Top-Rated Free Essay

How to Write: Topic Sentences and Supporting Paragraphs

Good Essays
Topic Sentences and Supporting Paragraphs

Topic Sentences

When you write, you form paragraphs. A paragraph is a group of sentences that relate in topic and thought. A paragraph generally consists of three to five sentences and usually begins with a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a general statement that announces what the paragraph is about. By starting a paragraph with a topic sentence, your audience can immediately identify your topic. This construction also helps you, the writer, stay focused on your subject.

Consider the following example of an essay introduction:

The first sentence is the topic sentence: It tells the readers they will learn about past narratives. The sentences that follow the topic sentence relate to the topic sentence because they provide examples of past narratives. Finally, the last sentence is the thesis of the essay, which expresses the author’s opinion on the topic and previews what the entire paper will be about.

You will learn more about writing effective introductions later in this course.

Supporting Paragraphs

Every paragraph after your introduction must be a supporting paragraph. A supporting paragraph backs up or proves your thesis.

All supporting paragraphs should include a topic sentence. You can then develop the supporting paragraphs within your paper using one or more of the following methods:

• Examples and illustrations
• Data, facts, or historical or personal details
• A simple story, or narrative
• Descriptions
• Division and classification
• Analysis
• Process analysis
• Definitions
• Cause-effect
• Comparison-contrast
• Argument

The previous paragraph about journals used examples to support the topic sentence. Consider the paragraph following the introduction:

After the catchy introduction and the thesis statement, the next paragraph supports the thesis by discussing journal-writing in light of discovering self-discovery (the first preview point in the thesis, highlighted in the example above). Notice the paragraph includes two different types of development: The paragraph uses analysis by breaking down how journal-writing can help a person discover self; it also uses cause-effect to explain how journal-writing can foster personal growth.

In addition to analysis and cause-effect, consider how the other supporting paragraph types could be used to develop the same topic. The following are suggestions for different types of development:

• Examples and illustrations: Provide specific examples of people that have journaled (as in the introduction) or illustrate how a person goes about journaling.

• Data, facts, historical or personal details: Research journal-writing to find statistics or facts on how journal-writing can help an individual or add your own personal experience, if it is relevant.

• A simple story, or narrative: Tell a story of how someone was changed through the process of journaling.

• Descriptions: Describe a journal, include visuals, or include physical descriptions and impressions of people and places mentioned in the journal.

• Division and classification: Separate journals into different types, such as historical journals and personal journals, and then separate those divisions into further categories.

• Process analysis: Provide step-by-step directions explaining how to create a journal.

• Definitions: Define journals according to their different uses.

• Comparison-contrast: Compare and contrast journal-writing with other types of therapeutic or narrative writing.

• Argument: Argue that journal-writing should be required in school or that everyone should keep a journal for the sake of future generations.

You can support the topic of journal-writing in many different ways; the possibilities are really endless. If you find yourself unable to think of what to write, choose one of the above supporting paragraph types and write a paragraph related to your topic using that development style.

You will learn about writing concluding paragraphs later in this course.


Transitions are words used to move readers smoothly from one sentence to another or from one paragraph to another. Think of transitions as traffic signals alerting readers of the direction your writing takes, based on the relationship between the ideas within or between paragraphs.

Examples of Transitions

The following are examples of relationships between words as well as examples of transitional words:

Relationship Example of Transitions To show similarity between two ideas • Additionally
• Also
• And
• In the same way
• Moreover
To show exception or contrast • Although
• But
• However
• Nevertheless
• On the other hand
To show sequence or order • First
• Second
• Next
• Then
• Finally
To detail time • After
• Before
• During
• In the future
• Then
To show an example • For example
• For instance
• Namely
• Specifically
• To illustrate
To show emphasis • Even
• Indeed
• In fact
• Of course
• Truly
To identify a place or position • Above
• Below
• Beyond
• In back
• In front
To show cause and effect • Accordingly
• Consequently
• So
• Therefore
• Thus
To provide additional support or evidence • Additionally
• As well
• Equally important
• Furthermore
• Moreover
To conclude or summarize • Finally
• In conclusion
• Thus
• To conclude
• In summary

The underlined words and phrases in the following paragraph are examples of transitions. Notice how the underlined transitional words alert the readers to relationships between the ideas in the paragraph.


