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Paragraph Structure

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A paragraph is a unit of thought, not of length. It is series of sentences about a single topic or idea. All the sentences in a paragraph must relate to this idea.

  • The first sentence of a paragraph is called the topic sentence. Its purpose is to introduce the reader to the main idea of the paragraph.
  • The sentences that follow the topic sentence then explain, develop, and illustrate the main idea. These supporting sentences must follow a logical order of development. If the topic or idea changes, then a new paragraph should be started.
  • Clearly show the beginning of a paragraph by indenting five spaces or by double-double spacing between paragraphs. The visual division between paragraphs helps the reader to understand the structure of the writing and therefore to process the ideas more easily.
  • There are no set rules about paragraph length. A paragraph is seldom only one sentence, because you cannot develop an idea in one sentence.