What is a “topic sentence”?

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A topic sentence is the first sentence of your paragraph that states the focus, or central idea, of the paragraph — sort of a mini-thesis. A strong topic sentence (not to be confused with essay topic) will also provide a transition from the previous paragraph and refer to your thesis statement. Each point of your thesis statement should provide you with a guide for writing your paragraphs’ topic sentences, if you used a three-pronged strategy.

Like a thesis statement, your topic statements may be implicit instead of explicit, suggesting a focus rather than saying it outright. Inexperienced writers, however, should be cautious not to lose their focus if they choose an implicit topic sentence.

Here are a few guidelines for writing a thesis

  1. do not use fact
  2. questions
  3. announcements

Provide a focus for your paragraph by stating the paragraph’s subject and the assertion that the paragraph will support. For example:

Not only does Star Trek emphasize non-violent strategies for problem solving, it introduces new ways of considering and solving current social problems, like racial conflict.

This sentence provides a transition from the previous paragraph, it directly refers to the thesis statement, and it introduces the specific topic that will be addressed in the current paragraph.

Also see How does an “opening sentence” differ from a “topic sentence”?

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