Writing a Standard Paragraph

 

Paragraphs are the building blocks of an answer in the workbook and should be written in such a way that each covers one aspect, argument or idea. They should build an argument, or make a case. It is important that each paragraph develops only one idea. Paragraphs which contain more are considered to lack “unity”.

Each aspect, argument or idea is developed and supported with examples. In particular, each paragraph should contain three elements:

1. A topic sentence.

2. Supporting sentences.

3. A concluding sentence.

Typically, main body paragraphs should contain between five to seven individual sentences, each of which should be kept as short as possible.

Topic Sentence

The topic sentence is a general statement to introduce the idea that is to be discussed in the paragraph. Let us take, for example, a topic sentence which opens a paragraph in an essay about developing a formal business crime prevention strategy:

For countless years many sociologists have been quick to draw a parallel between low socio-economic conditions and crime.

This is a very general statement to introduce the paragraph. It should not be detailed and
should require further qualification, which follows in the supporting sentences.  

Main Body

Building on the topic sentence, the main body might be expanded as follows:


For countless years many sociologists have been quick to draw a parallel between low socio-economic conditions and crime. But if the experiences of this company’s XYZ site are a valid indicator, such broad-brush views are less than helpful. For example, the XYZ site is located in one of the poorest rural districts of the country, yet its exposure to crime of local origin is significantly lower than the ABC site, situated in a relatively affluent district of the capital. What, therefore is the key determining factor? In part, the answer may lie in the work of Maetoby et al. (1958) which shows that the crucial factor differentiating high from low delinquency areas of the same lower socio-economic level is the shared expectations among neighbours that the local community would intervene to prevent the commission of offences.

The text now added to the introductory topic sentence develops the argument about the
linkage between poor socio-economic conditions and crime, and satisfies a number of key requirements:

• It develops the notion presented in the topic sentence.
• It does this in a relatively small number of sentences.
• It is a self-contained topic, or sub-topic. 
• It refers to published work in this area. 

Concluding Sentence

To complete this paragraph there should be a concluding sentence. Imagine a paragraph like a burger. There is a half bun on top (topic sentence), meat in the middle (supporting
sentences), and another half bun at the base (concluding sentence). A burger would be
incomplete without any of these. To take the analogy further, you could imagine reference to published work as relish or ketchup!

A possible concluding sentence to the above paragraph might read:

For countless years many sociologists have been quick to draw a parallel between low socio-economic conditions and crime. But if 10 the experiences of this company’s XYZ site are a valid indicator, such broad-brush views are less than helpful. For example, the XYZ
site is located in one of the poorest rural districts of the country, yet its exposure to crime of local origin is significantly lower than the ABC site, situated in a relatively affluent district of the capital. What, therefore is the key determining factor? In part, the answer may lie in the work of Maetoby et al. (1958) which shows that the crucial factor differentiating high from low delinquency areas of the same lower socio-economic level is the shared expectations among neighbours that the local community would intervene to prevent the commission of offences. Engaging and working with local village elders and assisting in alleviating some of the root causes of local poverty are therefore considered to be valid elements of many crime prevention programmes.

The concluding sentence wraps up the argument neatly and allows for the answer to move on to another related aspect, argument or idea. It also paves the way for this idea to be raised later in a summary, if necessary, perhaps in the form of a recommendation specifically directed at the business.