A good paragraph should have a clear internal structure with an opening, development and ending. Each paragraph should deal with one idea or aspect of an idea, and it should be clear to the reader what this main idea is.
This idea is usually shown in the topic sentence (see next section). It is important to remember that paragraphs in different parts of an article or essay have different purposes, and may be very different. However, most paragraphs tend to have 3 parts: an opening sentence (or sentences), development of ideas/information, and an ending/closing sentence.
The opening sets the context, gives a general idea of the content and may also refer back to previous paragraphs.
The body of the paragraph should develop the idea that has been introduced at the beginning of the paragraph. This can be done by:
The paragraph may end with the key point, or a summary of the previous point(s) emphasising its importance. There may be reference to the next paragraph, but this is not essential.
The example below shows a paragraph on the topic of the role of social media in political protests (such as Facebook or Twitter and its role in the Arab Spring). This paragraph is taken from the first part of a journal article and is equivalent to the Literature Review part of a long essay or dissertation.
This paragraph is organised in the following way as it:
Willems, W., (2019). ‘The politics of things’: digital media, urban space, and the materiality of publics. Media, culture & society [online]. 41(8), 1192–1209. [Viewed 11 September 2020]. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443719831594
The writer refers to previous paragraphs and then summarizes a key finding from the literature in the academic debate (Social media played a key role in protests)
Develops the point:
Reaffirms the key point