Paragraph Structure

Getting paragraph structure right is an important part of writing a good paragraph.

The structure of the paragraph is used to help the reader understand the information being presented in both the paragraph and the larger piece of writing, no matter whether it’s an ESL essay, ESL business writing or academic writing.

By following established conventions related to the structure of paragraphs you’ll help the people who read your writing better understand it.

No matter if you’re writing a general paragraph or a specialized type of paragraph such as an argumentative paragraph you’ll need to use an established structure.



One Main Idea

Good paragraph structure makes your writing easier to read.

Before we even consider the structure, an even more important point to remember is that each paragraph has only one main idea.

Each paragraph contains information related to just one main idea. This is what the readers of the paragraph would expect; so give it to them, don’t try to confuse them by including two or more main points in each paragraph. This would make each paragraph too long as well as confusing to read.

The paragraph should present the one main idea, give supporting information and also include a conclusion.



Basic Paragraph Structure

The basic paragraph structure is:

  • Introduction (topic sentence) – First sentence stating the main idea.
  • Body – Several sentences supporting the main idea. Usually will include 2 -5 sentences.
  • Conclusion – Last sentence restates the main idea highlighting main supporting point.

The information in the paragraph is presented in a clear and concise way. The main point is first, in the topic sentence so anyone skimming or scanning the document can quickly find out what the text is about. Then more information is added for people who want to read in greater detail and understand why you’re making a certain point. Then at the end you reinforce your point of view by repeating the main point and highlighting the best piece of evidence.

There can also be linking sentences added to the start or end of the paragraph. These help the flow of information in a larger piece of writing. Often several paragraphs will be about a similar topic and so need to be linked together. These linking sentences show the reader that you’re continuing your overall thought process through several paragraphs.

Each paragraph will have a different main idea but they’ll all be related to the same overall topic.



Alternative Paragraph Structure

In addition to the most popular structure of main idea first you can also have a climatic paragraph where the main idea is presented in the final sentence of the paragraph.

In climatic paragraphs the topic sentence is at the end of the paragraph and the supporting information comes first. This type of paragraph isn’t as common and if you’re an ESL learner it would possibly be best to use the basic type.



Paragraph Writing Help

If you need any help or advice about writing your paragraphs you can come to the Excellent Proofreading and Writing Facebook page to ask me any questions.

There's also the page about ESL proofreading and the English proofreading section of this website to help you correct and make your own writing better.

If you’d like someone to correct your writing and help make it better, you can see the page about my proofreading service.



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