Guidelines For Paragraphing.

Writing Paragraphs.

Skillful paragraphing will help stamp you as an accomplished writer.  Begin a new paragraph with each new thought.  Strive for  paragraph coherence by clear, orderly arrangement of sentences and clear connnection using reference words, repetition of key words, and parallel structure (sentences tied together by repeating the same pattern of thought).   Use words of transition to provide  reading smoothness;  they tell your reader that the particular paragraph further explains the previous paragraph, contrasts with it, or heads in a different direction.

Use Your Outline To Prepare Appropriate Paragraph Headings and Subheadings.

As you are developing your outline, create as many topic headings as appears necessary for the material. Don’t skimp in this area. The creation of topic headings goes hand-in-glove with the preparation of your outline.  Use these topic headings as subject headings for your paragraphs.  For the sake of unity, limit each paragraph to one topic.

Create crisp, sharp paragraph headings and subheadings to help your reader focus on the content of the paragraph.  Arrange the paragraphs as necessary to provide a logical flow of information.  Keep in mind that short sections are better.  A long, dense paragraph is a daunting and discouraging sight for many readers. But if your writing is presented in short, manageable, bite-sized pieces of approximately fifty to seventy five words, it will be easier to digest because the entire content of each section can be more easily captured in the heading.

There’s nothing wrong with an occasional one sentence paragraph.  But a series of short paragraphs should be avoided – they suggest that the writer has given inadequate thought to the subject.

However, short sections make the document more visually appealing so it appears easier to understand. A long section will increase the difficulty of preparing a meaningful summary in its heading. Short sections will provide the opportunity to write more headings to go with them.  Short sections should also help you to organize your writing more effectively.  In this scenario, brevity is king, verbosity a pauper.

Boldface the section headings to create a roadmap for quick and easy reference to your document.

Format For Paragraph Headings.

Paragraph headings may consist of a question, a statement, or a subject.

   Question – What financial services can this firm provide for you?

   Statement – The XYZ Company is a leader in the field of financial services.

   Subject –    Financial Services.

Subject headings are the easiest to write because they are usually very brief. But they can also be vague and incomplete.  The broad heading, “Financial Services,” shown above, may be a good first step in organizing your document as long as it is followed up with specific sub-topic headings.

Main Heading : 

Financial Services.

  Sub-Headings:

 About the company.

 Nature of the services.

 Cost To You.

 Company guarantee.

 How To Contact us.

Use Common Sense In Preparing Headings.

Paragraph headings should not be so long as to overwhelm the reader. On the other hand, overly broad subject headings such as “General” or “Scope” are not useful and are not recommended.

Don’t cluster a bunch of nouns together when preparing a heading; this will cause readability to suffer.  Bring the heading under control by inserting appropriate words to clarify the relationship between the words.

 Confusing and Incomplete – The ABC Company’s On Site  Construction  Safety Rule.

 Better – Requirements To Be Followed To Insure Compliance With The ABC Company’s On Site Construction Safety Rule.

 Confusing and Incomplete – Laboratory Animal Rights Protection Regulations.

 Better – Regulations Needed To Protect The Rights of Laboratory Animals.  

Other Aids to Readability and Clarity.

In addition to shorter paragraphs, you can help your reader along by using examples, lists, and tables.  Break up lots of text with an illustration, which can be more helpful than describing it.

Additional paragraphing guidelines and techniques will be set forth in the next posting.

Copyright 2012.  Arnold G. Regardie.  All rights reserved.

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