Writing Academic Paragraphs

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University of Dalat – Department of Foreign Languages


Writing Effective Paragraphs
A paragraph should be unified, coherent, and well developed. Paragraphs are unified around a main point, and all sentences in the paragraph should clearly relate to that point in some way. The paragraph's main idea should be supported with specific information that develops or discusses the main idea in greater detail. Creating a Topic Sentence The topic sentence expresses the main point in a paragraph. You may create your topic sentence by considering the details or examples you will discuss. What unifies these examples? What do your examples have in common? Reach a conclusion and write that "conclusion" first. If it helps, think of writing backwards--from generalization to support instead of from examples to a conclusion. If you know what you main point will be, write that as clearly as possible. Then focus on key words in your topic sentence and try to explain them more fully. Keep asking yourself "How?" or "Why?" or "What examples can I provide to convince a reader?". After you have added your supporting information, review the topic sentence to see that it still indicates the direction of your writing. Purposes of Topic Sentences • • •

To state the main point of a paragraph To give the reader a sense of direction (indicate what information will follow) To summarize the paragraph's main point Often appear as the first or second sentences of a paragraph Rarely appear at the end of the paragraph

Placement of Topic Sentences
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Supporting a Topic Sentence with Details To support a topic sentence, consider some of the possible ways that provide details. To develop a paragraph, use one or more of these: • • • • • • •

Add examples Tell a story that illustrates the point you're making Discuss a process Compare and contrast Use analogies (eg., "X is similar to Y because. . . ") Discuss cause and effect Define your terms

Reasons for beginning a new paragraph
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To show you're switching to a new idea To highlight an important point by putting it at the beginning or end of your paragraph 1 Source: Internet


University of Dalat – Department of Foreign Languages
• • • • •


To show a change in time or place To emphasize a contrast To indicate changing speakers in a dialogue To give readers an opportunity to pause To break up a dense text

Ways of Arranging Information within or between paragraphs
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Order of time (chronology) Order of space (descriptions of a location or scene) Order of climax (building toward a conclusion) Order of importance (from least to most important or from most to least important)

Writing Effective Paragraphs
The Topic Sentence
by S. Marques, Kentridge High School A paragraph is a group of sentences dealing with a single topic or idea. Usually, one sentence, called the topic sentence, states the main idea of the paragraph. All the other sentences are related to this topic sentence. They further explain or support the main idea.

The Topic Sentence's Function
The topic sentence of a paragraph is like a contract between writer and reader. The writer is saying, in effect, "I have an idea I want to explain to you." The reader is answering, "All right, explain it to me." For the writer to hold to the contract, he or she must explain the idea stated in the topic sentence. Therefore, the topic sentence controls the content of the paragraph.

Judging Topic Sentences
A topic sentence makes a general statement that is wider in its scope than the rest of the sentences in the paragraph. A good topic sentence is broad enough to be developed by specific details. However, if a topic sentence is too general, the remainder of the paragraph will have to be either extremely long in order to give an adequate explanation of the idea, or it will have to contain nothing but more general statements. A topic sentence...
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