Glossary of Terms and Terminology Relating to Developing a Well Organized Paragraph

  • A paragraph: A unit of writing that is most often a group of sentences, rather than one sentence, that express a complete thought that is supportive of the main idea of the piece of writing. Paragraphs contain supporting and key details about the main idea which is the foundation of the piece of writing
  • The paragraph's introductory statement: The statement at the beginning of each paragraph which concisely captures and relates the main idea contained in the paragraph and perhaps, even the importance of what is contained in the paragraph
  • The paragraph's body: The part of the paragraph that has sentences subsequent to the introduction statement which describe, detail, support and explain the main idea of the paragraph or the author's feeling, opinion or belief about the main idea of the paragraph
  • The paragraph's closing or conclusion sentence: A sentence or statement that concisely emphasizes the totality of the paragraph and also provides a smooth transition to the next paragraph

What is a Paragraph?

A paragraph is a unit of writing. Each paragraph is most often a group of sentences, rather than one sentence, that express a complete thought that is supportive of the main idea of the piece of writing.

Paragraphs can vary in terms of the length. A paragraph can consist of simply one sentence but a paragraph is typically several sentences that support the main idea, which is also referred to as the controlling idea. One type of paragraph, referred to as an emphasis paragraph, is typically short in terms of its length.

Paragraphs are part of the whole; paragraphs are part of a formal writing piece like a term paper, a business report and a research paper. As a part of the whole writing piece, each paragraph should convey one thought or fact and each paragraph should be a smooth part of the entire writing piece that should move from the opening paragraph of the writing progressively to and through the other paragraphs that are in the piece of formal writing.

In summary, the major components of a paragraph include:

  • A complete thought that directly supports and is related to the main idea of the piece of writing. Paragraphs contain supporting and key details about the main idea which is the foundation of the piece of writing
  • An introductory statement at the beginning of each paragraph which concisely captures and relates the main idea contained in the paragraph and perhaps, even the importance of what is contained in the paragraph
  • Subsequent sentences, in the body of the paragraph, after the introduction statement at the beginning of the paragraph, describe, detail, support and explain the main idea of the paragraph or the author's feeling, opinion or belief about the main idea of the paragraph. These subsequent sentences must be a complete thought that is not only consistent with the main idea of the complete writing project, as stated above, but also consistent with the major idea or thought in the paragraph as introduced in the first sentence, or introduction, of the paragraph
  • A closing sentence that concisely emphasizes the totality of the paragraph and also provides a smooth transition to the next paragraph A conclusion for a paragraph briefly emphasizes, reinforces and amplifies the thoughts contained in the entire paragraph and how these thoughts support the main idea of the writing project. The transition thought of the paragraph is used to smoothly move the reader to the following paragraph and the other paragraphs that are included in the entire piece of writing. A smooth transition to the next paragraph insures that the piece of writing will NOT be confusing, disjointed and disorganized. It can also motivate the reader to continue reading the piece of writing.
  • An orderly, logical, cogent and systematic development from one paragraph to the next throughout the piece of writing

The organization of a paragraph varies according to the type of formal writing that the paragraph is a part of and, at times, the author's preference for the overall organization of the entire writing piece as well as the organization of the paragraph. For example, if the author is writing a narrative essay, the author would typically describe the elements of the story in a chronological manner; and if the author is writing about a major topic like the cells of the body, each paragraph can describe one part of a cell and its function.

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