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How to Write Topic Sentences | 4 Steps, Examples & Purpose

Published on July 21, 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on June 5, 2023.

How to Write Topic Sentences

Every paragraph in your paper needs a topic sentence . The topic sentence expresses what the paragraph is about. It should include two key things:

  • The  topic of the paragraph
  • The central point of the paragraph.

After the topic sentence, you expand on the point zwith evidence and examples.

To build a well-structured argument, you can also use your topic sentences to transition smoothly between paragraphs and show the connections between your points.

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Table of contents

Writing strong topic sentences, topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs, topic sentences that introduce more than one paragraph, where does the topic sentence go, frequently asked questions about topic sentences.

Topic sentences aren’t the first or the last thing you write—you’ll develop them throughout the writing process. To make sure every topic sentence and paragraph serves your argument, follow these steps.

Step 1: Write a thesis statement

The first step to developing your topic sentences is to make sure you have a strong thesis statement . The thesis statement sums up the purpose and argument of the whole paper.

Thesis statement example

Food is an increasingly urgent environmental issue, and to reduce humans’ impact on the planet, it is necessary to change global patterns of food production and consumption.

Step 2: Make an essay outline and draft topic sentences

Next, you should make an outline of your essay’s structure , planning what you want to say in each paragraph and what evidence you’ll use.

At this stage, you can draft a topic sentence that sums up the main point you want to make in each paragraph. The topic sentences should be more specific than the thesis statement, but always clearly related to it.

Topic sentence example

Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has a significant environmental impact .

Step 3: Expand with evidence

The rest of the paragraph should flow logically from the topic sentence, expanding on the point with evidence, examples, or argumentation. This helps keep your paragraphs focused: everything you write should relate to the central idea expressed in the topic sentence.

In our example, you might mention specific research studies and statistics that support your point about the overall impact of the meat industry.

Step 4: Refine your topic sentences

Topic sentences usually start out as simple statements. But it’s important to revise them as you write, making sure they match the content of each paragraph.

A good topic sentence is specific enough to give a clear sense of what to expect from the paragraph, but general enough that it doesn’t give everything away. You can think of it like a signpost: it should tell the reader which direction your argument is going in.

To make your writing stronger and ensure the connections between your paragraphs are clear and logical, you can also use topic sentences to create smooth transitions. To improve sentence flow even more, you can also utilize the paraphrase tool .

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As you write each topic sentence, ask yourself: how does this point relate to what you wrote in the preceding paragraph? It’s often helpful to use transition words in your topic sentences to show the connections between your ideas.

Emphasize and expand

If the paragraph goes into more detail or gives another example to make the same point, the topic sentence can use words that imply emphasis or similarity (for example, furthermore , indeed , in fact , also ).

Indeed , cattle farming alone is responsible for a large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions.

Summarize and anticipate

If the paragraph turns to a different aspect of the same subject, the topic sentence can briefly sum up the previous paragraph and anticipate the new information that will appear in this one.

While beef clearly has the most dramatic footprint, other animal products also have serious impacts in terms of emissions, water and land use.

Compare and contrast

If the paragraph makes a comparison or introduces contrasting information, the topic sentence can use words that highlight difference or conflict (for example, in contrast , however , yet , on the other hand ).

However , the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.

You can also imply contrast or complicate your argument by formulating the topic sentence as a question.

Is veganism the only solution, or are there more sustainable ways of producing meat and dairy?

Sometimes you can use a topic sentence to introduce several paragraphs at once.

All of the examples above address the environmental impact of meat-eating versus veganism. Together, they make up one coherent part of a larger argument, so the first paragraph could use a topic sentence to introduce the whole section.

In countries with high levels of meat consumption, a move towards plant-based diets is the most obvious route to making food more sustainable. Research has consistently shown that the meat industry has significant environmental impacts.

The topic sentence usually goes at the very start of a paragraph, but sometimes it can come later to indicate a change of direction in the paragraph’s argument.

Given this evidence of the meat industry’s impact on the planet, veganism seems like the only environmentally responsible option for consumers. However, the environmental costs of dietary choices are not always clear-cut; in some cases, small-scale livestock farming is more sustainable than plant-based food production.

In this example, the first sentence summarizes the main point that has been made so far. Then the topic sentence indicates that this paragraph will address evidence that complicates or contradicts that point.

In more advanced or creative forms of academic writing , you can play with the placement of topic sentences to build suspense and give your arguments more force. But if in doubt, to keep your research paper clear and focused, the easiest method is to place the topic sentence at the start of the paragraph.

