Basically, academic paragraphs have three parts:
1. TOPIC SENTENCE: A statement – the point you want to make in the paragraph
2. CONCRETE SUPPORTING EVIDENCE: Details, definitions, statistics, references
3. CONCLUDING SENTENCE: Summary; Link to next paragraph
You can see an example of this in the video activity below.
Watch this video about the sections of a paragraph. As you watch, the video will pause and questions will pop up. When you have answered the questions, the video will start playing again.
The transcript for this video is below.
"The Normans could only dominate England because of their ability to build castles very quickly in every part of the country."
"There are three main explanations for this. Most importantly, castles were completely new to the English (Smith, 2010) and so they did not know how to combat them. Secondly, the Normans were able to build hundreds of them throughout the land (Green, 2008). Thirdly, Norman castles had a standard design which could be erected very quickly using locally available building materials (White, 2011)."
"With their castles, the Normans suppressed all opposition in only two years at a cost to the English of over 100,000 lives (Jones, 2017)."
This is the point you want to make in your paragraph. Your reader might not agree with it – yet – but that’s OK. The important thing is the reader knows from the start what your paragraph is about.
Now you need to back up what you said in the topic sentence. Using evidence, you can show the reader why your topic sentence is correct.
This can be a summary, and it can also link to the next paragraph.