Academic writing has specific conventions established by the overall consent of the international scholarly community. Subsequently, being a part of it, academic writers should be familiar with these literary techniques and practices to produce quality papers that effectively communicate the ideas in an acceptable language for the target audience. Since college and university students also belong to the cohort of academic writers, they are supposed to know how to properly format and structure their written assignments. Of course, they can always find some cheap essay writing service to help them with their homework, but it is imperative that they get acquainted with the established conventions of academic writing to represent the scholarly community with dignity.
While most students know that a typical paper should have an introduction and a conclusion with at least one body paragraph between them, difficulties often arise with the paragraphing principles. General form is just as important as the inner structure at the middle level. So, to come up with decent writing, students should be familiar with the main rules and standards applied in academics. In this article, we will explain in detail how to produce a well-structured paper or essay with accurate and meaningful paragraphs.
What Is a Paragraph?
A paragraph is a micro-unit of an essay that presents a single point or idea, which is well-elaborated and properly supported by credible evidence. Paragraphs should follow consecutively and be logically linked with one another. That is the general expectation of the audience and its violation signals about the writer’s failure to meet the set objective. If the paragraphs are lined up aimlessly, split into unrelated thoughts, or the ideas are inadequately supported by irrelevant evidence (if at all), the reader is unable to grasp the main point, which renders the entire writing useless.
Thus, to communicate your point effectively, you must adhere to a set of principles of proper paragraph development. It is important to know that a paragraph is a set of related sentences that deal with only one narrow idea in your broad paper topic. Just like all the ideas should be logically arranged along with the paper, so should the sentences within one paragraph be presented in an organized manner to facilitate the reader’s comprehension of the issues provided. A new narrow idea is a topic for the next paragraph; do not overdo it and never combine several points in one. As long as supporting evidence and mini-points refer to the general idea of this specific paragraph, they are in their right place. However, if you notice that they are not so minimal anymore and stretch this paper unit too much, it would be useful to consider elaborating on each of them in a separate paragraph. Generally, it is advisable not to make the paragraphs too long with too many details for better readability and comprehension.
Attributes of a Paragraph
Three attributes help to make a paragraph logical and effective. They are Unity, Coherence, and Relevance. Naturally, they overlap and can be adapted to the writer’s specific individual needs and objectives.
It has already been stressed before that one paragraph should be focused on a single idea. Thus, each sentence within it must be related to this point without any deviations.
A coherent paragraph, in which all the sentences are logically and clearly connected, is sure to be understandable to a reader and successfully convey your main point. Coherence can be achieved through:
- Logical bridges – a parallel construction of successive sentences or the transition of the same idea from one sentence to another.
- Verbal bridges – transition words, repetitive keywords or synonyms, or pronouns that refer to nouns used in the previous sentence.
The entire paragraph and each sentence in it should back up the overall topic of the paper and meet your specific purpose.
Elements of a Paragraph
Although each paragraph deals with a different narrow idea, they all should follow the same structure for adequate development:
- A topic sentence
- Supporting evidence
- An analysis
- A link
A Topic Sentence
A paragraph cannot start with a citation or an idea borrowed from some other source. It should not merely announce the idea either. A good topic sentence is a hook that introduces the controlling idea of the paragraph, making a reference to the thesis statement in the introduction as well as reflecting your own attitude to it at the same time. All the subsequent sentences must follow exactly the same controlling idea and support it.
To support the controlling idea presented in the topic sentence and develop it further, you should provide sufficient supporting evidence. Besides, it must be properly and logically integrated into the paragraph. To achieve this purpose, it is good to provide some context first – your own thoughts about the controlling idea. Now, back up these thoughts with evidence that you have obtained in the process of your research. And do not forget to cite them properly. Supporting details may be presented in the form of:
- Examples and illustrations;
- Anecdotes and stories;
- Interviews and testimonies;
- Statistical data;
- Studies and reports.
Each paragraph may contain several pieces of supporting evidence. It is recommended to use at least two.
After the general context is provided and backed up by evidence, it is time for the writer’s analysis of this evidence. There is no place for citations this time since you must provide your own interpretation of the issue and explain its relevance and the way it supports the controlling idea.
Lastly, a paragraph must end with a concluding observation – a sentence that evaluates everything said in the body of this paragraph. It must reply to the topic sentence and make a final conclusion to the idea. Moreover, it should logically link the main point of the current paragraph to the controlling idea of the next one. It may be rather challenging indeed. However, to excel in academic writing, you need to take pains with all its details.
As a part of the scholarly community, you are an academic writer who is supposed to produce good-quality essays and papers. Of course, the content of your writings takes high priority. However, the form is not least important. Thus, you should be familiar with and adhere to all the formatting and structural academic conventions to ensure the success of your written assignments. Use the simple tips provided above to properly arrange the body paragraphs of your papers. Remember that a well-organized and logically structured paper will always achieve its purpose of conveying your ideas and convincing the readers.