Online Writing Lab

Body Paragraphs

A paragraph is a group of related sentences that address a particular topic.  Writing and organizing good paragraphs is one of the most important aspects of creating a well-organized essay. 

The term body paragraph refers to any paragraph that follows the introduction and comes before the conclusion. The majority of any essay consists of multiple body paragraphs, and it is in these paragraphs where the main information is presented.  The longer an essay is, the more body paragraphs there will be.  Because the body paragraphs present the important facts and information from an essay, having well-written body paragraphs is essential in writing a successful essay. 
The following are the important aspects of all body paragraphs:

  • A clear topic sentence
  • Specific evidence or supporting detail
  • Examples
  • Unity and cohesion
  • Transitions between sentences and paragraphs

A topic sentence generally appears early in a body paragraph (often the 1st or 2nd sentence) and controls the paragraph.  A topic sentence is like a mini thesis sentence for each paragraph and serves to unify the contents of the paragraph.  Everything that follows in the paragraph needs to relate to the topic sentence.   Not all essays call for explicit topic sentences, but most beginning writers should learn how to write effective topic sentences early on in order to achieve paragraph unity.

No matter what type of essay is being written, all body paragraphs need to be fully developed and provide supporting detail.  This detail can come in the form of personal examples, statistics, and/or quotes from an expert.  When writing an essay that requires the use of research and outside sources, this information should be used to support the topic sentence.


All body paragraphs should also provide transitions.  These transitions need to occur within the individual sentences of a paragraph and from one paragraph to the next. 

Exercises

For more information on writing an effective body paragraph, please see the body paragraph exercise.