How to Develop a Cohesive Paragraph

Brainstorming is a great activity to do before writing a paragraph.

A cohesive paragraph focuses on one main idea which usually is mentioned in the topic sentence. Every sentence in a cohesive paragraph relates or connects to the main idea. Sentences which describe or explain the main idea are called supports. Typically, a cohesive paragraph includes at least seven sentences with two or three examples. The last sentence of a coherent paragraph leads the reader into a new paragraph or briefly restates the topic sentence.

Use a mapping diagram to brainstorm all ideas connected to the main idea or subject matter. Make sure to include at least three subheadings with two examples each. A blank mapping diagram is included in the Resources section.

Write a strong yet simple topic sentence, which is the first sentence of the paragraph. Include an overview of the subject matter in the topic sentence. For example, a topic sentence on the various types of birds in Florida may state: "Florida is home to a variety of birds." Make sure the main idea or topic sentence is specific, but that it leaves room for expansion.

Decide which organizational pattern best meets the needs of the topic. Use chronological order to organize events by time. Use sequential patterning to organize information in a step-by-step format. Use the compare-and-contrast pattern to organize information by similarities and differences. Use a topical pattern to arrange information by sub-topics that fall within a larger topic, or types of things within a particular category; this is the most common form of organization.

Pick transition words to introduce supporting sentences. Include transition words which are common to the organizational pattern chosen. For example, use words such as "first, second and third" for sequential organization, and use dates or time for chronological order. Place a transition word in front of every supporting sentence.

Write at least two or three supporting sentences to make a cohesive paragraph. Construct supporting sentences with one subject. Make sure the subject of each supporting sentence explores the topic sentence of the paragraph.

Use examples after each supporting sentence. Introduce examples with transition words like "such as, for example and for instance." Construct each example so that it paints a clear picture of the supporting sentence. Provide at least one example for each supporting sentence.

End the paragraph with a concluding sentence that restates the topic sentence and moves the reader into a new paragraph. If the paragraph does not need another paragraph after it, write a conclusion which leaves the reader thinking about why the topic sentence or main idea is important.

Based in Bryn Athyn, Penn., Sarah Bostock has been writing since 2006. Her articles on education have been featured in "The Virginia English Bulletin." Bostock holds a Master of Science in English with a concentration in British literature from Radford University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in photography from Virginia Intermont College.