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When to Paragraph The Brief Holt Handbook, 37


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Title: When to Paragraph The Brief Holt Handbook, 37

When to ParagraphThe Brief Holt Handbook, 37
  • Begin a new paragraph whenever you move from one
    major point to another
  • Begin a new paragraph whenever you move your
    readers from one time period or location to
  • Begin a new paragraph every time you begin
    discussing a new step in a process
  • Begin a new paragraph when you want to emphasize
    an important idea
  • Begin a new paragraph every time a new person
  • Begin a new paragraph to signal the end of your
    introduction and the beginning of your conclusion

Paragraph StandardsA Complete Course in Freshman
English, 42.
  • A good paragraph contains a topic sentence,
    expressed or implied
  • A good paragraph contains a body of thought, not
    a mere fragment. The well-developed paragraph is
    never sketchy or incomplete
  • A good paragraph must be unified. Oneness of
    purpose is desirable extraneous detail must be

Paragraph Standards
  • A good paragraph contains full, unified material
    arranged in proper order. The sentences in it
    are so worded and arranged that they have a
    maximum appeal to the reader. Good arrangement
    of ideas implies logical thinking
  • A good paragraph is well proportioned. If the
    thought of the paragraph is important, the
    paragraph should be so fully and completely
    developed that the reader can readily understand
    the significance of that thought. If the
    paragraph discusses an idea, or a group of
    related ideas, of comparatively less important,
    the proportion of the paragraph should reveal the
    difference in weight

Paragraph Standards
  • A good paragraph has suitable length. This
    statement implies what is said above under
    proportion it also means that a series of short,
    choppy paragraphs, or a group of very long ones,
    should usually be avoided
  • A good paragraph contains transitional aids. The
    thoughts within paragraphs should make orderly,
    clear progress, and there should be clear passage
    from one paragraph to another
  • A good paragraph is mechanically correct. It is
    properly indented it contains the words which
    belong with it, not with the preceding paragraph
    in dialogue, it correctly represents every change
    of speaker.

Writing coherent paragraphs
  • A paragraph is coherent if al its sentences are
    logically related to one another. You can
    achieve coherence
  • 1. By arranging details according to an
    organizing principle and
  • 2. By using transitional words and phrases,
  • 3. By using parallel construction and
  • 4. By repeating key words and phrases.

How to Achieve Coherence?
  • Using parallel structure
  • Parallelismthe use of matching words, phrases,
    clauses or sentence structures to express similar
    ideascan help increase coherence in a paragraph.

Parallel Clauses (sentences that begin with he
  • Thomas Jefferson was born in 1743 and died at
    Monticello, Virginia, on July 4, 1826. During
    his eighty-four years he accomplished a number of
    things. Although best known for his draft of the
    Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was a man
    of many talents who had a wide intellectual
    range. He was a patriot who was one of the
    revolutionary founders of the United States. He
    was a reformer who when he was governor of
    Virginia drafted the Statue for Religious
    Freedom. He was an innovator who drafted an
    ordinance for governing the West and devised the
    first decimal monetary system. He was a
    president who abolished internal taxes, reduced
    the national debt, and mad the Louisiana
    Purchase. And finally he was an architect who
    designed Monticello and the University of
    Virginia. (Student Writer)

Repeating key words (Mercury) and phrasesthose
essential to meaningthroughout
  • Mercury poisoning is a problem that has long been
    recognized. Mad as a hatter refers to the
    condition prevalent among nineteenth-century
    workers who were exposed to mercury during the
    manufacturing of felt hats. Workers in many
    other industries, such as mining, chemicals, and
    dentistry, were similarly affected. In the 1950s
    and 1960s there were cases of mercury poisoning
    in Minamata, Japan. Research showed that there
    were high levels of mercury pollution in streams
    and lakes surrounding the village. In the United
    States this problem came to light in 1969 when a
    new Mexico family got sick from eating food
    tainted with mercury. Since then pesticides
    containing mercury have been withdrawn from the
    market, and chemical wastes can no longer be
    dumped into the ocean. (Student Writer)

Coherence between paragraphs
  • Coherence between paragraphs
  • The methods you use to establish coherence within
    paragraphs may also be used to link paragraphs in
    an essay. In addition, you can use a
    transitional paragraph as a bridge between two

Well-developed paragraphs
  • A paragraph is well developed when it contains
    all the informationexamples, statistics, expert
    opinion, and so onthat readers need to
    understand and accept the main idea.
  • Keep in mind that length does not determine
    whether a paragraph is well developed. The
    amount and kind of support you need depends on
    your audience, your purpose, and your paragraphs
    main idea.

