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Achieving Unity in a Paragraph

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February 2010
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If you don’t write good paragraphs, few people will want to read your work. You will be viewed or judged as a writer who doesn’t know how to write well.

In the last post, I discussed the purpose and characteristics of  a good paragraph. In the next few posts, I will discuss how to create a good paragraph. To do this, the writer needs to know how to create a unified and coherent paragraph. The writer also needs to know how to develop a paragraph.

How does a writer create a unified paragraph? A unified paragraph has a topical sentence and a group of sentences that provide support to the topical sentence. For many paragraphs, especially if they are topical paragraphs, the topical sentence comes first. Sometimes, though, the topical sentence is the last sentence in the paragraph. Occasionally, the topical sentence is implied by the writer.

Before writing the content of your essay or article, create an outline of the main points that you intend to write about. For each main point, jot down a topical sentence. When you write the content or body of your work, you can expand each topical sentence into a paragraph. For each topical sentence, determine its purpose. Do you want to explain? Describe? Persuade? Narrate a story? Based on your purpose, you can provide the following types of support/details to create a unified paragraph:

  • Facts or evidence
  • Statistics
  • Details
  • Examples
  • Anecdotes
  • Analogies
  • Quotations


The following example shows how to create a paragraph. The first sentence is the topical sentence, followed by sentences that provide supporting details.

You can increase your chances of living a long life by choosing a healthy lifestyle. There are a number of life choices you can make. You can start by engaging in cardio exercise each day for 30 minutes. You can also reduce your consumption of alcoholic beverages to no more than 2 drinks per day. You can quit smoking cigarettes. If you are overweight, you can stop eating junk food, reduce your calorie intake, and eat more fruit and vegetables. If you are stressed out, you can find more time to relax, rest, and engage in leisure pursuits that bring joy to your life.

The most important point to remember about writing a paragraph is to use a topical sentence and to include only details that support the topical sentence.


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