Body Paragraphs in Academic Writing
Every essay should contain three main sections:
The body section of the essay is the largest section and ideally it should provides several distinct and different points of support for the essay’s main argument.
Questions a Body Paragraph Should Answer:
- What is one reason that the reader should agree with the essay’s argument?
- What is one thing the reader should understand about the topic in order to come to a valid conclusion on that topic?
- What specific evidence is the most convincing support for the essay’s main argument?
- What is one reason that someone would disagree with the essay’s main argument?
- What do experts on the topic have to say in favor of one position or another within the argument?
- Why is the point being made in this paragraph convincing, persuasive, or important?
- How does the point being made in this paragraph connect to the essay’s thesis argument?
Each body paragraph should answer one or more of the questions above. This should be done by including thoughtfully selected evidence to offer substance, proof, and/or illustration of the point being made.
It is the body paragraph’s job to present evidence.
Evidence can take many forms:
- Quotes from Experts
- Points of Logic
- Rebuttal of Counter-Argument
- Quotes from a Literary Work (for Literary Analysis Essays)
Regardless of the type of evidence you are using, always be sure to select your evidence carefully.
Choose relevant evidence. Leave out everything that doesn’t directly support the point being made in the paragraph.
Also, be sure to explain what you feel the evidence proves or illustrates. Facts and figures can often be interpreted in a variety of ways. It’s up to you as the writer to explain what you think those facts and figures prove.
Analogy: Each body paragraph should mimic the overall structure of the essay –
Focus is Key
|Key Element: Each paragraph should focus on making a single point.|
The rule of thumb is that we want to have just one point per paragraph. We want to avoid creating paragraphs that try to do too much. We want to avoid overstuffed paragraphs and we want to avoid scattered thinking.
We want focused paragraphs that each present a clearly defined point and offer a full explanation of that point.