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How to Write Essay Body Paragraphs: Things to Avoid

Body paragraphs are generally easier to write than introductions or conclusions. However, if you relax too much, you may fall victim to common mistakes.

Missing Transition

This is perhaps the most noticeable kind of mistake. Your body paragraph should not be isolated; it needs a transition from the ideas previously discussed. A transition sentence should begin with something like “however,” “furthermore,” or “besides”.

Incorrect Structure

Your body paragraph should proceed from general to more specific information. A correct paragraph structure includes at least these four elements:

  1. Transition sentence that forms a link to the previous information.
  2. Topic sentence that states the subject of this paragraph.
  3. At least one sentence that contains specific evidence and information to support the claim you make in the topic sentence.
  4. Closing sentence that connects to the paper’s thesis and demonstrates how the information in this paragraph supports your general idea.

This order should never be changed. Do not provide any specific evidence before you state the paragraph’s main idea in the topic sentence. Remember to include the closing sentence.

Multiple Ideas

Each paragraph should elaborate on a single idea. Do not discuss more than one important point in a single paragraph. If you need to contrast two viewpoints, use a separate paragraph for each one.

Unexplained Evidence

If you use any piece of evidence or a direct quote from a source, explain in which way it proves your main idea. For example, “Over 62% of lethal road accidents in our state occur because of drunk driving” is a bare fact.

Explanation: “Therefore, the use of automatic control devices that make it impossible for a drunk person to drive a car could prevent almost two-thirds of deaths on roads.”

Unexplained evidence may leave your readers guessing why you have used it, and the same goes for quotes. If you do not comment on each one, it may create the impression that you have simply stuck random quotes into your text here and there.

Too Short Paragraphs

Normally, an essay body paragraph consists of at least five sentences. In some cases, it may just include three. However, one or two sentences are definitely not sufficient enough to develop your idea. If your paragraphs are too short, you will probably leave some important aspects unexplored.

Too Long Paragraphs

The opposite problem is paragraphs that are too long – more than seven sentences. It may indicate that you have mixed different ideas in a single paragraph or have added irrelevant information. Delete everything you can do without. If you are sure that all the information is necessary, try to break this paragraph into several smaller ones.

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