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A topic sentence is a sentence that expresses the main point of a paragraph . Everything else in the paragraph should relate to the topic sentence.

Topic sentences help keep your writing focused and guide the reader through your argument.

In an essay or paper , each paragraph should focus on a single idea. By stating the main idea in the topic sentence, you clarify what the paragraph is about for both yourself and your reader.

The topic sentence usually comes at the very start of the paragraph .

However, sometimes you might start with a transition sentence to summarize what was discussed in previous paragraphs, followed by the topic sentence that expresses the focus of the current paragraph.

Let’s say you’re writing a five-paragraph  essay about the environmental impacts of dietary choices. Here are three examples of topic sentences you could use for each of the three body paragraphs :

  • Research has shown that the meat industry has severe environmental impacts.
  • However, many plant-based foods are also produced in environmentally damaging ways.
  • It’s important to consider not only what type of diet we eat, but where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Each of these sentences expresses one main idea – by listing them in order, we can see the overall structure of the essay at a glance. Each paragraph will expand on the topic sentence with relevant detail, evidence, and arguments.

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Writing Beginner

How to Write a Topic Sentence (30+ Tips & Examples)

Writing the perfect topic sentence took me years to master.

After endless drafts, feedback sessions, and seeing what resonates with readers, I’ve distilled the ultimate guide to craft attention-grabbing, informative, and concise topic sentences.

Let’s dive into the essential tips for how to write a topic sentence.

What Is a Topic Sentence and Why Is It Important?

Bright lights spell 'TOPIC SENTENCES' above an awe-inspired crowd -- How to Write a Topic Sentence

Table of Contents

A topic sentence introduces the main idea, usually appearing at the start of a paragraph.

It sets the tone for the entire paragraph by giving a glimpse of what’s coming. Think of it as a headline for each paragraph that keeps your writing clear and focused.

A strong topic sentence is important because:

  • Grabs Attention: Captures the reader’s interest, encouraging them to keep reading.
  • Guides Structure: Helps organize thoughts in a logical way.
  • Provides Focus: Prevents rambling by clarifying the main point.

Types of Topic Sentences

Different types of topic sentences can fit various writing styles and purposes.

Understanding these types will help you select the best approach for your specific content.

  • Declarative Statements: These are straightforward sentences that make a clear assertion. They introduce the main idea without any fluff or ambiguity. Example: “Water conservation is critical in regions prone to drought.”
  • Interrogative Sentences: These topic sentences pose a question, encouraging readers to think critically and seek answers within the paragraph. Example: “How can sustainable practices help reduce waste in the fashion industry?”
  • Complex Sentences: By combining independent and dependent clauses, these topic sentences present a nuanced main idea that prepares readers for a more detailed discussion. Example: “Although renewable energy sources are gaining popularity, fossil fuels still dominate the global energy sector.”
  • Bridge Sentences: These link the preceding paragraph to the next, providing continuity and coherence in the overall structure. Example: “While electric vehicles offer a greener alternative to traditional cars, the infrastructure for widespread adoption remains lacking.”
  • Contrasting Statements: These topic sentences highlight opposing viewpoints or circumstances, building intrigue and depth into the following paragraph. Example: “Despite the technological advancements in healthcare, access remains limited for underserved communities.”

My 30 Best Tips for Writing a Topic Sentence

Now let’s get into the main section of this guide — where you will learn all the best tips for writing a compelling topic sentence on any subject.

Tip #1: State the Main Idea Clearly

Make sure your topic sentence introduces the primary idea succinctly.

Avoid vague language or cluttered wording. Your reader should immediately understand the topic.

  • Clear: “Recycling programs reduce landfill waste by promoting reusable packaging.”
  • Unclear: “Programs for recycling can be a good thing because it’s important.”

Tip #2: Keep It Simple and Direct

A topic sentence should be straightforward. Avoid complex structures and over-complicated phrasing.

Shorter sentences work best.

  • Simple: “Exercise improves mental health through endorphin production.”
  • Complicated: “One can expect to experience benefits in their mental state with exercise due to the generation of endorphins.”

Tip #3: Link to the Previous Paragraph

Create a smooth flow by connecting ideas to the paragraph before.

Transition words like “similarly,” “however,” or “in contrast” help show relationships.

  • Linked: “Similarly, the agricultural industry is also impacted by climate change.”
  • Disjointed: “Farmers are struggling with erratic weather patterns.”

