Paragraphs can be viewed as groups of mini papers that make up a larger paper. Just as a paper is made up of certain elements—an introduction, a body and a conclusion—each paragraph is made up of elements, just on a smaller scale. The table below compares the two:

Elements of a Paper Compared with Elements of a Paragraph

Paper Paragraph
with main idea/thesis statement
Introductory/Topic Sentence
provides main idea of paragraph
with paragraphs
with points, evidence and synthesis
restates main idea/thesis statement.
Concluding Sentence
restates idea in the introductory/topic sentence and "hints" at what's coming in the next paragraph.

Another way to think about paragraphs in a paper is to imagine a court case or trial. Attorneys present a case to a judge or jury for a client. They then attempt to prove their case with evidence. The goal of an attorney, of course, is to persuade the judge or jury to believe what they present so that their client will receive the best possible outcome. Like an attorney, a writer can view his or her audience as the judge or jury. Paragraphs in a paper are small units of information that hold points and evidence. Each point and evidence set works together to present the overall idea or thesis statement of a paper.

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