Developing Effective Paragraphs

This course will explain

  • Writing and recognizing topic sentences
  • Planning and writing paragraphs for unity and coherence
  • Developing ideas inside paragraphs
  • Using patterns of organization

After completing this course, you will be able to

  • Develop and place topic sentences to organize paragraphs effectively
  • Write paragraphs that reflect unity and coherence
  • Develop ideas fully in paragraphs
  • Apply patterns of organization to allow reader to follow paragraph ideas


The convention of dividing a longer piece of writing into paragraphs helps you maintain unity and coherence when you write. By paying careful attention to paragraph construction, you can make sure that readers don’t have undue difficulty reading what you have written.

Unity is increased when all sentences in a paragraph are related to a topic sentence—a sentence that expresses the main idea of the paragraph. When there is a clearly understood topic sentence, the reader will be able to follow the writing more easily. Although topic sentences can conceivably be located anywhere in the paragraph, they most often are placed at the beginning, so that readers will be able to see immediately the connection of all sentences to the topic sentence. If, however, you want to create a dramatic effect or draw a conclusion from a series of facts, then the topic sentence may be appropriately placed at the end of the paragraph. In narrative and descriptive paragraphs, the topic sentence is often implied.

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