wikiHow to Start a Paragraph

Seven Methods:Paragraph Template and Sample ParagraphsStarting an Argumentative ParagraphStarting an Introductory ParagraphStarting a Conclusion ParagraphStarting a Paragraph of a StoryUsing Transitions Between ParagraphsOvercoming Writer's Block

A paragraph is a small unit of writing that is made up of several (usually 3-8) sentences.[1] These sentences are all related to a common theme or idea. There are many different kinds of paragraph. Some paragraphs make argumentative claims, and others might narrate a fictional story. No matter what kind of paragraph you write, you can get started by organizing your thoughts, keeping your reader in mind, and planning carefully.

Paragraph Template and Sample Paragraphs

Paragraph Template

Sample Literary Paragraph

Sample Persuasive Paragraph

Method 1
Starting an Argumentative Paragraph

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    Recognize the structure of an argumentative paragraph. Most argumentative paragraphs have a clearly defined structure, especially if they are in an academic context. Each paragraph helps to support the overarching thesis (or argumentative claim) of the paper, and each paragraph presents new information that can convince a reader that your position is the correct one. The components that make up a paragraph are the following:
    • Topic sentence. A topic sentence explains to the reader what the paragraph is about. It usually ties back to the bigger argument in some way, and it explains why the paragraph belongs in the essay. Sometimes a topic sentence might be 2 or even 3 sentences long, though it is usually just a single sentence.[2]
    • Evidence. Most body paragraphs in an argumentative paper include some kind of proof that your position is the correct one. This evidence can be all kinds of things: quotations, surveys, or even your own observations.[3] Your paragraphs are where this evidence can be presented in a convincing way.[4]
    • Analysis. A good paragraph doesn't just present evidence. It also takes some time to explain why the evidence is worthwhile, what it means, and why it is better than other pieces of evidence out there. This is where your own analysis comes into play.
    • Conclusions and transitions. After the analysis, a good paragraph will conclude by explaining why the paragraph is significant, how it fits in with the thesis of the essay, and will begin to set up the next paragraph.[5]
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    Reread your thesis statement. If you are writing an argumentative essay, each paragraph should help further your overarching claim. Before you can write an argumentative paragraph, you must have your thesis statement firmly in mind. A thesis statement is a 1-3 sentence description of what you are arguing and why it is important. Are you arguing that all Americans should use energy-efficient bulbs in their homes? Or are you arguing that all citizens should have the freedom to choose which products they buy? Make sure you have a clear idea of your argument before you begin writing.[6]
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    Write the evidence and analysis first. Often it is easier to start writing in the middle of an argumentative paragraph instead of at the beginning of the paragraph. If you are stressing out about starting a paragraph from the beginning, tell yourself that you will focus on the part of the paragraph that is easiest to write: the evidence and analysis. Once you have finished the more straightforward component of a paragraph, you can move on to the topic sentence.
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    List all the evidence that supports your thesis statement. No matter what kind of argument you are making, you will have to use evidence in order to convince your reader that you are correct. Your evidence could be many things: historical documentation, quotations from experts, results from a scientific study, a survey, or your own observations.[7] Before you proceed with your paragraph, list out every piece of evidence that you think supports your claim.[8]
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    Choose 1-3 related pieces of evidence for your paragraph. Each paragraph you write must be unified and self-contained. This means that you cannot have too many pieces of evidence to analyze in each paragraph. Instead, each paragraph should have just 1-3 related pieces of evidence. Take a close look at all the evidence you have gathered. Are there any pieces of evidence that seem like they link together? That is a good indication that they belong in the same paragraph.[9] Some indications that evidence might link together include:
    • If they share common themes or ideas
    • If they share a common source (such as the same document or study)
    • If they share a common author
    • If they are the same type of evidence (such as two surveys that demonstrate similar results)
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    Write about your evidence using the 6 W's of writing. The 6 W's of writing are theWho,What,When,'Where,Why,andHow. This is the important background information your reader will need in order to understand the points you are making.[10] As you write out your related pieces of evidence, keep your reader in mind. Always explain what your evidence is, how and why it was collected, and what it means. A few special things to keep in mind include:
