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Essay Writing

Argumentation within paragraphs

A closer look at a paragraph in the body section of the essay allows us to see how a main point is established then supported with evidence from the literature. Critical thinking can help you develop argumentation within your own writing. The paragraph example below develops the point in the example essay that the divisiveness between the states was another major obstacle to national unity. Notice how paraphrased information from source material is used to develop and to provide support for the idea presented in the topic sentence.

(Body) The structure of the paragraph1
The divisiveness between the states was another major obstacle to national unity. Despite sharing a common heritage such as the Roman Empire, the Renaissance and Catholicism, many divisions were evident between the Italian states. One example of these divisions was that the majority of the population only spoke the dialect of their own region. In fact, when Italy was unified, only four per cent of the population had knowledge of the official Italian language (Duggan, 1994:156). The enormous differences between the regions were exacerbated by the keen political and commercial rivalry that existed between these states: Guise Mizzen, the leading agitator for the unification of Italy at this period, declared:
We have no flag, no political name, no rank among European nations. We have no common centre, no common fact, no common market. We are dismembered into eight states... all independent of one another, without alliance, without unity of aim, without connection ... (these factors) divide us and render us as much possible strangers to each other (1845:36).
A striking example of the commercial division and rivalry between the states which impeded the national economic interest was the existence of as many as twenty two customs' barriers around the Po River region of Italy (Mack Smith, 1959). In addition to these divisions between the states, mistrust of each other's economic and political motives was also evident.
topic sentence

supporting evidence


supporting evidence
(quotes a primary source)

further supporting evidence

transition to next paragraph

1This essay has been adapted from material developed by R. Woodward-Kron, E. Thomson & J. Meek (2000) Academic Writing: a language based guide (CD-ROM), University of Wollongong

Beginning student writers often rely too heavily on quotes to introduce ideas and theories. It is important to try and avoid this because your argument may be lost amongst the quotes and your argument will not be clear. Quotes should be used only when you want to provide extra support in the actual words of an established authority or a primary source for the point you are making in your topic sentence. Follow this link for more information on finding your voice in academic writing.

Topic sentences should clearly signal to your reader the main idea in the paragraph. Following sentences should provide the explanation and expansion of the point being made and help to establish the sources and support necessary to strengthen your argument. This means that in the body section of a good essay, you should be able to get a sense of the overall argument by reading only the topic sentences. Try this when editing your drafts you will get a sense of whether your argument and ideas are flowing logically, or need to be re-ordered.

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Introduction Analysis of Questions The Research Process The Essay Writing Process Summary