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University of Newcastle Library guides

Writing strong paragraphs: Types of paragraphs

Using transition words to link ideas, sentences and paragraphs

Write with purpose: what do you want your paragraph to do?

The type of paragraph you write will depend on a number of factors:

  • The kind of writing you are producing. For example, paragraphs in a report tend to have a different purpose to paragraphs in an essay.
  • The position of the paragraph in a longer piece of writing. A body paragraph in an essay has a different purpose to an introduction or conclusion.
  • The logical order of the ideas and information in your writing. You may be presenting an argument, organising facts,comparing and contrasting ideas, defining a key concept, explaining the steps in a process, giving an example or recounting a series of events.

Using clear paragraph structure will help the reader understand the purpose of your writing.

Types of paragraphs

Argument paragraph

An argument paragraph presents a point of view, and provides evidence to support the position taken by the writer. Evidence to support the position can include reasons, personal experience, statistics, confirmed facts and expert research. 

argument paragraph

Classification paragraph

In this type of paragraph, separate items are grouped together according to shared characteristics.

Compare or contrast paragraph

A compare and/or contrast paragraph is required if you are asked to examine similarities and/or differences. Compare focuses on similarities. Contrast focuses on differences.

Definition paragraph

The starting point for a definition paragraph is a simple definition in the first sentence (the topic sentence). Support sentences then give more information such as examples, description and explanation.

Description paragraph

A description paragraph is used to write about how something looks, sounds, tastes, smells or feels. It includes specific details of the most important features

Explanation paragraph

An explanation paragraph is required if you are asked to describe how something works, or how something happens.

Illustration paragraph

In an illustration paragraph, specific examples are used to clarify and support a general statement.

Adapted from http://www.une.edu.au/current-students/resources/academic-skills/fact-sheets/media/nested-factsheets/paragraph-types

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