Paragraph Styles from The New Strategy of Style
by Winston Weathers and Otis Winchester
is a handout I never gave my students during my English days because it
shows twenty-seven different types of paragraphs, and I only wanted
them to focus on the best type of paragraph—topic sentence first,
supporting sentences second, and clincher sentence last, which is style
five below. Once it is mastered, the rest come easier and provide
variety. We used styles 23-26 as creative writing formats.
Topic-sentence-first paragraph- It identifies a subject and says
something specific about it. The topic sentence is reasonably
short and straightforward. Subsequent sentences are more
elaborate while explaining and supporting it.
title-sentence-first paragraph- This paragraph names the subject of the
paragraph without saying something specific about it. While often
found in descriptive or narrative writing, it is also used in
expository writing for introductory, transitional, and summary
paragraphs as an occasional alternative.
Topic-sentence-last paragraph- This is a specific details first,
generalization (topic sentence) last pattern that is very useful in
4. The internal-topic sentence
paragraph- When preliminary explanation is needed and further
elaboration desired, placing the t.s. in mid-paragraph is an
option. It is seldom used because it tends to emphasize the t.s.
as well as obscure it.
5. The reiterated-topic sentence
paragraph- After stating the t.s. in the first sentence of a long
paragraph, you may wish to restate it elsewhere in the paragraph.
It’s very effective at the end of a paragraph.
dual-topic-sentence paragraph- A paragraph may present two
closely related ideas that can be naturally presented together.
One t.s. is stated early, one is stated late, ant the ideas in between
naturally progress from one t.s. to the next.
implied-topic-sentence paragraph- This form has no topic sentence
you can point to, but it is written so well that the reader can state
the t.s. after reading the paragraph. It is often used in
descriptive and narrative writing, and, like the title-sentence-first
paragraph, it serves well as a summary or transitional paragraph in an
essay or research paper.
8. The single-sentence
paragraph- A one-sentence paragraph is the exception to the usual
five or six sentence paragraph. It does well as a transitional
paragraph, or to summarize or emphasize a point.
The abbreviated paragraph- This form consists of two-three
sentences which, and like other forms presented, serves as an
introduction, transition, or summary. However, what might appear
to be an abbreviated paragraph is sometimes just an underdeveloped one
written by a writer who was unable or unwilling to expand an
idea. Use this type sparingly.
10. The extended
paragraph- An exceptionally long paragraph can be used when the
material isn't complex requiring more manageable paragraph
length. It can be used for emphasis in exposition, but is more
likely found in narration.
11. The paragraph of narrative
details- Use this in exposition when discussing a historical
occurrence or some kind of process. Choose a sequence- earlier to
later, past to present, or past to future, or their reverse.
The paragraph of descriptive details- Use this paragraph when
describing an object or scene. Give the details in a logical
way: top to bottom, left to right, large to small, and so on.
The paragraph of examples and illustrations- In order to prove or
explain a t.s., give specific examples and details to make it more
valid, pertinent, and vivid.
14. The paragraph of
comparisons or analogies- Both types illuminate their subject by
showing its similarity to something else. If the ideas are from
the same plane of experience, its a comparison. If the ideas or
things are very different, its is an analogy. You may wish to
compare the ideas point-by-point by alternating between them or an a
block pattern by showing all the details of first one item and then the
15. The paragraph of contrasts- This involves
pointing out the ways two objects or ideas are different. Use a
point-by-point or block format.
16. The paragraph of
causes and consequences- This paragraph has one of three
formats: it lists a cause and shows the consequences; lists a
consequence and shows the causes or contains both as a series of
events, each event being both the consequence of tone that precedes and
the cause of the one that follows ( a domino effect).
The paragraph of restatements- When you have a topic about which
you wish to be absolutely clear and emphatic, repeat the topic in a
variety of sentences, not going into great detail.
paragraph of denials and negations- Explain the topic by telling
what it is not as a means of indicating precisely what its is.
Target misconceptions about your topic. Include a conventional,
19. The series paragraph- In
descriptive or narrative paragraphs, you wish for an overall effect of
quantity and abundance when presenting details, events, people,
etc. Do this by including a series of some type in most every
sentence. If the length of the series evolves from long to short,
it indicates increasing order and meaningfulness. The inverse is
20. The antithesis paragraph- An antithesis is
a sentence that has balanced elements in apposition to each
other. For example, "the highest ideals may evolve into the
lowest crimes." By incorporating an antithesis im most every
sentence, a contrast is stressed.
21. The question
paragraph- A collection of rhetorical questions transforms what
might be a drab paragraph into a stylistic one that forces the reader
to reach, hopefully, the same conclusion that you did.
The circular paragraph- This involves beginning and ending a
paragraph with the same sentence, and especially valuable way to
present descriptions as it acts as a sort of frame.
The patterned paragraph (increasing sentence length)- By
beginning with a short sentence and increasing the length of each
succeeding sentence by adding more phrases to change sentence rhythms,
you create a paragraph that becomes more substantial with each
(When using this type or any patterned
paragraph, make the pattern fit the topic where possible. For
example, if you were describing a person's rise to fame, a
short-to-long sentence pattern would fit. If describing that
person's fall into obscurity, a long-to-short sentence pattern would
24. The patterned paragraph (decreasing
length) This pattern has its own unique effect. It can
connote feeling of restriction, isolation, deprivation, etc. If
speculating on your future in a paragraph with sentences that get
smaller, your chances could mirror their length.
25. The patterned paragraph (short-long-short)
The patterned paragraph (long-short-long)- These paragraphs
should fit their subject when used. The first could be used to
describe a person's life with the majority of successes coming in the
middle of life/paragraph. The second could describe the before
and after hibernation activities of a bear.
patterned paragraph (statement and questions)- By establishing a
definite pattern of questions and statements, a paragraph achieves a