Topic sentences and signposts make an essay's claims clear to a reader. Good essays contain both.  Topic sentences   reveal the main point of a paragraph. They show the relationship of each paragraph to the essay's thesis, telegraph the point of a paragraph, and tell your reader what to expect in the paragraph that follows. Topic sentences also establish their relevance right away, making clear why the points they're making are important to the essay's main ideas. They argue rather than report.  Signposts , as their name suggests, prepare the reader for a change in the argument's direction. They show how far the essay's argument has progressed vis-ˆ-vis the claims of the thesis. 

Topic sentences and signposts occupy a middle ground in the writing process. They are neither the first thing a writer needs to address (thesis and the broad strokes of an essay's structure are); nor are they the last (that's when you attend to sentence-level editing and polishing). Topic sentences and signposts deliver an essay's structure and meaning to a reader, so they are useful diagnostic tools to the writer—they let you know if your thesis is arguable—and essential guides to the reader

Forms of Topic Sentences

 Sometimes topic sentences are actually two or even three sentences long. If the first makes a claim, the second might reflect on that claim, explaining it further. Think of these sentences as asking and answering two critical questions: How does the phenomenon you're discussing operate? Why does it operate as it does?

There's no set formula for writing a topic sentence. Rather, you should work to vary the form your topic sentences take. Repeated too often, any method grows wearisome. Here are a few approaches.

Complex sentences.   Topic sentences at the beginning of a paragraph frequently combine with a transition from the previous paragraph. This might be done by writing a sentence that contains both subordinate and independent clauses, as in the example below.

 Although  Young Woman with a Water Pitcher  depicts an unknown, middle-class woman at an ordinary task, the image is more than "realistic"; the painter [Vermeer] has imposed his own order upon it to strengthen it. 

This sentence employs a useful principle of transitions: always move from old to new information.  The subordinate clause (from "although" to "task") recaps information from previous paragraphs; the independent clauses (starting with "the image" and "the painter") introduce the new information—a claim about how the image works ("more than Ôrealistic'") and why it works as it does (Vermeer "strengthens" the image by "imposing order"). 

Questions.   Questions, sometimes in pairs, also make good topic sentences (and signposts).  Consider the following: "Does the promise of stability justify this unchanging hierarchy?" We may fairly assume that the paragraph or section that follows will answer the question. Questions are by definition a form of inquiry, and thus demand an answer. Good essays strive for this forward momentum.

Bridge sentences.   Like questions, "bridge sentences" (the term is John Trimble's) make an excellent substitute for more formal topic sentences. Bridge sentences indicate both what came before and what comes next (they "bridge" paragraphs) without the formal trappings of multiple clauses: "But there is a clue to this puzzle." 

Pivots.   Topic sentences don't always appear at the beginning of a paragraph. When they come in the middle, they indicate that the paragraph will change direction, or "pivot." This strategy is particularly useful for dealing with counter-evidence: a paragraph starts out conceding a point or stating a fact ("Psychologist Sharon Hymer uses the term Ônarcissistic friendship' to describe the early stage of a friendship like the one between Celie and Shug"); after following up on this initial statement with evidence, it then reverses direction and establishes a claim ("Yet ... this narcissistic stage of Celie and Shug's relationship is merely a transitory one. Hymer herself concedes . . . "). The pivot always needs a signal, a word like "but," "yet," or "however," or a longer phrase or sentence that indicates an about-face. It often needs more than one sentence to make its point.

Signposts operate as topic sentences for whole sections in an essay. (In longer essays, sections often contain more than a single paragraph.) They inform a reader that the essay is taking a turn in its argument: delving into a related topic such as a counter-argument, stepping up its claims with a complication, or pausing to give essential historical or scholarly background. Because they reveal the architecture of the essay itself, signposts remind readers of what the essay's stakes are: what it's about, and why it's being written. 

Signposting can be accomplished in a sentence or two at the beginning of a paragraph or in whole paragraphs that serve as transitions between one part of the argument and the next. The following example comes from an essay examining how a painting by Monet,  The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train,  challenges Zola's declarations about Impressionist art. The student writer wonders whether Monet's Impressionism is really as devoted to avoiding "ideas" in favor of direct sense impressions as Zola's claims would seem to suggest. This is the start of the essay's third section:

It is evident in this painting that Monet found his Gare Saint-Lazare motif fascinating at the most fundamental level of the play of light as well as the loftiest level of social relevance.  Arrival of a Train  explores both extremes of expression. At the fundamental extreme, Monet satisfies the Impressionist objective of capturing the full-spectrum effects of light on a scene.

 The writer signposts this section in the first sentence, reminding readers of the stakes of the essay itself with the simultaneous references to sense impression ("play of light") and intellectual content ("social relevance"). The second sentence follows up on this idea, while the third serves as a topic sentence for the paragraph. The paragraph after that starts off with a topic sentence about the "cultural message" of the painting, something that the signposting sentence predicts by not only reminding readers of the essay's stakes but also, and quite clearly, indicating what the section itself will contain. 

Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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How to Write a Strong Topic Sentence + Examples

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What’s Covered:

  • What Is a Topic Sentence?
  • 5 Steps to Writing a Good Topic Sentence

Elements of a Good Topic Sentence

Common pitfalls to avoid.

  • Where To Get Your Essay Edited For Free

Crafting the perfect essay takes time and dedication. There are so many elements you have to worry about, such as tone, purpose, and correct spelling and grammar. Writing a strong topic sentences is another critical part in writing a cohesive essay. 

Without a strong topic sentence, you risk losing your reader and perhaps part of your grade. If it’s a college admissions essay, then you need it to be as strong as possible to back up your application. Learn about what steps you should take to write a strong topic sentence.

What Is a Topic Sentence? 

People often confuse a topic sentence with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is typically at the end of your opening paragraph, that dictates the main argument you’ll be making in your essay. 

Throughout your essay, you’ll have multiple topic sentences, as each paragraph should start off with one. This beginning sentence is used to direct the topic of the paragraph and outline the flow of the following sentences. It’s used to help guide your reader and to continue to keep them hooked on your overall essay. Without topic sentences, your essay will be unorganized, lack transitions, and sound very choppy. To write a good topic sentence, there are several steps to take.

Writing a Good Topic Sentence: 5 Steps

Step 1: decide what you’re going to write about..

When you see the essay prompt, you’ll have some time to think through what you want to say and why. You have to decide if it’s a persuasive essay, informative, narrative, or descriptive. Determine your purpose for writing the essay after reading through the prompt. Whether it’s an assignment for school or if it’s to get into college, you need to make sure you have that purpose clearly outlined. 

Step 2: Create a thesis statement.

One of the first things you need to do is create a thesis statement. This is typically a sentence with three points that you’ll back up throughout your essay. 

For example: The Office became a cultural phenomenon because it spurred the careers of many of today’s successful movie stars, it talked about situations that most American workers can relate to, and even 15 years later, offers funny, relevant content that helps to break down prejudices. 

You then use that thesis statement to create an essay around the points you want to make. 

Step 3: Make your essay outline.

Once you have the points you want to make within your thesis statement hammered out, make an outline for your essay. This is where you’ll start to create your topic sentence for each paragraph. You want to clearly state the main idea of that paragraph in the very first sentence. From there, you back up that main idea with facts and reputable sources. Make sure your topic sentence is clear, but does not just announce your topic. 

For example, do not write something like: “In this paragraph, I will discuss why it’s bad that poachers are killing giraffes.”

Instead, write something that clearly states your idea with a reasonable opinion and that gives direction to the paragraph: “Giraffes are a key part of the African ecosystem, so it’s important to enforce regulations against the poachers who are killing them for their body parts.” 

You’d then follow that up with reasons why giraffes are a key part of the African ecosystem and how poachers are destroying their population.

Step 4: Begin writing your essay.

Once you have your thesis statement and you’ve created an outline with supporting paragraphs and their topic sentences, you can begin writing your essay. It’s important to make that outline before just jumping in–a disorganized essay can spell disaster for you as you continue to write, and could result in a poor grade. Many times, teachers will even require you to turn in your outline as part of your overall essay grade. 

Step 5: Proofread and check your resources.

After you’ve written the essay, go back through it with a fine tooth comb. Read through each topic sentence and the paragraphs that follow to ensure that you’ve written clear, solid topic sentences throughout and that the paragraphs with them make sense. During the proofreading phase, you also need to recheck the sources you’re using. Make sure each source is reputable. In other words, do not use sites like Wikipedia where anyone can go in and edit an article to add misinformation. Use sites that:

  • Are actual reputable news sources, such as the New York Times , CNN, CBS News
  • Have domain names that end in .edu or .gov
  • Come from an encyclopedia, such as Encyclopedia Britannica

Using sites that are not reputable could jeopardize the validity of your argument. 

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Now that you know the steps to set yourself up for success when writing a topic sentence, there are certain elements that go into a quality first sentence. Always make sure that your topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph. You don’t want to make your reader hunt for the point you’re trying to make. Check out some key elements of a good topic sentence:

Make sure your topic sentence isn’t too vague.

You need a topic sentence that has some specifics to it. It also needs to hook in your reader in some way with an opinion. A vague sentence makes it harder to write a paragraph that can clearly backs up your thoughts. For example:

DON’T: “In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley seems like a nice guy.”

DO: “When Mr. Bingley is first introduced, he comes across as a kind person because he speaks to everyone and doesn’t immediately pass judgment.”

Choose a reasonable opinion.

Your topic sentence should clearly outline whatever point you’re trying to make in the paragraph, but you want to pick a reasonable opinion that you can easily reinforce with facts and statistics. Here’s an example of what you should and should not do:

DON’T: “It’s obvious that Mr. Bingley was a total loser with no backbone.”

DO: “Mr. Bingley could have shown more confidence in his choices and stood up to Mr. Darcy when he found himself in love with Jane Bennet.”