Arranging details
  • Even if all a paragraphs sentences are about
    the same subject, the paragraph lacks coherence
    if the sentences are not arranged according to a
    general organizing principlethat is, in spatial,
    chronological or logical order.

Spatial Order
  • Spatial orderestablishes the perspective from
    which readers view details. For example, an
    object or scene can be viewed from left to right,
    from top to bottom or from near to far. Spatial
    order is central to descriptive paragraphs.

Chronological order
  • Presents details in time sequence, using
    transitional words and phrases that establish the
    sequence of eventsat first, yesterday, later,
    and so on. Chronological order is central to
    narrative paragraph and process paragraphs.

Logical order
  • Presents details or ideas in terms of their
    logical relationships to one another. The ideas
    in a paragraph may move from general to specific,
    as in the conventional topic-sentence-at-the-begin
    ning paragraph, or the ideas may progress from
    specific to general, as they do when the topic
    sentence appears at the end. A writer may also
    choose to begin with the least important idea and
    move to the most important.

Using transitional words and phrases
  • Transitional words and phrases clarify the
    relationships among sentences by establishing the
    spatial, chronological and logical connections
    within a paragraph.

Types of Paragraphs
  • Like the pattern of an entire essay, the pattern
    of a paragraph reflects the way a writer arranges
    ideas to express them more effectively. A well
    developed paragraph should be coherent, cohesive,
    and consistent by providing readers with all the
    relevant informationexamples, statistics,
    citations from experts in the field and so on.
    Generally speaking, there are three ways to
    organize a paragraph chronologically, spatially,
    and logically (inductive or deductive, cause or
    effect, etc.).

1. Narration
  • Narrative paragraphs tell a story. (Usually a
    narrative paragraph is organized in a
    chronological manner.) Transitional words and
    phrases move readers from one time period to
  • Do you present enough explanation to enable
    readers to understand the events you discuss? Do
    you support your main idea with descriptive

Story vs. Plot (E. M. Forster) Aspects of the
Novel (1927)
  • The King died, and the queen died.
    (Storychronologically connected)
  • The King died, and the queen died of grief.
  • (Plotconnected by causality)
  • A story is a series of events recorded in their
    chronological order.
  • A plot is a series of events deliberately
    arranged so as to reveal their dramatic,
    thematic, and emotional significance.

E. M. Forster(1 January 1879 7 June 1970)
  • Edward Morgan Forster (1 January 1879 7 June
    1970), was an English novelist, short story
    writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best
    for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining
    class difference and hypocrisy and also the
    attitudes towards gender and homosexuality in
    early 20th-century British society. Forster's
    humanistic impulse toward understanding and
    sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph
    to his 1910 novel Howards End "Only connect".

2. Description
  • Descriptive paragraphs convey how something
    looks, sounds, smells, tastes or feels.
    Transitional words and phrases clarify spatial
  • Do you supply enough detail about what things
    look like, sound like, smell like, taste like,
    and feel like? Will your readers be able to
    visualize the person, object, or setting that
    your paragraph describes?

3. Exemplification
  • Exemplification paragraphs use specific
    illustrations to clarify a general statement.
    Some exemplification paragraphs use several
    examples to support the topic sentence (other may
    develop a single extended example).
  • Do you present enough individual examples to
    support your paragraphs main diea? If you use a
    single extended example, is it developed in
    enough detail to enable reader to understand how
    it supports the paragraphs main idea?

4. Process Paragraphs
  • Process paragraphs describe how something works,
    presenting a series of steps in chronological
    order. The topic sentence identifies the
    process, and the rest of the paragraph presents
    the steps involved.
  • Do you present enough steps to enable readers to
    understand the process is performed? Is the
    sequence of steps clear? If you are writing
    instructions, do you include enough
    explanationincluding reminders and warningsto
    enable readers to perform the process?

