Writing body paragraphs

The body of the essay is where you fully develop your argument. Each body paragraph should contain one key idea or claim, which is supported by relevant examples and evidence from the body of scholarly work on your topic (i.e. academic books and journal articles).

Together, the body paragraphs form the building blocks of your argument.

How do I structure paragraphs?

The TEEL structure provides an effective way of organising a paragraph. TEEL stands for Topic sentence, Explanation, Evidence, and Link. You may find it helpful to add C for Comment before Link. A paragraph structured this way would contain the following:  

  • Topic sentence – the first sentence in a body paragraph that tells the reader what the main idea or claim of the paragraph will be.
  • Explanation – Explain what you mean in greater detail.
  • Evidence – Provide evidence to support your idea or claim. To do this, refer to your research. This may include: case studies, statistics, documentary evidence, academic books or journal articles. Remember that all evidence will require appropriate citation.
  • Comment – Consider the strengths and limitations of the evidence and examples that you have presented. Explain how your evidence supports your claim (i.e. how does it ‘prove’ your topic sentence?).
  • Link – Summarise the main idea of the paragraph, and make clear how this paragraph supports your overall argument.

Example paragraph

One of the main obstacles to reaching international consensus on climate change action is the ongoing debate over which countries should shoulder the burden. Because the developed world has historically been responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions, it has been argued that they should reduce emissions and allow developed nations to prioritise development over environmental concerns (Vinuales, 2011). The notion of ‘common but differentiated responsibility’ (CBDR) was formalised in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (UNFCCC, 1992). Article 3.1 explicitly states 'Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof' (p. 4). However, because CBDR outlines a principle and not an actionable plan it has remained problematic. For example, it does not stipulate the extent to which, under the principle of CBDR, developing nations should be exempt from specific emissions targets. This has continued to be a point of contention in global negotiations on climate change, with developed countries such as the USA arguing that developed nations should do more to reduce emissions (Klein et. al., 2017). Fairness and equity need to be pursued in reaching a global agreement on climate change, but transforming this into an actionable strategy is problematic.

Legend: Topic sentence ; Explanation ; Evidence / Example ; Comment ; Link

Activity

The paragraph below was written in response to the essay question: '"Leaders are made rather than born." Do you agree or disagree? Provide reasons for your opinion.'

Read the paragraph then answer the question that follows.