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Academic Resource Center: Body Paragraphs

English Essay: Body Paragraphs

Body Paragraph One

  1. Begin with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and expresses the main idea of the paragraph.
  2. Second, provide a piece of evidence (usually a quotation) from the reading to support the topic sentence.  Lead into the quotation by indicating who is speaking and what’s happening.
  3. Third, explain how the quotation illustrates the topic sentence.  And if you’ve used a longish quotation, re-quote individual words and phrases as you interpret.
  4. If you can, repeat (2) and (3) above, in order to provide more evidence for the topic sentence.

 

Body Paragraph Two (and Three, and Four, etc.)

  1. Begin with a transition from the previous paragraph, and then follow with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and expresses the main idea of the paragraph.
  2. Repeat (2) through (4) above.           

 

DO document all quotations and paraphrases by including in parentheses page numbers (for novels, short stories, and modern plays), line numbers (for poems), or act/scene/line numbers (for Shakespeare).

DO quote only key words and phrases rather than long chunks of text.

DO make sure the body of the paper provides evidence for every claim made in the thesis statement and does not introduce any new claim not made in the thesis statement.

DON’T provide plot summary.  Assume your reader has read the texts and needs to be convinced of your argument, not told the plot.

History Paper: Body Paragraphs

  1. Begin a new paragraph, with a topic sentence that supports your thesis statement and expresses the main idea of the section of support.
  2. Then provide evidence to support the topic sentence.
  3. Next, explain how the evidence illustrates the topic sentence.
  4. If you can, write a second paragraph in which you repeat (2) and (3) above, so that the section of support provides two pieces of evidence for the topic sentence.
  5. Finally, provide a transition into the topic of the next section of support.

 

DO document all quotations and paraphrases by including in parentheses the last name of the author and the page number of your source or, if the source is a webpage article for which you don’t have the title, give the title of the article in parentheses.

DON’T include any information in the paragraph that doesn’t relate to the topic sentence.

DON’T ever use the first person (“I”) or second person (“you“).