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How to Write a Topic Sentence for an Essay: Steps & Examples

Topic Sentence
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A topic sentence is the first sentence in a body paragraph that summarizes its main idea. It's like a mini-thesis statement for each body paragraph. A well-crafted topic sentence should be focused and specific, so that your audience has a clue of what the paragraph will be about.

While it's usually 1 sentence long, students often find it tricky to highlight the key idea of a passage. That's why our essay writing service is here to help you. In this blog, we will shed more light on how to write a topic sentence for a body paragraph of an essay and provide decent examples to help you engage your readers. But before we get down to suggestion, let's begin with a definition.

What Is a Topic Sentence: Definition

A topic sentence is the first sentence of a body paragraph that captures its central point. By providing a succinct preview of the whole section, it serves as a roadmap and keeps writing organized. 

A good topic sentence should be clear, concise and connected to a thesis statement. Your task is to grab the reader's attention, encouraging them to continue reading. Additionally, you will need to back up your key point by evidence and in-depth analysis.

Topic sentences also act as transitions that link paragraphs to one another. It's like building a bridge between sections allowing readers to move fluently throughout your essay.

Topic Sentence vs Thesis: What's the Difference?

Quite often, students confuse a topic sentence with a thesis statement. Let's clarify the difference between these 2 components.

A thesis statement is the main argument of the whole paper. It usually appears at the end of an essay introduction and presents your central position or claim. A topic sentence introduces the main idea of a single paragraph and should relate back to your thesis.

Take a glance at this example to understand the distinction.

Thesis: The widespread use of social media has had a significant impact on society, affecting communication, relationships, and self-image.
Topic sentence 1: Social media has transformed the way we communicate, providing new opportunities for connection and interaction.
Topic sentence 2: The rise of social media has also had an impact on relationships, both positive and negative, with increased access to information and social pressure affecting how people relate to one another.
Topic sentence 3: Social media has been linked to negative effects on self-image, with the constant pressure to present a perfect online persona leading to increased anxiety and decreased self-esteem.

What Is the Purpose of a Topic Sentence?

The primary purpose of a topic sentence boils down to emphasizing on the point you want to make in any specific section. It also serves other goals:

  1. Guides the writer in developing content of each paragraph
  2. Ties your paragraph back to the larger argument of your paper
  3. Allows readers to follow your line of thought
  4. Creates coherence of your writing piece
  5. Makes ideas easier to follow.

Now that you know what a topic sentence in an essay body is and its purpose, let's discuss its main types.

Types of Topic Sentences and Examples

There are multiple approaches to previewing your paragraph's main point. Depending on the essay type, you may opt for different types of topic sentences – cause and effect, problem-solution, comparison and contrast. They can also appear in the form of a suggestion, question or a simple transition. Below we will define each type and provide topic sentence examples.

General to Specific

This type of topic sentence begins with a broad statement and then narrows down to a specific point.

Example

Specific to General

In this case, you will start with a particular detail and then broaden out to a larger point.

Example

Cause and Effect

Such sentences present a causal relationship between 2 ideas, events or phenomena. This type of topic sentence is usually used in cause and effect essays.

Example

Comparison and Contrast

Sometimes, you may be assigned to compare 2 different concepts.  If you are writing a compare and contrast essay, you will need to build topic sentences for each paragraph that reflect the comparison.

Example

Problem-Solution

As the name suggests, this type of sentence primarily focuses on how to solve a  specific issue. You will use this approach when working on a problem-solution essay.

Example

Advice/Suggestion

Suggestions are an integral part of most kinds of essays. Whether you are writing a persuasive essay or a how-to guide, you need to express an opinion and provide a call for action. That's when you will turn your topic sentence into a piece of advice or guideline.

Example

Question

Sometimes, you may open a paragraph with a question in order to entice the reader and make them more interested in your opinion.  Such  questions should be used sparingly and confined to the introduction.

Example

Transition

When you are navigating from one paragraph to another, it is important that you make a seamless connection between ideas. The goal is to make the reader feel like they are continuously progressing through your essay. That's when essay transition words come into play. Here's how to create a topic sentence that can be used for linking.

Example

How to Write a Good Topic Sentence for an Essay: 5 Easy Steps

When writing a topic sentence, there are 2 important aspects to keep in mind:

  1. You should be specific and focus only on a single idea or point.
  2. Stay on the point and don’t cover too many specifics in one sentence.

Now let’s take a look at the steps involved in the process. Follow these detailed guidelines on how to write a topic sentence and arrange your essay properly.

1. Determine the Main Idea of Your Writing

Before you write a topic sentence for body paragraphs, identify your essay’s main idea, or the point you’re trying to prove. The key argument is usually hidden in your thesis statement. Read through your thesis and think about the overall point that you are trying to make.  Powered by the main idea, you can start thinking how to structure your body paragraphs and what specific points to discuss in each section.

