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English Composition I
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Paragraphs are created divisions in a piece of writing that help the writer AND the reader understand the information presented

Created Divisions

• No hard and fast rules for paragraphs

• old rules - 5 sentence minimum, etc. - are just guidelines and crutches for beginners

• paragraphs go

– where the writer sees a need

– and/or where the reader needs them to be

• outlines are helpful to play with divisions

• A major part of revision is questioning the paragraph breaks


• Paragraphs tame the content

• early writing had no sentence or paragraph breaks - was hard to understand

individual ideas or points are sentences

paragraphs are main ideas/concepts

every paragraph break needs to serve a purpose - you need to know WHY you put a break there

Common Reasons for A New Paragraph

• A new speaker

• A new main point or idea is starting

• A shift in location

• A shift in time

• To generate suspense

• Beginning and end of paragraph have special emphasis

Basic Paragraph Guidelines

Indent a new paragraph (5 spaces/ half inch)

• Put an extra line between paragraphs

• Don’t do both - one or the other

Too short paragraphs are confusing

Too long paragraphs are confusing

• Try writing w/out paragraphs, add them in later

• each paragraph has beginning, content, conclusion - should stand on its own as miniature argument/point