

Each section is described further in this writing guide. Given these factors, every paragraph in a paper should be :. There are many different ways you can organize a paragraph. However, the organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph.

Ways to organize a paragraph in academic writing include:.