Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsYou will have noticed that all the texts we have looked at have been written in paragraphs. Paragraphing is important because it helps the reader to understand the organisation of the text. Here is part of Patrick’s essay on food waste, without paragraphs. Research has shown that people do not simply read in a linear fashion – that is to say they often have to go back to points earlier in a text and re-read sections of the text to confirm their understanding. This lack of paragraphing makes it extremely difficult to read, mentally process the meaning of the text and understand how it is structured. Here’s the same part of the text with the paragraphing restored.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 secondsIt is much easier to understand, because if you look at the beginning of each paragraph, you will see that paragraph 1 introduces the problem, paragraph 2 focuses on the sources, the different places where food waste occurs, and then paragraph 3 focuses on the causes of food waste. It is much easier now for the reader to read through the text, and return to different points to re-read if necessary. In the next video, we’re going to look at the different elements of a paragraph.

Patrick's essay: paragraphs

You need to use paragraphs in your academic essay so that your reader understands the organisation of the text and can return to different points to re-read if necessary.

What do you already know about structuring a paragraph?

Share your thoughts in the comment area. Do not worry if you do not have much to say now. In the next Step you will explore the different elements of a paragraph and by the end of this week you will know how to structure paragraphs for an academic essay.

You can view the paragraphs from the video in this PDF document.

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This video is from the free online course:

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

University of Reading