Reevaluate Your Understanding of Paragraph Structure
First, in order to edit texts at the paragraph level, refresh your understanding of paragraph conventions by reviewing these articles at Writing Commons:
Evaluate Paragraph Logic
Question what organizational schema you have employed.
- Determine whether you are organizing information deductively or according to chronology or according to some sense of what is most and least important.
- Question whether your presentation would appear more logical and persuasive if you rearranged the sequence of the paragraphs.
- Question if sentences in each paragraph need to be reordered.
Evaluate Paragraph Unity
Analyze whether the paragraph contains several unrelated ideas
- Each paragraph should have a unifying theme; when unrelated ideas are strung together, the point of the paragraph can become blurred. For the sake of cohesiveness, choose the idea that is most relevant to the paper’s purpose and carry that idea throughout the paragraph.
Evaluate Paragraph Coherence
Consider whether he paragraph’s content clearly support the paper’s thesis.
- While the connection between a paragraph and the thesis may be clear to the writer, readers may not be able to find the link. The point of the paragraph and its relationship to the thesis should be clearly implied or directly stated. If the paragraph is discussing a sub-point or an idea that is more subtly related to the thesis, make the relationship clear.
Edit the Paragraph for Concision
- The paragraph contains unnecessary information or fluff: When page number or word count requirements are not met, it may be tempting to add unnecessary fluff or filler. This type of rambling distracts the reader from the focus or purpose of the essay and weakens the logical flow of the argument. To avoid filler paragraphs, include only relevant information that meaningfully supports the thesis.
- The paragraph restates information that has already been discussed: Examine the paragraph’s theme to ensure that it does not repeat a point that has already been discussed. If redundancy is an issue, include only the paragraph that makes the point with clarity and concision. The most relevant material from two similar paragraphs may also be combined to reduce redundancy.
Questions to Consider When Editing Paragraphs
- What makes this paragraph necessary? How does this discussion relate to the thesis? If this paragraph were removed from the essay, how would it affect the clarity and/or strength of the argument?
- How is each paragraph organized? Do I place my general statement or topic sentence near the beginning or the end of each paragraph? Do I need any transitional paragraphs or transitional sentences?
- As I move from one idea to another, will my reader understand how subsequent paragraphs relate to my main idea as well as to previous paragraphs? Should any paragraphs be shifted in their order in the text? Should a later paragraph be combined with the introductory paragraph?
- Should the existing paragraphs be cut into smaller segments or merged into longer ones? If I have a concluding paragraph, do I really need it?
- Will readers understand the logical connections between paragraphs? Do any sentences need to be added to clarify the logical relationship between ideas? Have I provided the necessary forecasting and summarizing sentences that readers will need to understand how the different ideas relate to each other?
- Have I been too blatant about transitions? Are all of the transitional sentences and paragraphs really necessary or can the reader follow my thoughts without them?