    • You must define any key terms or jargon that might be unfamiliar to your reader. (What)
    • You must provide any key dates and locations, if relevant (such as where a historical document was signed). (When/Where)
    • You must describe how evidence was obtained. For example, you might want to explain the methods of a scientific study that provided you with your evidence. (How)
    • You must explain who provided you with your evidence. Do you have a quotation from an expert? Why is this person considered knowledgeable about your topic? (Who)
    • You must explain why you think this evidence is important or notable. (Why)
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    Write 2-3 sentences analyzing your evidence. After you present your key, related piece(s) of evidence, you have to spend some time explaining how you believe the evidence contributes to your larger argument. This is where your own analysis comes into play. You cannot simply list evidence and move on: you have to explain its importance. A few questions you can ask yourself as you analyze your evidence include:
    • What is it that ties this evidence together?
    • How does this evidence help prove my thesis?
    • Are there any counterpoints or alternative explanations I should keep in mind?
    • What makes this evidence stand out? Is there anything special or interesting about it?
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    Write your topic sentence. The topic sentence of each paragraph is a signpost that the reader will use to follow your argument. Your introduction will include your thesis statement, and each paragraph will build upon this thesis by offering evidence. As the reader goes through your paper, she will recognize how each paragraph contributes to the thesis.[11] Remember that the thesis is the larger argument, and the topic sentence helps prove the thesis by focusing on a smaller topic or idea. This topic sentence will make a claim or argument, which is then defended or reinforced in the following sentences. Identify the main idea of your paragraph and write a mini thesis statement that states this main idea. Let's say your thesis statement is "Charlie Brown is the most important comic strip character in America," your essay might have the following topic sentences:
    • "The high ratings that Charlie Brown television specials have garnered for decades demonstrate the influence of this character."
    • "Some people contend that superheroes such as Superman are more important than Charlie Brown. However, studies show that most Americans identify more readily with the hapless Charlie than with the powerful, alien Superman."
    • "Media historians point to Charlie Brown's catchphrases, distinctive appearance, and sage wisdom as reasons why this character is beloved by adults and children alike."
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    Make sure the topic sentence supports the rest of the paragraph. After you’ve written your topic sentence, reread your evidence and analysis. Ask yourself if the topic sentence supports the paragraph’s ideas and details. Do they fit together? Are there ideas that seem out of place? If so, think about how you can alter the topic sentence to cover all of the ideas in the paragraph.
    • If there are too many ideas, you may need to break up the paragraph into two separate paragraphs.
    • Be sure that your topic sentence isn't simply a restatement of the thesis itself. Each paragraph should have a distinct, unique topic sentence. If you are simply restating "Charlie Brown is important" at the beginning of each body paragraph, you will have to narrow down your topic sentences more thoroughly.[12]
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    Conclude your paragraph. Unlike full essays, not every paragraph will have a full conclusion. However, it can be effective to devote a sentence to tying up the loose ends of your paragraph and emphasizing how your paragraph has just contributed to your thesis. You want to do this economically and quickly. Write one final sentence that bolsters your argument before moving on to the next set of ideas. Some key words and phrases to use in a concluding sentence include "Therefore," "Ultimately," "As you can see," and "Thus."
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    Start a new paragraph when you move on to a new idea. You should begin a new paragraph when you move on to a new point or idea. By starting a new paragraph, you signal to your reader that you’re shifting gears in some way.[13] Some cues that you should begin a new paragraph include:
    • When you begin to discuss a different theme or topic
    • When you begin to address contrasting ideas or counterarguments
    • When you address a different type of evidence
    • When you discuss a different time period, generation, or person
    • When your current paragraph is becoming unwieldy. If you have too many sentences in your paragraph, you may have too many ideas. Either cut your paragraph into two, or edit down your writing to make it more readable.

