10 things to remember when using paragraphs within your essay
1# Address no more than one point in each paragraph
It is advantageous in a number of ways to address just one distinct point or idea, in each paragraph of your essay.
Doing so orders the content, making it more understandable to the reader.
Breaking down an essay into a logical sequence of concise paragraphs also make the writing task less daunting.
At the same time if the point you wish to make requires a lot text, don’t be afraid of breaking it into separate paragraphs also.
2# Keep paragraphs short
It’s usually best to keep paragraphs short. There is no clear cut off point, but a general guide is around 6 to 7 sentences.
Short paragraphs allow the reader to pause and digest the material more readily than lengthy paragraphs.
If writing for the web, it is advisable to keep paragraphs even shorter, depending upon your audience. A paragraph can be as short as one sentence.
3# The key sentence of a paragraph
A paragraph will typically contain a key sentence. A key sentence introduces the reader to content contained within the paragraph. For this reason, it is usually best for it to be placed at the beginning of the paragraph.
Consider this short paragraph concerning official crime statistics,
‘The validity of official statistics is contested however. How crime is defined, detected and recorded has led many criminologists to argue that they are unsound, and do not represent the true extent of crime in the United Kingdom.’
The key sentence of this paragraph is, ‘The validity of official statistics is contested however.’
It prepares the reader to expect the rest of the paragraph to focus upon how and why some doubt the accuracy of official statistics of crime.
5# The supporting sentences of a paragraph
In a well written essay the key sentence of each paragraph will usually be accompanied by at least one supporting sentence. These supporting sentences should clearly elaborate upon and/or confirm the statement contained within your key sentence.
Consider the second sentence contained in the paragraph concerning official crime statistics:
‘How crime is defined, detected and recorded has led many criminologists to argue that they are unsound, and do not represent the true extent of crime in the United Kingdom.’
This second sentence clearly relates to and corroborates the subject matter and argument contained within the preceding key sentence.
6# The introduction
The introduction of an essay will usually fit in just one paragraph.
It’s function is to indicate the main thrust of the answer to be given and the main subjects covered. It should not start to answer the question at any length and therefore should require just one paragraph.
If your introduction is over say eight sentences in an essay of less than 2500 words you might consider reducing the length.
7# The conclusion
Again the conclusion to an essay will as a rule occupy only one paragraph. For reasons similar to those for your introduction.
Namely, it’s function is to briefly restate the answer given and the subjects covered in the main section of your essay.
8# When to indent a paragraph
The use of indentation is frequently optional in educational establishments within the United Kingdom. A simple line space is used to denote another paragraph.
When indentation is used, one common style involves indenting all paragraphs apart from the first one. Based upon the fact that as indentation has primarily functioned to denote separated paragraphs, the first paragraph in this approach does not require it.
The American method involves indenting all paragraphs.
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