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Reading a Process Paragraph and Essay
Before you explain a process, you'll want to see how others did so. This lesson shows you a process paragraph and a process essay, explaining each part. As you read them, think about how the writers put ideas together and how you might explain ideas in your process writing.
Reading a Process Paragraph
A process paragraph has three main parts. The topic sentence states the process. The body sentences describe the steps. The ending sentence wraps up the process. This paragraph describes the process of building a tree house.
Listen to "Tree House Summer."
Topic Sentence Last summer, my friends and I built a tree house in my back yard. We started by designing the tree house. Body Sentences Then we listed materials we needed and found a store that sold building supplies. We took our list and the money we had saved and went shopping. We loaded everything into my dad’s van and headed back. The first thing we had to do was build a frame for the floor of the house. (My mom helped with that.) Next we used a rope to raise all the wood up into the tree. We then carefully nailed the boards to the frame, and we soon had a floor. After that, we added walls and a roof. Ending Sentences We now had a great place to hang out for the rest of the summer!
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The Writing Process
The writing process is something that no two people do the same way. There is no "right way" or "wrong way" to write. It can be a very messy and fluid process, and the following is only a representation of commonly used steps. Remember you can come to the Writing Center for assistance at any stage in this process.
Steps of the Writing Process
Step 1: Prewriting
Think and Decide
- Make sure you understand your assignment. See Research Papers or Essays
- Decide on a topic to write about. See Prewriting Strategies and Narrow your Topic
- Consider who will read your work. See Audience and Voice
- Brainstorm ideas about the subject and how those ideas can be organized. Make an outline. See Outlines
Step 2: Research (if needed)
- List places where you can find information.
- Do your research. See the many KU Libraries resources and helpful guides
- Evaluate your sources. See Evaluating Sources and Primary vs. Secondary Sources
- Make an outline to help organize your research. See Outlines
Step 3: Drafting
- Write sentences and paragraphs even if they are not perfect.
- Create a thesis statement with your main idea. See Thesis Statements
- Put the information you researched into your essay accurately without plagiarizing. Remember to include both in-text citations and a bibliographic page. See Incorporating References and Paraphrase and Summary
- Read what you have written and judge if it says what you mean. Write some more.
- Read it again.
- Write some more.
- Write until you have said everything you want to say about the topic.
Step 4: Revising
Make it Better
- Read what you have written again. See Revising Content and Revising Organization
- Rearrange words, sentences, or paragraphs into a clear and logical order.
- Take out or add parts.
- Do more research if you think you should.
- Replace overused or unclear words.
- Read your writing aloud to be sure it flows smoothly. Add transitions.
Step 5: Editing and Proofreading
Make it Correct
- Be sure all sentences are complete. See Editing and Proofreading
- Correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
- Change words that are not used correctly or are unclear.
- APA Formatting
- Chicago Style Formatting
- MLA Formatting
- Have someone else check your work.
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- Writing Paragraphs
How to Write a Paragraph
Last Updated: February 2, 2023 Approved
This article was co-authored by Jake Adams . Jake Adams is an academic tutor and the owner of Simplifi EDU, a Santa Monica, California based online tutoring business offering learning resources and online tutors for academic subjects K-College, SAT & ACT prep, and college admissions applications. With over 14 years of professional tutoring experience, Jake is dedicated to providing his clients the very best online tutoring experience and access to a network of excellent undergraduate and graduate-level tutors from top colleges all over the nation. Jake holds a BS in International Business and Marketing from Pepperdine University. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article has 35 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 2,566,009 times.
Writing can seem like a challenge, but it doesn't have to be difficult! These suggestions will help you put together A+ paragraphs in no time.
Planning Your Paragraph
- What is the prompt I have been given? If you are writing a paragraph as a response or answer to a particular prompt, such as "You have decided to donate money to charity. Which charity do you choose and why?" or "Describe your favorite day of the week," you will need to think carefully about that prompt and make sure you are directly addressing it, rather than going off-topic.
