Paragraph structure

Brrrr! I think I will scraping the ice off my windscreen tomorrow morning because the temperature appears to be plummeting outside. It seems that we are well into winter and my students look slightly panicked as their coursework mounts up. This post is to remind students about their paragraph writing as they write their coursework essays and reports. Paragraphing is one of those funny things - if you do it well, nobody notices it! But if you do it poorly then people know it isn't a good piece of writing even if they can't say why.

Here's a paragraph that we were looking at the other day in class taken from an example report about the possibility of building a new motorway along the south coast of England:

One of the main advantages of building a new motorway in the south of England is that the traffic would be diverted away from the small towns and villages and onto the new motorway. According to Smith (2011), the A303, A35 and A354 have all seen large increases in their traffic flow over the previous ten years. Much research has been done into the effects of heavy traffic on communities it goes through. Jones (2010) believes that increased traffic in small towns leads to a higher incidence of chest complaints in older people and young children. There is also concern about the number of traffic accidents involving school children who live in towns on the A35 (The Western Morning News, 2010). It seems that building a new motorway could improve the quality of life for many communities living in the area. However, this benefit needs to be balanced against the cost of the new road.

I think this is a good paragraph and its structure is quite straightforward. I hope you can see:

Part One: A topic sentence giving a clear argument which tells the reader about the topic of the sentence:

One of the main advantages of building a new motorway in the south of England is that the traffic would be diverted away from the small towns and villages and onto the new motorway.

Part Two: Support for the topic sentence using evidence from sources:

According to Smith (2011), the A303, A35 and A354 have all seen large increases in their traffic flow over the previous ten years. Much research has been done into the effects of heavy traffic on communities it goes through. Jones (2010) believes that increased traffic in small towns leads to a higher incidence of chest complaints in older people and young children. There is also concern about the number of traffic accidents involving school children who live in towns on the A35 (The Western Morning News, 2010).

Part Three: Conclusion/Discussion which comprises some thoughts from the writer:

It seems that building a new motorway could improve the quality of life for many communities living in the area. However, this benefit needs to be balanced against the cost of the new road.

I like this page from the Writing Den which explains it even more clearly than I do: it's here.

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