How To Write Good Paragraphs

A good paragraph is a mini-essay. It should demonstrate three components:

  1. Introduction, i.e., a topic sentence
  2. Body, i.e., supporting details
  3. Conclusion or a transitional sentence to the paragraph that follows.

A good paragraph is characterized by unity, coherence, and adequate development.

Unity: State the main idea of the paragraph in a clearly constructed topic sentence. Make sure each sentence is related to the central thought.

Coherence: Arrange ideas in a clear, logical order. Provide appropriate transitions to the subsequent paragraph.

Adequate development: Develop your paragraphs with specific details and examples.

Strategies for adequate development:

Elaborate: Spell out the details by defining, or by clarifying and adding relevant, pertinent information.

Illustrate: Paint a verbal picture that helps make or clarify your point(s). Well illustrated pieces are easier to read and follow than those on a high level of abstraction.

Argue: Give the reasons, justifications, and rationales for the position or view you have taken in the topic sentence. Draw inferences for the reader and explain the significance of assertions or claims being made.

Narrate: Relate the historical development of the phenomenon at issue.

Process: Describe how something works.

Describe: Observe without preconceived categories.

Classify: Organize phenomena or ideas into larger categories that share common characteristics.

Analyze: Divide phenomena or ideas into elements.

Compare and Contrast: Show similarities and differences between two or more phenomena or ideas.

Relate: Show correlations and causes (beware of logical fallacies, however!)

A paragraph should be neither too short nor too long. A good paragraph in a Trinity exercise should be 5-6 sentences long. As a general rule, avoid single-sentence paragraphs. If your paragraphs run longer than a page, you are probably straining the grader’s thought span. Look for a logical place to make a break or reorganize the material. Indent each new paragraph five spaces.

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