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Paragraphs can…

  • divide writing into easily manageable sections
  • signal the introduction of a new idea or point
  • signal a change of direction in an argument: ‘However, when we examine Shakespeare’s later works, it is evident that…’
  • summarise what has been said so far before moving on to the next stage of an argument

Consider:

What problems might be caused (or revealed) by paragraphs that are… 

  • too long?
  • too short?

To make your essay flow smoothly and to construct a clear argument, it is essential to link your paragraphs together carefully. Here is an example from a book about Chinese business practices, showing the end of one paragraph and the beginning of another:

By using family titles to name their colleagues, Chinese employees shape their business relations in terms of the well-known conventions and roles of the family and social structure.

Interaction between employers and employees also finds a basis in family-centred codes of behaviour.

The author’s main point is that family relations are the basis for all Chinese social relations, including those in the workplace. The end of the first paragraph sums up the way that Chinese workers interact. The beginning of the second paragraph focuses on the way that Chinese employers and their workers interact.

The beginning of the second paragraph mirrors and repeats words from the end of the first one. The words ‘employees’ and ‘family’ appear in both paragraphs. The word ‘interaction’ mirrors the word ‘relations’. The phrases ‘shape their business relations in terms of’ and ‘finds a basis in’ say similar things. The author keeps his main point – all relations are modelled on family relations – before us, while working through different examples of it.