Thursday, 16 June 2011 13:40

Why are good paragraphs so important?

Written by  Helen Batziris

All writing, no matter what type of document, has to be organised in some logical fashion to enable readability and understanding. To achieve this, the contents of a document should be separated into paragraphs and each paragraph, positioned in an order appropriate to the understanding of the document. For example, in historical writing, paragraphs would most logically be placed in chronological order of events.

Each sentence of a paragraph represents an element of thought; and each paragraph is made up of sentences that form a set of associated ideas. These associated ideas describe a scene or clarify the meaning of a certain aspect of a given topic. When the topic is changed, a new paragraph should be created to signal the change of subject, thereby avoiding distracting the reader with random changes in topic. For example, a document which provides an overview of a particular subject will often have an introductory paragraph, then a number of paragraphs describing certain aspects or arguments about the subject, and finish off with a summary or conclusion. Where the depth of knowledge about each aspect or argument varies, so too will the length of each paragraph.

There is no rule as to how long a paragraph ought to be, although a good mixture of paragraph lengths avoids monotonous reading. Generally, in writing aimed at a popular readership, most sentences and paragraphs are reasonably short, providing pace and whitespace on a page, and therefore promoting readability.

Last modified on Monday, 13 June 2011 13:49

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