You can then back that up with facts, saying that he was a wealthy Englishman and thus one of the key players in society at the time, which should have given him more confidence. If he’d been more confident, perhaps he would not have left and devastated Jane.

Use your topic sentence as a transition.

Along with telling the reader the point of your next paragraph, your topic sentence should also serve as a transition from the previous paragraph. Without a transition, the essay can feel like it’s choppy and disjointed. For example:

DON’T: “Mr. Bingley is a good man and here’s why.”

DO: “Although Mr. Bingley did break Jane’s heart by leaving, he ended up redeeming himself by returning to Netherfield Hall.”

Keep your topic sentence short.

A long, drawn-out topic sentence can risk losing your reader. Many times, it’s hard to determine the point of a sentence when it goes on for too long. You want a clear, concise sentence that draws in the reader but also leaves some room for you to expand on it in the following paragraph.

DON’T: “Throughout the novel of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley was often quite different from Mr. Darcy as he would treat all people in a friendly manner, considering them all his friends and acquaintances, even agreeing to throw a ball after Elizabeth’s sisters rudely demanded he do so and was gracious to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as well despite their manners.”

DO: “Overall, Mr. Bingley served as a foil to Mr. Darcy throughout the story by treating everyone around him equally with dignity and grace.”

Writing an essay can be overwhelming at times, but so long as you avoid some of these common pitfalls, it can be easier to get it done on time. 

Don’t wait until the last minute.

If your teacher assigns you an essay or tells you that you have an essay test coming up, don’t wait until the day before to do anything about it. You have to plan or study and you need to give yourself time to do that. If you know it takes you a while to write something, then start planning it as soon as you get the assignment.

Don’t forget to write an outline.

Along with planning, make sure you have that outline written up and planned out well. It will serve as your guideline for writing the essay. Without it, you’ll face the risk of a disorganized essay that does not clearly illustrate your point.

Ask for help if you need it.

This may be the most important pitfall to avoid. If you get in over your head while writing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a friend to review the essay or ask your teacher for guidance. 

Where to Get Your Essay Edited for Free

Once you’ve finished your essay, you may want additional input. There are tools out there to help, but CollegeVine’s free peer essay review tool can provide you with actionable feedback from students just like you. CollegeVine’s tool has helped many students and may be able to help you, too! Asking for peer feedback can help to refine your essay and it never hurts to have an extra set of eyes read through what you’ve written. Check out the free tool today!

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What is a topic sentence?

A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph: it serves as a mini-thesis for the paragraph. You might think of it as a signpost for your readers—or a headline—something that alerts them to the most important, interpretive points in your essay. When read in sequence, your essay’s topic sentences will provide a sketch of the essay’s argument. Thus topics sentences help protect your readers from confusion by guiding them through the argument. But topic sentences can also help you to improve your essay by making it easier for you to recognize gaps or weaknesses in your argument.

Where do topic sentences go?

Topic sentences usually appear at the very beginning of paragraphs. In the following example from Anatomy of Criticism , Northrop Frye establishes the figure of the tragic hero as someone more than human, but less than divine. He backs up his claim with examples of characters from literature, religion and mythology whose tragic stature is a function of their ability to mediate between their fellow human beings and a power that transcends the merely human:

The tragic hero is typically on top of the wheel of fortune, half-way between human society on the ground and the something greater in the sky. Prometheus, Adam, and Christ hang between heaven and earth, between a world of paradisal freedom and a world of bondage. Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning: Milton’s Samson destroys the Philistine temple with himself, and Hamlet nearly exterminates the Danish court in his own fall.

The structure of Frye’s paragraph is simple yet powerful: the topic sentence makes an abstract point, and the rest of the paragraph elaborates on that point using concrete examples as evidence.

Does a topic sentence have to be at the beginning of a paragraph?

No, though this is usually the most logical place for it. Sometimes a transitional sentence or two will come before a topic sentence:

We found in comedy that the term bomolochos or buffoon need not be restricted to farce, but could be extended to cover comic characters who are primarily entertainers, with the function of increasing or focusing the comic mood. The corresponding contrasting type is the suppliant, the character, often female, who presents a picture of unmitigated helplessness and destitution. Such a figure is pathetic, and pathos, though it seems a gentler and more relaxed mood than tragedy, is even more terrifying. Its basis is the exclusion of an individual from the group; hence it attacks the deepest fear in ourselves that we possess—a fear much deeper than the relatively cosy and sociable bogey of hell. In the suppliant pity and terror are brought to the highest possible pitch of intensity, and the awful consequences of rejecting the suppliant for all concerned is a central theme of Greek tragedy.

The context for this passage is an extended discussion of the characteristics of tragedy. In this paragraph, Frye begins by drawing a parallel between the figure of the buffoon in comedy and that of the suppliant in tragedy. His discussion of the buffoon occurred in a earlier section of the chapter, a section devoted to comedy. The first sentence of the current paragraph is transitional: it prepares the way for the topic sentence. The delayed topic sentence contributes to the coherence of Frye’s discussion by drawing an explicit connection between key ideas in the book. In essays, the connection is usually between the last paragraph and the current one.

Sometimes writers save a topic sentence for the end of a paragraph. You may, for example, occasionally find that giving away your point at the beginning of a paragraph does not allow you to build your argument toward an effective climax.

How do I come up with a topic sentence? And what makes a good one?

Ask yourself what’s going on in your paragraph. Why have you chosen to include the information you have? Why is the paragraph important in the context of your argument? What point are you trying to make?

Relating your topic sentences to your thesis can help strengthen the coherence of your essay. If you include a thesis statement in your introduction, then think of incorporating a keyword from that statement into the topic sentence. But you need not be overly explicit when you echo the thesis statement. Better to be subtle rather than heavy-handed. Do not forget that your topic sentence should do more than just establish a connection between your paragraph and your thesis. Use a topic sentence to show how your paragraph contributes to the development of your argument by moving it that one extra step forward. If your topic sentence merely restates your thesis, then either your paragraph is redundant or your topic sentence needs to be reformulated. If several of your topic sentences restate your thesis, even if they do so in different words, then your essay is probably repetitive.

Does every paragraph need one?

No, but most do. Sometimes a paragraph helps to develop the same point as in the previous paragraph, and so a new topic sentence would be redundant. And sometimes the evidence in your paragraph makes your point so effectively that your topic sentence can remain implicit. But if you are in doubt, it’s best to use one.

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How to Write a Good Topic Sentence

Last Updated: March 7, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,245,853 times.

Perfecting the skill of writing topic sentences is essential to successful writing. A topic sentence usually comes at the beginning of a paragraph and lets your reader know what to expect from each paragraph. Think of it as the preview for a movie or a headline in a newspaper, highlighting the “main point” that’s to come in that paragraph. [1] X Research source Make sure your topic sentences are up to par, and the rest of your writing will feel like a breeze.

Writing a Successful Topic Sentence

Step 1 State your main idea clearly.

  • Keep in mind that this is not an invitation to simply announce your topic. “Today I’m going to discuss the benefits of gardening” is not an effective topic sentence. You should be able to make your intentions clear without stating them explicitly.
  • The topic sentence in this example states a clear direction (“health benefits of gardening”) that you can then elaborate on in your paragraph.

Step 2 Balance the topic sentence between specifics and general ideas.

  • Don’t write too vague or general an idea or you will never be able to discuss it in a single paragraph. This is too general: “The United States suffered a lot during the Civil War.”
  • Don’t write too narrow of a statement. There’s nothing much to talk about then, because it’s probably a fact. This is too narrow: “Christmas trees are either cedars or firs."
  • Instead, aim for a good balance: “Sherman’s destruction in the South during the Civil War also caused incredible suffering.” This is big enough to relate to the broader idea of an essay, but not so narrow that there’s nothing left to discuss.

Step 3 Hook your reader.

  • Describe a character. This can be a physical or emotional description.
  • Use dialogue. If there is a relevant conversation that will attract your reader’s attention, consider using part of it to start your paragraph.
  • Portray an emotion. Use the opening sentence to portray an emotion to your reader.
  • Use detail. While you don’t want to write a run on sentence by creating too much detail, it’s a good idea to create interest using sensory language in your topic sentence.
  • Avoid rhetorical questions. While you want your reader to formulate questions in his or her mind, you do not want to formulate the questions yourself.

Step 4 Keep it short and sweet.

  • Avoid presenting only facts in your topic sentence. While facts may be interesting, they do not introduce the reader to your paragraph nor do they draw the reader in. If you wish to include a fact, also include your own input. For example, instead of writing “All dogs need food,” try “All dogs need regular care, including healthy food, and children are the best ones to do it.” Alternatively, save your facts to use as evidence in the body of your paragraph.

Step 6 Use the topic sentence as a transition.

  • Using transitional elements, such as “In addition” or “In contrast,” is a good way to show the relationship between your ideas.
  • For example: “Although gardening has many health benefits, people still need to exercise caution when outside.” This topic sentence establishes a connection to the main idea of the previous paragraph (“health benefits of gardening”) and points to the direction of the new paragraph (“things to be cautious of”).

Planning Your Topic Sentences

Step 1  Write an...

  • You don’t have to write a formal outline using Roman numerals and the like. Even a loose, idea-based outline can help you know what you want to discuss.

Step 2 Understand the connection...

  • A topic sentence, unlike a thesis statement, doesn’t have to present an argument. It can present a “preview” of what the paragraph will argue or discuss.

Step 3 Look at some examples.

  • For example, a topic sentence could look like this: “In addition, increasing funding for public roads in Jackson County will improve local residents’ quality of life.” The rest of the sentences in this paragraph would relate to the main idea of public roads and how they will help benefit local residents.
  • This is not as successful a topic sentence: “Increased funding for public roads in Jackson County has decreased traffic by 20%.” While this is probably an interesting fact for your argument, it’s too narrow for a topic sentence. The topic sentence has to direct the whole paragraph.

