Skip main navigation

Patrick’s essay: paragraphs

Watch to find out why you should write in paragraphs in an academic essay; to help your reader navigate the text and quickly find & re-read key points
You 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.
It 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.

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.

This article is from the free online

An Intermediate Guide to Writing in English for University Study

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education