Body Paragraphs

Each body paragraph will have basic structure. Body paragraphs are the middle paragraphs that lie between the introduction and conclusion. The key building blocks of essays are the paragraphs as they represent distinct logical steps within the whole argument.

The body paragraphs typically have:

  • Topic Sentence & (possibly) Transition
  • Supporting Information
  • Conclusion Sentence & (possibly) Transition

Topic Sentences & (possible) Transitions

Readers like to know why they're reading a particular passage as soon as possible. That's why topic sentences are placed at the beginnings of paragraphs. A topic sentence should contain the main idea of the paragraph, and should follow the same rules as the thesis statement. Writers should start by writing down one of the main ideas, in sentence form; the topic sentence should frame the paragraph.

Transitions are a crucial part of every body paragraph, but not all topic sentences require a transition. If writers are composing their 1st body paragraph, a transition within that first topic sentence will probably be useful. But if writers are composing their 2nd or 3rd body paragraph, a transition may not be necessary because the previous paragraph might have been concluded with a transition. Writers will have to decide where a transitional word or phrase fits best.

Transitions that Introduce New Ideas:
________ is also...
In addition,

Supporting Information & Evidence

Paragraphs should be constructed with some sense of internal order, so after the topic sentence, writers will need to deliver their first supporting detail. Supporting details should be facts, statistics, examples, quotes, transitions, and other sentences which support the topic sentence.

To support the topic sentence, writers should:
explain the first supporting detail, then
give an example of this detail (see example transitions below),
next writers should unpack this example in a sentence or t
wo, and then
repeat this three-step process about two more times
Writers should remember to transition between new supporting details within the paragraph. (See transitions above).

Good Transitions for Giving Examples:
For instance
In particular
In addition
To illustrate

Conclusions & (possibly) Transition Statements

Some writers may want to include a summary sentence concluding each paragraph. Conclusions for each paragraph are not generally needed, however, because such sentences can have a tendency to sound stilted, therefore writers are cautioned about using them. If a conclusion statement is deemed necessary, writers might consider setting up for the next body paragraph by means of a transition statement. But again, writers will have to make a discretionary decision on whether or not such sentences are required.

If writing a conclusion statement, writers may also want to flag that they're concluding the paragraph by offering a concluding transition.

Transitions for Concluding Statements:
As a result,

Transitions to set-up the next paragraph:
__________ is not the only...

See my graphical chart of an essay; it might help you better envision the body paragraphs.

For more information about body paragraphs visit: The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing

To see a list of transitions, click here.

Sample Body Paragraph

........[Topic Sentence] Perhaps the cheapest and most efficient security method is a so-called Safe Traveler Card or national ID card. [Support Info.]A Safe Traveler Card or national ID card would be about the size of a credit card, contain a computer chip, and cost little to produce. In some ways, these cards are like the EZ Pass devices that enable people to drive on highways, bridges, and tunnels without having to stop and pay tolls (Dershowitz 590). [Unpack Supporting Info] By scanning the card, airport security officials would be able to obtain background information from government databases for every passenger: flying history, residence, credit-card spending, travel habits, phone records, criminal background, and fingerprint and iris patterns (Safire 587). [Concluding Statement] It is easy to see how such a card could expedite security checks at airports one could tell at a glance whether a person should be searched or let through.

Taken from College Writers pg. 729-730

A Few more Sample Body Paragraphs:

Introducing Jackie Koepp, by Bethany Franz

Introducing Kim Giles, by Bethany Franz