When To Start A New Paragraph

Paragraphs are a basic component of any written document.  Can you imagine reading through a piece of text that doesn’t contain any paragraphs?  It’s like hell on paper – one blob of absolutely unreadable mess.

Of course, you can’t just count punctuation and decide you’ll break it up into paragraphs after every fifth one you find.  The most likely result are sections of text that makes little sense, with ideas illogically continued from one to the other without the proper transition.  You can also try using your writing software to point you in the right direction, although good paragraph grouping is best accomplished by being mindful during the writing and rewriting process.

If you’ve been struggling about where to add a paragraph break, here’s a quick rundown of good guidelines you can use:

  • Start a new paragraph when beginning a new idea, a new topic or a new point.  One idea per paragraph is the ideal grouping to make sure you don’t overwhelm your reader and maximize retention.  As such, you should always create a new paragraph when introducing a new one into the material.
  • Start a new paragraph when contrasting ideas.  Let’s say you have one idea in paragraph one and another in paragraph two.  Where do you add the part that you pit them against each other?  On a new paragraph, that’s where.
  • Start a new paragraph when you need to offer your reader a short break.  Some ideas can be too heavy to parlay in one paragraph.  If you force it, you can end up with a paragraph that runs through pages, which is hardly the most ideal way to present your thoughts.  Give the readers a break and break the uninterrupted flow of words – just make sure to put in a good transition from one paragraph to another.