- What are the main ideas or topics that I need to address? Think about the topic you are being asked or have decided to write about, and consider what the most relevant ideas or s relating to that topic are. As paragraphs are usually relatively short, it is important that you try to hit on all the main ideas, without going off-topic.
- Who am I writing for? Think about whom the intended readership of this paragraph or paper will be. What is their prior knowledge? Are they familiar with the topic at hand, or will it require many explanatory sentences?
- If your paragraphs are part of a larger essay, writing an essay outline can help you define the major ideas or goals of each paragraph.
- At this point, you may realize that there's a gap in your knowledge and that it will be necessary to look up some facts and figures to support your argument .
- It's a good idea to do this research now, so you will have all the relevant information easily at hand when it comes to the writing stage.
- This new order may be chronological, may put the most important information first, or may just make the paragraph easier and more interesting to read - it all depends on the topic and style of the paragraph you wish to write.  X Research source
- Once you have decided where you want everything to go, you can rewrite your points according to this new structure - this will help to make the writing process a lot faster and more straightforward.
Writing Your Paragraph
- Every other sentence you write should support the topic sentence and provide further detail and discussion of the s or ideas it raises. If any sentence you write cannot be directly related to the topic sentence, it should not be included in this particular paragraph.
- More experienced writers can include their topic sentence at any point in the paragraph; it doesn't necessarily need to be the first line. However, writers who are new or less comfortable with paragraph writing should stick with having the topic sentence first, as it will help to guide you throughout the rest of the paragraph.  X Research source
- Your topic sentence should not be too broad or too narrow. If your topic sentence is too broad, you will not be able to discuss its ideas adequately in your paragraph. If it’s too narrow, you won’t have enough to discuss.
- Link each sentence with transition words that form a bridge between one sentence and the next. Transition words can help you compare and contrast, show sequence, show cause, and effect, highlight important ideas, and progress smoothly from one idea to the next. Such transition words include “furthermore”, “in fact” and “in addition to”. You can also use chronological transitions, such as “firstly”, “secondly” and “thirdly”.  X Research source
- The supporting sentences are the meat of your paragraph, so you should fill them with as much evidence to support your topic sentence as possible. Depending on the topic, you can use facts, figures, statistics, and examples, or you can use stories, anecdotes, and quotes. Anything goes, as long as it is relevant.  X Research source
- In terms of length, three to five sentences will usually be enough to cover your main points and adequately support your topic sentence, but this will vary greatly depending on the topic and the length of the paper you are writing. There is no set length for a paragraph. It should be as long as it needs to be adequate to cover the main idea.  X Research source  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- Don’t just reword the topic sentence. Your concluding sentence should acknowledge the discussion that has come before it and remind your reader of the relevance of this discussion.  X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
- For example, in a paragraph dealing with the topic "Why is Canada a great place to live?" The concluding sentence might look something like "From all the evidence provided above, such as Canada's fantastic health care provisions, its top-notch education system, and its clean, safe cities, we can conclude that Canada is indeed a great place to live."
- A new paragraph is also used each time you are contrasting two points or presenting each side of an argument. For example, if your topic is "should civil servants receive lower salaries?" one paragraph would deal with the arguments supporting lower pay for civil servants, while the other paragraph would provide arguments against it.  X Research source
- Paragraphs make a piece of writing easier to comprehend and give readers a “break” between new ideas to digest what they have just read. If you feel that the paragraph you are writing is becoming too complex, or contains a series of complex points, you may want to think about splitting it up into individual paragraphs.  X Research source
- When writing a paper, the introduction , and conclusion should always be given their paragraphs. The introductory paragraph should define the aim of the paper and what it hopes to achieve, while also giving a brief outline of the ideas and s it will go on to discuss.  X Research source The concluding paragraph provides a summary of the information and arguments contained in the paper and states in clear terms what the paper has shown and/or proven. It may also introduce a new idea, one that opens the reader's mind to the questions raised by the paper.  X Research source
- If you’re writing fiction, you need to start a new paragraph in dialogue to show a new speaker.  X Research source
Reviewing Your Paragraph
- Ensure that each sentence has a subject and that all proper nouns are capitalized. Also, make sure that all the subjects and verbs agree with each other and that you use the same tense across the entire paragraph.
