Writing Good Body Paragraphs Part 1: Some Rules and Terms Body paragraphs are the paragraphs that make up the middle of an essay, report, web page, or other type of writing. Most types of writing, like essays, reports, and other genres, start with one or two introductory paragraphs to start things off, and end with one or two concluding paragraphs, and most of the paragraphs in the middle are body paragraphs. This is also true of individual sections of multi-section genres like reports: longer sections will sometimes start with an introductory paragraph and then proceed to body paragraphs. This lecture is designed to help you write better, more organized and focused body paragraphs. We′re doing this now because writing focused paragraphs will help you make revisions to your report for your website, but also because writing good paragraphs is an important skill in nearly any kind of writing. While introductory and concluding paragraphs have their own requirements, most body paragraphs should have specific features of their own. Generally speaking, most body paragraphs should be about one specific topic, and that topic should be something that is clearly related to the main focus of the document (or section, if you′re writing a multi-section document like a report or website) that you are writing. Here are the basic ingredients a body paragraph should have. (I know these are pretty abstract, but I′ll give you examples of these in a paragraph farther down in this lecture.) a topic sentence, probably right at the beginning, that states the main point the paragraph is trying to make. It answers the question, “What is this paragraph about?” supports or evidence that help back up the point in the topic sentence. Evidence can be quotes from sources, facts, statistics, personal stories, or specific examples. Evidence, like quotes, should be “sandwiched” – introduced so that readers know the source and followed up to explain what the evidence means. (Optional but useful are sub-topic sentences making smaller points that support the main point. These can be used to introduce evidence.) Transitional words or phrases that move a reader smoothly from topic to topic (see below). (Optional but useful, especially in long paragraphs): A point sentence that sums up the paragraph’s main point and why it matters. Here is a list of useful transition words & phrases. Use these to build bridges between your ideas. These are the phrases that help create a sense of ″flow,″ making your reader feel like one idea moves smoothly into the next. These are not ALL the transition words and phrases, of course! Just some good examples. To provide an illustration or example: for example, thus, for instance, in other words, in particular, specifically To indicate a contrast or contradiction: but, on the contrary, on the other hand, however, in spite of, yet, rather, at the same time To indicate similarity: likewise, similarly, in like manner (this last one is kind of formal) To emphasize: above all, most importantly, indeed, again, besides To indicate consequence or result: so, so that, consequently, hence, for this reason, as a result, therefore Part 3: Your Turn Below is a body paragraph that needs work! It has good information from multiple sources but, like the short paragraph above, it lacks key ingredients. Revise it so it has the necessary ingredients, and post your revision in the Body Paragraph Revision discussion – and see the full instructions in that discussion. In 1988, it was reported that one sixth of Bangladesh’s land mass could disappear due to sea levels rising (“Endless Summer”). Nine years later, in 1997, Andrew Revkin, a climate journalist with the New York Times, reported that some 17 million people from Bangladesh could be forced to find refuge because of sea level rise (Jones). New York and New Jersey regions may have some big issues if sea levels rise a foot or more, like climate models have predicted. Parts of New Jersey and Long Island already have financially costly issues because of flooding and erosion, and airports in low-lying areas could eventually have a higher risk of flooding (“Getting New York Ready”).