Paragraphs Are Influenced by the Media of Writing

As much as any of the above guidelines, you should consider the media and genre where your text will appear. For as much as paragraphs are shaped by the ideas being expressed, they are also influenced by the genre of the discourse.

For instance, newspapers and magazines produced for high-school educated readers tend to require much shorter paragraphs than those published in academic journals. When evaluating how you have structured your ideas, however, pay attention to whether you have varied the length of your paragraphs. Long chunks of text without paragraph breaks tend to make ideas seem complicated, perhaps even inaccessible to less educated audiences. In turn, short paragraphs can create a list-like style, which intrudes on clarity and persuasive appeal. Because long paragraphs tend to make a document more complicated than short paragraphs, you should question how patient and educated your readers are.