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How to Write an

Effective Paragraph
There are only 5 key elements to
remember:

1. One Main Idea


2. Topic Sentence
3. 5-7 Supporting Sentences
4. Closing/Transition Sentence
5. Mechanics
1. One Main Idea
Identify a specific topic to write about
If the topic is not specific, it is too broad for a single
paragraph.
Movies is a general topic; the characterization of Joy in
the movie Inside Out is a specific topic.
If the topic is too specific, there will not be enough
details to provide adequate supporting sentences.
The whiny nature of Joys voice in the movie Inside Out
is too specific for a full paragraph; the characterization
of Joy in the movie Inside Out provides options for
development in paragraph.
1. One Main Idea

Once a main idea is identified, do not stray


from it.
If the topic is the characterization of Joy in the
movie Inside Out, the writer must only discuss
Joys characterization.
If you find you cannot construct the minimum
5-7 supporting sentences without repetition,
revise the topic.
One Main Idea - Practice

Is rap music a valid topic for a body paragraph?

If yes, what will be covered in this paragraph?


If no, how should the topic be modified?
2. Topic Sentence
What is it? A sentence that states the main idea
or focus of the paragraph.

Where is it? While it may vary in location, it is


usually at the beginning of the paragraph.

Traits of an effective topic sentence:


Its focused (specific, not general)
Its concise (avoids unnecessary words)
Its
clear and strong (no confusion about what
the writer means)
Topic Sentence - Practice

Are these valid topic sentences?

The most spectacular range of fall foliage occurs in


the northeastern United States and in eastern China,
where the leaves are robustly colored, thanks in part
to a rich climate.

The Bull Market was dead.

Dying in a fire is often less a process of burning than


of asphyxiation.
These are all professionally written topic
sentences..
The most spectacular range of fall foliage occurs in the
northeastern United States and in eastern China, where
the leaves are robustly colored, thanks in part to a rich
climate.
From Why Leaves Turn Color in the Fall by Diane Ackerman

The Bull Market was dead.


From Only Yesterday by Frederick Lewis Allen

Dying in a fire is often less a process of burning than


of asphyxiation.
From Blow Up: What Went Wrong at Storm King Mountain by
Sebastian Junger
3. 5-7 Supporting Sentences
What are they? They are sentences with details that
support or back up the topic sentence

Where are they located? They follow the topic


sentence.

Are 5-7 sentences always necessary? This is a minimal


number. More supporting sentences are acceptable as
long as they do not stray from topic sentence.
3. 5-7 Supporting Sentences
Ifthe subject of a sentence strays from the
topic stated in topic sentence, it is not a
valid supporting sentence.

Each supporting sentence must be unique in


content; avoid repetition.

Arrange the sentences in a logical order so


that ideas flow together.
Supporting Sentences Practice What is an
appropriate topic sentence?
There is a plethora of Broadway shows from which to choose on any given
day. While attendance at some of the more popular ones, such as
Wicked and The Lion King, requires advance planning, tickets may be
acquired minutes before curtain call for others. If live theatre is not
appealing, New York Citys Times Square offers a wide array of options.
The multi-leveled Hersheys M&M store is brimming with novelties,
including eccentrically flavored candies, photo opportunities with life-
sized M&M characters, and funky clothing. For free entertainment, walk
up and down the Square and people watch as the neon billboards blaze
all around. Hungry? There is usually a long line, but the decadent treats
at the world-renowned Cake Boss shop are sure to please any sweet
tooth. Of course, there are always the infamous landmarks of the city:
the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the 911 Memorial, and Grand
Central Station. Jump on the subway with a minimal fare, and arrive at
the location of choice in mere minutes.
_______________________________________
_______________________________________
_______________________________________
There is a plethora of Broadway shows from which to choose on any given day. While
attendance at some of the more popular ones, such as Wicked and The Lion King,
requires advance planning, tickets may be acquired minutes before curtain call for
others. If live theatre is not appealing, New York Citys Times Square offers a wide
array of options. The multi-leveled Hersheys M&M store is brimming with novelties,
including eccentrically flavored candies, photo opportunities with life-sized M&M
characters, and funky clothing. For free entertainment, walk up and down the Square
and people watch as the neon billboards blaze all around. Hungry? There is usually a
long line, but the decadent treats at the world-renowned Cake Boss shop are sure to
please any sweet tooth. Of course, there are always the infamous landmarks of the
city: the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center, the 911 Memorial, and Grand Central
Station. Jump on the subway with a minimal fare, and arrive at the location of choice
in mere minutes.
4. Closing/Transition Sentence
For a final or stand-alone paragraph, end with a
closing sentence.

What is its purpose? It restates the main idea of


the paragraph, but does not repeat it.

Where is it located? It is the final sentence of


the paragraph.

What is the writers goal? Try to create a


clincher, leaving the reader thinking
4. Closing/Transition Sentence

For a paragraph followed by another, conclude


the current paragraph while connecting
(transitioning) to the main idea of the next
paragraph.

Think of the transition sentence as having two


parts: wrap-up of current paragraph and
introduction to following paragraph.
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________
There is a plethora of Broadway shows from which to choose on any given day. While
attendance at some of the more popular ones, such as Wicked and The Lion King, requires
advance planning, tickets may be acquired minutes before curtain call for others. If live
theatre is not appealing, New York Citys Times Square offers a wide array of options. The
multi-leveled Hersheys M&M store is brimming with novelties, including eccentrically
flavored candies, photo opportunities with life-sized M&M characters, and funky clothing.
For free entertainment, walk up and down the Square and people watch as the neon
billboards blaze all around. Hungry? There is usually a long line, but the decadent treats at
the world-renowned Cake Boss shop are sure to please any sweet tooth. Of course, there
are always the infamous landmarks of the city: the Statue of Liberty, Rockefeller Center,
the 911 Memorial, and Grand Central Station. Jump on the subway with a minimal fare, and
arrive at the location of choice in mere minutes.

______________________________________________
______________________________________________
______________________________________________
4. Closing/Transition Sentence Practice

Closing Sentence Transition Sentence


5. Mechanics
Indent the first line of every paragraph (one tab/ 5
spaces)
Capitalize the first word of each sentence along with
proper nouns
Provide end punctuation after each properly-
structured sentence
Pay attention to spelling (run Spell Check if using word
processor)
Include appropriate internal punctuation - commas,
quotation marks, & apostrophes
Use standard English grammar
What are the 5 key elements of an effective
body paragraph?

1. One main idea


2. Topic Sentence
3. 5-7 Supporting Sentences
4. Closing/Transition Sentence
5. Mechanics