Avoiding Common Problems

Step 1 Avoid introducing yourself.

  • Unless it is an opinion piece, avoid using ‘I’ in your topic sentences.

Step 2 Make sure your wording is clear.

  • Rather than stating something like “In the story, Amelia did many good things such as help out her friends, talk to her parents, and support her team at school” say something like “As a result of the many activities Amelia participated in, she was recognized for her positive influence on the community.”

Step 4 Avoid starting with a quote.

Sample Topic Sentences

good topic sentence for an essay

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Avoid using words like you or we because it implies you know the reader, which you don’t. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • In formal writing, avoid contractions such as “don’t,” “can’t,” and “isn’t.” Also avoid other common contractions like “would’ve” and “could’ve” which are commonly used. Instead type them out to look like “do not,” “can not”, “is not”, “would have”, and “could have.” Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Type out all numbers under a ten. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/planning-and-organizing/topic-sentences
  • ↑ https://wts.indiana.edu/writing-guides/paragraphs-and-topic-sentences.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/paragraphs_and_paragraphing/index.html
  • ↑ https://stlcc.edu/student-support/academic-success-and-tutoring/writing-center/writing-resources/topic-sentence-paragraph.aspx
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/paragraphs/topicsentences
  • ↑ https://www.rit.edu/ntid/sea/processes/paragraph/process/sentence
  • ↑ https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter/writingprocess/outlining
  • ↑ https://www.touro.edu/departments/writing-center/tutorials/topic-sentence/
  • ↑ https://owl.english.purdue.edu/engagement/2/2/57/
  • ↑ http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/paragraphs/

About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

If you’re trying to write a good topic sentence, start by clearly stating your main idea, which should include the topic and the position you’re taking on it. Aim to write a sentence that’s broad enough for discussion but narrow enough to be covered in a single paragraph. If you can, start with a hook, like a detail, character, or emotion that would draw in your readers. For more advice from our reviewer on writing a good topic sentence, like how to make it effective while keeping it short and sweet, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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good topic sentence for an essay

What is a Topic Sentence? (Definition, Examples, How to Use)

Topic sentence

What is a topic sentence ? A topic sentence , the first sentence of a paragraph, presents the main concept discussed in the paragraph. It must contain sufficient information to support numerous examples and subtopics without being too broad to obscure the essay’s intended purpose. The remaining sentences in the paragraph will act as supporting statements, providing evidence and examples for the main idea.

Topic sentence

Importance of topic sentences

In essays or articles , where subjects can shift from one paragraph to another, a topic phrase is particularly crucial. The topic sentences, superficially, may seem to serve the purpose of only acting like the initial or introductory sentence of a paragraph. But it has numerous other purposes that make it an important part of essays.

  • Topic sentences link paragraphs together to improve the sentence flow and make reading easier. When topic sentences are not used, switching between paragraphs can feel abrupt and jarring to the reader. Authors can maintain the rhythm of their writing using topic sentences and facilitate smooth transitions.
  • Topic sentences show the reader a sample of what to expect from the paragraph. The readers can determine from the topic sentence whether the paragraph will comprise a narrative, a list, anecdotal evidence, statistical data, persuasive opinions, or some other form of evidence.
  • If two conflicting viewpoints are presented in a single paragraph, authors can use more than one topic sentence to inform the readers about the changes in the main concept. For example, paragraphs that “compare and contrast” require more than one topic sentence. In these kinds of paragraphs, authors can start with a topic sentence introducing the first idea and follow it up with proof or evidence supporting the idea. Then they can introduce the second topic sentence conveying the opposing viewpoint, followed by proof or evidence supporting it.

Topic sentence

Different types of topic sentences

The different types of topic sentences include:

Simple statement

This topic sentence is used by authors to make a general observation or statement and then elaborate on it in the body of the paragraph.

New studies are emerging indicating the link between climate change and the emergence of numerous new virus strains.

Interrogative or question

This is used by writers in less formal settings. Authors can start a paragraph using implicit or explicit questions related to the topic of discussion to engage the readers.

How many nations are ready to adapt to rising sea levels?

Complex topic sentences are used when the author is discussing a complicated concept that encompasses multiple ideas. Such topic sentences cover more than a single core idea.

Although many people believe that a mother bird will reject its chick if it is touched by humans, the truth is that birds do not abandon their babies after humans touch them.

Authors can use their topic sentences to make explicit demands or pleas to their readers. This will be helpful in breaking the monotony of the essay.

Let’s look at the data from the latest research.

Purely transitional

Though topic sentences are generally responsible for facilitating a smooth transition between paragraphs, occasionally they are purely transitional. These function best when the main topic shifts abruptly by highlighting the switch.

But not everybody agrees.

Pivot sentences are not found at the beginning of a paragraph but rather in the middle, indicating a change in the topic. Conjunctive adverbs like however, furthermore, and meanwhile are frequently used with them.

However, the undisputed king of tennis, Roger Federer, was dethroned in 2008 at Wimbledon.

How to create good topic sentences

A good topic sentence can be created using some simple steps:

1. Determine the key point of your essay

Writers should first form an understanding of the topic of the essay and then create topic sentences to attract the attention of readers. Constructing a good thesis statement can assist the writer in forming better topic sentences.

2. Have an outline for the essay

The author should form a plan or roadmap beforehand on the topics they want to discuss in a paragraph and the evidence they want to use as supporting statements.

3. Be coherent and clear

Writers should make their topic sentences clear and comprehensible so that the reader can form a clear understanding of what to expect in the paragraph.

4. Share opinions

It is advisable to share the opinion or viewpoint of the author in the topic sentence to attract the attention of the reader. Authors should also refrain from writing obvious facts in the topic sentences.

5. Use specific wordings

The topic sentences ought to be precise enough so that the authors can use a few sentences in the paragraph to support them.

6. Transitions should be added between paragraphs

To give the essay or paper a throughline, authors can create topic sentences that refer to the prior paragraph. A topic sentence can make a reference to the preceding paragraph while introducing the next part by using transitional words.

7. Use new, relevant information

Instead of using an obvious fact that everybody knows as the topic sentence, authors can give new information. It is also important to present them in an interesting way.

8. Create a compound or complex topic statement

Compound or complex topic statements feel advanced and stronger. Authors can create such topic statements to add a high level of sophistication to their text.

Many beginner writers and students confuse thesis statements with topic sentences. In essence, thesis statements establish the major idea discussed in the entire essay or paper, as opposed to topic sentences, which introduce the central concept of a paragraph.

Both of these sentences are responsible for giving the readers a sample of what to expect, but in entirely different capacities. Suppose a person is writing a thesis about the different compounds present in coffee and the health benefits it offers.

The thesis statement will be a generalized statement indicating that there are numerous compounds in coffee that benefit the health of humans. But the topic sentence of each paragraph will introduce any single health benefit or compound present in the coffee.

Topic sentences are typically found at the beginning of a paragraph. But this does not mean that they cannot be placed elsewhere in the paragraph. In some cases, when the details discussed can be summarized into a general statement, topic sentences can be included at the end.

Similarly, in some paragraphs where multiple concepts are discussed, topic sentences may be used in the middle of the paragraph. The placement depends on the number of topics being discussed and the way they are discussed.

  • Merriam Webster – topic sentence – Definition
  • Wikipedia – Topic sentence
  • wikiHow – How to Write a Good Topic Sentence
  • Scribbr – How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose

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Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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How To Write An Essay

Topic Sentence

Barbara P

Learn How to Write a Topic Sentence that Stands Out

Published on: Jan 13, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

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As a student, you have probably heard the term "topic sentence" thrown around a lot in your English or writing classes. But do you really understand what it means and how important it is for effective writing?

Well, many students struggle with crafting strong topic sentences that effectively convey their ideas. They may find themselves unsure of how to make their topic sentence stand out in a sea of other ideas.

In this blog, we will explore the art of writing a great topic sentence, with examples and tips to help you enhance your skills. By the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of how to craft a topic sentence that will make your writing clear, concise, and engaging.

So let’s get started!

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What is a Topic Sentence?

A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph in an essay that introduces the main idea or topic of that paragraph. It serves as a roadmap for the reader, letting them know what to expect in the upcoming paragraph. 

Purpose of Topic Sentence

The purpose of a topic sentence is to clearly and concisely convey the main point of the paragraph to the reader. 

It helps to guide the reader through the essay, making it easier for them to follow the overall argument or narrative.

Features of a Good Topic Sentence

A good topic sentence has a few key features. Let’s take a look: 

  • Expresses the main idea of the paragraph or essay clearly and concisely.
  • Is specific and focused , avoiding vague or overly general statements.
  • Introduces the main point and is typically located at the beginning of the paragraph or essay.
  • Presents a claim or position that is arguable or debatable, which the rest of the paragraph or essay will support.
  • Can be a complete sentence or a concise phrase that effectively conveys the main idea.
  • Is relevant to the thesis statement and overall topic of the essay.
  • Engages the reader by creating interest and highlighting the significance of the topic.
  • Is well-written and avoids grammar and spelling errors.
  • Provides a roadmap for the rest of the paragraph or essay by indicating what will be covered.
  • Encourages coherence and unity in the writing by linking the paragraph or essay to the broader topic.

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Types of Topic Sentences

There are several different types of topic sentences that can be used in writing to introduce the reader through a paragraph or essay.

Simple Statement Topic Sentence This is the most common type of topic sentence, which straightforwardly states the main point or idea of the paragraph or essay.

Example: The rise of social media has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other.

Complex Topic Sentence This type of topic sentence is more nuanced and may require some explanation or elaboration to fully understand.

Example: While the rise of social media has had many positive effects on communication, it has also led to concerns about privacy and online harassment.

Pivot Topic Sentence A pivot topic sentence begins by connecting the current paragraph or idea to the previous one, before pivoting to introduce a new point or idea.

