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How to Write a Paragraph

The Art of Substantive Writing


By Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder

Paragraph Format
Every good paragraph will have a: Controlling statement or topic sentence. This is the generalized main idea of the paragraph. Evidence in the form of a quotation, summary or paraphrase. This is specific. Elaboration, which is your explanation of how the evidence supports the thesis. A transition is called for if moving to another paragraph. This allows the paper to flow into the next topic sentence.

How to Write a Paragraph


Questioning as we write: Skilled writers approach writing as an active dialogue involving questioning. They question as they write. They question to understand. They question to evaluate what they are writing. They question to bring important ideas into their thinking. Here are some of the questions good writers ask while writing:

How to Write a Paragraph


Why am I writing this? What is my purpose? What do I want my reader to come away with?

How to Write a Paragraph


Is there some part of what I have written that I dont really understand? Perhaps I am repeating what I have heard people say without really thinking about what it means?

How to Write a Paragraph


If something I have written is vague, how can I make it clearer or more precise? Do I understand the meaning of the key words that I have used, or do I need to look them up in a dictionary?

How to Write a Paragraph


Am I using any words in special or unusual ways? Have I explained special meanings to the reader?

How to Write a Paragraph


Am I sure that what I have said is accurate? Do I need to qualify anything?

How to Write a Paragraph


Am I clear about my main point and why I think it is important? Do I know what question my paragraph answers? Do I need more evidence to prove my thesis?

Evidence
Evidence forms the heart of your argument, and one piece of evidence should form the heart of each of your body paragraphs. Quotations Paraphrases Short summaries

Paragraph Format
Every good paragraph will have a: Controlling statement or topic sentence. This is the generalized main idea of the paragraph. Evidence in the form of a quotation, summary or paraphrase. This is specific. Elaboration, which is your explanation of how the evidence supports the thesis. A transition is called for if moving to another paragraph. This allows the paper to flow into the next topic sentence.