How To Write Good Topic Sentences For Essays: Guidelines And Examples

The ability to communicate on paper is prized highly employers and graduate school admissions. Students who want to convey their ideas must learn how to construct high-quality topic sentences. Also known as the thesis, a topic sentence basically sums up the argument proposed in the entire paper. To get a high score, students must develop a strong, unique topic sentence.

What is a Topic Sentence?

The topic sentence will occur in every paragraph of the document. Basically, it is a mini-thesis for each section. In the introduction, the thesis is normally listed in the middle or last sentence. Other paragraphs will have the topic sentence as the first sentence. By reading this sentence, the audience should be able to understand what they will learn in the upcoming paragraph. It essentially telegraphs the point that will be made within the paragraph.

Qualities of a Good Sentence

The art of writing is all about brevity. Students should try to make the topic sentence as short as possible. If the sentence rambles on forever, it will confuse the reader and obscure the ideas. In addition, the topic sentence should not contain too many ideas. After the sentence is written, the rest of the paragraph will contain the supporting ideas and details.

Other than brevity, the topic sentence should be clear and precise. Students should say exactly what they intend to convey and avoid using vague descriptions. Since the following statements will only take up a paragraph, the topic sentence cannot be extremely broad. It must be a narrow enough idea for the student to adequately support it in just a paragraph.

What to Watch Out For

There are a number of common errors that students make when they write the topic sentence. Unbelievably, some students will begin the paragraph with “I am going to talk about...”. This first grader style of writing should be avoided completely. The reader already knows that they are reading the student's essay. They do not need an elementary-style reminder of that fact.

Other than this major mistake, students may make the error of using facts in the topic sentence. The facts are used later on, so they should not be introduced in the first sentence of the paragraph. Within the first sentence, the student should write about the “why” as well as the “what”. A good paper makes an argument, so it will always contain the reasons why something occurred.

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