Paragraphs

Introduction

The purpose of a paragraph is to assist in structuring writing and to ensure sentences are arranged effectively. Writing quality paragraphs will allow the reader to more clearly understand the arguments or claims being made, and is a useful skill across most disciplines. Be mindful that the following paragraphs are not appropriate for all genre types or within all subjects of study, and it is important to consider the context in which the paragraph is being written.

PEEL and TEEL Paragraphs

One of the simplest and most often taught methods for writing paragraphs, is the PEEL structure. The basic purpose of each sentence is outlined below:

  • Point: what is the main claim of this paragraph? what will be proven or what does the evidence highlight/suggest?

  • Example: what explicit event, person, object, statistics, quote, devices/techniques, metalanguage, etc support this claim?

  • Elaboration: what do these examples suggest, imply or demonstrate or why are they significant? what is their intention/purpose?

  • Link: how does this example support your claim, relate to the next paragraph or link to the next examples?

While this is a simple and effective paragraph structure, a TEEL structure is said to be more complex and better suited to higher education.

  • Topic/Technique: what is the main claim of this paragraph? what will be proven or what does the evidence highlight/suggest?

  • Explanation: what does evidence suggest, imply or demonstrate or why are they significant? what is their intention/purpose?

  • Evidence: what explicit event, person, object, statistics, quote, devices/techniques, metalanguage, etc support this?

  • Link: how does this evidence support your claim, relate to the next paragraph, or link the next pieces of evidence?

An important factor to remember with both TEEL and PEEL paragraphs is that it is often better to include more than just one piece of evidence, and therefore the structure may be extended with additional example, elaboration, explanation, or evidence sentences following the link sentences.

Good Example

In response to the question, "Why is sport so popular?"


One of the reasons sport is so popular is because it provides physical exercise. Just 30 minutes of sport per day increases life expectancy. This is as a result of decreased body fat, increased muscle and the social-emotional wellbeing it supports. The physical exercise sport provides has many benefits for those who partake in it regularly.

Bad Example

In response to the question, "Why is sport so popular?"


30% of people like sport. Some sports at football, volleyball, running and swimming. Sport is good exercise if you want to be healthy. Sport is a subject at school and something people do every day for fun.

TEEPEE Paragraphs

One of the more complex paragraph structures is known as TEEPEE. The basic purpose of each sentence is outlined below:

  • Topic: what is the main claim of this paragraph? what will be proven/shown/highlighted/suggested?

  • Example: what explicit event, person, object, statistics, quote, devices/techniques, metalanguage, etc support this claim?

  • Explanation: what do these examples show, suggest, imply or demonstrate?

  • Purpose: why were these examples created? what was the intention of the authors, creators or collaborators?

  • Effect: what effect does this example have on readers, observers, or the community (both explicitly and implicitly)?

  • Evaluation: considering all of the above, what can be taken away, learnt or concluded from this information?

An important factor to remember with TEEPEE paragraphs is that they are commonly used in English, History and other humanities based subjects in which purpose and effect are important considerations.

Good Example

In response to the question, "How is madness depicted in Shakespeare's Hamlet?"

Hamlet is the human manifestation of madness. After hearing of his father's death, from no less than a ghost, he feigns madness in front of his uncle and mother, but then falls into a depressive cycle of soliloquies and melancholic monologues. These instances in which Hamlet both is, and pretends to be, maddened highlight the innate theme of his character. Shakespeare uses Hamlet, the lead protagonist and anti-hero, to provide readers with a complex view of the ambiguity between pretending and being. This insight leaves readers without certainty about Hamlet's true nature. Instead, readers learn that madness is as nuanced as love, and so too is being human.

Bad Example

In response to the question, "How is madness depicted in Shakespeare's Hamlet?"

Madness is shown in the character of Hamlet, but also in the character of Ophelia. Madness can mean both crazy and angry, so it can also be seen in the character Claudius. Madness is shown in the plot because a lot of the action occurs as a result of crazy ideas or thoughts, like revenge. The main theme of Hamlet is madness.

Point-by-Point Paragraphs

Another complex paragraph structure, generally used to evaluate counter arguments, is known as Point-by-Point. The basic purpose of each sentence is outlined below:

  • Topic: what is the main claim that will be rebutted in this paragraph? what will be proven/shown/highlighted/suggested?

  • Development: what reasoning or evidence is presented to support this claim?

  • Rebuttal: why is this reasoning or evidence false or questionable?

  • Development: what are the key reasons for an alternate perspective or claim?

  • Example: what explicit event, person, object, statistics, quote, devices/techniques, metalanguage, etc support this perspective or claim?

  • Summary: what can be concluded from this information?

An important factor to remember with Point-by-Points paragraphs is that they are commonly used in argumentative essays and require an exploration into opposing claims or perspectives from the essay's main intention.

Good Example

In response to the question, "Is slavery acceptable?"

Although most people in the world are against slavery, some argue that it is their right to own others. They reason this by referring to biblical passages, tradition and customs, as well as legal paperwork that may or may not be binding. Every argument in support of slavery as a right is flawed. For instance, the bible passage supporting the act are contradicted in later sections, traditions and customs evolve and can change, and legal paperwork that provide ownership of a person is in direct conflict with international human rights conventions and treaties. Upholding that slavery is immoral and unjust is foundational to a liberated world, and near all international agreements have the rights of the individual at their core. In particular, Article 4 of the UDHR states, "No one shall be held in slavery or servitude" which further supports the suggestion that this practice is not a right. In conclusion, slavery as a practice contradicts the internationally acknowledged standard and, regardless of a minority perspective, is unjust and unacceptable.

Bad Example

In response to the question, "Is slavery acceptable?"

Some people think slavery is okay but they are wrong. Slavery hurts people and the law is against it. In some countries it might be permitted but this does not mean it is okay. Many people dislike slavery and it is the UN's job to make sure no one is kept as a slave in modern society.