Chapter 4: Structuring, Paragraphing, and Styling

4.2 Body Paragraphs: An Overview

Amanda Lloyd

Body Paragraph Development

The term body paragraph refers to any paragraph that appears between the introductory and concluding sections of an essay. A good body paragraph should support the claim made in the thesis statement by developing only one key supporting idea. This idea is often referred to as a sub-claim.

Some sub-claims will take more time to develop than others, so body paragraph length can and often should vary in order to maintain your reader’s interest. When constructing a body paragraph, the most important objectives are to stay on-topic and to fully develop your sub-claim.

When constructing a body paragraph, make sure that you never begin or end with a quotation or a paraphrase. Rather, you should think of a body paragraph as conforming to the following pattern.

Typically, a body paragraph contains three main elements:

  1. a topic sentence,
  2. supporting evidence, and
  3. an explanation of that evidence.

While body paragraphs in some essay assignments (certain summary assignments for example) may not adhere to this pattern exactly, for the most part, following this basic formula will help you to construct a focused and complete body paragraph.

See section 4.3 for information on topic sentences, section 4.4 for information on supporting evidence, and section 4.5 for information on explaining the evidence.

Types of Sentences in a Paragraph



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4.2 Body Paragraphs: An Overview by Amanda Lloyd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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