How to Write a Topic Sentence

15.03.21 Research paper overview Time to read: 6min

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When composing a piece of academic writing, research or any other type of paper, you must organise your ideas. This helps your teacher or reader understand your primary and secondary points. For this reason, a topic sentence is essential.

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Topic Sentence - FAQ

Generally, a topic sentence should not be more than three lines long. However, you can also make it at least 30 words long. All you need to do is make sure that the sentence contains all the three primary parts mentioned above. It is also worth noting that you do not have to hit the thirty words mark. Ensure it is neither too long nor too short.

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Unlike the thesis statement, this sentence can be written in the form of a question. In such a case, the rest of the paragraph will be written as a response or answer. This means you have to make sure that the sentence, even if it is in question form, presents the paragraph’s main point.

This sentence is important because it helps you keep your writing focused. It also guides your instructor or teacher through your argument or ideas. In an essay or paper, this sentence helps focus the instructor on your paper’s main idea. It also helps clarify the paragraph to you and the reader.

The most straightforward answer to this question is YES. There is a right and wrong way to write this part of your paper. You have to make sure the sentence features the three main parts, it has to be thorough, not too long or short, and it needs to focus on the paragraph’s main idea. Anything without the elements mentioned above would be wrong.

Topic Sentence: Definition

A topic sentence is a sentence used as an introduction to a paragraph. Its role is to present the primary topic in a paragraph and not an entyre project like a thesis statement. This sentence is usually specific and has a narrower focus as compared to a thesis statement. It usually appears in or close to the first sentence of the paragraph.

The three main parts

The topic – this part is written to tell the reader what the paragraph’s topic is. It is usually the first part of the topic sentence.

The opinion – this is the middle part of the topic sentence, and it contains your thoughts about the topic at hand.

The supporting sentence – this part details and gives more information about the topic. It also contains an explanation that supports the idea in the topic.

These three parts work together to make up an effective topic sentence. It is important to note that while these three parts are mandatory, this sentence consists of more than stating the paragraph’s subject.

Writing a strong topic sentence

When writing a research paper or any other academic writing, you need to make sure that every paragraph features this sentence. The topic sentence expresses the components or the main idea of the paragraph. Since it is an integral part of your writing, it needs to be written correctly. Below is a step by step guide on how to write a strong topic sentence:


Clearly state the main idea

The first thing you should do is determine what concept you want to display in the paragraph. Once you have done that, you can find a way to state the main idea. The idea needs to be precise. However, this does not mean that you can use many sentences to bring it out. You must include your topic in the sentence, an opinion and your controlling idea.

Make sure the opinion part of the sentence is reasonable. It should be an idea that can be supported by concrete evidence as required by most universities and learning institutions. Note that this is not an invitation for you to announce your topic like you would in a speech or public speaking.


Create a balance between specifics and the overall idea

Make sure the topic sentence relates to the paragraph to the general concept in your thesis statement or essay. This means that it shouldn’t be too vague or too narrow. The wise thing to do would be to create a right balance between the paragraph context and the general idea.


Make it enjoyable

Remember that the topic sentence is the first thing your reader or instructor will read before diving into your paragraphs. Therefore, if you want to entice your reader into enthusiastically reading your work, then you should make it enjoyable. Use it to hook your reader. Note that you will be creating a topic sentence for each paragraph.

Therefore, creating incredible and enjoyable sentences will keep your reader interested throughout your paper. You can do this by using detail, dialogueue, describing a character, and trying as much as possible to avoid rhetorical questions.


Keep it short

As mentioned earlier, an ideal topic sentence should not exceed 30 words or three lines long. It should not be too long that it has your reader hunting its point. It would help if you made sure that the point of the sentence is precise. Remember that this sentence will act as a middle ground into your paragraph. Additionally, keeping your topic sentence short will help maintain the flow of your paragraph.

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Topic sentences as transitions

As mentioned earlier, every paragraph needs to have a topic sentence. That said, when you write this sentence for each paragraph, you need to ask yourself whether or not the point relates to what you wrote in the preceding section. Therefore, you must use transition words. These words will help you show a connection between your thoughts and ideas.

Additionally, if you are using the paragraph to explain its predecessor further, then the right thing to do would be to use words that show emphasis. Such words include furthermore, indeed, and also.

On the other hand, if the paragraph contains a different aspect of the same subject, you can start this sentence as a summary of the previous paragraph. You can also use it to anticipate the new data you look to include in the new paragraph.

You may want to use a new paragraph to compare the former section’s information in some instances. In such a case, in the sentence topic, you need to use words that highlight conflict. Such words include in contrast, however, on the other hand, and yet, to name a few. You can also form this sentence as a question to show a difference in ideas.

In a Nutshell

A topic sentence is the opening part of a paragraph. It helps give your readers the general idea of what the rest of the paragraph will be about. In a research paper or any other type of academic paper, every paragraph needs this sentence. A good topic sentence should contain the topic, opinion and supporting sentence. The topic sentence acts as a guide to the subject of the paragraph, and it also relates to the main idea of the paper.