Some General Rules about Writing a Good Paragraph
You might find it helpful to know that most paragraphs have three clearly identifiable parts:
Consider this example:
Dodge City is representative of the growth and development of many of the towns of America's Western Frontier. The first residents of Dodge City were soldiers at Fort Dodge which was established in 1865 to protect wagon trains heading west on the Santa Fe Trail. The fort was also a supply base for troops fighting Indians in the Indian Wars. Dodge City grew into a trade center for buffalo hunters and travelers. The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad reached Dodge City in 1872, "assuring the town's continued existence" (History of Dodge City). The buffalo were killed off by 1876, but Longhorn cattle from Texas soon took their place as a source of revenue for Dodge City. For ten years,
over 5 million head were driven up the western branch of the Chisholm Trail to Dodge City. Cowboys from the cattle drives, many of whom were former confederate soldiers, and the soldiers from Fort Dodge were kept away from each other. Peace officers, such as Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman, Charlie Basset and others helped maintain the law during Dodge City's early years. (History of Dodge City)
Gradually the"wild west" has slowly disappeared. The military post closed in 1882. In 1889 Fort Dodge became a Kansas State Soldiers' Home. By 1885, the cattle drives had stopped, but they were important in make Dodge City internationally famous.
"History of Dodge City." http://www.boothill.org/Dodge_City/dodge_city.html 1999, 9-11-2002.
Notice several things about this paragraph:
- The first sentence provides a topic for the sentence, Dodge City.
- The first sentence also restricts the topic by saying what the writer's main point is about Dodge City.
- The remainder of the paragraph provides illustrations and details which clarify the main point.
- The writer quotes from an external source. He clearly indicates the source with a reference to the title in parentheses at the end of the quotation.
- The writer signals a longer quote by indenting it 10 spaces on the left margin.
- The writer provides a Work Cited list including the source he quoted from in MLA format.