- Use a dictionary to double-check the spelling of words that you are unsure about, don't just assume that they are correct.
- Check your paragraph for the proper use of punctuation , making sure that you use marks such as commas, colons, semicolons, and ellipses in the correct context.
- The point of view of your writing should remain consistent throughout the paragraph, and indeed, the entire paper. For example, if you are writing in the first person (e.g., "I believe that...") you should not switch to a passive voice ("it is believed that") halfway through.
- However, you should also try to avoid beginning every sentence with "I think..." or "I contend that..." Try to vary the format of your sentences, as this will make the paragraph more interesting for the reader and help it to flow more naturally.
- For beginner writers, it is better to stick to short, to-the-point sentences which clearly express your point. Long, rambling sentences can rapidly become incoherent or fall victim to grammatical errors, so try to avoid them until you gain more experience as a writer.
- If you feel that the main claim of your topic sentence is sufficiently supported and well-developed by the contents of the rest of your paragraph, then your paragraph is probably complete. However, if any important aspect of the topic remains unexplored or unexplained or if the paragraph is shorter than three sentences, it likely needs a little more work.  X Research source
- On the other hand, you may decide that your paragraph is too long and contains superfluous or tangential content. If this is the case, you should edit the paragraph, so it contains only the most relevant information.
- If you feel that all the content is necessary to your point, but the paragraph is still too long, you should think about breaking it up into several smaller, more specific paragraphs. For Example: Instead of writing- 'So we say that if people are negative to you just be friendly to them.' You could write- 'So, to conclude, just be friendly to the people who are negative to you.'
- Topic sentence
- Supportive sentence(s)
- Concluding sentence
- When you are reading, notice how paragraphs are divided. If you learn what a paragraph is by experience, you can divide writing into appropriate parts by feel. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- There are no hard-and-fast rules for how long a paragraph should be.Instead, make sure there are natural breaks. Each paragraph should contain one main idea and whatever writing supports it. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Don't wait until the last minute if this is for a school assignment. Give yourself plenty of time to plan out and write each paragraph. Your assignment will be of a much higher quality as a result. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 69 Not Helpful 13
You Might Also Like
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/606/01/
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 http://www.time4writing.com/writing-resources/paragraph-writing-secrets/
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/paragraphs/
- ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/paragraphs
- ↑ https://libguides.astate.edu/papers/introparagraph
- ↑ http://writing2.richmond.edu/writing/wweb/paragrph.html
About This Article
To write a great paragraph, start with a topic sentence that states the subject and main idea. In the next 3-5 sentences, present evidence, like facts, examples, or even short anecdotes, to back up your main idea. Use transition phrases, like “in addition to,” or “however,” to help your paragraph flow well. Finish the paragraph with a concluding sentence that reinforces the main idea, briefly sums up the evidence, and hints at the ideas to come in the next paragraph. To learn more from our English Ph.D. co-author, such as when to start a new paragraph or revise your writing, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Learn How to Write a Paragraph in 10 Easy Steps
Are you struggling to learn how to write a paragraph? This guide will give you the details you need to do it well.
Writing a clear and concise paragraph is one of the signs of being a good writer. A good paragraph has coherence, proper grammar, and the right structure.
Yet writing the perfect paragraph doesn’t happen by accident. You need to carefully plan everything from the first sentence to the last sentence to make it work.
This guide will teach you step-by-step how to write a paragraph, so you can start getting your points across to your readers well.
How to Write a Paragraph? Start with Knowing What Makes a Good Paragraph
Step 1: brainstorm your topic, step 2: write your thesis statement or topic sentence, step 3: write supporting sentences, step 4: write your last sentence, step 5: know when to start a new paragraph, step 6: use transition words, step 7: check grammar and spelling, step 8: read it out loud, step 9: check for consistency, step 10: rewrite for conciseness and clarity, common problems in paragraph writing, using strong paragraphs to write strong essays, a final word on how to write a paragraph, faqs on how to write a paragraph.
