Writing the Body Paragraphs of an Essay
The largest part of an essay is made up of body paragraphs. It is the body paragraphs that provide the meat – any data and factual information that has been discovered during a research. These paragraphs also explain how any provided data and information support and prove the writer’s thesis statement. Professors usually want their students to apply a prescribed format to body paragraphs so that any evidence is shown in a clear and logical manner. Additionally, it makes sense to use a consistent format that is recognizable and can be easily followed.
Because they make up such a large portion of an essay, it is within the body paragraphs that the writer will examine a number of ideas related to the thesis, which is to be presented at the beginning of the essay. In each paragraph, you will examine and weight any evidence that supports or opposes your thesis. Furthermore, these paragraphs are intended to make the issues being discussed clearer for the reader so that the one will feel sufficiently informed and confident at the end to draw own conclusion. In essence, the body paragraphs are the limbs of an essay. At WritingLeader We offer a professional writing service and we are here to make the process easier for anyone who needs any sort of assistance.
How Body Paragraphs Should Be Structured?
The format for structuring the body paragraphs of an essay is quite easy and straightforward. The first and most important thing to understand is how long these paragraphs should be and what should be said in them. We believe that six to eight sentences or around a half page is the recommended length for a body paragraph. This should be taken into account when you are drafting an outline for your work. The following is the recommended format for body paragraphs:
- The first sentence of a body paragraph should be a topic sentence or mini-thesis, which describes what that paragraph is about.
- The next sentence should introduce any data or information sources. This is essentially the evidence you have to support your topic sentence with.
- Then you should introduce any quotations or facts, roughly two or three of them.
- Provide an explanation of your quotations and/or facts, but in your own words
- Explain how the evidence relates to the central thesis in your introductory paragraph.
- End your body paragraph with a transitional sentence to take the readers to the next point or paragraph.
If you adhere to this format your body paragraphs will be quite solid as well as clear to your readers. One thing you should remember is not to begin or end a body paragraph with a quote because these are someone else’s words. Please refer to our guide on citation for more information on how to cite sources.
Having said basic things about the structure of a paragraph it might seem pretty simple but it can actually be a little tricky too. While the format is standard, not every paragraph is going to have every single element so there are some parts you may have to leave out. Additionally, your professor may have particular preferences you have to take into account. When that is the case you should abide by the instructions your professor provides. The following is a sample body paragraph to give you an idea of what these paragraphs really look like.
The Core Structure of a Body Paragraph (Samples)
- First sentence (topic sentence): “Because it was necessary to build the national roadway across three different states during a period of economic difficulty, other problems soon emerged.”
- Second sentence: “One of the first and most difficult issues was the contrasting interests of the participating states in relation to the National Park Service (NPS) Act of 1916.”
- Third sentence: “The Act gave the NPS a multi-fold mandate to conserve scenery, historic/natural objects and wildlife in such a way as to leave the Parkway unimpaired and available for the enjoyment of future users.”
- Fourth sentence: “This created a situation where the most vital requirement was preservation combined with a design that would highlight any natural beauty of the Parkway while ensuring it would be available for coming generations to enjoy.”
- Fifth sentence: “To some extent these objectives had an economic bias. A neatly-tailored and aesthetically pleasing Parkway would definitely help attract tourists.”
- Sixth sentence: “However, the Parkway development created intense interest by locals in all concerned states.”
So, as the above demonstrates, a body paragraph is made up of a number of sentences that each serves a specific purpose. It is in these sentences that the writer explores the different information and issues, provides any facts or information, weighs any supporting or opposing evidence and generally provides the reader with a clear picture of all sides of the issue so that they can arrive at an informed conclusion on the topic.
How Does a Body Paragraph Work?
Tutors and professors in high school, college and postgraduate institutions will usually ask for detailed facts, quotes, examples and citations to prove the central idea within your thesis. If you follow the aforementioned format when writing body paragraphs, the writing process will be smoother and you will ultimately produce an essay that will be a pleasant journey for your professor to go through.
What is a Topic Sentence?
Each body paragraph should have a sentence that describes the purpose of that paragraph and how it fits into the overall essay. A topic sentence is used to convey this purpose and it is where you make a particular point linked to your central thesis. So, a topic sentence can be likened to a mini-thesis statement and has a similar purpose. Although topic sentences should be sufficiently general to describe the main point of the paragraph, they should also be sufficiently specific for the reader to understand the purpose of the paragraph. Unless you use a transition sentence from the previous point a topic sentence is usually placed at the beginning of the paragraph it relates to. Here are a couple of examples that show how a topic sentence can be written for an essay pertaining to the film and music industries.
Topic Sentence Samples
- In terms of Phil Spector’s career, the Ronettes were not one of his best successes despite their enduring popularity and renown on old-time radio.
- Few stars from the silent movie era fell victim to the same morbid fate as Marie Prevost, even though many were left feeling downcast when talkies took over.
- When it comes to exploring gender roles as these relate to Miami in the 50s, Jack Lemmon’s “Jerry/Daphne” character has been a great help as well, of course, as it being applauded by many as one of the actor’s best performances.
