Tea Paragraph Organization and Development
T–to the E-to the A
Since the Topic Sentence focuses the paragraph on your opinion about one topic, and directly relates to the thesis statement to create a topic sentence:
- Introduce one reason/topic that relates to your thesis statement
- State your opinion about the topic
Please Note: Even though the topic sentence is the first sentence of your body paragraph, in college and professional writing, a topic sentence is often proven over more than one paragraph. So sometimes Topic Sentences introduce sub-topics within a larger body of evidence relating to a larger topic.
Because the Evidence informs your audience about the topic you frame with the topic sentence, consider using different forms of evidence to inform your audience about the topic, by using
- Information from texts, readings, and class discussions (paraphrases or, occasionally, short quotes)
- Personal experience (stories, anecdotes, examples from your life)
- Representations in mass media (newspapers, magazines, television)
- Definitions (from the readings, or another academic and credible sources)
- Statistics (polls, percentages, data from research studies)
Analysis is the real work of the paragraph and takes time to think through and write. Analysis explains the connection between the topic in the topic sentence and your opinion about it, so consider how you will
- Interpret, analyze, and explain the ways in which the evidence, opinion, or textual evidence you have included relates to your opinion in the topic sentence
- Comment on the accuracy (or inaccuracy) of the textual evidence, fact, data, information, explaining how and why you see a connection or lack thereof
- Decipher the meaning or try to better your understanding of your observation, findings, or experience
- Use research to help you analyze the connection between your evidence and opinion about the topic
- Explain to your audience how the evidence relates to your thesis statement
Psst . . . Remember, findingthe Balance Is Key Your body paragraph/s that prove/s your topic sentence should have 30% evidence and 70% analysis. Keep in mind that if you use at least three pieces of evidence, you are able to establish a pattern of thought. Analysis is the most challenging aspect of composing your body paragraphs since you are sharing with your audience the connection between and relevance of your ideas and opinions; this takes time, space, and work. So do not rush this process, and enjoy exploring and sharing your thoughts with your audience
As You Develop Your Paragraph with Analysis, Ask Yourself How, Why, and What Questions…
- What is the most important idea your audience should understand from reading this paragraph or evidence?
- How does each piece of evidence you state in your paragraph relate to your opinion in your topic sentence?
- Why did you choose this specific piece textual evidence? How does it support, illustrate, or extend your opinion in your topic sentence?
- How might you explain the example or connect it to textual evidence further to show the connection between the topic and your opinion in the topic sentence and/or thesis statement?
- What are some consequences/results/implications/ramifications of the evidence you share with your audience?
- Why is this evidence important? What does it suggest to you? To your audience?
- How does this evidence relate to your overall opinion in this paragraph?
- Is the idea in the topic sentence fully explained? Do you need another sentence or two to elaborate on why you have the opinion you state in the topic sentence?
- How does this evidence relate to your overall thesis, or other points you make in the paper? Why is this connection worth noting?
Textual Evidence: At-A-Glance
Drawing on the work of other authors, thinkers, and speakers builds your credibility and helps you explore your thoughts about a topic from different angles and depths. To ensure your credibility and to honor the work others, document the contributions of outside sources by citing them. Textual evidence is like the snapshot of your voyage that you are sharing with your audience. Often times, professional photographers take better pictures of monument than we do or postcards show the richness of Pablo Picasso’s works in the Musée Picasso; these artifacts obviously are not from our smartphone. Yet within our own writing, we want to make these distinctions clear. Beyond citing sources to build your credibility, you do so to inform your audience where your sources came from, so they may access them and to accredit the work and ideas you have borrowed and included in your writing.
We are responsible for citing our sources when we directly quote, paraphrase, or summarize, and borrow facts that are not common knowledge from others. If we borrow another person’s ideas, language, sentence structures without properly acknowledging them, this is plagiarism and undermines our credibility. Plagiarism comes in many forms which makes it complex, but some simple forms of it are neglecting to cite textual evidence (direct quotes, paraphrases, and summaries), borrowed ideas, or language. (Please see Academic Ethics in the course syllabus for more information about how your professor views plagiarism, and here for San Francisco State University’s policy on plagiarism.)
We do not have to cite information that is common knowledge—information that your audience may know or could access in numerous sources. Thankfully!