The paragraphs of an essay present concepts, conclusions, and evidence

A paragraph is an organized collection of sentences that work together in order to present information to the reader. They are like packages that contain concepts, conclusions, and evidence. These three functions of paragraphs are not mutually exclusive. In fact, all paragraphs package details that are used as concepts, as conclusions, and as evidence - sometimes even a single word in a paragraph can have all three functions; however, most paragraphs are organized to function primarily in one of the three ways.

1. Create introductory paragraphs that are clear and precise.

In order to be clear, a paragraph must provide all the information necessary for the reader to understand the concept that is being introduced. So, an introductory paragraph may be thought of as having three parts: (1) the concept being introduced itself, (2) definitions of terms that are used in the sentence that present the concept, and (3) information about the history, context, or origin of the concept necessary for a readerÕs understanding of it. These parts can be arranged in a variety of ways. Find the simplest organization that will insure clarity. An introduction should be easy to read. Although long essays may have many paragraphs scattered throughout whose primary function is to introduce a concept, the short essay written under timed conditions usually contains only one introductory paragraph at the beginning of the essay.

2. Create evidence paragraphs that package details relevant to specific concepts.

The evidence paragraph is more simply created than either the introductory or concluding paragraphs. The key to writing a good evidence paragraph lies not in its construction but in its content. Evidence must be specific. Think of this kind of paragraph as an evidence table in a courtroom. If one looks at an evidence table in order to judge the value of the evidence and one sees a scratched plastic box that seems to contain a gun because of its size and shape, it's pretty bad evidenceÐno matter who did the crime. But if the man begin accused is a neo-Nazi with a missing ring finger on his right hand wearing full Third Reich regalia and the gun on the table is an antique German Luger of World War II vintage smudged with a hand print that is missing a ring finger, then the evidence is better. For the evidence paragraph, state the concept that the evidence is supposed to illustrate as clearly as possible, then present the evidence as specifically as possible. Use specific concrete details to present evidence. Be sure that the details that describe the evidence are clearly relevant to the concept you are proving.

The majority of all the paragraphs in an essay are evidence paragraphs. In order to logically draw a conclusion at least two concepts must be presented - at least two evidence paragraphs are necessary before one presents a concluding paragraph. It's like the process necessary to synthesize a compound: one cannot create a compound out of one thing - at least two are necessary before a synthesis is possible. So even in the shortest imaginable essay there must be at least two evidence paragraphs. Evidence paragraphs usually congregate toward the middle of an essay.

3. Create concluding paragraphs that logically follow from preceding paragraphs.

Paragraphs that present conclusions must cause the readers to remember concepts presented in the introductory and evidence paragraphs and cause the reader to synthesize these concepts into new concepts. The conclusion forces the readers to remember parts of the essay that they have read in order to remind them of concepts that have been introduced and illustrated with evidence. Paragraphs presenting conclusions also ask the readers to put concepts that have been introduced and illustrated together in new ways that the author of the essay is unable to because he or she lacks information that is only available to the reader. For example, the author of an essay may ask the reader to draw conclusions from the evidence in ways which are relevant to the particular circumstances of the individual reader. The author, of course, cannot, know these circumstances. Although, like the introductory paragraph, conclusions can be sprinkled throughout long essays, short, timed essay usually contain only one concluding paragraph at the end of the essay.