Writing a paragraph

Learn how to write strong paragraphs to build a strong essay or report.

A paragraph is a basic unit of writing that is made up of a group of related sentences.

Each paragraph introduces and develops one main idea. Together, your paragraphs build your argument or response to the assignment question.

A paragraph should be long enough to expand your idea clearly and logically, while still being easy to read and understand.

Tip: Use paragraph breaks to make your text easier to read.

Structuring your paragraphs

Use the TEC model to help you structure your paragraph:

  • Topic sentence
  • Explanation, example, evidence (supporting sentences)
  • Concluding sentence or connecting sentence
The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. It is usually placed in the beginning of the paragraph to signpost to your reader what the paragraph is about.

A strong topic sentence:

  • Is a complete grammatical sentence.
  • Consists of two parts: the topic and what angle you will be focusing on in this paragraph.
  • Is not too broad or too narrow in scope. It should cover what the rest of your paragraph is about.

Example:

One of the costs that society has to pay for the conveniences brought by the motor industry is the loss of the civilised pleasures associated with open green spaces.

  • Topic: Societal cost of the motor industry
  • Angle: Loss of the civilised pleasures of open green space
Your supporting sentences explain and develop your topic sentence with explanations, examples, evidence, statistics, or quotes.

Integrate your sources into your supporting sentences to strengthen your claims.

The final sentence of your paragraph can either wrap up your thoughts on the idea, or provide a link to the next paragraph.

Example of a paragraph structure

Topic sentence

One of the costs that society has to pay for the conveniences brought by the motor industry is the loss of the civilised pleasures associated with open green spaces.

Supporting sentences

  • Explanation
    Indeed, the motorcar, far from being a mere vehicle, is determining the design and organisation of whole cities. It is true that cars allow urban centres to function more efficiently, providing transport for workers and industry.
  • Elaboration of argument
    Indeed, cars are often recognised as symbols of progress of a modern society. However, they are also the single largest consumers of valuable city space, which in a pre motorcar world, would be reserved for natural parks and open spaces in which to relax, cultural centres, and public squares where people could meet.
  • Evidence or examples (facts, other people’s opinions)
    In an article published in the third issue of Greenleaf (2008) circulated by the New Zealand Green Party, entitled “Shame on You”, Green councillors slammed plans for new car parks.

Concluding or connecting sentence

They argued that it was a clear case of “putting cars before people”. When the “green infrastructure” of any community is compromised in this way, civilisation is under threat.

Making your writing easy for your reader to understand

When your writing has coherence, your reader can understand it easily. It flows smoothly and your reader can see everything is logically arranged, connected, and relevant to the central focus of your assignment.

Use pronouns, repetition, transitions and parallelism techniques to give your writing more cohesion and unity.

Additional resource

Achieving coherence in your writing.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related topics

Workshops

Watch recorded workshops on:

Have any questions?