Paragraphing

Why do people slice pizzas into pieces? Well, if they don’t do this then the pizza would be too big for them to hold and eat. Without slices, they might bite off more than they can chew. Similarly, writers cut their writing up into smaller pieces so that it is more digestible for their readers. This process is called paragraphing.

Paragraphing Paragraphing

Create learning materials about Paragraphing with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account
Contents
Table of contents

    Paragraphing, Pizza slice, StudySmarterFig. 1 - Slice up your text with paragraphs.

    Paragraphing Meaning

    Here's a quick definition.

    Paragraphing is the act of breaking writing into sections called paragraphs.

    Paragraphing is a critical step of the writing process. Writers divide their writing into paragraphs in all types of writing, including academic essays, short stories, and novels.

    A paragraph is a short section of writing focused on one main idea.

    Importance of Paragraphing

    Paragraphing is important because breaking writing into small sections helps writers stay organized when conveying their thoughts. Paragraphing is also important because it helps readers follow the logical development of a writer’s ideas.

    For instance, imagine reading an essay without paragraphs in it. The text would be one long piece without any breaks, and it may be confusing and hard to understand how the writer's ideas connect to one another.

    Giant blocks of text can make it easy to miss the writer’s main point.

    Paragraphing Types

    There are three main types of paragraphs. Each type requires writers to visually format their paragraphs a bit differently.

    Blocked Paragraphing

    Blocked paragraphing is when every line of a paragraph starts at the same place—the left margin of the page. There are blank lines between each paragraph to differentiate them. Blocked paragraphing is commonly seen in business letters. For instance, this paragraph is an example of blocked paragraphing.

    Blocked paragraphing is modern and used in social media, web writing, and business contexts!

    Indented Paragraphing

    Also called semi-blocked paragraphing, indented paragraphing is when a writer indents the first line of each new paragraph. To create the indent, writers can hit the space bar several times, use the tab button, or use the indentation feature on their writing software. Indented paragraphing is a common type of paragraphing for students who write academic essays. For instance, the following depicts indented paragraphing:

    Paragraphing, indented paragraphing example, StudySmarterFig. 2 - An intended paragraph

    Hanging Paragraphing

    Hanging paragraphing is when the first line of text starts from the left margin but the lines underneath it are indented, like in the following example:

    Paragraphing, hanging paragraphing example, StudySmarterFig. 3 - A hanging paragraph

    Paragraphing Rules

    While the topic of each paragraph is up to a writer, there are several important general rules for paragraphing.

    Paragraphing, Rule Book, StudySmarterFig. 2 - Follow the rules!

    Introduction and Conclusions

    Introductory and concluding paragraphs are important types of paragraphs that bookend many forms of academic writing. Understanding how to craft an introduction and a conclusion is an important part of learning how to use paragraphing to ensure effective writing.

    Introductions

    The first paragraph of an academic essay is called the introduction. The introduction should engage the reader by hooking their attention. Methods for hooking the reader include opening the essay with the following:

    • A short, striking quote

    • A significant statistic

    • A relevant, impactful anecdote

    After hooking readers’ attention, the writer should introduce the main point in their body paragraph. This often includes adding some context about the topic, such as why it is important, and then stating the thesis statement.

    Conclusions

    A conclusion is the last paragraph of an essay. It wraps up the main points for the reader and does not introduce any new information. Writers should do all of the following things when crafting a conclusion:

    • Restate their thesis statement or main point with new phrasing
    • Summarize the supporting points from their body paragraphs
    • Sum up the overall significance of the paper

    Stay on Topic

    Each time a writer introduces a new idea, they should start a new paragraph. This gives readers a bit of a break between ideas and helps them understand the main points of each idea without getting confused or distracted by unrelated information.

    Watch the Length

    Paragraphs tend to be about four to five sentences. In an academic essay, they might be a bit longer, but it is crucial that the sentences relate to the paragraph's main ideas.

    Use Topic Sentences

    In academic essays, writers must start their paragraphs with topic sentences.

    A topic sentence is one sentence that opens a paragraph to introduce the main point of that paragraph.

    Including topic sentences make it easy for readers to understand the organization of a writer’s argument. They tell the reader what point they will make in the paragraph and what the next central point of their paper is.

