Thursday, August 2, 2007

Writing for Style: Paragraphs - Part 1

Revised fronm Purdue OWL at

A paragraph is a collection of related sentences dealing with a single topic, and learning to write good paragraphs will help you as a writer stay on track during your drafting and revision stages.

Good paragraphing also greatly assists your readers in following a piece of writing. You can have fantastic ideas, but if those ideas aren't presented in an organized fashion, you will lose your readers (and fail to achieve your goals in writing).

The Basic Rule: Keep One Idea to One Paragraph

The basic rule of thumb with paragraphing is to keep one idea to one paragraph. You can have one idea and several bits of supporting evidence within a single paragraph. You can also have several points in a single paragraph as long as they relate to the overall topic of the paragraph.

If you begin to transition into new ideas, those ideas belong in their own paragraphs. For example, if those points mentioned above start to get long, then perhaps elaborating on each of them and placing them in their own paragraphs is the route to go.

Elements of a Paragraph

To be as effective as possible, a paragraph should contain each of the following:
  • Unity
  • Coherence
  • A Topic Sentence, and
  • Adequate Development.

As you will see in Part 2, all of these traits overlap. Using and adapting them to your individual purposes will help you construct effective paragraphs.

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