Basic Paragraph Structure

Paragraphs are the building blocks of any essay. Think of each paragraph as developing one aspect of the thesis. Each paragraph does a small part of the job of proving or supporting the essay’s thesis.

Some paragraphs are short; some are long. All paragraphs should develop one core idea – which is indicated in the Topic Sentence – using as much evidence and explanation as necessary.

Topic Sentence : Begins the Paragraph

Topic sentences indicate to the reader what one idea you will cover in that paragraph.

  • Topic sentences often include Transition phrases to indicate when you are beginning to either discuss a new idea or develop a new angle on the idea from the previous paragraph.
  • Topic sentences should be YOUR voice. Try to avoid beginning paragraphs with quotes or references to sources; beginning with your voice allows you to maintain control over your paper

Examples and Evidence: the “Body” of the Paragraph

Topic sentences need examples and evidence to be logically developed. Examples and evidence could be

  • Quotes, paraphrases or summaries from sources
  • Observations from you
  • Any other information that helps to develop your Topic Sentence

Explanation : Concludes and Relates Back to the Thesis

Again, you incorporate YOUR voice to help articulate the significance of the examples/evidence you included.

  • How/why does your evidence support the topic sentence?
  • How/why does the information in this paragraph relate to the paper’s thesis?