How do I improve my paragraph structure and unity?

CWI Writing Center: Argument Essay

Structure and unity are important elements in an essay. Each paragraph should reinforce the thesis statement and match the order of the main points from the thesis statement. Similar to the essay as a whole, the sentences within a paragraph will have an introduction (topic sentence), discussion (body sentences), and conclusion (conclusion/transition sentence).

Basic Paragraph Outline:

  1. Topic Sentence/Transition Sentence: This sentence should introduce the paragraph by identifying a main point from the thesis statement. The sentence may also transition from the previous paragraph, but only one transition sentence is necessary in each paragraph.
  2. Body Sentences: The goal of the body sentences is to explore the topic sentence. These sentences can vary in number depending on what the paragraph is about. Body sentences can provide ideas about the main point, give evidence to support the ideas, and reference the thesis statement’s connection to the ideas and evidence offered.
  3. Conclusion/Transition Sentence: This sentence summarizes the ideas discussed in the paragraph by referring to the topic sentence and the thesis statement and might include a transition to the main point of the following paragraph.

Suggestions for Improving Paragraph Structure:

  • Develop strong main points that support your thesis statement.
  • Brainstorm ideas and evidence to support the main point of the paragraph(s).
  • Identify the main point of each paragraph within the topic sentence.
  • Check the topic, body, and conclusion sentence(s) to ensure they match the main point.
  • Relocate body sentences that belong to a different main point. You can use The Writing Center to help you look for sentences that do not fit or aren’t quite clear.
  • Use proper in-text citations and discuss information from sources.

Example Thesis Statement: The recommended format for forming a well-organized essay includes a thesis statement, proper paragraph structure, and a well-formed conclusion.

Picture of a Sample Paragraph

Practice Paragraph

Please see the Standard Paper Organization and Thesis Statement handouts for more guidance.

For more information, contact the Writing Center.