Chapter 10-2: Writing Topic Sentences

Grammar > Writing Paragraphs > Topic Sentences


Any primary body paragraph in an academic essay should have a topic sentence. A topic sentence (also known as a focus sentence) encapsulates or organizes an entire paragraph. Although topic sentences may appear anywhere in a paragraph, they are usually the first or second sentences in an academic essay.


It may be instructive to think of a topic sentence as working in two directions simultaneously: it connects the paragraph to the essay’s thesis and thereby acts as a signpost for the argument of the paper as a whole, but it also defines the restricted scope of the paragraph itself.

Imagine an essay whose thesis statement was “Consumers must think twice when purchasing modern home appliances.” Now, consider the paragraph that follows in the left column below. An explanation that describes how everything in that paragraph relates to the topic sentence in the column on the right:

Sewing Paragraphs Together

Topic sentences should tell readers when a body paragraph is about to discuss a different topic than the paragraph before it. This is accomplished with one of these two techniques:

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