Body paragraphs do the real work of the essay, developing, supporting, explaining, and proving the thesis. A good body paragraph has a clear beginning, middle, and end. It consists of several basic elements:
Unless it follows immediately after the introduction, a body paragraph should begin with a transition idea that links the paragraph with the previous one. Think of this sentence as a bridge from one body paragraph to the next that helps the discussion to move forward smoothly. Simple transition words and phrases (in addition, furthermore) can mark the transition from one idea to the next, but more meaningful transitions not only move to the next point, but show how the topic of one paragraph relates logically to the topic of the next. This kind of linking reinforces the logic and unity the essay as a whole.
To effect such a transition, start the new body paragraph with a ‘bridging’ sentence that looks back to the topic of the previous paragraph while introducing the topic of the new paragraph. Example:
(Final sentence of ¶ A)....Addressing the opposition with name calling instead of reasoned argument damages the author's credibility.
(Opening sentence of ¶ B) [transition/topic sent] Another hindrance to credibility is the author's failure to draw evidence from reputable sources.
A bridging sentence can double as the topic sentence, as above, or it can simply lead the way for the topic sentence that follows, as in the next example.
(Final sentence of ¶ A)....This arsenal of facts helps to convince the reader that the policy is should be enacted.
(Opening sentences of ¶ B) [bridge sentence] While arguing successfully with facts, the author also targets the reader’s values. [topic sentence] These appeals to the values of fairness and justice make the claim more persuasive on an emotional level.
Notice that in each case, a key term is carried over from the end of paragraph A to the start of paragraph B, to make a logical link.
A topic sentence is the most general sentence in the paragraph. It appears at or near the start of the paragraph and states the paragraph’s main point or claim.
Topic + assertion = Topic sentence
Dwarf hamsters make great pets.
Statistics from credible sources strengthen Weld’s claim that immigrants are more a benefit than a detriment to U.S. society
In an essay, the topic sentence of a body paragraph should clearly state one of the primary points or reasons that develop the thesis. If the thesis of the paper forecasts the paper’s several subtopics, then the topic sentences should echo the key terms or ideas previewed in the forecast.
The supporting sentences make up the body of the paragraph, just as the supporting paragraphs make up the body of an essay. While the topic sentence of a paragraph is a general assertion, its support consists of more specific information that shows, explains, or proves the topic sentence idea.
The kind of support presented depends on the nature of the claim, but among the most commonly used forms of support are details, examples, facts, opinions and testimony, along with explanation and analysis that links the support to the main point or claim and creates the argument of the paragraph. In any case, the support should be specific, relevant, and sufficient to explain the point thoroughly or prove the claim convincingly.
The body of the paragraph should also demonstrate the basic qualities of any good paragraph:
The final sentence of a body paragraph should conclude the discussion and perhaps look ahead to the idea of the next paragraph.