Example: Building on the idea of social media's impact on communication, it is important to consider how it has also affected business and marketing strategies.

Question Topic Sentence A question topic sentence poses a question that the rest of the paragraph or essay will answer or explore.

Example: How has social media changed the way businesses interact with customers and advertise their products?

Command Topic Sentence This type of topic sentence gives a directive or instruction, often used in persuasive or argumentative essays.

Example: Support local businesses by shopping at independently owned stores instead of large chains.

How to Write a Topic Sentence?

Here are a few instructions to help you write a good topic sentence. 

Step#1 Clearly State The Main Idea

A topic sentence is the first paragraph of the paragraph. It must clearly explain the particular subject that would be discussed in the paragraph. This should be stated in very clear language so that the reader can easily understand the idea. 

Also, it should include a bit of your personal opinion and also the main idea. 

Step#2 Hook Your Reader

Grab your reader's attention with an intriguing topic sentence. It would excite and make the reader curious about the content and convince them to read the particular part. 

Look out for some amazing hook examples and see what fits your essay type. 

Use a meaningful and relevant question or a fact as a topic sentence of the paragraph. Make sure that you have identified your audience and are developing everything accordingly. 

Step#3 Keep It Short and Precise

The paragraph topic sentence must be expressive enough that a reader understands your point of view effortlessly. This is only possible if you keep everything to the point, short, and meaningful. 

Choose the words in such a way that they help you express your idea in an ideal way. Avoid using complex sentences and use independent clauses.  

A topic sentence acts as a link between a paragraph and the main thesis statement. It should be specific and connected to the overall essay. Keeping it short and precise helps maintain the paragraph's flow and its relevance to the rest of the writing.

Step#4 Give A Reasonable Opinion

The body paragraph explains a topic sentence. This is why it is important that you should write this sentence in such a way that it can be explained in the paragraph.  If you are mentioning a fact in the topic statement, make sure that you have authentic evidence to support it. 

While the topic sentence is an integral part of the paragraph, it should stand out and possess a distinctiveness that sets it apart from the other sentences. This can be achieved by employing transition words and establishing connections between sentences.

Step#5 Use The Topic Sentence As A Transition

The topic sentences that serve as transition sentences can be considered a guide for the readers. This way, they can help the reader to move through the essay in a flow. 

Write this sentence in such a way that it creates a gateway between the previous paragraph and the rest of the essay. Moreover, it will also help keep the essay organized, and the reader understands the point of a paragraph.

Step#6 Look For Some Good Examples

Examples can help you learn a thing in a better way. If you are new to writing topic sentences, it can help to look at some examples. Find some great examples of topic sentences relevant to your essay topic.

Difference Between Topic Sentence and Thesis Sentence

Here's a table outlining the differences between a topic sentence and a thesis statement:

Good Topic Sentence Examples

Here are ten examples of good topic sentences:

  •  "Despite the advancements in technology, traditional forms of communication are still essential in today's society."
  • "The theme of power is prevalent throughout Shakespeare's play, Macbeth."
  • "In recent years, there has been a growing concern over the impact of climate change on our planet."
  • "The legalization of marijuana has been a topic of debate for many years." "Education is the key to success in life."
  • "The rise of social media has greatly impacted the way we communicate with one another."
  • "The effects of childhood trauma can have a lasting impact on mental health."
  • "The concept of justice is explored in depth in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird."
  • "Eating a balanced diet is crucial for maintaining good health."
  • "The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on the world as we know it today."

The Bottom Line!

An opening sentence is crucial to grab your reader's attention and set the tone for your piece of writing. The topic sentence introduces the controlling idea and acts as an important sentence in the essay outline. 

Effective topic sentences are necessary for a well-structured and organized essay. It's an integral part of the writing process that should not be overlooked. 

Make sure to spend time crafting a compelling topic sentence that clearly conveys your main point and guides your readers throughout your essay. You can even take ideas from an AI essay generator to get started.

However, if you find yourself struggling to write a good opening sentence, don't worry! CollegeEssay.org is here to help you with all your writing needs. We have the best online essay writing service providing top-quality essays that are sure to impress your professors.

So, why wait? Contact our essay writing service now and take the first step toward academic success!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a topic sentence.

A topic sentence can be multiple sentences long. The first sets the context for your ideas, while the second provides more depth on what you are saying beyond just stating it outright.

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Topic Sentences

Pick up any newspaper or magazine and read the first sentence of an article. Are you fairly confident that you know what the rest of the article is about? If so, you have likely read the topic sentence. An effective topic sentence combines a subject with the writer’s position on that subject or claim about it. It serves to orient the reader and provides an indication of what will follow in the rest of the paragraph. Example:

This topic sentence declares a position in favor of standardizing math and English education. After reading this sentence, a reader might reasonably expect the writer to provide supporting details and facts as to why standardizing math and English education might improve student learning in many states. If the purpose of the essay is actually to evaluate education in only one particular state, or to discuss math or English education specifically, then the topic sentence is misleading and should be revised to say so.

Subject Versus Claim

Good topic sentences contain both a subject (the overall matter, issue, or field of inquiry) and a claim (the writer’s specific point about the subject, or position on it). Different writers may use the same subject but can steer their paragraph in a number of different directions according to their claim, or stance on the subject. Examples:

  • Marijuana is a destructive influence on teens and causes long-term brain damage.
  • The anti-nausea properties in marijuana are a lifeline for many cancer patients.
  • Legalizing marijuana would create a higher demand for Class A and Class B drugs.

Although the subject—marijuana—is the same in all three topic sentences, the claim differs depending on the writer’s viewpoint. For instance, in the first sentence, the claim about marijuana is that it “is a destructive influence on teens and causes long-term brain damage.”

Separately identify the subject and the claim about it in each of the following topic sentences:

1. Exercising three times a week is the only way to maintain good physical health.

2. Sexism and racism are still rampant in today’s workplace.

3. Raising the legal driving age to twenty-one would decrease road traffic accidents.

4. Owning a business is the only way to achieve financial success.

5. Dog owners should be prohibited from taking their pets on public beaches.

Characteristics of a Good Topic Sentence

The following are characteristics good topic sentences:

  • A good topic sentence provides an accurate indication of what will follow in the rest of the paragraph.

Weak example. People rarely give firefighters the credit they deserve for such a physically and emotionally demanding job. (The paragraph is about a specific incident that involved firefighters; therefore, this topic sentence is too general.)

Stronger example. During the October riots, Unit 3B went beyond the call of duty. (This topic sentence is more specific and indicates that the paragraph will contain information about a particular incident involving Unit 3B.)

  • A good topic sentence contains both a subject and claim.

Weak example. In this paper, I am going to discuss the rising suicide rate among young professionals. (This topic sentence provides a subject, but it does not present a claim.)

Stronger example. The rising suicide rate among young professionals should become a higher priority among the concerns of human resource departments. (This topic sentence presents the writer’s claim on the subject of rising suicide rates among young professionals.)

  • A good topic sentence is clear and easy to follow.

Weak example. In general, writing an essay, thesis, or other academic or nonacademic document is considerably easier and of much higher quality if you first construct an outline, of which there are many different types. (This topic sentence includes a subject and claim, but both are buried beneath the confusing sentence structure and unnecessary vocabulary. These obstacles make it difficult for the reader to follow.)

Stronger example. Most forms of writing can be improved by first creating an outline. (This topic sentence cuts out unnecessary words and simplifies the previous statement, making it easier for the reader to follow.)

  • A good topic sentence does not include supporting details.

Weak example. Salaries should be capped in baseball for many reasons, most importantly so we don’t allow the teams with budgets that exceed their competitors by four or five times to have such an extreme advantage year after year. (This topic sentence includes a supporting detail that should be included later in the paragraph to support the main point.)

Stronger example. Introducing a salary cap would improve the game of baseball for many reasons. (This topic sentence omits the additional supporting detail so that it can be expanded upon later in the paragraph.)

Choose the most effective topic sentence from the following sentence pairs.

1. Which is the more effective topic sentence?

a. This paper will discuss the likelihood of the Democrats winning the next election.

b. To boost their chances of winning the next election, the Democrats need to listen to public opinion.

2. Which is the more effective topic sentence?

a. The unrealistic demands of union workers are crippling the economy for the following three reasons.

b. Union workers are crippling the economy because companies are unable to remain competitive as a result of added financial pressure, which in turn forces companies trying to survive to relocate overseas where non-union wages can be half or in some cases less than half of union wages.

3. Which is the more effective topic sentence?

a. Major companies are stealing back digital content that customers purchased, which is destroying the very concept of ownership.

b. Technology is having drastic effects on how companies deal with digital sales nowadays.

4. Which is the more effective topic sentence?

a. Pop music has lost the genuine heart and superb artistry that it displayed in the past.

b. This essay will consider the quality of pop music.

Using the tips on developing effective topic sentences in this section, create a topic sentence on each of the following subjects. Remember to include the subject as well as the claim.

An endangered species

____________________________________________

The cost of fuel

The legal drinking age

A controversial film or novel

The Writing Textbook Copyright © 2021 by Josh Woods, editor and contributor, as well as an unnamed author (by request from the original publisher), and other authors named separately is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Essay Writing Guide

What Is A Topic Sentence

Last updated on: Jun 13, 2023

What is a Topic Sentence - An Easy Guide with Writing Steps & Examples

By: Nova A.

11 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Mar 12, 2019

What is a Topic Sentence

A topic sentence is the opening sentence at the beginning of each paragraph. These sentences tell the readers about the main idea that will be discussed in that paragraph. 

It is most important part of a body paragraph, and knowing how to write a good topic sentence is essential for writing an essay . However, writing an effective topic sentence could be tough. 

If you find it difficult to write clear and engaging topic sentences, you are not alone. But don’t worry! 

This blog will help you understand topic sentences better with examples. Also, you’ll get step-by-step guide and tips for writing more effective topic sentences. 

So let’s dive in!

