Creating Paragraphs

A paragraph is a self-contained portion of your argument. Paragraphs will begin by making a single claim that connects back to your thesis. The body of the paragraph will present the evidence, reasoning and conclusions that prove that claim. Usually, paragraphs will end by connecting their claim to the larger argument or by setting up the claim that the next paragraph will contain.

How Many Paragraphs Do You Need?

There is no set number for how many paragraphs a paper should have. You will need one for an introduction and one for a conclusion, but after that the number can vary. However, you will need one paragraph for every claim that makes up your argument.

Paragraphs should be used to develop one idea at a time rather than contain many different ideas and claims. If you have a lot of ideas and claims to address, you may be tempted to combine related claims into the same paragraph. Combining different points in the same paragraph cuts down on how much space you have to argue each point. This will divide your reader’s attention and make your argument less thorough.

By dedicating each paragraph to only one part of your argument, you will give the reader time to fully evaluate and understand each claim before going on to the next one. Think of paragraphs as a way of guiding your reader’s attention – by giving them a single topic, you force them to focus on it. When you direct their focus, they will have a much easier time following your argument.

Some writing manuals will direct you to have one paragraph for every point made in your thesis. The general idea behind this rule is a good one – you need to address every point, and you will need at least a paragraph for each. However, do not feel like you can only devote one paragraph to each point. If your argument is complex, you may need to have subsections for each of your main points. Each one of those supporting points should be its own paragraph.

Using Topic Sentences

Every paragraph of argument should begin with a topic sentence that tells the reader what the paragraph will prove. By providing the reader with expectations at the start of the paragraph, you help them understand where you are going and how the paragraph fits in with the overall structure of your argument. Topic sentences should always connect back to your thesis statement – if you cannot find a way to describe a paragraph in relation to your thesis, you probably do not need it for your argument.

Creating Good Paragraphs

Each body paragraph is something like a miniature essay in that they each need an introductory sentence that makes an important and interesting argument, and that they each need a good closing sentence in order to produce a smooth transition between one point and the next. Transitions from one argument to the next, as well as within paragraphs, are important to add coherence to your paper.

Body Paragraph Roundup

Body Paragraph Exercise

The body of your essay must be organized in support of your purpose, otherwise, your argument and research will not be presentable to your academic audience.

Directions: Using the criteria below as a guide, rate the following paragraph examples from “Most Effective” to “Least Effective.” Use your digital annotation tool to take notes, underline topic sentences, strikeout repeated/unneeded language, etc. When finished log in to your edblog and create a new post, reflecting on challenges you’ve faced creating successful body paragraphs.

Criteria: Each body paragraph should contain:

  • a single, clear arguable claim in the form of a topic sentence
  • integrated evidence that uses signal phrases from outside credible sources that is properly documented in MLA in-text format
  • concise explanation about how and why the evidence supports the author’s claim
  • logical transitions into the next paragraph

Paragraph Examples

Body Paragraph #1

The use of black and white photos causes the viewer to see ballet in a more realistic light. Instead of showing the photos in color with vivid tones brought out by stage lights, Simkin uses black and white to give each photo a more casual and everyday feel.  Ballet tends to seem extremely formal, meticulous and serious.  Simkin’s photo of the dancers on a bus on their way to the Kennedy Center stresses that these dancers are young people the same as everyone, just with incredible opportunities and careers.  They might dance all day, work extremely hard until they reach perfection, and perform for thousands but this photo shows that they are still normal human beings.

Body Paragraph #2

Moreover in Janelle S. Wong’s editorial. The Source of the Asian Advantage isn’t Asian Values, she continually combats against Nicholas Kristof’s statement that accredits Asian American success to “confucian religious values” (Kristoff). However in the article she claims that its because of the US immigration law that that created Asian success (The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act). It “changed the way Asians were seen in this country–from uneducated and unwanted scourge to hardworking students and examples of economic success” (Wong). Wong also remarks Kristof’s stereotype by including other Asian groups. She states “ Asian subgroups–like Cambodians, Burmese, and Hmong–have higher high school dropout rates than any other racial group in the United States. But they are not seen by policymakers because they are made invisible by the model minority stereotype and its assumed cultural advantages.

Body Paragraph #3

Winston stirred up a lot of trouble while he was playing football during his college career. He went from stealing crab legs, shouting explicit words on campus, and being accused of raping a woman.  It seems to me that the NCAA didn’t look into him as much, and he got away with a lot.  Grier unfortunately made the mistake of taking over the counter supplements and was suspended immediately.  While I think taking illegal supplements is a serious issue, I think Winston violated the NCAA’s rules more than Grier did.  I don’t understand how Winston didn’t receive any type of suspension under the rules he violated.  Grier was immediately suspended when he was accused of taking over the counter supplements and Winston was just supposedly investigated and they never found sufficient evidence against him.

Body Paragraph #4

Kevorkian is a very weird character that almost seems happy with the machine he has created to end lives. The author uses this to give the story a disturbing feel because it almost seems as if he likes what he is doing “I thought he was an evil character, it wasn’t about optimal care for the patient it was about Jack Kevorkian making a big statement about what he wanted the country to do”(retroreport) In the video they show a clip from a TV interview where he is explaining how the machine works and you can feel the creepiness in the room with someone so excited to show off his death machine. They show multiple audience members and you can see the disgust they have towards doctor Kevorkian. They make him seem almost like a mad scientist “there was a lot of discussion if Kevorkian is crazy”(retroreport) It illustrates how he added to this through his large personality “to get Americas attention you have to be in your face and Jack Kevorkian was in your face”(retroreport) The author also interviewed a doctor by the name of Dr. Timothy Quill who came forward and admitted that he has done it before and “it actually goes on much more commonly than people think”(retroreport) This backs up Kevorkian and his theory which is a huge change in tone after many clips of the disturbance Kevorkian caused. Dr. Quill went in front of the New York state grand jury and waived his Fifth Amendment rights because he felt that when they saw the videos and him that they would understand, and they did; he was not charged with any crime. This goes to show how intense the videos of these people are, it is impossible to deny the fact that they wanted to end their life.

Body Paragraph #5

In my opinion the NCAA clearly doesn’t look into some cases like they should and they are very lenient with college athletes. Being a college athlete, it can bring upon many pressures and can also bring many distractions.  Every year college athletes go through illegal benefits, steroid abuse, and other constant illegal activities.  Illegal activity is something that will always happen upon college athletes.  Pressure is always reoccurring among college athletes.  They all are put on an immense amount of pressure by their coaches and friends to be the best they can possibly be and that causes them to go beyond what they need to be doing with their life.