Paragraph Function

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Paragraphs are used to help your reader follow the logic of your argument. They should not be too long (generally speaking, paragraphs that are longer than 3/4 of a page are probably too long) or too short (one or two sentence paragraphs probably haven't given your reader enough information). When you begin a new idea, a point that contrasts one you were just discussing, or when you are raising a related but separate point, it's probably time to start a new paragraph.

In addition to containing clear, discreet thoughts, a paragraph should serve a specific purpose. Ask yourself the following questions: What am I trying to say in this paragraph? How am I trying to say it? Am I expanding on a previous point? am I qualifying a statement? am I restating something? supporting it? concurring? describing? comparing? contrasting?

Here are some suggestions for how to think about what your paragraph is doing (this list is not exhaustive!):

Stating: Making an assertion.

Restating: Putting into different words an assertion already made for purposes of clarification and/or adjustment or emphasis.

Supporting: Providing evidence for an assertion.

Concurring: Agreeing with another author's assertion.

Qualifying: Restricting the meaning of an assertion already made.

Conceding: Acknowledging the presence of a fact or perspective that calls into question that author's own assertions.

Negating: Offering reasoning or evidence to demonstrate the falsehoold of an assertion.

Expanding: Stating at great length or more comprehensively an idea or assertion already expressed.

Analyzing: Breaking an assertion down into its constituent parts in order to clarify or evaluate it.

Defining: Stating the meaning of a word or words previously or subsequently used.

Describing: Naming one or more features of an object or concept, to help the reader imagine it precisely or understand it fully.

Exemplifying: Giving an illustration of what is meant by a previous statement or giving a concrete instance that will help make the point credible.

Comparing and constrasting: Examining objects alongside each other for the purpose of clarifying their features, evaluating them or noting differences and similarities.

Narrating: Telling a story describing an event or series of events

Evaluating: Making judgement about something discussed previously

Synthesizing: Combining elements of previous paragraphs into a coherent whole; often this includes presenting a new perspective on the subject.

Summarizing: Restating the principal idea or the outline of an argument or point already introduced.

Transitioning: Moving from one aspect of the argument to another by connecting the points for the reader.

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