Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the building blocks of every essay; as such, they are one of the most important elements to pay attention to when writing and revising an essay. Too often writers judge paragraph breaks by the number of sentences since the last one, rather than presenting each paragraph as a unified, developed step in the development of an essay. Well-structured, coherent paragraphs are vital to the success of academic papers. They function to guide your reader through your written work; the more effectively you guide your reader, the greater the likelihood that your reader will view your writing as successful.

Read this handout that utilizes a mnemonic device to encourage writers at all levels to build thoughtfully structured and coherent paragraphs.

For a definition of what a paragraph is as well as descriptions of the various necessities of successful paragraphs, visit Purdue’s Online Writing Lab at

For a detailed if basic introduction with examples to the elements of the paragraph, visit

For a discussion of how to think in terms of the function of your paragraphs, visit

For a classic discussion of the paragraph’s importance and structure, see this excerpt from William Strunk’s The Elements of Style (1918):

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