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Writing College Term Papers: Creating Body Paragraphs

Most students have a great deal of practice crafting interesting introductory paragraphs that will grab a reader’s attention. This skill is covered a great deal in even the most basic writing classes, and students have the chance to practice it as early as elementary school. Concluding paragraphs are also a subject that gets a lot of attention in introductory writing classes: students are taught to summarize and end on a strong, striking note.

What receives considerably less attention, though, is how to craft a series of well organized and engaging body paragraphs. The skills that apply to making an introductory or closing paragraph simply do not apply to the body sections of essays. Body paragraphs serve entirely different functions and should be used in distinct ways. The following are some of the key aspect and goals of body paragraphs in college term papers.

Body Paragraphs Provide New Information

Each body paragraph in your essay should impart some new information or a new argument for the reader’s benefit. The body of the essay, after all, is whether the writer fulfills the promises laid out in the introduction section of the paper. Look to your introduction section for a sense of what claims your body paragraphs should make, and which forms of evidence are necessary. Remember: you cannot introduce any new information in the conclusion of your paper, so the body section is the place to get all your data out in the open.

Body Paragraphs Are Interconnected

The order of your body paragraphs should not be arbitrary. Each topic should flow smoothly into the next, and your argument should develop and be enriched as the paper moves forward. Begin with your most basic points, then slowly expand to more and more challenging and broad claims and arguments. Try to end each body paragraph with a sentence that anticipates the next section, and begin each new paragraph with a sentence that references and responds to the previous text. Lead the reader along in a clear way.

Body Paragraphs Are Self Contained

Each paragraph should focus on its own, unique point or set of information. Do not jumble facts together haphazardly in your paper. Devote a single paragraph to each subject that is worthy of consideration. A paragraph break communicates to the reader that you will now be discussing something new, so do not let your point continue on after inserting one.

Body Paragraphs Are Factual

Finally, do not crowd your body paragraphs with lyrical or lapidary prose. You may use interesting anecdotes, rhetoric, or quotes in the introductory and closing paragraphs of your paper, but avoid doing so in the middle section. The body of the paper should be devoted to matters of fact.