What Great Paragraphs Can Do for Your Career

From space dust to universes, all things have structure, including written products. Just as specific atomic particle structures combine to form molecule structures which combine to form cell structures, words are grouped in specific sentence structures which are combined to form paragraph structures which are combined to form the structures of written products.

Paragraphs are structured around the topic sentence. The topic sentence, usually the first sentence in the paragraph, gives the main point of the paragraph, and all other sentences support or expand that point. Well structured and interesting paragraphs can make you standout in the business world.

Suppose that you need to send your boss a report discussing a recent conference that you and a college attended, and you have the following ideas in sentence form:

  1. Mary Smith, who is the Purchasing Manager at XYZ Company, discussed our coming to her office for a presentation of our products and services in the near future.
  2. The discounts we received on hotel and transportation costs will make our ROI much greater.
  3. We made several contacts in our networking that may lead to new contracts.
  4. The presentation tools we used were a credit to our graphic department.
  5. We were invited by Bob Jones of Acme to a business luncheon that Acme hosts monthly for vendors.

Sentences one, three, and five would go in the same paragraph with sentence three being the topic sentence. Sentence two would go in a paragraph about the financial aspects of the conference, and sentence four would go in a paragraph about the company's professional performance at the conference.

If you start constructing a paragraph from sentences one, three, and five above, you can put in a few transition words (in this case "foremost" and "also") to make logical connections as follows:

We made several contacts in our networking that may lead to new contracts. Foremost, Mary Smith, who is the Purchasing Manager at XYZ Company, discussed our coming to her office for a presentation of our products and services in the near future. Also, we were invited by Bob Jones of Acme to a business luncheon that Acme hosts monthly for vendors.

Transitioning shows your reader the connections between the thoughts you are presenting. Imagine yourself as your reader's guide while traveling through your writing, placing connections between sentences as you would place footstones leading somewhere.

To keep reader interest, vary your sentences in length and structure and try to remove any passive verbs. Here's a re-write that makes the paragraph a little more interesting.

Our networking efforts at the conference discussed in several solid contacts that may lead to new contracts. Foremost, Mary Smith, who is the Purchasing Manager at XYZ Company, discussed our coming to her office in the near future for a presentation of our products and services. Also, Bob Jones of Acme invited us to a business luncheon that Acme hosts monthly for vendors which we anticipates leading to inclusion on their vendor list.

Now, your boss knows what a go-getter you are!