STRUCTURE OF A BODY PARAGRAPH
Topic Sentence: Start the paragraph with a general statement that clearly indicates
the overall focus and idea of the paragraph and tells the reader how to interpret the
Support: Build points in logical progression (one thing leads to the next, and to the
next, etc.). Support each point with proof in the form of details, examples, quotes, facts,
Concluding Sentence: End the paragraph with a statement that sums up the
paragraph with the analytical big picture. The concluding would answer the question
“What is the point of this paragraph?” The concluding sentence should also offer a
transition into the next paragraph by indicating the connection between the idea just
presented and the idea to follow.
Elements to consider for the overall paragraph:
Unity: There must be a consistent development of one main idea in each paragraph.
Each sentence must clearly connect to the topic sentence. Sentences that stray from
the topic confuse the reader and the point is lost.
Completeness: Detailed information must be provided to clearly put forth ideas. Each
point must be supported with specifics to make a paragraph complete. Certain
assumptions must be made to communicate, but if they are not supported with proof,
the communication suffers.
Order: Order must be logical, both with the order of the sentences in the paragraph and
the order of the paragraph in the paper. Order can be chronological (first this, then this,
then this, etc.) or emphatic (from least important to most important).
Coherence: There must be a smooth flow between sentences so that the paragraph
reads like an integrated discussion rather than a bulleted list. Lack of coherence occurs
when there is too much white space in the writing (omitted thoughts) or there is a lack of
transitional words. Transitional words (e.g. for example, then, furthermore,
nevertheless, instead, accordingly) indicate relationships between thoughts.
The legend of the Old South has a certain timeless beauty. On the veranda
of stately mansions, courtly gentlemen and charming ladies talked quietly of family,
land and cotton. The poor whites were barely visible until the vigilante movement
after the Civil War. They formed secret societies such as the Klan to terrorize the
black community and to acquire political power. Political power led to economic
power, and by the turn of the century the poor whites were no longer poor.