Paragraph Dos and Don’ts

A Paragraph is a distinct portion of written dealing with a particular idea, usually beginning with an indented first line.

1. Do have a topic sentence.
A topic sentence is the sentence that “sums up” what your paragraph be about. Make sure that each topic sentence supports the main idea of the entire essay or article. RARE EXCEPTIONS: Paragraphs that describe, narrate, or detail the steps in an experiment do not usually need topic sentences.

2. Don’t include excessive, irrelevant details.
Focus on your main purpose for writing. Too many details dilute your message. Period.

3. Do include enough detail sentences to support your topic sentence.
Have at least one or two supporting detail sentences. Each paragraph should be three or more sentences long. Warning: Too many details will dilute your message.

4. Don’t include unverified content.
Even one inaccurate detail can discredit your writing. If you don’t know for absolute certain a statement is true, say so even before you write it.

5. Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph.

6. Don’t present both sides of an argument in one paragraph.
Reading an article from an undecided author can be daunting. It is often important to show both sides of an argument. Unless you have no supporting details for each argument you present, separate each point of view in separate paragraphs.

7. Do keep the paragraphs in your article around the same size.
This is merely an esthetic preference for most readers. It can be difficult to achieve, but it’s worth it to make it easier on the readers eyes.

8. Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs taking up half or even whole pages can and should be broken down into at least three or even four paragraphs whenever possible.

Rules for Writing Paragraphs – References:

Driscoll, D. L., Brizee, A. (2010, January 8 ).  Paragraphs and
. Retrieved April 6, 2010 from Purdue University at
Lafayette, OWL Web site:

(n.d.).  Paragraph Development and Topic Sentences. Retrieved
April 6, 2010 from Capital Community College Foundation Web site:

Turner, D. ().  Dividing your Argument. Retrieved  from
University of Ottowa Canada, Writing Centre Web site: