First, to edit your texts at the paragraph level, refresh your understanding about paragraph conventions. Check out these articles at Writing Commons:
- Flow, Transitions, Coherence @ Paragraph Level
- Paragraph Transitions
- Sentence Order within Paragraphs
- Topic Sentences & Paragraph Development
- Unity @ the Paragraph Level
Second, look individually and critically at each paragraph from the perspective of
- Paragraph Unity
- Paragraph Coherence
- Paragraph Concision
Evaluate Paragraph Unity
Consider 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.
Should the existing paragraphs be cut into smaller segments or merged into longer ones?
Evaluate Paragraph Coherence
Consider whether the 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.
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.
How is each paragraph organized? How does this discussion relate to the thesis? 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? 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?
Should any paragraphs be shifted in their order in the text? Should a later paragraph be combined with the introductory paragraph?
Edit Paragraph Unity
If the paragraph contains several unrelated ideas that are strung together, the point of the paragraph can become blurred: Choose the idea that is most relevant to the paper’s purpose and carry that idea throughout the paragraph. Additionally, some paragraphs with several unrelated ideas can be broken up into multiple paragraphs.
Edit Paragraph for Concision
Consider whether 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.
Ask these Questions When Editing @ Paragraph Level
What makes this paragraph necessary? If I have a concluding paragraph, do I really need it? 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?If this paragraph were removed from the essay, how would it affect the clarity and/or strength of the argument?