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Paragraph Structure

Two essentials: Topic sentences and transitions

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Use effective paragraph structure to explain and support your thesis statement.

Topic sentences and transitions Diagram of paragraph structure General template Common pitfalls. In an academic essay, the purpose of a paragraph is to support a single claim or idea that helps establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper. Paragraphs should be focused around this single idea or point, and they should be clearly related to what comes before them. One of the best ways to ensure that a paragraph is focused and clearly related to the thesis statement is to ensure that it has a good topic sentence.

Each sentence in a paragraph should help support the topic sentence of that paragraph in the same way that each paragraph should relate to the thesis statement , so each sentence should connect with the main point of the paragraph in some way.

Sentences should also connect well with each other, and in forging sentence-to-sentence connections, good transitions are crucial.

Beyond of these two key features of good paragraphs good topic sentences and transitions , there is a certain method of presenting information in a paragraph, and there are things to avoid in paragraphs.

Following the topic sentence, a paragraph should introduce, provide, and explain its evidence. After this, it should either repeat, with new topic-sentence-related evidence, or take a sentence or two to close the paragraph. While good topic sentences offer an idea of what the paragraph is going to be about and how that fits into the rest of the paper, at the heart of a paragraph are evidence and explanation that support the key claim of the paragraph.

We can call these the heart of a paragraph both in the sense that they give purpose to the paragraph and in the sense that they appear roughly in the middle of the paragraph. As the body of an essay needs a good introduction , so do the evidence and explanation given in a paragraph. Usually, this evidence will need to be contextualized, prefaced, or otherwise introduced before it is provided.

In a sociology paper, this might mean explaining the significance of a statistic; in literary studies, the most interesting element of a quotation from a poem or story; in history of technology, what the technical explanation of a process means in simple terms; and in philosophy, the assumptions and logical connections at work in an argument.

Your "reasons" for this might include health benefits, environmental benefits, cost-effectiveness, and safety, so you would focus one paragraph on each of these topics.

One of the most common mistakes is to present a topic sentence that is actually an observation of facts or a description of events rather than an active argument. To evaluate whether your paper contains effective claims in each paragraph, read only the first sentence of each paragraph. These should tell you the main points that you are making throughout the paper.

Your claims will also prepare the reader for the second section of your paragraph. This is how you support, or back up, your claims. The evidence will help to "prove" each claim to the reader. In a paper that incorporates research from secondary sources, your evidence may include information from articles, books, electronic sources, or any of the research you gathered. The evidence may take the form of a direct quotation, paraphrased material, statistical data, or any other information from one of your sources that helps to support your claim.

Try to incorporate information from several sources into each paragraph. Avoid just "retelling" the information from a single author or article. Aim to represent a variety of opinions and views. Soybeans are "complete protein" because they contain all eight amino acids Collins 1. Collins points out that "as little as 25 mg of soy protein a day may decrease levels of LDL cholesterol and Triglycerides" 1 and this may reduce the chance of heart disease.

Since soy is a "low-glycemic index" food, it may help people trying to lose weight "feel more satisfied and less hungry until your next meal, which is beneficial for weight management and control" 1. Scientists believe that soy milk has the potential to balance cholesterol levels in humans: Since soy milk is one of the easiest ways to incorporate soy into the diet, this is a good choice for people seeking to lower their LDL and triglycerides.

Soy milk also may reduce the potential for heart disease. Asian countries, which traditionally consume more soy protein, have a much lower incidence of heart disease and many types of cancer Berkeley 4.

Soy milk and cheese made from soy milk may help with weight loss since they contain less saturated fat than regular dairy products, although they contain about the same amounts of fat as reduced-fat milk and cheese Collins 1. Some researchers even believe that soy may help to stimulate the metabolism Duke 4.

Note that the second example seems more "balanced," because the author demonstrates knowledge of the subject and incorporates several expert opinions to back up the claim. Sometimes your assignment will not require you to conduct research into secondary sources, and you may need to use your own ideas or experiences as evidence to back up your claims.

Try to be very specific. If you include detailed examples and explanations, your evidence will be more interesting and more persuasive to the reader, and you will seem like more of an authority on your topic:.

Our family started eating more soy and soy milk, and her levels eventually got much better. During this time, all of us also lost quite a bit of weight.

He believed that it was worthwhile to try this before placing her on medications. In order to support her, our entire family started drinking soy milk and walking in the evenings. Our family all lost quite a bit of weight, as well: The introductory paragraph is often easier to write after you know what your paper is actually about. Keep a list as you write your first draft of key arguments and themes in your essay. Use this list after you are done with your first essay draft to help you craft a thesis statement clearly identifying the primary argument of your paper.

Since your thesis statement will be only one sentence at the end of your introductory paragraph, you must choose the most compelling argument for your statement.

Your argument should also be the one which you can most strongly defend with your research. Write your introductory paragraph. Your first sentence should immediately capture the reader's attention. Posing a question in your first sentence and then answering it in subsequent sentences is one way to pull your reader into your essay.

Try to avoid beginning your essay with phrases like, "In this essay I will Insert your thesis statement as the final sentence of your introductory paragraph.

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Effective paragraphs are important in all types of writing. Your paragraphs guide your reader through the paper by helping to explain, substantiate, and support your thesis statement or argument. Each paragraph should discuss one major point or idea.

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The thesis statement has 3 main parts: thelimited subject, the precise opinion, and the csample.mlein, Jordan, and Jerz Thesis Reminders A thesis reminder is a direct echo of the thesis statement. In a short paper, the topic sentence of each paragraph should repeat words or phrases from the thesis statement.

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Writing a good introductory paragraph and thesis statement takes patience, research and a willingness to continue to revise your paragraph until your statement and supporting sentences are as strong as they can possibly be. The introductory paragraph and thesis statement define the . Nov 10,  · Each sentence in a paragraph should help support the topic sentence of that paragraph (in the same way that each paragraph should relate to the thesis statement), so each sentence should connect with the main point of the paragraph in some way/5().

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Thesis Paragraph Structure: Avoiding Common Mistakes It takes patience and a little bit of hard work to properly write a thesis paragraph using the structure expected from an advanced academic essay. You must also be willing to revise your paragraph continually until you get to the point where your thesis statement and the supporting evidence are as strong as possible. Once you understand the purpose and content for both the introduction paragraph and the thesis statement, you can easily write this portion of your paper and begin your essay on the right foot. Understand the purpose of the introduction paragraph. The introductory paragraph of an essay allows you to give your readers general information about.