Topic sentence—general statement of the
main point of the paragraph (analogous to
the argument in an essay)
Elaboration, discussion, evidence,
examples, and so on
Conclusion and transition to the next
for a for
argument is a roof
held up by columns or a table with legs.
The roof is the general argument, and the
columns are the supporting reasons and
the basic Coherence
structure works. If
the paragraph contains a major shift from
one topic to the next, it may need to be
revised completely. Sometimes sentences
need to be taken out.
Repeat some key words; don’t overuse
Providing Coherence (cont.)
Be consistent with pronoun use and point of
view. Don’t shift from “I” to “you” to “they” for
the same point of view.
Don’t overuse “There are” and “It is” locutions.
Use active voice verbs.
Active: Maria threw the ball.
Passive: The ball was thrown by Maria.
devices, such as
sentences which look back at preceding
subjects and then announce a shift to the
Use signal words as transitions. Your text
and many websites offer help with this.
UNC’s Writing Center:
What you need to know:
In all U.S. states, the age at which people
can legally drink alcoholic beverages in
public is twenty-one. In fact, the legal
drinking age is established by each state,
but states gave in to financial pressure
from the federal government and set the
age at 21 in the 1980s. However, there
are still varying state standards about
what is permitted in the home.
The state of Illinois should not lower
the legal drinking age. Instead, more
should be done to prevent teenagers from
drinking, especially drinking to excess and
Teenagers in particular can be injured by
drinking alcohol because their bodies and
brains are still growing and changing
(National Institute on Drug Abuse [NIDA]).
In addition, teenagers are especially
vulnerable to peer pressure and the
influence of a culture which presents
getting drunk as a way to have fun. So
teenagers may find it harder than adults to
resist drinking to excess.
Perhaps the most important reason for not
allowing teenagers to drink legally involves
their ability to drive legally at eighteen or
younger. Young drivers are responsible for
many automobile accidents because they
lack mature judgment; scientific research
shows that humans’ brains are still
developing while they are in their twenties
(NIDA). Thus, allowing teenage drivers to
drink alcohol legally would only increase
the number of accidents caused by these
inexperienced, easily distracted drivers.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA). National Institute of Health.
NIDA for Teens: The Sara Bellum
Blog. August 25, 2009. September
10, 2009. Web. <http://teens.
Supporting Facts and Logic
All of these assertions should be supported by
specific information from credible sources and
research. “Everybody knows” is not helpful.
Writers should not jump to conclusions, engage
in hasty generalizations, or stereotype. In other
words, do not assume that one instance or
example proves all members of a group are the
same. That one example may not be typical or
representative of the entire group .
Personal Experience as a Source
Use personal experience and examples but ALWAYS
be aware that you should not carry that thinking
out too far. Remember you want to present
yourself as a reasonable person.
Conclusion: One example may certainly prove
something but it does not prove everything!
Always allow for exceptions and different