Method 2
Starting an Introductory Paragraph

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    Find a hook. Start off your paper or essay with an interesting sentence that makes the reader want to dive in and read your whole work. There are many devices that you can choose from. Use humor, surprise, or a clever turn of phrase in order to catch your reader's attention. Look at your research notes to see if a clever phrase, surprising statistic, or intriguing anecdote jumps out at you. Some of these possibilities include:[14]
    • An anecdote: “When he was growing up, Samuel Clemens watched steamboats on the Mississippi River and dreamed of being a river boat captain.”[15]
    • A statistic: “Women directed a mere seven percent of major Hollywood films in 2014.”[16]
    • A quotation: “ 'I am glad to see that men are getting their rights,' Sojourner Truth said in 1867, 'but I want women to get theirs, and while the water is stirring I will step into the pool.'"[17]
    • A thought-provoking question: “What will Social Security look like in 50 years?”
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    Avoid universal statements. It can be tempting to use a large, general phrase as your hook. However, hooks are more effective when they are specific to your topic. Resist the temptation to introduce your essay with sentences that begin with phrases like:
    • "Since the beginning of time . . ."
    • "From the beginning of mankind . . ."
    • "All men and women ask themselves . . ."
    • "Every human on the planet . . ."
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    Describe the topic of your essay. Once you have your hook, you will need to write a few sentences to orient your reader to what the rest of your essay will be about. Is your essay making an argument about Social Security? Or is it a history of Sojourner Truth? Give your reader a brief roadmap about the scope, purpose, and overall thrust of your essay.
    • If possible, avoid phrases such as “In this paper, I will argue that Social Security is ineffective” or “This paper focuses on the ineffectiveness of Social Security.” Instead, simply make your point: "Social Security is an ineffective system."[18]
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    Write crisp, clear sentences. When you want to grab the reader, you need a sentence that is clear and easy to follow. The beginning of your paper is not the place to write a convoluted, long-winded sentence that the reader will stumble over. Use common words (not jargon), short declarative sentences, and easy-to-follow logic to guide your introduction.[19]
    • Read your paragraph out loud to see if your sentences are clear and easy to follow. If you have to take a lot of breaths while you read, or if you have a hard time keeping track of your ideas out loud, you should shorten your sentences.
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    Conclude introductory paragraphs of argumentative essays with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a 1-3 sentence description of the overarching argument of your essay. If you are writing an argumentative paper, the thesis statement is the most important part of your essay. However, oftentimes your thesis statement will change somewhat as you write your essay. Remember that a thesis statement must be:
    • Argumentative. You cannot simply state something that is common knowledge or basic fact. "Ducks are birds" is not a thesis statement.
    • Convincing. Your thesis must be based in evidence and careful analysis.[20] Do not posit a wild, deliberately unconventional, or unprovable thesis. Follow where your evidence leads.
    • Appropriate to your assignment. Remember to adhere to all parameters and guidelines of your paper assignment.
    • Manageable in the space allotted. Keep your thesis narrow and focused. That way you might be able to prove your point in the space given to you. Do not make a thesis statement that is too large ("I have discovered a new reason why World War II occurred") or too small ("I will argue that left-handed soldiers put on their coats differently from right-handed soldiers").[21]

Method 3
Starting a Conclusion Paragraph

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    Link your conclusion with your introduction. Bring the reader back to your introduction by starting off the conclusion with a reminder of how the paper started. This strategy serves as a frame that bookends your paper.
    • For example, if you started your paper with a quote from Sojourner Truth, you might start the conclusion with: “Even though Sojourner Truth spoke almost 150 years ago, her statement continues to ring true today.”
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    Make a final point. You can use this final paragraph to offer one last insight into the discussion that took place in the rest of your paper. Use this space to pose a final question or propose a call to action.
    • For example, you could write: “Is an e-cigarette really any different from a regular cigarette?”
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    Summarize your paper. If you’ve written a paper that is long and complex, you may choose to reserve your conclusion for recapping what you’ve written. In doing so, you can reiterate the most important points for the reader. This also helps the reader understand how your paper fits together.[22]
    • You can start off by writing, “In summary, the cultural policies of the European Union support global trade in three ways.”
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    Consider further work that can be done. Conclusions are a great place to be imaginative and to think about the bigger picture. Has your essay opened up new space for more work to be done? Have you asked some large questions for others to answer? Think about some of the larger ramifications of your paper and articulate them in your conclusion.