What is a Topic Sentence

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What is a Topic Sentence in a Paragraph?

A topic sentence is the opening sentence of the body paragraphs of your essay. It introduces the main idea of that paragraph.

So what is the purpose of a topic sentence? 

It serves as a guidepost, indicating the main purpose and point of the paragraph. Essentially, it is a concise and direct statement that captures the essence of what you want to convey.

A topic sentence is defined by the following characteristics:

  • It is the first sentence of a paragraph
  • It indicates the main idea of the paragraph
  • Acts as a signpost and transition sentence, ensuring clarity and cohesiveness of an essay.

Why are Topic Sentences Important? 

Topic sentences are an essential component of body paragraphs , especially in academic writing which is more formal. Here’s why good these sentences are necessary for an essay:

  • They help maintain the organization and coherence of the essay. 

Topic sentences act as a roadmap for your essay, providing a clear path for your readers to follow. They establish the main ideas or arguments of each paragraph, allowing your essay to flow logically and coherently. 

By presenting a central focus in each paragraph, they help you maintain a strong sense of organization. Also, they prevent your essay from becoming a jumbled collection of random thoughts.

  • They enhance clarity and readability.

Well-crafted topic sentences promote clarity and conciseness in your writing by summarizing the main idea in a concise manner.

Moreover, they serve as signposts that signal the beginning of a particular discussion. This creates a smooth reading experience and reduces the chances of confusion.

  • They help the reader skim through the essay.

These sentences provide readers with a preview of what each paragraph will discuss. This helps them grasp the main point before delving into the rest of the paragraph.

They also enable the readers to quickly grasp the content of a paragraph. This makes it easier for them to skim through the main ideas of the essay without reading it word-by-word.

Topic Sentence vs Thesis Statement: Main Differences

Topic sentences are similar to thesis statements as they fulfill a similar purpose: they show the reader what the paragraph or essay is about. 

However, a thesis statement is written at the end of the essay introduction, and it presents the main idea of the entire paper or essay. Whereas, a topic sentence presents the main idea of a specific paragraph, and is the first sentence of that paragraph.

Here are the major differences between topic sentences and thesis statements:

Difference between a Topic Sentence and a Thesis Statement

How to Write a Topic Sentence? Here are 4 Simple Steps 

If you think about it, writing such a sentence seems like a simple task. All you have to do is write one line about the idea you’ll discuss, and you’re done. 

Well, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You need to follow some conditions to write good opening lines for your body paragraphs. 

Here are the steps to write engaging topic sentences:

1. Develop your Thesis Statement 

Writing a specific and self-defining thesis statement is the first step in writing an essay. A thesis statement is necessary as it lays out the main points or structure of your entire essay. 

Having a thesis statement helps you figure out what your body paragraphs will be about. This, in turn, helps you identify each paragraphs controlling idea and craft a topic sentence.

2. Identify the Controlling Ideas of Your Body Paragraphs

Once you have a thesis statement for your essay, identify the main idea or central theme of the paragraphs.

Ask yourself, "What is the key point I want to convey in this paragraph?" This will serve as the focus and topic of your paragraph. Moreover, identifying your main points will also help you make an essay outline.

Here’s an example of how you can identify the main ideas of your body paragraphs:

3. Write your Topic Sentence

Now that you know the main idea of each paragraph, you should attempt to write your topic sentences. It is not necessary that you get the sentences right the first time. Try different variations and see which of the sentences explains the paragraph idea in a better way. 

Ensure that your topic sentence relates directly to your thesis statement or the main argument of your essay. The topic sentence should support and reinforce the overall message you want to convey in your writing.

The example below shows topic sentences based on the main ideas identified in step 2:

4. Revise and Make your Topic Sentences Better

A strong topic sentence should be clear, concise, and directly related to your thesis statement. They should also be logically connected to the previous paragraph. It is important that you revise, make them better, and rewrite the sentences as you progress with the paper. 

Make sure that they reflect the main theme of the paragraph and are according to the paragraph’s content. Use appropriate transition words for essays when transitioning from one paragraph to another.

Read on to learn about different types of topic sentences. They will help you to write, rewrite, and revise your opening sentences in the best ways.

What are the Different Types of Topic Sentences?

Here are some common types of topic sentences you can incorporate in your essay.

[Infographic]

  • Statement of Fact or Information

This type of topic sentence presents a straightforward statement of fact or information that sets the stage for the paragraph. It provides essential background knowledge or introduces a key concept. 

  • Hook or Shocker  

This kind of sentence presents a shocking statement of fact about the paragraph’s key idea. This type of topic sentence aims to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read more. 

  • Illustration or Example

An illustration or example topic sentence provides a specific instance or anecdote to support the main idea of the paragraph. It helps to clarify and reinforce your argument by providing concrete evidence or a real-life scenario. 

  • Question or Thought-Provoking Statement  

A topic sentence in the form of a question or thought-provoking statement engages readers by encouraging them to seek an answer. It stimulates curiosity and anticipation for what follows in the paragraph. 

You can also watch this video that explains topic sentences in a simple way: 

Topic Sentence Examples

‘What is a topic sentence example?’

Check out some helpful and effective topic sentence examples to help you get started.

  • Professional baking is a lot more than mixing some flour, eggs, and sugar into a bowl and putting it into the oven; it requires precision, attention to detail, and dedication to the craft.
  • Writing is a thorough and time-consuming process, but with some dedicated practice, you can become a better writer.
  • Learning a foreign language opens doors to several new opportunities that are not only available when a person is familiar with his mother tongue. 
  • Home remodeling is an exciting project, but without proper designer skills and taste, it could turn into a disaster.
  • Several human activities are the main reasons behind global environmental pollution, and excess usage of plastic is one such cause.

Helpful Tips for Writing Better Topic Sentences 

You’ve read some great examples, but how can you write similarly effective topic sentences yourself? Here are some amazing tips to help you out.

  • Be Clear and Concise: Focus on expressing the main idea of the paragraph in a concise and direct manner. Avoid unnecessary details or convoluted language that may confuse your readers.
  • Consider the Paragraph's Focus: Avoid including multiple ideas or concepts within a single topic sentence. Instead, focus on one central point for each paragraph.
  • Vary Your Sentence Structure: To maintain reader interest and engagement, vary the structure of your topic sentences. Experiment with different types, such as simple sentences, rhetorical questions, or even shocking facts.
  • Use Strong and Descriptive Language: Choose powerful and descriptive words that accurately capture the essence of your main idea. Avoid vague or generic language that lacks impact. Instead, opt for words that evoke emotions or create vivid imagery.
  • Seek Feedback: Consider sharing your writing with others and seeking feedback on your paragraphs. Ask for input on clarity, coherence, transitions, and overall effectiveness.

A great topic sentence directs the reader about the main content of the paragraph. It is brief and engages the reader. 

Remember, mastering the art of writing effective topic sentences takes practice and refinement. As you develop your writing skills, focus on crafting clear and engaging topic sentences that align with your thesis statement.

However, we understand that writing essays can still be challenging, especially when faced with tight deadlines or complex assignments.

That's where 5staressays.com comes in! 

If you’re short on time or lack good writing skills, you can team up with a professional essay writer. Our ‘ write my essay ’ service works with professional and subject-expert writers that help you write engaging and A-worthy essays. 

So contact us and get quality papers at the most pocket-friendly rates!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the topic sentence located in your essay.

Topic sentences come at the beginning of body paragraphs. They are the first sentence of a paragraph and introduces the main idea of that paragraph. 

Can a topic sentence be a question?

Yes, a topic sentence could be a question. You can use a rhetorical question or an interrogative sentence to engage your reader and encourage them to read on.

How long is a topic sentence?

It depends on the depth of the idea. Usually, it is just one sentence, but in some cases, it could be composed of two sentences. However, the first few lines of the paragraph should be able to present its main idea effectively.

Nova A.

Law, Marketing

As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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  • Example of a great essay | Explanations, tips & tricks

Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks

Published on February 9, 2015 by Shane Bryson . Revised on July 23, 2023 by Shona McCombes.

This example guides you through the structure of an essay. It shows how to build an effective introduction , focused paragraphs , clear transitions between ideas, and a strong conclusion .

Each paragraph addresses a single central point, introduced by a topic sentence , and each point is directly related to the thesis statement .

As you read, hover over the highlighted parts to learn what they do and why they work.

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Table of contents

Other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about writing an essay, an appeal to the senses: the development of the braille system in nineteenth-century france.

The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.

Lack of access to reading and writing put blind people at a serious disadvantage in nineteenth-century society. Text was one of the primary methods through which people engaged with culture, communicated with others, and accessed information; without a well-developed reading system that did not rely on sight, blind people were excluded from social participation (Weygand, 2009). While disabled people in general suffered from discrimination, blindness was widely viewed as the worst disability, and it was commonly believed that blind people were incapable of pursuing a profession or improving themselves through culture (Weygand, 2009). This demonstrates the importance of reading and writing to social status at the time: without access to text, it was considered impossible to fully participate in society. Blind people were excluded from the sighted world, but also entirely dependent on sighted people for information and education.

In France, debates about how to deal with disability led to the adoption of different strategies over time. While people with temporary difficulties were able to access public welfare, the most common response to people with long-term disabilities, such as hearing or vision loss, was to group them together in institutions (Tombs, 1996). At first, a joint institute for the blind and deaf was created, and although the partnership was motivated more by financial considerations than by the well-being of the residents, the institute aimed to help people develop skills valuable to society (Weygand, 2009). Eventually blind institutions were separated from deaf institutions, and the focus shifted towards education of the blind, as was the case for the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, which Louis Braille attended (Jimenez et al, 2009). The growing acknowledgement of the uniqueness of different disabilities led to more targeted education strategies, fostering an environment in which the benefits of a specifically blind education could be more widely recognized.

