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Body Paragraph Structure

A paragraph is a group of sentences discussing an idea. There are a variety of types of paragraphs; however, they all follow a standard format.

A body paragraph should have six main elements:

1) A topic sentence

2) Elaboration of the point

3) Examples and evidence to support your point (quotations, paraphrases and summaries)

4) Explanation of evidence

5) A concluding sentence, and

6) A transition between paragraphs or back to your thesis

Topic sentence (point)

The topic sentence of a body should begin with the point. It should clearly state the topic of the paragraph and make a connection to the thesis. It can often act as a transition between the paragraph before it and the present paragraph. The topic sentence is usually at the beginning of the paragraph.

Elaboration of the point

The point made in the topic sentence should be further discussed in this section. The writer must make the significance of the issue clear to the reader.

Support: Examples and evidence

The point made in the topic sentence and elaboration sections should be followed up with a specific supportive example. Readers tend to remember examples more because they illustrate the point clearly. Evidence is also another form of support for your paragraph.

This can include quotations, paraphrases, or summaries with the proper documentation. When quotations, paraphrases, or summaries are used, make sure to include an introduction to a quotation, paraphrase, or summary, the quotation/paraphrase/summary, the citation for the sourced material, and an explanation of how the sourced material relates to the main point.

Explanation of evidence and/or concluding sentence

This section of the paragraph serves as an explanation of the relationship between the evidence and the main point (topic sentence). The concluding sentence of the paragraph should reiterate the main point of the paragraph as a way to conclude the paragraph.

Remember: The reader is not as aware of the ideas as the writer is, so it is the responsibility of the writer to keep the reader on track by connecting the paragraph to the larger thesis statement (main argument).


For additional help, download the Body Paragraph Structure tip sheet.