Before you can write a paragraph , you need to know its parts. A good paragraph will have:
- Topic sentence: This is the first sentence of your paragraph. It introduces your main idea of the paragraph.
- Supporting sentences: These support your main idea or argument. They need to be on-topic.
- Closing sentence: The closing or concluding sentence summarizes the idea. It also transitions to the next paragraph.
Learning how to write a good paragraph is one of the most important writing skills you can develop. It makes your piece of writing stronger and helps readers stay engaged. Here’s how you can do it.
The first step in writing, whether a paragraph or a paper, is brainstorming. Think about your ideas, your position on the topic, and what research supports your position. Always spend some time thinking before putting pen to paper to write.
Want to learn more? Read our guide to brainstorming tips .
First, write your topic sentence. This sentence tells the reader what your point of view is and what the paragraph will tell them. It establishes the main idea or scenario for the following words.
Here is an example of a good central idea that can serve as a topic sentence:
- The Pilgrims faced many troubles when they took their trip across the Atlantic on the Mayflower.
This clearly states the purpose of the paragraph, to talk about the struggles on the Mayflower.
The majority of the paragraph is the supporting middle sentences. The number you include depends on your writing audience.
In academic writing, you can have long paragraphs with several supporting middle sentences. Each sentence should add support to the single topic in the topic sentence. They often include transition words to help them flow with the rest of the paragraph.
In the paragraph about the Pilgrims, these would work well as supporting sentences:
- First, they had little fresh water to drink.
- Not only that, but they also struggled with a number of diseases and fought seasickness.
- Third, the Mayflower ran into many winter storms over its 66 days at sea.
You could continue to add sentences until you have covered all of the supporting ideas.
In web writing, short paragraph construction works best. The middle sentences of the paragraph may just be a single sentence, so it needs to be strong.
Sometimes, each paragraph in web writing covers just one main supporting fact, with the first paragraph offering the topic sentence. This structure is different from traditional paragraph writing.
The last sentence of a paragraph does one of two things. Either it concludes the thought completely, or it transitions to the next paragraph.
If you have more to say on the topic but need to start a new paragraph, you can add transition words. If you have completely finished your thought, then any new thoughts need separate paragraphs.
Here is how you could conclude the Pilgrim paragraph and transition into a new paragraph on the troubles they faced at Plymouth:
- Due to these struggles, several of the Pilgrims died on the voyage, and when they saw Plymouth on the horizon they were definitely ready to get off the boat.
This opens up the next paragraph while concluding the reason the struggles were so important to the Pilgrims’ story.
One of the skills you need to write paragraphs is knowing when it’s time to start a new one. Some signs that you need to start a new paragraph include:
- Introducing a new speaker in fiction writing
- Contrasting a new point of view
- Starting a new idea
Sometimes you need to start a new paragraph when your existing paragraph is getting too long. If you have many subpoints under your main topic, adding them into one large paragraph would not work well. Instead, use transitions to connect them to a previous paragraph as you develop the writing.
Keep in mind that English grammar does not have rules about the length of a paragraph. If it conveys the necessary thought, a single sentence can be a paragraph, but often you will need at least three.
Transition words connect sentences within a paragraph and also connect paragraphs within a document. You can over-use these, but you should have some of them.
Transition words may include numbers, like first,second or third, or they may include connecting words. Some of these include:
- In addition
These words give your writing more cohesion and make it more interesting to read.
Once you have your ideas on paper, make sure the grammar and spelling are accurate. A strong paragraph has good grammar and no spelling errors, as well as good ideas. If it helps, consider running your paragraph or entire piece through some software.
We’ve rounded up the best grammar checkers to help in this guide.
Once you have a single paragraph written, read it out loud. It should be cohesive in tone and style. Reading it to yourself will show you if it is not.