Writing supporting paragraphs can often seem overwhelming. If, however, you break up your topics and ideas into sections so each paragraph focuses on only one idea, it will not seem as burdensome. Practice writing the different types of supporting paragraphs and remember to add transitions that move your reader smoothly from one idea to the next. It will make your paper more well-rounded and thorough and help you improve your writing skills.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    How to Write the Topic Sentence Topic sentences are often incorrectly defined as the first sentences in a paragraph. Topic sentences, in fact, can be situated as the second or third sentence. Topic sentence is about introducing the main idea of a paragraph, not about chronology. It should discuss an idea only in generic terms without providing too many details. How to Write Supporting Sentences Supporting sentences are also called detail sentences and they constitute the body of the paragraph…

    • 707 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    University of Phoenix Material Appendix F Paragraphs and Topic Sentences Part I: Review the four paragraphs below. There is one paragraph matching each of the following types: summary, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Once you have read each paragraph, complete the following chart to identify the paragraph types. Underline the topic sentence in each paragraph. Paragraph Type of Paragraph 1 ANALYZING 2 SUMMARIZING 3 EVALUATING 4 SYNTHESIZING 1. Alice Doe’s article discussed overlooked…

    • 755 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    impossible to miss, and in shorter essays of a few pages, it should show up in the first paragraph or introduction of your paper. Most essays live or die by the strength of their thesis statements, and by their ability to keep focused on their thesis. If you haven’t clearly indicated your focus or your argument, it’s difficult to stay focused on the issue you plan to discuss, argue or explain. Even if your essay is about how to build the perfect peanut butter sandwich, you significantly improve the quality…

    • 657 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    High interest rates create an unwillingness to spend money. Because consumers know that they will pay more over the course of the loan, they might choose to postpone buying high items such as cars and homes. Higher interest rates cause deflation, which means the purchasing power of the dollar is stronger. Debt deflation reduces personal wealth and aggravates an economic downturn. Many parties control interest rates, including banks and, the Federal Reserve. These institutions decide which interest…

    • 366 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    1. What is a paragraph? A paragraph is a group of sentences that all refer to the topic sentence. A paragraph is generally at least three sentences long, and should not, if at all possible, exceed half of a page. Transitions between paragraphs lend a fluid smoothness to the finished essay. 2. What are the parts of a paragraph? There are three parts to a good paragraph. The Topic Sentence, the body, and the conclusion. The topic sentence, states the point…

    • 870 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    group of paragraphs that develops one central idea. The 3 parts of an essay are: 1). Introductory paragraph 2). The body paragraphs 3). The conclusion. The introductory paragraph should introduce the topic, indicate generally how the topic is going to be developed, should be inviting and contains a thesis statement (with a topic andcentral ideas) A thesis statement is the main idea of the whole essay which actually helps us to focus on our essay. Each of the body paragraphs introduce…

    • 1081 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays


    • 386 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Sample paragraph 1: 1) Topic sentence: Name the text and show the them, then provide an argument on the theme/ make a point on that theme. 2) Analysis: Techniques, Examples, Effect of techniques in the examples. Write a minimum of 3 techniques and their effects. What is in the text? (Characterisation, techniques, plot, themes.) 3) What I learn from the text, with respect to the notion put forth in my topic sentence: What we learn through the text (Insight, conclusion.) 4) Link to exam question:…

    • 386 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Topic Sentences

    • 257 Words
    • 2 Pages

    great strategy. Writing the body of a paragraph will help you focus on the main idea you are trying to convey and it will help you summarize that main idea into a topic and concluding sentence. You might want to review the Topic Sentence information in the CWE. Take the quiz as many times as you feel necesary. After reviewing the Topic Sentence information at the CWE, notice that topic sentences can be either the first or last sentence in a paragraph. What would be the advantages and disadvantages…

    • 257 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    topic sentence

    • 402 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Explanation of Topic Sentences Number One and Ten On the Left It was stated earlier that a topic sentence includes a topic and a controlling idea. Looking at Number One on the left, the topic (in red) is avoiding burglaries. The controlling idea, then (in green) is taking certain precautions. What precautions can someone take to avoid burglaries? Installing an alarm system, buying a guard dog, and installing stronger locks are three precautions one could take. Students in the past have given at…

    • 402 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    How to Write Body Paragraphs. In essays of any kind, body paragraphs are essential. These are where you provide your supporting arguments to your thesis. These are also where you write your refutations or rebuttals against the challenges to your claim. In short, they serve as the very "meat" of your essay. Here are several tips on how to write the body paragraphs of your essay. Stick to your topic sentence. The first sentence of the paragraph should be the idea that you want to develop within the…

    • 501 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays