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Tutoring Service: Building a Paragraph

Overview of the Avondale University Tutoring Service.

What is a Paragraph?

Simply put, a paragraph is a group of sentences that flesh out a single idea. There are generally 3-8 sentences in a paragraph.

What are Body Paragraphs?

Body paragraphs are the paragraphs between the introduction and conclusion of your essay. The body of an essay is where you develop your main idea or argument. 

Building a Logical Paragraph

It is important to build paragraphs that follow a logical order as this helps readers to understand the development of your argument. This just means that you should group ideas together and discuss them in order of importance to your essay. Common kinds of logical order are:

  • chronological order
  • order of importance
  • cause and effect

To build a logical paragraph you should use words and phrases that show the relationship between ideas:

  • in a paragraph using chronological order you should use expressions of time—to begin with, first, second, third, next, after 2015, finally, before the cyclone, after that, since then.
  • in a paragraph describing differences you should use terms like the most significant difference; larger than; unlike the previous; conversely; and in contrast.
  • in a paragraph highlighting similarities you should use terms like similarly; as compromised as; just as; compare with; in comparison tolarger than; unlike the previous; conversely; and in contrast.

(Newcastle University, 2020a)

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Structuring Body Paragraphs

A simple way to think about structuring a body paragraph is to view it as a block made up of three parts: the topic sentence, that identifies what the paragraph is about; some supporting sentences that flesh out the identified topic of the paragraph through explanation, examples and evidence; and a concluding sentence that summarises the paragraph and links logically to the next paragraph (Newcastle University, 2020b). These parts are represented by the anagram TEEL.



Following the TEEL sequence as you write, will help to keep your discussion clear and concise. 


Topic Sentence (T) 

The first sentence should tell the reader what the paragraph is about.



Explanation (E)

The second sentence should explain your idea or thought.

Evidence (E) 

The next few sentences should provide evidence that supports your idea or claim. This is where you will reflect on your research from sources such as journals, books, and case studies. Don’t just mention your research, make a comment on it—reflect on the strength and/or weakness of your evidence. Is your evidence limited in some way? How does your evidence prove your idea or claim?


Link (L) 

The final sentence should summarise the main idea of the paragraph in a way that connects to the thesis statement of your essay. This final sentence should also link your paragraph idea to the next body paragraph.

(Monash University, 2020a)

Formatting an APA Paragraph

Remember that specific style guides will have a preferred way of indicating a new paragraph; for example, APA 7 expects a new paragraph to be indicated by an indented (1.27cm) first line. The only paragraph that is not indented is the abstract paragraph. The easiest way to set this indent is through the Paragraph table within the Format menu of your Microsoft Word document. You can adjust the indentation for the first line as so:

Sample Body Paragraph

(Monash University, 2020b)


Newcastle University. (2020a). Writing Strong Paragraphs: Paragraph Structure.

Newcastle University. (2020b). Writing Strong Paragraphs: Paragraph Structure.

Monash University. (2020a). Writing Body Paragraphs: How do I structure a paragraph?

Monash University. (2020b). Writing Body Paragraphs: Example paragraph. essay/writing-body-paragraphs