Make sure every sentence of the paragraph flows smoothly into the next one. Keep your point of view consistent, and use varied vocabulary when you can.
Reading the paragraph out loud will also help you spot typos and problems with wording choices that make it less effective.
Consistency is the key ot a strong sentence. Things that need to stay consistent throughout your paragraph include:
- Verb tense: If you start in the present tense, write in the present tense throughout.
- Point of view: Keep the same point of view, and start a new paragraph if you need to change.
- Person: Write in first, second or third person, but keep it consistent throughout.
- Main idea: The paragraph needs to stay on the same main idea throughout.
- Use the active voice: The passive voice is common, but it weakens many pieces of writing
Finally, rewrite your paragraph to make sure it is concise and clear. Our original Pilgrim paragraph reads like this:
- The Pilgrims faced many troubles when they took their trip across the Atlantic on the Mayflower. First, they had little fresh water to drink. Not only that, but they also struggled with a number of diseases and fought seasickness. Third, the Mayflower ran into many winter storms over its 66 days at sea. Due to these struggles, several of the Pilgrims died on the voyage, and when they saw Plymouth on the horizon they were definitely ready to get off the boat.
You could rewrite this to be more concise like this:
- The Pilgrims faced many troubles when they crossed the Atlantic on the Mayflower. First, they had little fresh drinking water. They also struggled with disease and seasickness. Finally, the Mayflower hit many winter storms over its 66-day passage. Many Pilgrims died on the voyage, and when they saw Plymouth they were definitely ready to get off the boat.
This second paragraph is stronger because it has fewer words while still covering the same topics. It opens the door to write about them landing on Plymouth and starting a new colony in the following paragraphs.
As you learn how to write paragraphs, watch out for these common problems:
- Lack of consistency: Keep things consistent throughout your writing.
- Lack of conclusion: Always conclude your paragraph with a conclusion sentence that either moves the reader to the next topic or concludes the overall thought.
- Too short: In most paragraphs, outside of web writing, you need three or more sentences. Four to five is ideal.
- Too long: Paragraphs should not ramble on. If yours is eight sentences long, it’s time to start a new one.
- Lack of structure: Follow the suggested structure of introduction, support and conclusion for a strong paragraph.
- No topic sentence: Always introduce your paragraph with a topic sentence.
Spending some time learning how to write paragraphs is wise because you will use paragraphs in all of your writing. Essay writing relies heavily on well-thought-out paragraphs. Typically, an essay is five paragraphs long.
In the first paragraph, create a strong paragraph that introduces your topic and your main points. Then, each of the three paragraphs that follow will expound on one of those points. Finally, your conclusion will wrap up your thoughts and arguments.
Being able to write a paragraph is essential to being a good writer. Paragraph structure lets you assemble a group of sentences that cover a main point into one area of your writing. It guides the reader to know where your thoughts are and guides your writing so you do not ramble off-topic.
Yet writing a paragraph is not as easy as you might initially think. Learn the three basic parts of a paragraph, the opening, middle, and conclusion, and then learn to write them well.
With this skill under your belt, you will be a better writer.
How to write a paragraph?
To write a paragraph, first, decide on one main point. Write a topic sentence, then support it with additional sentences. Conclude the paragraph with a concluding sentence.
How to write a 5 paragraph essay?
Once you’ve mastered the basic paragraph, you are ready to combine paragraphs to make an essay. A 5 paragraph essay follows the same structure as a paragraph. It has an opening paragraph that introduces the main point, followed by three supporting paragraphs and one concluding paragraph.
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What this handout is about
This handout will help you understand how paragraphs are formed, how to develop stronger paragraphs, and how to completely and clearly express your ideas.
What is a paragraph?
