Writing tip of the week

by Harriet Castor

In the main body of your essay or assignment, the first sentence of each paragraph should make a clear point in your argument. This is often called the ‘topic sentence’.

The topic sentence tells the reader what’s going to be in the rest of the paragraph. It helps the reader follow your argument. It also helps you to focus on your argument as you write.

So, how do you write a topic sentence?

This is what Brilliant Writing Tips for Students (a brilliant book by Julia Copus) says:

All topic sentences should have two parts to them:

  1. 1.      The topic itself.
  2. 2.      The main point (a statement about the topic).

 The main point can come after the topic, like this:

The Behaviourist learning theory [topic] reduces the child to a passive recipient of environmental stimuli [main point].

Or the main point can come before the topic, like this:

There are several strong arguments for state intervention [main point] in healthcare provision [topic].

Brilliant Writing Tips for Students by Julia Copus is published by Palgrave Macmillan (ISBN: 978-0-230-22002-7).

For a confidential one-to-one session with me to work on your writing skills, email Harriet.Castor@uwe.ac.uk.

I’m at Frenchay on Wednesdays and St Matthias on Thursdays.

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