Keep related words together   Choice of paragraph structure[ edit ] The most important unit of meaning in every literary work is the paragraph. Although each sentence conveys a thought, a literary work is not just a sequence of, say, eighty thoughts; it is rather a development of one central thesis through certain steps. Those steps are paragraphs.
History[ edit ] The oldest classical Greek and Latin writing had little or no space between words and could be written in boustrophedon alternating directions.
Over time, text direction left to right became standardized, and word dividers and terminal punctuation became common. The first way to divide sentences into groups was the original paragraphos, similar to an underscore at the beginning of the new group.
The hedera leaf e. Indented paragraphs demonstrated in the US Constitution In ancient manuscripts, another means to divide sentences into paragraphs was a line break newline followed by an initial at the beginning of the next paragraph.
An initial is an oversized capital letter, sometimes outdented beyond the margin of the text. This style can be seen, for example, in the original Old English manuscript of Beowulf.
Outdenting is still used in English typography, though not commonly. This style can be seen in the handwritten United States Constitution from For additional ornamentation, a hedera leaf or other symbol can be added to the inter-paragraph whitespace, or put in the indentation space.
A second common modern English style is to use no indenting, but add vertical white space to create "block paragraphs. This style is very common in electronic formats, such as on the World Wide Web and email.
Typographical considerations[ edit ] Widows and orphans occur when the first line of a paragraph is the last line in a column or page, or when the last line of a paragraph is the first line of a new column or page.
A recent trendy idea in English is not to indent the first paragraph, but indent those that follow. For example, Robert Bringhurst states that we should "Set opening paragraphs flush left. The function of a paragraph is to mark a pause, setting the paragraph apart from what precedes it.
If a paragraph is preceded by a title or subhead, the indent is superfluous and can therefore be omitted. Newline In word processing and desktop publishinga hard return or paragraph break indicates a new paragraph, to be distinguished from the soft return at the end of a line internal to a paragraph.
This distinction allows word wrap to automatically re-flow text as it is edited, without losing paragraph breaks. The software may apply vertical whitespace or indenting at paragraph breaks, depending on the selected style. How such documents are actually stored depends on the file format.
In plaintext files, there are two common formats. Pre-formatted text will have a newline at the end of every physical line, and two newlines at the end of a paragraph, creating a blank line. An alternative is to only put newlines at the end of each paragraph, and leave word wrapping up to the application that displays or processes the text.
A line break that is inserted manually, and preserved when re-flowing, may still be distinct from a paragraph break, although this is typically not done in prose. Newline Paragraphs are commonly numbered using the decimal system, where in books the integral part of the decimal represents the number of the chapter and the fractional parts are arranged in each chapter in order of magnitude.
Whittaker and Watson attribute this system of numbering to Giuseppe Peano on their "Contents" page, although this attribution does not seem to be widely credited elsewhere. Section typography Many published books use a device to separate certain paragraphs further when there is a change of scene or time.
This extra space, especially when co-occurring at a page or section break, may contain an asteriskthree asterisks, a special stylistic dingbator a special symbol known as an asterism. Purpose and style advice[ edit ] A common English usage misconception is that a paragraph has three to five sentences; single-word paragraphs can be seen in some professional writing, and journalists often use single-sentence paragraphs.
Forms generally vary among types of writing. For example, newspapers, scientific journals, and fictional essays have somewhat different conventions for the placement of paragraph breaks.
English students are sometimes taught that a paragraph should have a topic sentence or "main idea", preferably first, and multiple "supporting" or "detail" sentences which explain or supply evidence.
One technique of this type, intended for essay writing, is known as the Schaffer paragraph.
For example, the following excerpt from Dr. The succeeding sentences are details that support and explain the main idea in a specific way. As a describer of life and manners, he must be allowed to stand perhaps the first of the first rank.
His humour, which, as Steele observes, is peculiar to himself, is so happily diffused as to give the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occurrences. His figures neither divert by distortion nor amaze by aggravation.How to Answer a Writing Prompt.
In this Article: Answering Expository (Informative) Prompts Answering Narrative Prompts Answering Persuasive Prompts Community Q&A Students of all kinds, from elementary school to those applying for post-graduate educations, are tested on their writing ability through writing prompts.
If you need to cite content found in your online classroom, use the author (if there is one listed), the year of publication (if available), the title of the document, and the main URL of Walden classrooms.
A paragraph (from the Ancient Greek παράγραφος paragraphos, "to write beside" or "written beside") is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea.A paragraph consists of one or more sentences.
Though not required by the syntax of any language, paragraphs are usually an expected part of formal writing, .
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