Several different systems of tactile reading can be seen as forerunners to the method Louis Braille developed, but these systems were all developed based on the sighted system. The Royal Institute for Blind Youth in Paris taught the students to read embossed roman letters, a method created by the school’s founder, Valentin Hauy (Jimenez et al., 2009). Reading this way proved to be a rather arduous task, as the letters were difficult to distinguish by touch. The embossed letter method was based on the reading system of sighted people, with minimal adaptation for those with vision loss. As a result, this method did not gain significant success among blind students.

Louis Braille was bound to be influenced by his school’s founder, but the most influential pre-Braille tactile reading system was Charles Barbier’s night writing. A soldier in Napoleon’s army, Barbier developed a system in 1819 that used 12 dots with a five line musical staff (Kersten, 1997). His intention was to develop a system that would allow the military to communicate at night without the need for light (Herron, 2009). The code developed by Barbier was phonetic (Jimenez et al., 2009); in other words, the code was designed for sighted people and was based on the sounds of words, not on an actual alphabet. Barbier discovered that variants of raised dots within a square were the easiest method of reading by touch (Jimenez et al., 2009). This system proved effective for the transmission of short messages between military personnel, but the symbols were too large for the fingertip, greatly reducing the speed at which a message could be read (Herron, 2009). For this reason, it was unsuitable for daily use and was not widely adopted in the blind community.

Nevertheless, Barbier’s military dot system was more efficient than Hauy’s embossed letters, and it provided the framework within which Louis Braille developed his method. Barbier’s system, with its dashes and dots, could form over 4000 combinations (Jimenez et al., 2009). Compared to the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, this was an absurdly high number. Braille kept the raised dot form, but developed a more manageable system that would reflect the sighted alphabet. He replaced Barbier’s dashes and dots with just six dots in a rectangular configuration (Jimenez et al., 2009). The result was that the blind population in France had a tactile reading system using dots (like Barbier’s) that was based on the structure of the sighted alphabet (like Hauy’s); crucially, this system was the first developed specifically for the purposes of the blind.

While the Braille system gained immediate popularity with the blind students at the Institute in Paris, it had to gain acceptance among the sighted before its adoption throughout France. This support was necessary because sighted teachers and leaders had ultimate control over the propagation of Braille resources. Many of the teachers at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth resisted learning Braille’s system because they found the tactile method of reading difficult to learn (Bullock & Galst, 2009). This resistance was symptomatic of the prevalent attitude that the blind population had to adapt to the sighted world rather than develop their own tools and methods. Over time, however, with the increasing impetus to make social contribution possible for all, teachers began to appreciate the usefulness of Braille’s system (Bullock & Galst, 2009), realizing that access to reading could help improve the productivity and integration of people with vision loss. It took approximately 30 years, but the French government eventually approved the Braille system, and it was established throughout the country (Bullock & Galst, 2009).

Although Blind people remained marginalized throughout the nineteenth century, the Braille system granted them growing opportunities for social participation. Most obviously, Braille allowed people with vision loss to read the same alphabet used by sighted people (Bullock & Galst, 2009), allowing them to participate in certain cultural experiences previously unavailable to them. Written works, such as books and poetry, had previously been inaccessible to the blind population without the aid of a reader, limiting their autonomy. As books began to be distributed in Braille, this barrier was reduced, enabling people with vision loss to access information autonomously. The closing of the gap between the abilities of blind and the sighted contributed to a gradual shift in blind people’s status, lessening the cultural perception of the blind as essentially different and facilitating greater social integration.

The Braille system also had important cultural effects beyond the sphere of written culture. Its invention later led to the development of a music notation system for the blind, although Louis Braille did not develop this system himself (Jimenez, et al., 2009). This development helped remove a cultural obstacle that had been introduced by the popularization of written musical notation in the early 1500s. While music had previously been an arena in which the blind could participate on equal footing, the transition from memory-based performance to notation-based performance meant that blind musicians were no longer able to compete with sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997). As a result, a tactile musical notation system became necessary for professional equality between blind and sighted musicians (Kersten, 1997).

Braille paved the way for dramatic cultural changes in the way blind people were treated and the opportunities available to them. Louis Braille’s innovation was to reimagine existing reading systems from a blind perspective, and the success of this invention required sighted teachers to adapt to their students’ reality instead of the other way around. In this sense, Braille helped drive broader social changes in the status of blindness. New accessibility tools provide practical advantages to those who need them, but they can also change the perspectives and attitudes of those who do not.

Bullock, J. D., & Galst, J. M. (2009). The Story of Louis Braille. Archives of Ophthalmology , 127(11), 1532. https://​doi.org/10.1001/​archophthalmol.2009.286.

Herron, M. (2009, May 6). Blind visionary. Retrieved from https://​eandt.theiet.org/​content/​articles/2009/05/​blind-visionary/.

Jiménez, J., Olea, J., Torres, J., Alonso, I., Harder, D., & Fischer, K. (2009). Biography of Louis Braille and Invention of the Braille Alphabet. Survey of Ophthalmology , 54(1), 142–149. https://​doi.org/10.1016/​j.survophthal.2008.10.006.

Kersten, F.G. (1997). The history and development of Braille music methodology. The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education , 18(2). Retrieved from https://​www.jstor.org/​stable/40214926.

Mellor, C.M. (2006). Louis Braille: A touch of genius . Boston: National Braille Press.

Tombs, R. (1996). France: 1814-1914 . London: Pearson Education Ltd.

Weygand, Z. (2009). The blind in French society from the Middle Ages to the century of Louis Braille . Stanford: Stanford University Press.

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An essay is a focused piece of writing that explains, argues, describes, or narrates.

In high school, you may have to write many different types of essays to develop your writing skills.

Academic essays at college level are usually argumentative : you develop a clear thesis about your topic and make a case for your position using evidence, analysis and interpretation.

The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:

  • An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
  • Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
  • A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.

The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

At college level, you must properly cite your sources in all essays , research papers , and other academic texts (except exams and in-class exercises).

Add a citation whenever you quote , paraphrase , or summarize information or ideas from a source. You should also give full source details in a bibliography or reference list at the end of your text.

The exact format of your citations depends on which citation style you are instructed to use. The most common styles are APA , MLA , and Chicago .

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Bryson, S. (2023, July 23). Example of a Great Essay | Explanations, Tips & Tricks. Scribbr. Retrieved March 12, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/example-essay-structure/

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Topic Sentences

Characteristics of a strong topic sentence.

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The topic sentence functions two ways: it clearly refers to and supports the essay’s thesis, and it indicates what will follow in the rest of the paragraph. As the unifying sentence for the paragraph, it is the most general sentence, whereas all supporting sentences provide different types of more specific information, such as facts, details, or examples. An effective topic sentence has the following characteristics:

  • A topic sentence has a topic and an angle, extracted from the thesis sentence.

Thesis : Although working for the national parks service may be considered by some to be a “summer job,” careers with the national parks offer mobility within the profession, support for continued learning, and satisfaction in knowing that you are contributing to the preservation and health of the country’s resources.

Weak example #1 : National Parks in the U.S. were created in 1916 under President Woodrow Wilson and currently offer hundreds of summer job opportunities per year.

Explanation : This sentence sticks with the topic, national parks, but does not offer an angle extracted from the ideas in the thesis. An essay should not have topic sentences and units of support that are not planned for in the thesis.

Stronger example : Workers with the national parks are encouraged and, in many cases, required to maintain current knowledge within their fields, which is offered through on-the-job training, attendance at seminars, and tuition assistance for appropriate college courses.

Explanation : Choose any part of the angle in the thesis to create a topic sentence with its own topic and angle.

Weak example #2 : National Parks work has provided me with many benefits.

Explanation : Although the thesis itself deals with benefits, a topic sentence derived from that thesis needs to more carefully extract a specific portion of that that thesis and make a point about that specific portion.

  • A topic sentence provides an accurate indication of what will follow in the rest of the paragraph.

Weak example : First, we need a better way to educate students.

Explanation : The claim is vague because it does not provide enough information about what will follow, and it is too broad to be covered effectively in one paragraph or short unit of support.

Stronger example : Creating a national set of standards for math and English education will improve student learning in many states.

Explanation : The sentence replaces the vague phrase “a better way” and leads readers to expect supporting facts and examples as to why standardizing education in these subjects might improve student learning in many states.

  • A good topic sentence is the most general sentence in the paragraph and thus does not include supporting details.

Weak example : Salaries should be capped in baseball for many reasons, most importantly so we don’t allow the same team to win year after year.

Explanation : This topic sentence includes a supporting detail that should be included later in the paragraph to back up the main point.

Stronger example : Introducing a salary cap would improve the game of baseball for many reasons.

Explanation : This topic sentence omits the additional supporting detail so that it can be expanded upon later in the paragraph, yet the sentence still makes a claim about salary caps – improvement of the game.

  • A good topic sentence is clear and easy to follow.

Weak example : In general, writing an essay, thesis, or other academic or nonacademic document is considerably easier and of much higher quality if you first construct an outline, of which there are many different types.

Explanation : The confusing sentence structure and unnecessary vocabulary bury the main idea, making it difficult for the reader to follow the topic sentence.

Stronger example : Most forms of writing can be improved by first creating an outline.

Explanation : This topic sentence cuts out unnecessary verbiage and simplifies the previous statement, making it easier for the reader to follow. The writer can include examples of what kinds of writing can benefit from outlining in the supporting sentences.

