When to Start a New Paragraph

There is nothing more ominous to the time-pressed reader than a dense paragraph taking up half or more of a page. This not only dilutes your message; it runs the real risk of the reader simply skimming the page and ignoring vital information.

Effective business writers make use of short, crisp paragraphs to develop points, clarify ideas or signal a change in direction. The reader can then locate specific information. Short paragraphs also open up white space on the page, a blessing to the weary-eyed reader.

When you have a clearly defined topic sentence, the supporting details should flow clearly and logically from that point. If a sentence does not support the topic sentence and serves no other purpose, get rid of it. Once you have established your topic sentence, provided supporting details and inserted a strong closing sentence, it is time to move on to the next paragraph.

Always remember these two simple facts:

(i) It is better to break too often for new paragraphs than not often enough. However, be careful not to break for a new paragraph every sentence or every other sentence. This can make your writing choppy and difficult to follow.

(ii) For a business letter, four sentences are typically the maximum number per single paragraph. Keeping to three or four sentences can keep your writing clean and clear. If you are writing longer business reports, the number of sentences can be extended to a maximum of seven.


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