Method 4
Starting a Paragraph of a Story

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    Determine the 6 W's of your story. The 6 W's in writing are Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.[23] If you are writing a creative, fictional story, you will need to have these questions firmly answered before you begin writing. Not every W will need to be addressed in each paragraph. However, you should not begin writing unless you have a thorough sense of who your characters are, what they are doing, when and where they are doing it, and why it is important.
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    Begin a new paragraph when you switch from one W to another. Creative writing paragraphs are more flexible than paragraphs in argumentative, academic papers. However, a good rule of thumb is that you should begin a new paragraph whenever one of the major W's of writing is switched.[24] For example, if you switch from one place to another setting, begin a new paragraph. When you describe a different character, begin a new paragraph. When you describe a flashback, begin a new paragraph. This will help keep your reader oriented.[25]
    • Always change paragraphs when a different speaker begins using dialogue. Having two characters use dialogue in the same paragraph creates confusion for your reader.[26]
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    Use paragraphs of different lengths. Academic writing often involves paragraphs that are roughly the same size. In creative writing, your paragraphs can be one word long to several-hundred words long. Consider carefully what effect you want to create with your paragraph, which will help you determine your paragraph length.[27] Varying the length of your paragraphs can help make your writing seem interesting to your reader.[28]
    • Longer paragraphs can help establish a thick, nuanced description of a person, place, or object.
    • Shorter paragraphs can help establish humor, shock, or fast-paced action and dialogue.
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    Consider the purpose of your paragraph. Unlike an argumentative paragraph, your creative paragraph isn't going to further a thesis. However, it should still have a purpose. You do not want your paragraph to seem aimless or confused. Ask yourself what you want your reader to gain from this paragraph. Your paragraph might:[29]
    • Provide your reader with key background information
    • Advance the plot of your story
    • Show how your characters relate to one another
    • Describe the setting of your story
    • Explain a character's motivations
    • Provoke an emotional reaction from your reader, such as fear, laughter, distress, or sentiment.
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    Use prewriting exercises to get ideas. Sometimes you have to work and plan for a while before you can write an effective sentence. Prewriting exercises are a good tool to allow you to get to know the story you wish to write. These exercises can also help you to see your story from new angles and perspectives. Some exercises to help you gain inspiration for your paragraph include:
    • Write a letter from one character to another
    • Write a few pages of a journal from your character's perspective
    • Read about the time and place where your story is set. What historical details are the most interesting to you?
    • Write a timeline of plot events to keep you oriented
    • Do a "freewrite" exercise, where you spend 15 minutes writing everything you can think of about your story. You can sort it out and organize it later.