    Topic sentences are particularly important when crafting an argumentative essay because readers can look at each one and understand the main points of the writer's argument.

    When writing an academic paper writers should strive to include transitions at the start of new paragraphs. A transition is a word or phrase that helps depict the relationship between two ideas. Writers use transitions within paragraphs too, but putting them at the start of a new paragraph is effective at connecting ideas in support of a thesis. For instance, paragraphs that start with the transition “On the other hand...” shows the reader that the upcoming paragraph will be about the opposite of what the previous paragraph was about. The following are some other appropriate transitions to use between paragraphs:

    • First,
    • Second,
    • In contrast,
    • On the contrary,
    • Similarly,
    • Finally,
    • In conclusion,
    • To summarize,

    Examples of Paragraphing

    Imagine a writer who wants to write a persuasive essay in which they try to convince the reader that eating a vegetarian diet is important for addressing climate change. The writer might use paragraphing to split the paper into the following paragraphs:

    Introduction

    This is where the writer will introduce the topic, explain why it is important, and state the thesis. For instance, this writer might introduce a statistic about the harm that eating meat does to the environment, and then state a thesis that outlines the supporting points of the argument like this: "People should eat a vegetarian diet because it helps reduce fossil fuel emissions, conserves water, and encourages sustainable living."

    Body Paragraph 1

    In this paragraph, the writer should introduce their first supporting point for their argument. They might start the paragraph by saying something like this:

    First, people should eat a vegetarian diet because it helps reduce the emission of toxic fossil fuels.

    Body Paragraph 2

    In the second body paragraph, the writer should transition from the first supporting point and introduce the next one. For example, this writer might transition from the previous body paragraph and introduce the next one like this:

    Another reason people should eat a vegetarian diet is that it helps conserve the water used in producing meat.

    Paragraphing. A salad and water. StudySmarter.Fig. 3 - Paragraphs build an argument

    Body Paragraph 3

    In the last body paragraph, the writer should discuss the final supporting point for their argument. For instance, this writer might open the last paragraph like this:

    Finally, people should eat a vegetarian diet because it is the most sustainable diet.

    It is common for academic essays to have three body paragraphs. However, this is not a rule that is set in stone. Often, writers include additional body paragraphs, especially in long academic papers at the university level.

    Conclusion

    In the concluding paragraph, the writer will restate the main argument and summarize the supporting points again. Then the writer will discuss the broader implications of this argument. For instance, the conclusion might look something like this:

    Everyone should transition to a vegetarian diet to help combat climate change. Eating a vegetarian diet can reduce the emission of fossil fuels, decrease the amount of wasted water, and promote more sustainable living. Making choices that help the environment is important as climate change gets increasingly worse.

    Paragraphing - Key Takeaways

    • Paragraphing is the act of breaking writing into sections called paragraphs.
    • Paragraphing is important because it helps writers organize their writing and ensures an easy-to-follow argument.
    • Blocked paragraphing is when every line of a paragraph starts at the same place—the left margin of the page.
    • Indented paragraphing is when a writer indents the first line of each new paragraph.
    • Hanging paragraphing is when the first line of text starts from the left margin but the lines underneath it are indented.
    Frequently Asked Questions about Paragraphing

    What is paragraphing? 

    Paragraphing is the act of breaking writing into sections called paragraphs. A paragraph is a short section of writing focused on one main idea.

    What is an example of paragraphing?

    When writing an argumentative essay, a writer might have an introduction paragraph, one body paragraph for each supporting point, and a conclusion paragraph.

    How many sentences are in a paragraph?

    Paragraphs have four to five sentences depending on the context. There is no exact number of sentences per paragraph.

    What are the types of paragraphing?

    The three types of paragraphing are blocked paragraphing, indented paragraphing, and hanging paragraphing.

    How do I write a conclusion paragraph?

    To write a conclusion, writers should restate their main point and supporting points, then sum up the overall significance of their point. 

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What are the three types of paragraphing?

    What type of paragraph is the place where a writer states their thesis?

    What type of paragraph is the place where a writer summarizes their main point?

    Next

    Discover learning materials with the free StudySmarter app

    Sign up for free
    1
    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Paragraphing Teachers

    • 8 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App