A paragraph consists of a series of sentences grouped together and having a single purpose. It describes or explains one idea. The length of a given paragraph depends on the purpose, the material, and the function of the paragraph.
FOUR MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF A PARAGRAPH
1. Topic sentence - tells what the paragraph is about. It doesn’t necessarily summarize the information given in the paragraph, but it gives your reading a sense of direction. A topic sentence usually comes at the beginning of a paragraph. It is also the most general sentence in the paragraph because there are not many details in the sentence. It introduces a panoramic idea that you will discuss in time. The topic sentence is divided into two parts: the topic which is the word or phrase you are talking about and the controlling idea that limits or controls the topic to just one aspect. A topic can have more than one controlling idea. Each controlling idea would be a different paragraph.
2. Indented – short distance from the margin.
3. All sentences or supporting details are about one single topic. This is called unity or the logical consistency of all the details in the paragraph. In other words, all the sentences must refer to the main idea or the topic of the paragraph. Sentences that do not adhere to the rest of the sentences or do not belong in the paragraph are said to be irrelevant. Irrelevant details, no matter how engaging, take a paragraph in many different directions and destroy unity. Paragraphs should also be coherent. Coherence means that the sentences should be organized in a logical manner and should follow a definite plan of development.
4. Concluding sentence – summarizes, restates, or evaluates the most significant ideas of the paragraph. It could also predict the condition of your topic in the near future. Phrases such as: In conclusion, In summary, Concluding, Summarizing are used.
Another important characteristic is the title. A good title determines if your work will be read or not. So, it should attract the reader’s attention. If you write an insipid title, people will think that the paragraph is also insipid. If you write an interesting title, the paragraph becomes immediately very appealing.
The title should:
1. Be short, simple, and concise.
2. Not be a sentence.
3. Use no period at the end. It could have a question mark (?) or an exclamatory mark (!).4. Follow correct punctuation rules. All important words are capitalized except the articles (a, an, the), the coordinating conjunctions (and, or, but), and the prepositions, such as: in, on, at, for, from, to, by, far, of, with, etc. These will be capitalized if found at the beginning of the title.
5. Be centered - in the middle.
6. Not be underlined.