ENGL079 Week 4 Lecture

Structure of Academic Writing Part 2

Relationships between body paragraphs and thesis statements

A thesis statement sets readers' expectations for what body paragraphs will discuss.

Consider this thesis statement, for example:

Three elements of effective interior design are unity, focal point, and balance.

Based on the thesis statement, body paragraphs should discuss three elements of interior design. For example, the first body paragraph might elaborate on the element of unity in effective interior design, the second body paragraph could explain the concept of a focal point, then the third would address balance.

In a body paragraph, a writer explains and develops a key idea from the thesis statement or introduction. Developing these key ideas requires the writer to use examples, details, and/or research. Body paragraphs must include explanations, examples, or research to support key points.

Topic Sentences and Unity

Any body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence. Topic sentences help create two kinds of unity in writing:
1) unity of focus within paragraphs and 2) unity of ideas throughout an essay overall.

1. Unity Within Paragraphs

A topic sentence clarifies the theme or idea of the paragraph. All the sentences in the rest of the paragraph must relate to the idea that the topic sentence introduces, which helps to create unified paragraphs.

Consider a topic sentence that would introduce a key point from the example above. The topic sentence might look like this, for example:

An important aspect of interior design is unity.

A following sentence might define the term unity. Another sentence in the same paragraph may describe how to create unity in interior design. In any case, each sentence in the paragraph must relate to the topic of unity in interior design.

2. Unity of ideas overall

Topic sentences also help readers see that a paragraph relates to a key idea in an introduction. In this way, topic sentences create unity throughout a piece of formal or academic writing.

In a well structured piece, a reader should be able to identify the gist of an essay by reading the introduction then scanning the topic sentences.

Applying these ideas helps writers to organize their ideas. It also helps to create clarity for readers.


As an introduction introduces a main topic, a conclusion wraps up (or concludes) discussion on that topic. This paragraph reviews the main ideas that an essay contains; A conclusion should not introduce new ideas.

Writer's Tone

Dana Lynn Driscoll argues that effective writers also need to pay attention to tone. Driscoll quotes Ober, who argues that “Tone in writing refers to the writer's attitude toward the reader and the subject of the message. The overall tone of a written message affects the reader just as one's tone of voice affects the listener in everyday exchanges” (88).

Determining the most appropriate tone involves a careful consideration of your purpose for writing.

From a workplace perspective, a good writer reflects on whether his or her audience is an employer or a fellow worker. Regardless, the writer must customize the document to reach the intended, specific audience. The message must be written using words and forms of expression that will be understandable to the reader. Driscoll argues that an effective tone is one where the writer is: “confident, courteous and sincere, uses appropriate emphasis, appropriate language, stresses the benefits for the reader, and writes at an appropriate level of difficulty.”

Driscoll, D. L. (2010, April 21). Tone in Business Writing. Retrieved April 6, 2016, from Purdue Online Writing Lab website: https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/652/1/