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You are here: Home Dr. Murray and Anna C. Rockowitz Writing Center Handouts The Writing Process Organization Developing a Paragraph


Developing a Paragraph

Development clarifies, illustrates, or proves the main idea of a paragraph through use of specific details, such as example, supporting information, and explanation.                                                                                                              

Good development depends on the writer's ability to present both general statements and specific details. General statements make assertions that must be supported or illustrated by specific details in order to effectively engage the reader. 


Patterns of paragraph development include the following:

  • Simple deductive arrangement: topic sentence plus specific details (going from general to specific)
  • Simple inductive arrangement: specific details plus topic sentence (going from specific to general)
  • Complex deductive arrangement: topic sentence plus major and minor support



  • Descriptive details: specific actions, appearances, tastes, smells
  • Factual details: specific measurements, statistics, historical records, objective accounts
  • Illustration
    • Multiple examples: typical cases, specific instances
    • Extended example: one extended example instead of several shorter ones
    • Anecdote: an example in the form of a story; a brief  narrative to illustrate a point
    • Hypothetical illustration: example(s) or anecdote(s) invented for the occasion
    • Analogy: point-by-point comparison explaining the unfamiliar in terms of the familiar
  • Definition: explaining words, terms, and related concepts through example, etymology, synonym, class, and/or differentiation
  • Appeals to authority: quotation and paraphrase of details, facts, illustration, and/or definitions from recognized, credible sources
  • Creativity: any effective combination of the above elements of paragraph development


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