Paragraphs are the building blocks of papers. Many students define paragraphs in terms of length: a paragraph is a group of at least five sentences, a paragraph is half a page long, etc. In reality, though, the unity and coherence of ideas among sentences is what constitutes a paragraph. A paragraph is defined as “a group of sentences or a single sentence that forms a unit” (Lunsford and Connors 116). Length and appearance do not determine whether a section in a paper is a paragraph. For instance, in some styles of writing, particularly journalistic styles, a paragraph can be just one sentence long. Ultimately, a paragraph is a sentence or group of sentences that support one main idea. In this handout, we will refer to this as the “controlling idea,” because it controls what happens in the rest of the paragraph.
How do I decide what to put in a paragraph?
Before you can begin to determine what the composition of a particular paragraph will be, you must first decide on an argument and a working thesis statement for your paper. What is the most important idea that you are trying to convey to your reader? The information in each paragraph must be related to that idea. In other words, your paragraphs should remind your reader that there is a recurrent relationship between your thesis and the information in each paragraph. A working thesis functions like a seed from which your paper, and your ideas, will grow. The whole process is an organic one—a natural progression from a seed to a full-blown paper where there are direct, familial relationships between all of the ideas in the paper.
The decision about what to put into your paragraphs begins with the germination of a seed of ideas; this “germination process” is better known as brainstorming . There are many techniques for brainstorming; whichever one you choose, this stage of paragraph development cannot be skipped. Building paragraphs can be like building a skyscraper: there must be a well-planned foundation that supports what you are building. Any cracks, inconsistencies, or other corruptions of the foundation can cause your whole paper to crumble.
So, let’s suppose that you have done some brainstorming to develop your thesis. What else should you keep in mind as you begin to create paragraphs? Every paragraph in a paper should be :
- Unified : All of the sentences in a single paragraph should be related to a single controlling idea (often expressed in the topic sentence of the paragraph).
- Clearly related to the thesis : The sentences should all refer to the central idea, or thesis, of the paper (Rosen and Behrens 119).
- Coherent : The sentences should be arranged in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan for development (Rosen and Behrens 119).
- Well-developed : Every idea discussed in the paragraph should be adequately explained and supported through evidence and details that work together to explain the paragraph’s controlling idea (Rosen and Behrens 119).
How do I organize a paragraph?
There are many different ways to organize a paragraph. The organization you choose will depend on the controlling idea of the paragraph. Below are a few possibilities for organization, with links to brief examples:
- Narration : Tell a story. Go chronologically, from start to finish. ( See an example. )
- Description : Provide specific details about what something looks, smells, tastes, sounds, or feels like. Organize spatially, in order of appearance, or by topic. ( See an example. )
- Process : Explain how something works, step by step. Perhaps follow a sequence—first, second, third. ( See an example. )
- Classification : Separate into groups or explain the various parts of a topic. ( See an example. )
- Illustration : Give examples and explain how those examples support your point. (See an example in the 5-step process below.)
Illustration paragraph: a 5-step example
From the list above, let’s choose “illustration” as our rhetorical purpose. We’ll walk through a 5-step process for building a paragraph that illustrates a point in an argument. For each step there is an explanation and example. Our example paragraph will be about human misconceptions of piranhas.
Step 1. Decide on a controlling idea and create a topic sentence
Paragraph development begins with the formulation of the controlling idea. This idea directs the paragraph’s development. Often, the controlling idea of a paragraph will appear in the form of a topic sentence. In some cases, you may need more than one sentence to express a paragraph’s controlling idea.
Controlling idea and topic sentence — Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans.
Step 2. Elaborate on the controlling idea
Paragraph development continues with an elaboration on the controlling idea, perhaps with an explanation, implication, or statement about significance. Our example offers a possible explanation for the pervasiveness of the myth.
Elaboration — This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media.
Step 3. Give an example (or multiple examples)
Paragraph development progresses with an example (or more) that illustrates the claims made in the previous sentences.
Example — For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman.
Step 4. Explain the example(s)
The next movement in paragraph development is an explanation of each example and its relevance to the topic sentence. The explanation should demonstrate the value of the example as evidence to support the major claim, or focus, in your paragraph.