Example

2. Break Down the Main Idea into Smaller Pieces

The next step is to split your idea into smaller points. Try to recognize major supporting points or subtopics that reinforce your thesis statement. It can be helpful to create an outline or diagram to map out the essay structure and organize your arguments. By doing so, you will see how your central idea can be separated into more manageable subpoints.

Example

  • Main idea: Nurture a well-rounded education
    • Subpoint 1: Prioritizing teaching arts, music, and physical education along with core subjects
    • Subpoint 2: Engaging students in experiential learning (internships, service learning)
    • Subpoint 3: Enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

>> Read more: How to Write an Essay Outline 

3. Make Sure Each Body Paragraph Serves a Specific Purpose

The purpose of each body paragraph is to take one of the subpoints and explain it in detail. In order to do that, make a topic sentence focused and to the point.

One common mistake is integrating too many details in one sentence. 

Remember, the goal of your topic sentence is to introduce a single idea. For that, you need to establish the evidence and examples you want to use in your paragraph. Once you are clear on the goal of each paragraph, you can start creating your topic sentence.

Example of a weak topic sentence

In the above topic sentence example, a student combines 2 different ideas in 1 sentence. Eventually, this may lead to unnecessary confusion. Here's how this sentence may be improved.

Example of a strong topic sentence

4. Grab Reader's Attention

The best topic sentence is the one that sounds compelling and captivates the reader's attention. Just like in the essay introduction, here you also need to integrate a hook. There are several hook techniques that you can use to involve your audience in your body paragraph:

  • Using surprising facts or statistics that challenge the reader's assumptions or expectations
  • Opening your paragraph with a rhetorical question that encourages to consider a new angle
  • Starting a topic sentence with an anecdote or personal story illustrating your point.

Example

>> Learn more: How to Write a Hook for an Essay

Trigger words can also be used to persuade your audience read further. These are the words and phrases that evoke emotions or psychological reactions. Below you can find some of the most efficient trigger words for your topic sentences. 

Popular trigger words

When you write a topic sentence that elicits a strong emotional response, you will be able to interest more readers.

5. Write a Topic Sentence

Before you get down to actually writing a topic sentence for an essay body paragraph, remember that it should contain condensed information on your point. Still, you don't want to give away all supporting details or evidence from the get-go. Try to find balance between introducing your ideas and leaving some space for developing your argument further in the body.

Keep in mind the overall structure and flow of your essay. Your topic sentence should match a larger claim stated in your thesis. Otherwise, it will appear out of context and may potentially  ruin the entire argument.

Examine good topic sentences examples for essays presented below to get more ideas on how to create your own.

Essay Topic Sentence Examples

Whether you're writing an argumentative, descriptive, or narrative essay, a strong topic sentence plays a crucial role in setting the stage for your main ideas. In this section, we will offer multiple examples of topic sentences. Inspect each topic sentence example for an essay to see how theory can be implemented in practice.

Topic sentence example for an argumentative essay

Descriptive essay topic sentence example

Example of a topic sentence for cause-and-effect writing

Topic Sentence Writing Tips

Here are some valuable tips for writing a powerful topic sentence in a paragraph.

  1. Keep it brief but informative. Your topic sentence should contain only relevant information that directly supports the main point.
  2. Associate it to your primary claim. Make sure that your subpoints are intertwined and contribute to your fundamental assertion.
  3. Be precise. Make sure that you use specific language and avoid generalizations.
  4. Make it flow. Each body paragraph should build on the previous one and lead the reader towards your essay conclusion.
  5. Apply active voice. Using an active voice in your topic sentence can help to create a sense of urgency and engagement.

Bottom Line on How to Write a Topic Sentence

Crafting a powerful topic sentence is not easy, but with practice, you will be able to start your paragraphs in a convincing manner. Make sure that each opening is  clear and reflects your main idea in a brief, yet, meaningful way. Keep these tips and examples in mind when writing topic sentences for your next essay.

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FAQ About Writing Topic Sentences

1. How to start off a topic sentence?

A good way to start a topic sentence is by introducing the specific idea or concept that you are going to discuss. It should be concise and directly related to the point of your essay. For example: "The increase in air pollution has led to an alarming rise in respiratory illnesses in cities." This sentence states the main point of your topic and sets the tone for what follows.

2. Can a topic sentence be a question?

Yes, a topic sentence can be a question. In fact, beginning a paragraph with a question can create a sense of curiosity and encourage readers to think critically about your topic. Be sure to follow up the question with a clear and concise statement that provides a direct answer.

3. How long should a topic sentence be?

A topic sentence should be concise and to the point, ideally no longer than 1 or 2 sentences long. It should make a preview to the main idea of the paragraph, while also leaving enough room for developing your arguments and evidence.

4. How to write a strong topic sentence?

To compose a strong topic sentence, clearly state the main idea of your body paragraph. Avoid vague or general statements. Instead, your topic sentence should grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. It's suggested to link it to your thesis statement of your paper to ensure that you stay on track.

Article posted on:Apr 26, 2023
Article updated on:May 13, 2024

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