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Methods of Paragraph Development


The most common methods of paragraph development are enumeration, cause and effect, comparison and contrast.



In this type of paragraph development, a writer starts with a general class, then proceeds to break it down by listing some or all of its members or parts.



There are three basic kinds of materials that can be found in any good library. First, there are books on all subjects. These books are organized according to subject, title, and author in a central filed called the card catalogue. Books can generally be checked out of the library and taken home for a period of two to four weeks. Second, there are reference works, which include encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, atlases, and so forth, and which generally must be used in the library itself. Third, there are periodicals – magazines, newspapers, pamphlets – which are filed alphabetically in racks, or which have been microfilmed to conserve space. Like reference works, periodicals usually can not be removed from the library.


3.22. What is the topic sentence here? Underline the key words in the topic sentence. What type of supportive information does the author use (examples, details, facts, statistics)? How many kinds or types of library materials are discussed?


When making a list, we often use numerals (for example, 1, 2, 3, and so forth) to indicate the various items in the list. In most formal writing, however, the items are usually indicated by what is called listing signals (First, …; Second, …; and Third, ….). there are two main groups of listing signals in English:


First, The first
Second, (or One)
(or Next,) The second
Third, (or Another)
(or Next,) (or The next)
(or Then,) The third
Last, (or Still another)
(or Finally,) (or The next)
  The last
  (or The final)


The words in Group 1 require a different sentence structure than the words in Group 2! let’s take a sentence from the paragraph on library materials to illustrate this difference:

Group 1: First, there are books.

Group 2: The first kind consists of books.


Note that a full sentence follows the listing signals from Group 1.

Notice that in Group 2, the listing signal and enumerator are the subject of the sentence. These differences, although simple, are very important!

3.23. Write listing signals for the following paragraph:


The science of proxemics has identified four main distances at which Americans interact. Each of these zones has a close and distant phase. _______ the intimate zone. The close phase of this zone – actual physical contact to about 6 inches – is used only with loved ones in such private activities as patting a child the head or kissing. The distant phase – 6 to 18 inches – is appropriate for close friend but not for casual acquaintances. ________ the personal zone. Its close phase is roughly 18 inches to 2.5 feet, the distance family members stand from each other. The distant phase, which extends to about 4 feet, is common in a conversation among friends. ________ the social zone, which is typical of business dealings. Colleagues at work use close social distance (4 to 7 feet). The distant phase (7 to 12 feet) is automatically adopted in more formal circumstances – for example, when newly introduced people are assessing each other, or when a low-level employee is called into the boss’s office. _________ the public zone, which is used on the most formal public occasions. The more important the speaker is, the further people stand from him or her. This zone can extend to 25 feet and beyond.



The above paragraph is structured so that all its parts are of equal importance.

Sometimes, however, it is necessary to indicate that one of the items in the list of enumeration is more important, more interesting, more influential, stronger, or bigger. There are two ways in which an item can be singled out in a written paragraph: ascending and descending order.


In descending order, the writer lists the most important point first, then goes on to speak of the other points. The descending order is indicated by means of a special group of listing signals:

GROUP 3(Descending order)  
    The most essential most important primary largest chief (etc.)   kind reason (etc.)     is ________.

Asceding order is exactly the opposite of descending order. Here we list minor points first, saving the most important for the last. This keeps the reader interested, since the paragraph has a kind of dramatic structure to it.

GROUP 4 (Ascending order)  
Butthe most essential most important primary largest chief (etc.)   kind reason (etc.)     is_______.
The most essential most important primary largest chief (etc.)   kind reason (etc.)     is______.
Finally– and most importantly –there is_______________________.  

3.24. Analyze the following Enumerative Paragraphs. Read each of the following paragraphs carefully, and determine which order it illustrates. Then indicate all the enumerators and listing signals used to structure the paragraph.

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