Going on too long: the curse of the overly-long paragraph Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

One of the most tiring things a professor can see on an essay is one really huge paragraph. It’s hard on the eyes and the mind. So what should you do? Divide it up.

Yes, folks, I have had graduate students who wrote one-paragraph essays of several thousand words. Groan. Those were the paragraphs from a place known for its warmth.

What are the topics you are covering? As you change from one topic to the next, that’s a great place to break up your paragraph. Here is a natural break for your paragraphs:


Point One

Point Two

Point Three


Do not write one-sentence paragraphs, however.  At the start of each paragraph, give me a topic sentence, state your case, back it up with support from your research, and either emphasize the thought that you stated in the topic sentence or  state something of importance that you just covered. This makes the individual paragraph about five sentences in length. You can go a little bit longer than five sentences, if you wish, but don’t get carried away.

Don’t go off on a rabbit trail, no matter how cute you think the rabbit is. Don’t introduce new information in the last paragraph. Stick to the topic at hand, but do break up long paragraphs into more manageable chunks. Your professors will thank you for it.


Dr. Sheri


Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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