Method 5
Using Transitions Between Paragraphs

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    Connect the new paragraph with the previous one. As you move to each new paragraph in your writing, each one will serve a certain purpose. Start each new paragraph with a topic sentence that clearly builds upon your previous thought.[30]
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    Signal a change in time or order. When your paragraphs are building a sequence (such as discussing three different reasons why a war took place), start each paragraph with a word or phrase that tells the reader where you’re at in the sequence.[31]
    • For example, you might write: “Firstly…” The next paragraph would start with, “Secondly…” The third paragraph could start with either “Thirdly…” or “Finally…”
    • Other words to signal a sequence are: eventually, ultimately, at first, in the first place, in the second place, or lastly.
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    Use a transition word to compare or contrast paragraphs. Use your paragraphs to compare or contrast two ideas. The word or phrase that starts your topic sentence will signal to readers that they should keep the previous paragraph in mind as they are reading the next paragraph. Then, they will follow your comparison.[32], [33]
    • For example, use phrases like “in comparison” or “similarly” to compare.
    • Use phrases such as “in spite of,” “however,” “nevertheless,” or “on the contrary” to signal that the paragraph will contrast or oppose the idea from the previous paragraph.
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    Use a transition phrase to indicate an example is next. If you’ve discussed a particular phenomenon in the previous paragraph, give the reader a solid example in the following paragraph. This will be a concrete example that gives weight to a a general phenomenon you've previously discussed.
    • Use phrases like “for example,” “for instance,” “thus,” or "more specifically."
    • You might also use an example type of transition when you are putting special emphasis on the example. In this case, use transition words like “particularly” or “notably.” For example, you might write: “Most notably, Sojourner Truth was an outspoken critic of the patriarchal system of the Reconstruction era.”
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    Describe the attitude that the reader should associate with something. When you are describing a circumstance or phenomenon, you can give the reader clues that point to how this phenomenon should be perceived. Use vivid, descriptive words to guide the reader's views and to encourage them to see things from your point of view.[34]
    • Words like “fortunately,” “luckily,” “oddly enough,” and “unfortunately” are useful here.
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    Show cause and effect. The connection between one paragraph and the next may be that something in the first paragraph causes something in the second paragraph. This cause and effect is indicate by transition words such as: “accordingly,” “as a result,” “consequently,” “therefore,” or “for this reason.”[35]
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    Follow transition phrases with a comma. Include proper punctuation in your writing by following the phrase with a comma. Most transition phrases such as "finally," "ultimately," and "notably," are conjunctive adverbs.[36] These phrases need to be separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.[37]
    • For example, you might write: “Sojourner Truth was, most notably, an outspoken critic…”
    • "Ultimately, we can see . . ."
    • "And, finally, the expert witness claimed . . ."

Method 6
Overcoming Writer's Block

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    Don't panic. Most people experience writer's block at some point in their lives. Relax and take some deep breaths. A few easy tips and tricks can help you get through your anxiety.
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    Write freely for 15 minutes. If you are stuck on your paragraph, turn of your brain for 15 minutes. Simply write down everything you think is important about your topic. What do you care about? What should others care about? Remind yourself of what you find interesting and fun in your paragraph. Simply writing for a few minutes--even if you are writing material that will not enter your final draft--will inspire you to keep going.[38]
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    Pick a different section to write. You do not have to write a story, paper, or paragraph from beginning to end in that order. If you are struggling to write your introduction, choose your most interesting body paragraph to write instead. You might find it to be a more manageable task--and you might get ideas for how to get through the more difficult sections.[39]
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    Talk through your ideas out loud. If you are getting tripped up by a complicated sentence or concept, try to explain it out loud instead of on paper. Talk to your parents or a friend about the concept. How would you explain it to them over the phone? Write it down once you've gotten comfortable speaking it out loud.[40]
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    Tell yourself that first drafts are not perfect. First drafts are never perfect. You can always fix imperfections or clunky sentences in future drafts. Just focus on getting your ideas on paper for now, and revise later.[41]
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    Take a walk. Your brain sometimes needs breaks in order to function at a high level. If you have been struggling with a paragraph for more than an hour, let yourself take a 20-minute walk and come back to it later. You might find that it looks a lot easier once you have taken a break.[42]


  • Format paragraphs by indenting. Use the “tab” key on your keyboard, or indent about one-half inch if writing by hand. This gives a visual cue to the reader that you’ve started a new paragraph.
  • Make sure every paragraph is unified by a related set of ideas. If you find yourself explaining too many concepts, terms, or characters, you should divide your writing into multiple paragraphs.
  • Give yourself lots of time for revisions. Your first draft of your paragraph might not be perfect. Get your thoughts on paper and fix them later.


  • Never plagiarize. Cite your sources carefully for your research, and do not copy other people's ideas. Plagiarism is a serious infringement of intellectual property and can lead to serious consequences.

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