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Structure

Every piece of writing needs to have an underlying framework whereby each section leads into the next in a logical and coherent way and each point follows logically from the one before it. It doesn't matter whether you are writing formally or informally: you still need to make sure that your reader can readily understand what you are trying to say.

Paragraphs

Most relatively long pieces of writing are divided into paragraphs to help guide the reader through the content and enable them to grasp the main points. A new paragraph signals the introduction of a new idea, theme, or argument, and each new paragraph should be indicated by starting a new line: this applies to printed or electronic text and to handwriting. it's usual to leave a line between each paragraph to make the division clear.

Well-structured paragraphs have three sections:

  • the topic (or lead) sentence tells you what the paragraph is going to be about. it's usually the first sentence in a paragraph:

There are many reasons why people join a gym or health club.

  • the next part of the paragraph should support or develop the idea or ideas presented in the topic sentence:

There are many reasons why people join a gym or health club. They may want to lose weight, maintain their current level of fitness, improve their muscle tone, or just meet other people with similar interests. They may want to take advantage of other facilities offered by the gym—for example, complementary therapies or beauty treatments.

  • the final sentences rounds off or restates the main idea of the paragraph, and it should also act as a link to the next one:

There are many reasons why people join a gym or health club. They may want to lose weight, maintain their current level of fitness, improve their muscle tone, or just meet other people with similar interests. They may want to take advantage of other facilities offered by the gym—for example, complementary therapies or beauty treatments. The problem is that many people, despite their initial enthusiasm, lose their motivation after the first few months and so their attendance dwindles.

Separate paragraphs in a piece of writing need to be linked so that each one flows logically into the next. For example:

There are many reasons why people join a gym or health club. They may want to lose weight, maintain their current level of fitness, improve their muscle tone, or just meet other people with similar interests. They may want to take advantage of other facilities offered by the gym—for example, complementary therapies or beauty treatments. The problem is that many people, despite their initial enthusiasm, lose their motivation after the first few months and so their attendance dwindles.

This loss of motivation is a crucial issue for the managers of gyms and health clubs, who face the constant challenge of maintaining their membership numbers.

By repeating the noun ‘motivation,’ the writer links the second paragraph to the content of the previous one and makes it easier for the reader to follow the argument they are developing.

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Grammar and usage