5. Cause-and-effect paragraphs
  • Cause-and-effect paragraphs explore why events
    occur and what happens as a result of them.
  • Do you identify enough causes (subtle as well as
    obvious, minor as well as major) to enable
    readers to understand why something occurred? Do
    you identify enough effects to show the
    significance of the causes and the impact they

6. Comparison and Contrast
  • Comparison and contrast paragraphs examine the
    similarities and differences between two
    subjects. Comparison emphasizes similarities
    whereas contrast emphasizes differences.
  • Comparison and contrast can be done in two ways
    point-by-point the paragraph alternates points
    about one subject with comparable points about
    the other subject.
  • Do you supply a sufficient number of details to
    illustrate and characterize each of the subjects
    in the comparison? Do you present a similar
    number of details for each subject? Do you
    discuss the same or similar details for each

Comparison by Analogythat explains an unfamiliar
concept or object by likening it to a familiar
  • Ants are so much like human beings as to be an
    embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as
    livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemical
    sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture
    slaves. The families of weaver ants engage in
    child labor, holding their larvae like shuttles
    to spin out the thread that sews the leaves
    together for their fungus gardens. They exchange
    information ceaselessly. They do everything but
    watch television. (Lewis Thomas, On Societies
    As Organisms)

7. Division and Classification
  • Division paragraphs take a single item and break
    it into its components. Classification
    paragraphs take many separate items and group
    them into categories according to qualities or
    characteristics they share.
  • Do you present enough information to enable
    readers to identify each category and distinguish
    one from another?

  • The blood can be divided into four distinct
    components plasma, red cells, white cells, and
    platelets. Plasma is 90 percent water and holds
    a great number of substances in suspension. It
    contains proteins, sugars, fat, and inorganic
    salts. Plasma also contains urea and other
    by-products from the breaking down of proteins,
    hormones, enzymes, and dissolved gases. In
    addition, plasma contains the red blood cells
    that give it color, the white cells, the
    platelets. The red cells are most numerous they
    get oxygen from the lungs and release it in the
    tissues. The less numerous white cells are part
    of the bodys defense against invading organisms.
    The platelets, which occur in almost the same
    number as white cells, are responsible for
    clotting. (Student Write)

  • Charles Babbage, an English mathematician,
    reflecting in 1830 on what he saw as the decline
    of science at the time, distinguished among three
    major kinds of scientific fraud. He called the
    first forging, by which he meat complete
    fabricationthe recording of observations that
    were never made. The second category he called
    trimming this consists of manipulating the
    data to make them look better, or, as Babbage
    wrote, in clipping of little bits here and there
    those observations which differ most in excess
    from the mean and in sticking them on to those
    which are too small. His third category was data
    selection, which he called cookingthe choosing
    of those data what fitted the researchers
    hypothesis and the discarding of those that did
    not. To this day, the serious discussion of
    scientific fraud has not improved on Babbages
    typology. (Morton Hunt, New York Times Magazine)

8. Definition
  • A formal definition includes the terms defined,
    the class to which it belongs, and the details
    that distinguish it from other members of its
  • Definition paragraph develop the formal
    definition with other patterns, defining
    happiness, for instance, by telling a story
    (narration), or defining a diesel engine by
    telling how it works (process).
  • Do you present enough support (examples,
    analogies, descriptive details, and so on) to
    enable readers to understand the term you are
    defining and to distinguish it from others in its

The following paragraph begins with a
straightforward definition of gadget and then
cites an example.
  • A gadget is nearly always novel in design or
    concept and it often has no proper name. For
    example, the semaphore which signals the arrival
    of the mail in our rural mailbox certainly has no
    proper name. It is a contrivance consisting of a
    piece of shingle. Call it what you like, it
    saves us frequent frustrating trips to the
    mailbox in winter when you have to dress up and
    wade into through snow to get there. Thats a
    gadget! (Smithsonian)

An introductory paragraph includes the subject,
narrows it down and then states the essays
  • Checklist Introductory paragraphs
  • Does your introduction include your essays
    thesis statement?
  • Does it lead naturally into the body of your
  • Does it arouse your readers interest?
  • Does it avoid statements that simply announce
    your subject or that undercut your credibility?

Concluding Paragraphs
  • A concluding paragraph typically begins with
    specificsfor example, a review of your essays
    main pointsand then moves to more general
    statements. Whenever possible, it should end
    with a sentence readers will remember.
  • Conclusions may also offer a prediction, a
    recommendation, a forceful opinion, or a
    pertinent quotation.
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