  • Characteristics of a Strong Topic Sentence. Revision and adaptation of pages 29-30, Creating Focused Paragraphs with Topic Sentences, at https://oer.galileo.usg.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=english-textbooks. Authored by : Susan Oaks. Provided by : Empire State College, SUNY OER Services. Project : College Writing. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • Creating Focused Paragraphs with Topic Sentences. Authored by : Kathryn Crowther, Lauren Curtright, Nancy Gilbert, Barbara Hall, Tracienne Ravita, Kirk Swenson. Provided by : GALILEO Open Learning Materials, University System of Georgia. Located at : https://oer.galileo.usg.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=english-textbooks . Project : Successful College Composition. License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
  • image of traffic sign with arrow and word success. Authored by : geralt. Provided by : Pixabay. Located at : https://pixabay.com/en/success-road-sign-traffic-sign-479568/ . License : CC0: No Rights Reserved

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How to Write Effective Topic Sentences: The Dos and Don’ts

How to Write Effective Topic Sentences: The Dos and Don'ts

Topic sentences are the key to unlocking the power of your paragraphs. An excellent topic sentence serves as a road map for your readers, guiding them through the main points of your essay with ease. It is a concise and precise sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph in a way that is clear and engaging. A good topic sentence makes a strong argument or statement, supported by examples, quotations, or other evidence.

When writing an essay, it’s important to check that your topic sentences meet certain criteria. To help you with this, here is a checklist of qualities that make a topic sentence effective:

1. It introduces the main idea: Your topic sentence should clearly state what the paragraph is going to be about. It should give the reader a brief overview of the main points that will be discussed.

2. It is specific: A good topic sentence is not vague or general. It focuses on a specific idea or aspect of the larger topic.

3. It supports the thesis statement: Your topic sentence should relate to the main idea or argument of your essay. It should connect back to the thesis statement and help to further develop your argument.

Students often struggle with writing effective topic sentences. They may find it difficult to come up with ideas or to check if their topic sentences meet the necessary criteria. However, with a few basic tips and some practice, anyone can become a thorough and successful essayist.

In this article, we will provide you with an overview of the dos and don’ts of writing effective topic sentences. We will show you examples of good and bad topic sentences, and provide you with several helpful tips to make the writing process easier. So if you’re ready to learn the nuts and bolts of topic sentences, read on!

Understanding the Importance of Topic Sentences

Topic sentences are a key element in writing, especially when it comes to essays and academic papers. They serve as a guide for the reader, helping them understand the main idea of a paragraph or section. Topic sentences are like the nuts and bolts that hold an essay together, providing structure and coherence to the entire piece.

One of the most important functions of a topic sentence is to introduce the main point or argument of the paragraph. It should be clear and concise, giving the reader a preview of what is to come. A well-written topic sentence sets the tone for the rest of the paragraph and helps the reader stay focused on the main idea.

Another crucial function of topic sentences is to provide specificity and precision. Rather than using vague or general statements, topic sentences should be specific and direct. They should clearly state the main point or argument and avoid excessive fluff or unnecessary words. By being precise, topic sentences make it easier for the reader to understand and follow the writer’s ideas.

Moreover, topic sentences help to organize and structure an essay. They act as a roadmap, guiding the reader through the writer’s thoughts and arguments. By including topic sentences at the beginning of each paragraph, the writer ensures that their ideas are presented in a logical and cohesive way. This not only makes the essay easier to read and understand, but it also helps the writer stay on track and avoid getting off-topic.

Furthermore, topic sentences play a crucial role in supporting the main thesis of an essay. They serve as the foundation for the arguments and evidence that will be presented in the rest of the paragraph. A good topic sentence not only introduces the main point but also provides a preview of the supporting details that will be discussed further. This helps the reader understand the purpose and relevance of the paragraph in relation to the overall thesis.

In addition, topic sentences serve as a checklist for the writer. They help the writer check if their paragraphs meet certain key qualities, such as coherence, relevance, and support. By comparing each topic sentence with the main thesis, the writer can ensure that they are staying on topic and that each paragraph contributes to the overall argument of the essay.

To sum up, topic sentences are essential in guiding the reader through an essay. They introduce the main point, provide specificity, help organize the essay, and support the main thesis. Without topic sentences, an essay can become a road of extra words and ideas, lacking coherence and direction. So, for students and essayists alike, understanding the importance of topic sentences is crucial to writing excellent and effective essays.

The role of topic sentences in effective writing

1. Introduce the main idea: A topic sentence should introduce the main idea of the paragraph or section it belongs to. It sets the stage for what will be discussed and helps the reader understand the purpose of the upcoming text.

2. Be specific: Good topic sentences are precise and focused. They avoid vague or general statements and instead provide a clear direction for the reader to follow. For example, instead of saying “The essay will discuss various reasons for climate change,” a more specific topic sentence could be “Deforestation, industrial emissions, and transportation contribute to climate change.”

3. Make it arg

The Dos of Writing Narrative Topic Sentences

  • Be specific: A narrative topic sentence should be precise and direct. It should give your readers a clear idea of what is to come and avoid vague language or generalizations. For example, instead of saying “I had a great summer vacation,” you can say “My trip to the Grand Canyon was the highlight of my summer vacation.”
  • Include a hook: To grab your readers’ attention right from the start, include a hook in your narrative topic sentence. This can be a question, a surprising fact, or a vivid description that entices your readers to continue reading.
  • Show, don’t tell: Use descriptive language and provide specific examples to engage your readers and make your narrative more engaging. Instead of simply stating what happened, show the action and use sensory details to paint a vivid picture in your readers’ minds.
  • Follow a logical sequence: Your narrative topic sentence should set the stage for the rest of your narrative. Make sure the points you mention in the topic sentence are presented in a logical and organized manner. This will help your readers follow along easily and understand the flow of your story.
  • Check grammar and spelling: Before finalizing your topic sentence, double-check for any grammar or spelling mistakes. A well-written topic sentence not only contains the right words but also shows that you have paid attention to grammar and punctuation.

By following these dos when writing your narrative topic sentences, you can ensure that your readers are captivated from the start and eager to read more. Remember to keep them precise, engaging, and well-structured to effectively convey your narrative ideas. With the right topic sentence, your narrative writing is sure to be a success!

Choosing a clear and specific topic for your sentence

  • Start with a brief overview of your main argument or idea. This will set the tone for the rest of your paragraph and help guide your readers.
  • Identify the major ideas or points you want to address within the paragraph. You can use bullet points or create an outline to organize your thoughts.
  • Avoid using quotations or references to other papers or essayists in your topic sentence. Instead, focus on your own ideas and arguments.
  • Show the importance or relevance of your topic by using real-life examples or concrete evidence. This will give your readers a better understanding of what you are discussing.
  • Make sure your topic sentence meets the basic grammar rules and sentence structure. Check for proper punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and sentence clarity.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your topic sentence is clear, specific, and effective in introducing your paragraph’s main idea. Remember, the topic sentence is like the rubber hitting the road – it sets the tone and gives your readers an overview of what they can expect within the paragraph. So, rev up your ideas, make them specific, and stop avoiding the extra effort needed to write good topic sentences!

Using active voice to engage the reader

One of the functions of topic sentences is to introduce the main point or argument of a paragraph. When you use active voice in your topic sentence, you make it clear who or what is performing the action, which adds specificity and clarity to your writing. For example, instead of saying “Quotations are useful to support your argument,” you can write “Using quotations supports your argument.” This direct and active sentence makes it clearer who is using the quotations and what purpose they serve.

In addition, using active voice in topic sentences can help you avoid certain grammatical pitfalls. For example, the overuse of passive voice can lead to wordiness, lack of clarity, and a disconnect between the subject and the action. Active voice can help you create more concise and precise topic sentences that clearly and effectively convey your message.

Using active voice can also help you vary the structure of your topic sentences, which adds interest and keeps the reader engaged. Instead of always using the standard subject-verb-object format, you can mix it up by starting with a different part of speech or by adding extra details. For example, instead of saying “Students should stop using vague language in their essays,” you can write “To achieve success as an essayist, students should avoid using vague language in their papers.” This more complex sentence structure adds variety and depth to your writing.

One important point to keep in mind when using active voice in your topic sentences is to ensure that it aligns with the overall purpose of your essay or paper. Active voice works well in certain types of writing, such as argumentative or persuasive essays, where your main goal is to convince the reader of your point of view. However, in other types of writing, such as informative or descriptive essays, passive voice may be more appropriate. It’s crucial to consider the genre and intended audience of your writing to determine the most effective use of active voice.

Crafting concise and focused sentences

So, what’s the best way to craft these sentences and ensure they’re concise and focused? Here are some dos and don’ts to help you:

  • Use precise and thorough language: Ensure that your topic sentence clearly and accurately expresses the main idea of your paragraph.
  • Introduce your topic: Start your topic sentence by introducing the topic or the main point you’re going to discuss in the paragraph.
  • Include specific details or examples: Support your topic sentence by providing specific examples or evidence that further illustrate your main idea.
  • Show the connection: Clearly show how your topic sentence connects to the overall argument or thesis statement of your essay or paper.
  • Use parallel structures: Use parallel structures to make your topic sentence more effective and easier to read.

The Don’ts:

  • Avoid vague or general statements: Make sure your topic sentence is focused and avoids generalizations.
  • Avoid grammar mistakes: Double-check your topic sentence for grammar errors to ensure clarity and precision.
  • Avoid excessive quotations: While quotations can be useful, they should be used sparingly and in a way that supports your main argument.
  • Avoid being too brief or too long: Find a balance between providing enough information and being concise.
  • Avoid unrelated topics: Stay on topic and avoid introducing unrelated ideas or topics in your topic sentence.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your topic sentences are effective in guiding your readers and setting up the main ideas of your paragraphs. Remember, the topic sentence is like the nuts and bolts of your essay or paper, so it’s important to craft them with care.

The Don’ts of Writing Narrative Topic Sentences

  • Avoid unrelated ideas: Make sure that your topic sentence is closely related to the main argumentative points of your essay. It should be a brief overview of what is to come in the paragraph. Introducing unrelated ideas can confuse the reader and weaken the overall structure of your essay.
  • Avoid excessive quotations: While incorporating quotations can be helpful, it’s important not to rely too heavily on them. Your topic sentence should be your own words and express your own ideas. Quotations should be used to support and enhance your argument, not to replace your own thoughts.
  • Avoid grammar and spelling errors: No matter how strong your ideas are, they’re likely to be diminished if they’re accompanied by grammar and spelling mistakes. Take the time to proofread your topic sentences and ensure they’re free of errors. This will help to maintain the credibility of your writing.
  • Avoid overly general statements: Topic sentences should be specific and to the point. Avoid using general statements that could apply to any topic. Instead, strive for specificity and precision to give your paragraphs a clear and focused direction.

