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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A paragraph (from the Greek paragraphos, "to write beside" or "written beside") is a self-contained unit of a discourse in writing dealing with a particular point or idea. Paragraphs consist of one or more sentences.[1][2] The start of a paragraph is indicated by beginning on a new line. Sometimes the first line is indented. At various times, the beginning of a paragraph has been indicated by the pilcrow: ¶.

A written work — be it an essay or a story — is about an idea or concept. An essay explains it; a story narrates it. To help the reader understand and enjoy it, the explanation or narration is broken down into units of text, the paragraph. In an essay, each paragraph explains or demonstrates a key point or thought of the central idea, usually to inform or persuade. In fiction, each paragraph serves to advance the plot, develop a character, describe a scene or narrate an action — all to entertain the reader. All paragraphs support each other, leading the reader from the first idea to the final resolution of the written work.



Some styles do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent all those that subsequently follow. This follows the logic that the purpose of indenting is to separate paragraphs in a way that lets the reader know where one paragraph finishes and another begins. The general American practice is to indicate all paragraphs including the first, by indenting the first line (three to five spaces), whereas business letters generally use blank lines and no indent (these are sometimes known as "block paragraphs"). For other purposes, indented paragraphs are preferred.[citation needed] Most published books use a device to separate certain paragraphs further when there is a change of scene or time. This extra space, especially when co-occurring at a page break, may contain an asterisk, three asterisks, a special stylistic dingbat, or a special symbol known as an asterism.


In literature, a "detail" is a small piece of information within a paragraph. A detail usually exists to support or explain a main idea. In the following excerpt from Dr. Samuel Johnson's Lives of the English Poets, the first sentence is the main idea: that Joseph Addison is a skilled "describer of life and manners". The succeeding sentences are details that support and explain the main idea in a specific way.

As a describer of life and manners, he must be allowed to stand perhaps the first of the first rank. His humour, which, as Steele observes, is peculiar to himself, is so happily diffused as to give the grace of novelty to domestic scenes and daily occurrences. He never "o'ersteps the modesty of nature," nor raises merriment or wonder by the violation of truth. His figures neither divert by distortion nor amaze by aggravation. He copies life with so much fidelity that he can be hardly said to invent; yet his exhibitions have an air so much original, that it is difficult to suppose them not merely the product of imagination.[citation needed]

See also


External links

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PARAGRAPH, a term for a section or division of written or printed matter, which, as beginning a new subject, marking a break in the subject, &c., is signified by beginning the section on a new line set back or indented; also by the symbol, now!, a reversed P, formerly Of or ID, to mark such a division. The Gr. 7rapaypaOs (raper, and rypa4av, to write alongside or beside) was used of the short horizontal line or stroke which marked a line in a MS. where such a division occurs; and 7rapaypacA of a marginal note, also the division so marked. The word "paragraph," besides these technical typographical meanings, is also applied to the separate numbered sections in an affidavit or other legal document, or in a statute, &c., and in journalism to a short item of news or brief notice of events.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also paragraph



German Wikipedia has an article on:

Wikipedia de

Alternative spellings


Paragraph m. (genitive Paragraphen, plural Paragraphen)

  1. (law) article, paragraph (section of a legal document)

Derived terms

Simple English

symbol is sometimes used to show where a paragraph begins.]]

A paragraph is a group of words put together to form a group that is usually longer than a sentence. Paragraphs are often made up of many sentences. They are usually between five long sentences or 10 short ones. Paragraphs can begin with an indentation (about five spaces), or by missing a line out, and then starting again; this makes telling when one paragraph ends and another begins easier.

In most organized forms of writing, such as essays, paragraphs contain a thesis statement. This thesis statement of the paragraph tells the reader what the paper will be about. The intro is used to gove basic knowledge about the thesis. The body paragraphs are used to tell why your thesis is relevant. The thesis contains the main idea about the body paragraph. After one has completed an essay, one must close with a conclusion which restates the main idea.

A pilcrow mark (¶) is sometimes used to show where a paragraph begins.

Paragraphs are important to essays, papers, columns, whatever you are writing. Paragraphs help separate ideas and let the audience know when you change partial topics.

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