Essay writing: the main body
The role of the main body
What should be in the main body?
Constructing focused paragraphs
- Contain one main idea or argument
- Outline the main idea of the paragraph in the first sentence(s)
- Provide evidence to support that main idea. You might use data, facts, quotations, arguments, statistics, research, etc. from your readings as evidence. If you don't have any evidence to support a point, do not include it! You must provide references
- Explain how and why you think this evidence supports your point
- At the end of the paragraph show the significance of the point to the overall argument or idea you are trying to convey in the essay, or link to the next paragraph if you are going to build upon that main point further (e.g. examine the same point from a different perspective)
- A reader should be able to look at just the first and last sentence of each paragraph and grasp what your main ideas are.
Example of a well structured paragraph
Take a look at an example of a well-structured paragraph taken from a first class third year Politics essay.
Connecting your paragraphs
- Your paragraphs should connect to each other and follow on in a logical order.
- Generally, you should not start a paragraph by reiterating what you have just talked about. Your first sentence of a paragraph should alert the reader to a change of focus, and each paragraph should build to show how your ideas are progressing.
- Once you have finished the essay, read the first sentence of each paragraph (it can be helpful to read out loud). You should be able to follow your ideas or argument even without the details of the rest of the paragraph. Does the order of your argument make sense, or are you finding yourself jumping from one thought to another and back again? If this is the case, you need to rethink the structure.