Tip #4: Avoid Announcing Your Intentions

Steer clear of sentences like “In this paragraph, I will discuss…” They sound amateurish and reduce reader engagement.

  • Natural: “Effective communication skills are crucial for career advancement.”
  • Announcing: “This paragraph will explain why communication skills are important.”

Tip #5: Vary Sentence Structure

Using the same structure repeatedly can bore readers.

Mix up your approach by experimenting with different forms like questions, facts, and lists.

  • Varied: “How does cultural background influence consumer behavior?”
  • Repetitive: “Consumer behavior is influenced by cultural background.”

Tip #6: Be Specific, Not General

A vague topic sentence leaves the reader confused. Instead, provide specific information to establish clarity and interest.

  • Specific: “Remote work improves productivity by reducing commute times.”
  • General: “Remote work is beneficial for many reasons.”

Tip #7: Reflect Your Argument’s Tone

Match your topic sentence with the tone of your argument. For serious discussions, avoid informal language.

  • Formal: “The socioeconomic impact of urbanization requires comprehensive policy solutions.”
  • Informal: “The effects of city living need some fixing.”

Tip #8: Include a Controlling Idea

The controlling idea limits the scope of the paragraph, ensuring the reader knows what to expect next.

  • With Control: “Social media marketing increases brand visibility through targeted campaigns.”
  • Without Control: “Social media is important.”

Tip #9: Use Active Voice

Active voice is more engaging and dynamic. It also provides clarity.

  • Active: “New policies will reshape healthcare accessibility.”
  • Passive: “Healthcare accessibility will be reshaped by new policies.”

Tip #10: Make It Unique

Avoid using overused phrases or predictable statements. Offer a fresh perspective to captivate your reader.

  • Unique: “Biodegradable packaging is transforming the fast-food industry.”
  • Cliché: “The fast-food industry is changing with new trends.”

Tip #11: Create Curiosity

Tease your reader by leaving questions unanswered. Encourage them to keep reading for more.

  • Curious: “What are the unexpected benefits of rising inflation rates?”
  • Blunt: “Rising inflation rates have some positive effects.”

Tip #12: Support Your Thesis

Your topic sentence should align with your overall thesis. It will give your argument more coherence.

  • Aligned: “Reducing plastic waste aligns with our sustainability goals.”
  • Unaligned: “Plastic recycling is controversial.”

Tip #13: Focus on One Point

Don’t overwhelm readers with multiple ideas in one topic sentence. Stick to one clear concept.

  • One Point: “Artificial intelligence streamlines data analysis.”
  • Too Broad: “Artificial intelligence changes marketing, finance, and data analysis.”

Tip #14: Use Key Terms From the Prompt (if applicable)

If you are responding to an assignment or specific topic prompt, make sure your topic sentence directly incorporates relevant keywords.

  • Key Terms Included: “Global warming solutions must involve international cooperation.”
  • Lacks Terms: “Solutions for the environment require cooperation.”

Tip #15: Offer Context

Provide some context in the topic sentence to frame the discussion, giving the reader essential background information.

With Context: “As urbanization accelerates, city infrastructure struggles to keep up.” Without Context: “City infrastructure is lagging.”

Tip #16: Incorporate Comparisons

Comparisons can clarify complex concepts and give readers a familiar reference.

  • Comparison: “Just as the printing press revolutionized communication, the internet has transformed modern commerce.”
  • No Comparison: “The internet has transformed modern commerce.”

Tip #17: Present Solutions

Offering a solution at the start engages readers who are seeking actionable advice.

  • Solution: “Installing solar panels reduces energy bills while cutting carbon emissions.”
  • Problem-Only: “High energy bills are a widespread issue.”

Tip #18: Address Common Misconceptions

Challenge preconceived notions to spark curiosity and highlight the importance of your argument.

  • Challenging: “Despite common belief, vitamin supplements aren’t always beneficial.”
  • Reinforcing: “Vitamin supplements have benefits.”

Tip #19: Use Emotional Appeals

Appeal to the reader’s emotions to deepen their connection to your writing.

  • Emotional: “Volunteering at shelters uplifts communities and transforms lives.”
  • Neutral: “Volunteering at shelters is helpful.”

Tip #20: Avoid Redundancy

Ensure your topic sentence adds new value. Avoid repeating points covered elsewhere.

  • New Value: “Stronger copyright laws are crucial for protecting intellectual property.”
  • Redundant: “Intellectual property needs stronger protection.”

Tip #21: Ask a Thought-Provoking Question

Pose a question that makes the reader stop and think. This engages them immediately.