Continue the pattern of giving examples and explaining them until all points/examples that the writer deems necessary have been made and explained. NONE of your examples should be left unexplained. You might be able to explain the relationship between the example and the topic sentence in the same sentence which introduced the example. More often, however, you will need to explain that relationship in a separate sentence.
Explanation for example — Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear.
Notice that the example and explanation steps of this 5-step process (steps 3 and 4) can be repeated as needed. The idea is that you continue to use this pattern until you have completely developed the main idea of the paragraph.
Step 5. Complete the paragraph’s idea or transition into the next paragraph
The final movement in paragraph development involves tying up the loose ends of the paragraph. At this point, you can remind your reader about the relevance of the information to the larger paper, or you can make a concluding point for this example. You might, however, simply transition to the next paragraph.
Sentences for completing a paragraph — While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.
Despite the fact that piranhas are relatively harmless, many people continue to believe the pervasive myth that piranhas are dangerous to humans. This impression of piranhas is exacerbated by their mischaracterization in popular media. For example, the promotional poster for the 1978 horror film Piranha features an oversized piranha poised to bite the leg of an unsuspecting woman. Such a terrifying representation easily captures the imagination and promotes unnecessary fear. While the trope of the man-eating piranhas lends excitement to the adventure stories, it bears little resemblance to the real-life piranha. By paying more attention to fact than fiction, humans may finally be able to let go of this inaccurate belief.
Problem: the paragraph has no topic sentence.
Imagine each paragraph as a sandwich. The real content of the sandwich—the meat or other filling—is in the middle. It includes all the evidence you need to make the point. But it gets kind of messy to eat a sandwich without any bread. Your readers don’t know what to do with all the evidence you’ve given them. So, the top slice of bread (the first sentence of the paragraph) explains the topic (or controlling idea) of the paragraph. And, the bottom slice (the last sentence of the paragraph) tells the reader how the paragraph relates to the broader argument. In the original and revised paragraphs below, notice how a topic sentence expressing the controlling idea tells the reader the point of all the evidence.
Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.
Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.
Once you have mastered the use of topic sentences, you may decide that the topic sentence for a particular paragraph really shouldn’t be the first sentence of the paragraph. This is fine—the topic sentence can actually go at the beginning, middle, or end of a paragraph; what’s important is that it is in there somewhere so that readers know what the main idea of the paragraph is and how it relates back to the thesis of your paper. Suppose that we wanted to start the piranha paragraph with a transition sentence—something that reminds the reader of what happened in the previous paragraph—rather than with the topic sentence. Let’s suppose that the previous paragraph was about all kinds of animals that people are afraid of, like sharks, snakes, and spiders. Our paragraph might look like this (the topic sentence is bold):
Like sharks, snakes, and spiders, piranhas are widely feared. Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless . Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. If the fish are well-fed, they won’t bite humans.
Problem: the paragraph has more than one controlling idea
If a paragraph has more than one main idea, consider eliminating sentences that relate to the second idea, or split the paragraph into two or more paragraphs, each with only one main idea. Watch our short video on reverse outlining to learn a quick way to test whether your paragraphs are unified. In the following paragraph, the final two sentences branch off into a different topic; so, the revised paragraph eliminates them and concludes with a sentence that reminds the reader of the paragraph’s main idea.
Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, for the most part, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ first instinct is to flee, not attack. Their fear of humans makes sense. Far more piranhas are eaten by people than people are eaten by piranhas. A number of South American groups eat piranhas. They fry or grill the fish and then serve them with coconut milk or tucupi, a sauce made from fermented manioc juices.
