Paragraphs

Some General Guidelines

  • In analytical writing, each paragraph should contain a fully developed discussion of one idea. Begin with a thesis sentence that clearly states the main idea you'll discuss in the paragraph. Subsequent sentences should provide additional information that supports and elaborates on the main idea presented in the thesis sentence.
  • Within a paragraph, be sure that you organize your supporting sentences clearly, making it easy for your reader to follow your line of reasoning. Transitional words provide links between your ideas and help the reader make sense of your overall meaning. Common transitional words include although, because, similarly, then, and therefore, among many others.
  • It is also important to have clear transitions between your paragraphs. Although each paragraph discusses a separate idea, these ideas are related and should flow in a logical, coherent order. Transitions may be as brief as a word or two at the beginning of a new paragraph - e.g., "However," or "On the other hand" - or may be in the form of a complete introductory sentence before the thesis sentence of the paragraph. You may wish to check for transitions after you've written the first draft of your analysis.
  • Be aware of the length of your paragraphs. A very long paragraph - in most cases, longer than half a page - usually indicates that you have tried to put too many ideas into one discussion. See if you can break the paragraph into two (or more) separate paragraphs that focus on one main idea apiece. On the other hand, a paragraph that consists of only a sentence or two most likely indicates that you have not fully developed your discussion.