By avoiding these common mistakes, you can write effective topic sentences that serve as a roadmap for your essay. Remember to be specific, avoid unrelated ideas, use your own words, check for grammar and spelling mistakes, and stay away from overly general statements. Following these guidelines will help you create topic sentences that support your argumentative points and lead to the success of your essay.

What are topic sentences and why are they important in writing?

Topic sentences are the main ideas or key points of a paragraph or an essay. They serve as a guide for the reader and help to organize and structure the writing. They are important because they provide a clear focus and direction for the reader and help to maintain coherence and unity in the writing.

What are the key qualities of effective topic sentences?

Effective topic sentences should be clear and concise, capturing the main idea of the paragraph in a single sentence. They should be specific and focused, providing enough information for the reader to understand the main point. Additionally, they should be original and unique to the writer’s perspective.

What are some dos and don’ts when writing topic sentences?

When writing topic sentences, it is important to do the following: be clear and concise, make sure the sentence is specific and focused, include the main point, and make it unique. On the other hand, it is important to avoid vague or general statements, including multiple ideas in one sentence, and using cliches or overused phrases.

How can I improve my topic sentence writing skills?

To improve your topic sentence writing skills, you can start by practicing writing clear and concise sentences that capture the main idea of a paragraph. You can also read and analyze good examples of topic sentences in published works to see how they are constructed. Additionally, seeking feedback from others, such as teachers or peers, can help you identify areas for improvement and develop your skills.

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How to Write a Topic Sentence for an Argumentative Essay

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by  Antony W

September 13, 2022

How to Write a Topic Sentence for an Argumentative Essay

In this guide, we’ll look at how to write a topic sentence for an argumentative essay. And don’t worry, it’s an incredibly simple thing to do, so you don’t necessary have to overthink anything here.

Key Takeaways 

  • A topic sentence begins every paragraph of your argumentative essay.
  • The purpose of the topic sentence is to communicate the main idea you intend to cover in the paragraph, so it should be clear, sensible, and coherent.
  • If possible, include new information in your topic sentence to make your writing stand out.
  • You can use transition words such as “another” and “even though” to start a topic sentence in your argumentative essay.
  • Use compound and complex sentences to strengthen your paragraphs.
  • You can use reasonable options, but make sure you can support them so that they’re convincing.

What Is a Topic Sentence in an Argumentative Essay?

A topic sentence is the opening statement in every paragraph of an argumentative essay. It provides an idea of what you’ll cover in the paragraph.

A topic sentence should be vast so that it can support many subtopics in the rest of its paragraphs.

It’s important to note that a topic sentence in an argumentative essay is completely different from the thesis statement.

A thesis statement states the repeated focus in an entire writing. A thesis makes a major point that you will discuss in the rest of the argument.

A topic sentence on the other hand will introduce the topics of every supporting paragraphs to back up the thesis.

What is the Purpose of a Topic Sentence in an Argumentative Essay?

You need a topic sentence because it makes the idea of the main paragraph more clear and sensible for coherence.

The topic sentence joins sentences of a given paragraph, backs up what the paper claims, explains what a paragraph says, and claims mini thesis statements.

Tips for Writing a Topic Sentence for an Argumentative Essay

Here are 4 useful tips that will help you write a good topic sentence for an argumentative essay:

1. Use New Information

You should write a topic sentence that’s interesting to read so that it immerses your readers deeply into your essay.

Try as much as you can to make the information you provide look new. By doing so, way it will be far from being another fact statement.

2. Use a Topic Sentence Later in the Opening Paragraph

Many students often choose to write their topic sentence as the first thing in every paragraph. While that’s the standard approach, you can be a bit flexible.

In other words, instead of having your topic sentence in every first sentence of a paragraph, you can write it after the hook in an opening paragraph to grab the reader’s attention and that makes him or her want to read more.

3. Try Transition Words

Transitional words can be used on opening topic sentences or on sentence that begin with supporting paragraphs.

You can use transitional words like “another”, “although” or “even though” to start your new paragraph

4. Make your Topic Sentence Compound and Complex

To make your topic sentence high level with a stronger feels, consider the use of compound and complex sentences.

For compound sentences, use independent clauses – preferably two – and then connect them using a comma and conjunction.

For complex sentences, use independent and subordinate clauses and link them with a comma and subordinating conjunction.

Here are examples of compound and complex sentences:

  • Complex sentence : When planes fly, they follow paths used by other planes for centuries. “When” at this point is the subordinate conjunction.
  • Compound sentences : The colonial period was a period of intrusion, but it was monitored by strict social nods. In this case, “but” is the coordinating conjunction.

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1. Clearly State Your Major Idea

Since a topic sentence is the first statement in every paragraph, it is important to make it more clear, straight to the point and easy to digest.

Avoid using extra, unnecessary words as it makes understanding more difficult.

Make sure you include controlling ideas and topics because the sentences that follow thereafter should relate to the topic sentence.

Avoid using an opening statement like “Today we are going to discuss the benefits of afforestation”.

After all, a topic sentence is not an invitation, which allows announcement of topics at hand.

2. Use the Topic Sentence as a Transition

Topic sentences that work as transitions guide readers through arguments on essays.

This makes sure they are not only on track but also don’t get lost in words.

3. Keep it Short and Concise

Don’t have your readers figure out your intentions in your argumentative essay are; just use the topic statements to show them the aim of your essay.

So make your topic sentence more specific than your thesis.

When you use short sentence on your essay you make your paragraph retain its flow.

The shorter you keep the sentences the more you clearly bring out your intentions.  

4. Balance the Topic Sentence between Specifics and General Ideas

Topic sentences ought to relate to the thesis statement on your essay. Importantly, ensure the topic sentence is broad and balanced.

Avoid the use of general ideas because they will be a bit challenging to discuss. Avoid the use of narrow statements instead aim for a balance that is good.  

Also, hook your readers more by describing characters, portray emotions, use dialogues, details but avoid rhetorical questions.

5. Make Use of Reasonable Opinions

The topic sentence is supposed to outline things that can be supported by concrete evidence. That’s why we need topic sentences in paragraphs.

You are allowed to highlight an opinion on your topic sentence but only make the move when you are certain of backing it up with the paragraph that follows.

Facts are good but avoid them because they won’t introduce the reader to your main idea.

If you find it necessary, consider an input of your own. For example, instead of writing, “All patients need treatment”, you can say, “All patients need regular care, like food, water and nurses are the best for it”.

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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  5. How to Write a Strong Topic Sentence + Examples

    Step 3: Make your essay outline. Once you have the points you want to make within your thesis statement hammered out, make an outline for your essay. This is where you'll start to create your topic sentence for each paragraph. You want to clearly state the main idea of that paragraph in the very first sentence.

  6. 10 Effective Topic Sentence Examples for Engaging Essays

    So, your topic sentence needs to contain that viewpoint. It should not simply be a fact. The stronger your perspective, the more likely you can convince the reader to agree, as long as you support it with evidence in the essay. Ten examples of good topic sentences for argumentative essays, some of which we included above, are: #1.

  7. How To Write a Topic Sentence (With Examples and Tips)

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    2. Outline your paper. Create a roadmap for your essay writing so you know how each paragraph will support your thesis statement and the evidence you will include in each paragraph. 3. Be clear and coherent. A topic sentence should be clear and easy to understand so the reader knows the main idea of the paragraph. 4.

  9. Using Topic Sentences

    When read in sequence, your essay's topic sentences will provide a sketch of the essay's argument. Thus topics sentences help protect your readers from confusion by guiding them through the argument. But topic sentences can also help you to improve your essay by making it easier for you to recognize gaps or weaknesses in your argument.

  10. How to Write a Good Topic Sentence: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

    1. Avoid introducing yourself. Although topic sentences vary in structure and content from person to person, at least two things can be assumed about your paper: 1) that you have a title and entire paper to introduce a topic, and 2) your personal information is present somewhere on your essay.

  11. What is a Topic Sentence? (Definition, Examples, How to Use)

    How to create good topic sentences. A good topic sentence can be created using some simple steps: 1. Determine the key point of your essay. Writers should first form an understanding of the topic of the essay and then create topic sentences to attract the attention of readers. Constructing a good thesis statement can assist the writer in ...

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  13. How to Write a Topic Sentence

    Features of a Good Topic Sentence. A good topic sentence has a few key features. Letâ s take a look: Expresses the main idea of the paragraph or essay clearly and concisely. Is specific and focused, avoiding vague or overly general statements. Introduces the main point and is typically located at the beginning of the paragraph or essay.

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    Essentially, it is a concise and direct statement that captures the essence of what you want to convey. A topic sentence is defined by the following characteristics: It is the first sentence of a paragraph. It indicates the main idea of the paragraph. Acts as a signpost and transition sentence, ensuring clarity and cohesiveness of an essay.

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    Here are five examples of topic sentences, along with their respective topics and controlling ideas: Topic Sentence: "Climate change poses a growing threat to global ecosystems." Topic: Climate change. Controlling Idea: Growing threat to global ecosystems. Topic Sentence: "Effective time management skills are essential for academic success."

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  22. How to Write a Topic Sentence for an Argumentative Essay

    The topic sentence joins sentences of a given paragraph, backs up what the paper claims, explains what a paragraph says, and claims mini thesis statements. Tips for Writing a Topic Sentence for an Argumentative Essay. Here are 4 useful tips that will help you write a good topic sentence for an argumentative essay: 1. Use New Information

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