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Most essays usually pull together several pieces of information. The task of a writer is to fit this information into the right place and context in a suitable sub-category. This helps the reader to understand the importance and relevance of each piece of information, no matter how obscure or vague this information might seem. Even with information that might seem entirely clear or sensible to someone with just a little subject knowledge, it is better not to drop it in abruptly without leading in to it properly. Sometimes, a couple of introductory words might suffice while other information may need a complete sentence. The example below illustrates a poorly written introduction related to an essay on comic books with adult content.
"Marvel is one comics publishing house with a liking for drama of the adult variety and where its heroes generally lead tortured love lives. Take Peter Parker, for example, who at last proposed marriage to Mary Jane Watson, to whom Parker has long been friends with, albeit on a platonic footing, since his relationship with Gwen Stacy - his first love – went into freefall." The example above does not support the topic sentence very well purely because of the assumption on the writer’s part that readers will know the characters. So the message here is clear. Never assume your readers will know what you are talking about regardless of obvious it might seem to you.
Quotes, Factual Information and Evidence
The process then moves onto the next stage, which is to add external quotes or solid facts that relate directly to the topic sentence. Factual information can be wide-ranging and can include cited statistics, figures or your own knowledge on the subject, which should be easy to verify. It is acceptable to take quotes from any person’s work or even from business entities. If you do use in-text citations or quotes, these should be integrated smoothly into your own text. Cited sources will lend weight and credibility to your primary argument. Furthermore, referenced material can be employed to prove or disregard a theory that emerged from the paragraph’s mini-thesis.
Quotes and Factual Information Should be Explained
You will need to follow any quotes or facts you include in a body paragraph up with your own personal insight. When you use statistics and figures, you will need to sum up this information using your own wording, even if that summary is brief in order to make it clear for your readers. Although factual information is often clear, some of it can be obscure so you will need to provide explanations. When you use quotations, you will additionally need to provide a figurative or literal explanations in your own words. They help to make your work more readable because all the information is presented in its proper context. Furthermore, your own explanations will help to show you are an authority in that particular subject matter.
You Will Need to Tie-In Your Central Thesis
When the ideas behind the different topic sentences have been clarified, they will then need to be linked to the essay’s central thesis. In many cases the link between the main thesis and the different mini-theses will be obvious, while in other cases the relationship will need to be clarified. In any case you would want to connect any conclusions you arrive at to the central thesis in order to make your entire essay coherent. You do not need to devote many words to this. It may be possible to link body paragraph ideas to the main thesis with a short subordinate clause. It may even be possible to suffix these tie-in clauses to your explanation sentence or perhaps use them to transition to the preparatory sentence for your next point or paragraph.
The Use of Transitional Words and Sentences
When you get to the end of each body paragraph, it will be necessary to add a transitional sentence in order to move smoothly on to the next point or paragraph. Transitional sentences serve to add continuity between different points or ideas and they help to focus the attention of the reader on the central thesis. As applies when creating links to the main thesis, transitions between body paragraphs can be short, just a few words. For the sake of adding variety you may want to consider splitting transitional words between the different sections or include them in the opening sentence of the next body paragraph.
Completed Body Paragraphs
The example below demonstrates how a completed body paragraph should look like. This example is made up of six structured sentences, with each one corresponding to the six steps described earlier. To recap, these are: 1) a topic sentence, 2) the introducing of relevant information, 3) an appropriate quotation, 4) the writer’s own explanation of the quote, 5) a link back to the central thesis and 6) a well-chosen transition to the idea in the upcoming paragraph.
The Proper Format for a Body Paragraph
- Sentence one: Jazz fusion was one of the 1970s most popular styles of music, a mixture in which the fluid nature of post-bop was combined with the voltage and thrusting rhythm of rock.
- Sentence two: Having regularly featured in the Billboard Top 40 and headlined at many auditorium-style venues, Herbie Hancock, Miles Davis, Return to Forever, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report were the main purveyors of this music style.
- Sentence three: Chick Corea, RTF’s leader and keyboardist, described in a JazzWax interview in 2011 how musicians are open and that, “there has always been an exchange program between rock and jazz.” (Citation).
- Sentence four: Essentially, what this meant was that musicians from both sides have had a long history of drawing inspiration from each other, which led to a natural hybrid of rock and jazz to fuse early in the 70s.
- Sentence five: When these two widely different music styles and cultures integrated, the listening public of the 70s eagerly showed its enthusiasm.
- Sentence six: However, while the US model for musical experimentation manifested itself in fusion, symphonic and rock hybrids were emerging elsewhere.
So, as you can see from the above sample, the topic sentence here highlights the importance and popularity of jazz fusion music, which is then discussed within a thesis idea that deals with popular music eclecticism in the 1970s. By following the steps mentioned above, the entire process of writing the body paragraphs of an essay should become much easier. Following these six basic tips, you will both ensure that each individual paragraph relates to your central thesis and you will be able to avoid wandering off course, a practice that can adversely impact the end product.
However, best of all, perhaps, is that you will have the framework to add useful information in and this should provide a great learning opportunity for both yourself and your readers.