Problem: transitions are needed within the paragraph
You are probably familiar with the idea that transitions may be needed between paragraphs or sections in a paper (see our handout on transitions ). Sometimes they are also helpful within the body of a single paragraph. Within a paragraph, transitions are often single words or short phrases that help to establish relationships between ideas and to create a logical progression of those ideas in a paragraph. This is especially likely to be true within paragraphs that discuss multiple examples. Let’s take a look at a version of our piranha paragraph that uses transitions to orient the reader:
Although most people consider piranhas to be quite dangerous, they are, except in two main situations, entirely harmless. Piranhas rarely feed on large animals; they eat smaller fish and aquatic plants. When confronted with humans, piranhas’ instinct is to flee, not attack. But there are two situations in which a piranha bite is likely. The first is when a frightened piranha is lifted out of the water—for example, if it has been caught in a fishing net. The second is when the water level in pools where piranhas are living falls too low. A large number of fish may be trapped in a single pool, and if they are hungry, they may attack anything that enters the water.
In this example, you can see how the phrases “the first” and “the second” help the reader follow the organization of the ideas in the paragraph.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Lunsford, Andrea. 2008. The St. Martin’s Handbook: Annotated Instructor’s Edition , 6th ed. New York: St. Martin’s.
Rosen, Leonard J., and Laurence Behrens. 2003. The Allyn & Bacon Handbook , 5th ed. New York: Longman.
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English 100: Interactive Writing
- Getting Started
- Cause and Effect
Learning engineer, writing the process paragraph.
- Mind Mapping
- Your... Audience?
- Proofreading Resources & Tips
- Tutoring & Online Resources
You can think of the process paragraph as a "how to." A process paragraph gives your reader instructions on how to accomplish something, or an account of how some event occured, or how something works.
Following a logical order is very important in a process paragraph. If you're writing instructions, steps should be listed in the order that they should be performed and if you're describing a past event, it's generally best to follow a chronological order.
Don't leave any steps out! Let's pretend I've never made a sandwich. Think about how you would tell me to make a PB&J. What's the first step? If the first thing you tell me to do is put peanut butter on a slice of bread, I might do something ridiculous like tear open the package of bread with my teeth, or scoop peanut butter out of the jar with my hand. Chances are, you're explaining a much more complicated process and if you assume that a step is understood, you could end up with disastrous results! Be specific and thorough so there are no misunderstandings!
Like any other kind of paragraph, your process paragraph should start with a topic sentence . In this kind of pattern, you want that topic sentence to clearly and specifically identify the process that you'll be describing and explain why this process is important. Instead of supporting sentences, the body of a process paragraph describes the steps of the process , but should not be a simple list. Using complete sentences and appropriate transitional phrases will keep your writing formal but interesting. Finally, you should include a concluding sentence that restates the importance or the purpose of the process you've described. Your concluding sentence might also mention the results your reader should expect from this process, or provide the reader with references for other sources of information.
First Before To begin with...
Last After Once you have...
Eventually Afterward Finally
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Process Paragraph Examples - How to Write a Process Paragraph
Selecting An Idea
Run Through of the Steps
Write : If you want to stay organized in English class, spend time placing items in your three-ring binder in logical order.
writer gives for how the reader should interpret the information presented in the guiding idea statement or topic sentence of the paragraph.
A process paragraph has three main parts. The topic sentence states the process. The body sentences describe the steps. The ending sentence wraps up the process
This video clearly explains the structure, transition words, and grammar you need to write a fantastic process paragraph.
Step 4: Revising · Read what you have written again. See Revising Content and Revising Organization · Rearrange words, sentences, or paragraphs into a clear and
How to Write a Perfect Paragraph · 1. Make the first sentence of your topic sentence. · 2. Provide support via the middle sentences. · 3. Make your
To write a great paragraph, start with a topic sentence that states the subject and main idea. In the next 3-5 sentences, present evidence, like facts, examples
Learn How to Write a Paragraph in 10 Easy Steps · Step 1: Brainstorm Your Topic · Step 2: Write Your Thesis Statement or Topic Sentence · Step 3: Write Supporting
Illustration paragraph: a 5-step example · Step 1. Decide on a controlling idea and create a topic sentence · Step 2. Elaborate on the controlling idea · Step 3.
Process Pattern · You can think of the process paragraph as a "how to." A process paragraph gives your reader instructions on how to accomplish
The three main steps in writing a process paragraph are as follows: write a topic sentence, write the body that includes the steps to complete