Paragraph Development Methods: Examples and Application

You can use different methods for paragraph development. Some writers may find that simply using an outline helps them to better enhance their paragraph creation skills, while others may discover that they need to develop topic sentences and examples first. Get an explanation of the term paragraph development with clear examples.

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What Is Paragraph Development?

Before you dive into methods for developing paragraphs, it’s important to understand what a paragraph is and why it’s important to have a strategy for developing them. Paragraphs are the way you’ll relate all your information to your audience. Additionally, each different paragraph needs to work together to create a cohesive idea or argument. So, there are multiple ways you can develop your paragraphs. However, all paragraphs need to meet some important criteria:

  • be related to the thesis statement
  • be coherent and unified
  • include well-developed thoughts

These are the magical elements to creating a perfect paragraph for every paper.

Paragraph Organization

Another important aspect to consider before diving into your paragraph development method is the paper organization. Not every essay or topic is created equal. Therefore, how you structure each paragraph varies based on the type of essay or research paper you are creating. Just a few types of papers that you’re probably familiar with include:

  • compare and contrast - paper compares and contrasts two or more topics by presenting ideas through examples in paragraphs
  • analysis - analyzes data or theories through examples
  • process - describes how something works through steps
  • description - creates a mental picture for readers using clear, concise writing
  • narrative - tells a story in chronological order

While there are many different types of essays and papers, these are just a few of the common ones. And the way you compose your paragraphs is different for each one because they have different purposes. However, most of the time, paragraph development can follow a few different methods.

Paragraph Development Through Outline

One of the most common ways to develop your paragraphs is through the creation of an outline. To create an outline, you:

  • Write down the main points that you wish to discuss in the paragraph first. Aim for two or three main points.
  • Underneath each main point, add a piece of supporting evidence from a journal, novel, poem, etc.
  • After the evidence, offer a brief explanation or analysis.
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Paragraph Development: Main Idea and Topic Sentence

If outlines aren’t really your thing, you can start creating your paragraphs by narrowing down your main idea and topic sentence for each paragraph.

  • The main idea is what is going to drive your entire paragraph. In essence, what is this paragraph about? What is it going to be doing?
  • The topic sentence states your main idea and starts your paragraph for the reader.

An example of a topic sentence for a paragraph comparing and contrasting dog and cat behaviors looks like this:

When it comes to petting, dogs and cats react in different ways.

Setting up your paragraph with a solid main idea and topic sentence prepares your readers for the support and analysis of your main idea.

Provide Support and Examples

The heart of the paragraph is the support and examples you provide your reader. These are what drive your main point home and show your readers that you’ve done your research on the topic. For example:

Dogs may enjoy prolonged petting, but cats, on the other hand, may tire of too much attention. For example, my German Shepard can lay on my lap for hours with me rubbing her head. However, my Persian cat has a small window of enjoying petting before biting my hand or running away.

Analysis of Evidence

Once you’ve established your examples, it’s time for you to analyze the information that you’ve provided for your readers. Make a clear link between your main idea and the examples you’ve provided in your analysis. This looks like:

As you can see through my examples, most dogs enjoy prolonged affection more than cats. This works to demonstrate the more social and people-pleasing nature of dogs.
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Create Clear Transitions into the Next Paragraph

Crafting a strong concluding statement helps to transition into the next paragraph. At the end of one paragraph, suggest that there is another idea that piggybacks on top of the one you have discussed, or state that there are some contrasting ideas in the field. Then, go on to write about them in the next paragraph. For example:

You can also see the difference in social behaviors through the way these two animals react to other animals.

This sentence works to end the discussion about petting and move on to the next point of animal interaction.

Paragraph Development Example

See the completed example of the paragraph to examine how all these components work together.

When it comes to petting, dogs and cats react in different ways. Dogs may enjoy prolonged petting, but cats, on the other hand, may tire of too much attention. For example, my German Shepard can lay on my lap for hours with me rubbing her head. However, my Persian cat has a small window of enjoying petting before biting my hand or running away. As you can see through my examples, most dogs enjoy prolonged affection more than cats. This works to demonstrate the more social and people pleasing nature of dogs. You can also see the difference in social behaviors through the way these two animals react to other animals.

Paragraph Development Method: Paragraph Focus

Another area of paragraph development you need to consider is paragraph focus. To craft a strong paragraph, important facts and textual analysis of the information must be relevant to your thesis. In an essay on the importance of gun control, going off on a tangent about other types of weapons could be detrimentally off-topic. Therefore, it’s pivotal for your discussion to stay laser-focused on the topic you introduce in your topic sentence. It should remain that way until the next paragraph is presented.

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Use Appropriate Language

The language that you use will also affect the development of the paragraph. Words such as good, nice and bad are extremely vague and should not be used in professional writing. Find clearer words — respectful, giving and selfish, for example, to replace these vague words. Furthermore, do not use confusing words or words that you do not know the meaning, because your lack of understanding will translate to the reader.

Following Grammar Rules for Paragraphs

Even if you have the most organized paragraph in the world, it will not be considered well-developed if grammar mistakes are everywhere. Consult a guide on basic grammar rules to get you started. However, you don’t want to stop there. Explore all types of grammar rules and topics to keep your grammar game current.