Essay writing

Structuring paragraphs

Structuring paragraphs

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Structuring paragraphs

​​In a nutshell

Long pieces of writing should be organised into paragraphs as this makes them easier to read and understand. A paragraph is simply a group of sentences that are all connected to one single topic or idea. They are designed to guide the reader through bigger topics and ideas in the piece of writing as a whole. In this summary, you will learn how to structure a paragraph into three parts: the topic sentence, main body, and final sentence.

Topic sentence

A paragraph should have a theme or topic that it explains clearly. To make the reader aware of this topic as soon as they start reading, it is important for the paragraph to begin with a topic sentence. This is a sentence that, almost like a title, spells out for the reader what the paragraph will be about, and what they can expect to learn about as they read. It is important for this sentence to be clear, and not too long - as the rest of the paragraph will help explain your idea in full. 

Main body

The main body of a paragraph should be made up of more than one sentence and makes up the largest part of the paragraph structure. Here, the idea or topic that has been mentioned in your topic sentence will be explained in more detail. Also, the main body of your paragraph will link the topic to a bigger purpose or question that the piece of writing is considering as a whole. This means that the topic is expanded into a detailed explanation or analysis, making the paragraph a helpful stepping stone along the journey that the essay, story, article or whatever the piece of writing is making. 

Final sentence

The final sentence of a paragraph can carry out different functions. Firstly, it can conclude or sum up what the paragraph has been discussing so far. This means it adds a reflection or judgement that helps the reader to understand the point that the writing has made in this particular paragraph. Secondly, it can lead on to the next paragraph by creating a link between what has been said or concluded in the current paragraph, and what is about to be discussed in the next. 


Below are three sentences from a paragraph from an essay called 'Wildlife in the Amazon Rainforest'. It shows how a paragraph should be structured.

  1. 'Among the 4,000 animal species that live in the Amazon Rainforest are over 1,300 species of birds - some of which can only be found in this incredible natural environment.'
  2. 'As well as having lots of insects and fish to feed upon, the birds that live in the rainforest have a perfect place to build their nests, where they can sleep and lay their eggs. The rainforest canopy, which is the tall, middle layer of the rainforest, is filled with plants and branches that birds can use to build their homes.'
  3. 'Clearly, the Amazon Rainforest is the perfect habitat for birds to hunt, mate and create a nest in, which explains why there are so many species living there - however, there are still threats to the birds, such as the many predators that use the rainforest as their hunting ground.'


The topic sentence (1) gives an introduction to the topic - which is clearly going to be 'birds' - without going in to too much detail or making any big points

The main body (2) is made up of more than one sentence, and seems to be explaining the topic, birds, in greater depth: giving the reader more information and expanding the topic.

The final sentence (3) makes a judgement about the topic, and leads on to another topic too - predators.

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