  • Provocative: “How will automation reshape the global workforce?”
  • Plain: “Automation is changing the global workforce.”

Tip #22: Include an Action Verb

Action verbs add momentum and urgency to your topic sentence. They make your point more dynamic.

  • Active Verb: “Investing in renewable energy fosters long-term economic growth.”
  • Lacks Action: “Renewable energy investments are beneficial.”

Tip #23: Paint a Picture

Use descriptive language to help readers visualize your point.

  • Descriptive: “Increased droughts have turned fertile farmlands into arid deserts.”
  • Bland: “Droughts are affecting farmlands.”

Tip #24: Use Parallel Structure

Parallel structure involves repeating similar grammatical forms.

It makes your writing rhythmic and easy to follow.

  • Parallel: “Tackling pollution requires reducing emissions, cleaning waterways, and limiting waste.”
  • Non-Parallel: “Tackling pollution requires emission reductions, waterways cleaning, and limiting waste.”

Tip #25: Emphasize Urgency

Highlight the time-sensitive nature of your argument to create urgency.

  • Urgent: “Immediate action is needed to prevent further deforestation.”
  • Calm: “Deforestation is a concern.”

Tip #26: Highlight Contrasts

Contrasting different ideas helps to emphasize your point and draw clear distinctions.

  • Contrast: “While technology creates new jobs, it also disrupts traditional industries.”
  • No Contrast: “Technology affects the job market.”

Tip #27: Lead with a Statistic

Start with a compelling number to catch the reader’s attention and back up your argument.

  • Statistic: “80% of small businesses struggle to comply with data privacy regulations.”
  • General Statement: “Small businesses struggle with data privacy.”

Tip #28: Build on Existing Knowledge

Assume the reader has some background knowledge and expand on it.

  • Builds On Knowledge: “With the rise of remote work, companies are rethinking their office spaces.”
  • Basic Information: “Remote work is changing office spaces.”

Tip #29: Start with an Anecdote

A brief anecdote adds a human touch, creating an immediate connection with the reader.

  • Anecdotal: “After years of burnout, Sarah switched to a part-time schedule to improve her work-life balance.”
  • Abstract: “Work-life balance is important.”

Tip #30: Use an Engaging Metaphor

A metaphor can illuminate your argument in an unexpected way.

  • Metaphor: “Effective teamwork is the glue that holds successful organizations together.”
  • Literal: “Effective teamwork is important for organizations.”

Check out this video about how to write a topic sentence:

Final Thoughts: How to Write a Topic Sentence

Writing compelling topic sentences takes practice, but mastering this skill can transform your writing.

I hope this guides empowers you in your topic-sentence writing journey.

Beyond the topic sentence, there are other techniques and terms you really need to know to improve your writing.

Read This Next:

  • 30 Narrative Writing Examples to Elevate Your Writing
  • What Is a Summary In Writing? (Explained + 40 Examples)
  • What Is A Warrant In Writing? (Explained + 20 Examples)
  • What Is A Universal Statement In Writing? (Explained)
  • How to Describe Tone in Writing: 300 Examples You Can Use

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topic sentence examples for essay

How to Write a Strong Topic Sentence + Examples

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What’s Covered:

  • What Is a Topic Sentence?
  • 5 Steps to Writing a Good Topic Sentence

Elements of a Good Topic Sentence

Common pitfalls to avoid.

  • Where To Get Your Essay Edited For Free

Crafting the perfect essay takes time and dedication. There are so many elements you have to worry about, such as tone, purpose, and correct spelling and grammar. Writing a strong topic sentences is another critical part in writing a cohesive essay. 

Without a strong topic sentence, you risk losing your reader and perhaps part of your grade. If it’s a college admissions essay, then you need it to be as strong as possible to back up your application. Learn about what steps you should take to write a strong topic sentence.

What Is a Topic Sentence? 

People often confuse a topic sentence with a thesis statement. A thesis statement is typically at the end of your opening paragraph, that dictates the main argument you’ll be making in your essay. 

Throughout your essay, you’ll have multiple topic sentences, as each paragraph should start off with one. This beginning sentence is used to direct the topic of the paragraph and outline the flow of the following sentences. It’s used to help guide your reader and to continue to keep them hooked on your overall essay. Without topic sentences, your essay will be unorganized, lack transitions, and sound very choppy. To write a good topic sentence, there are several steps to take.

Writing a Good Topic Sentence: 5 Steps

Step 1: decide what you’re going to write about..

When you see the essay prompt, you’ll have some time to think through what you want to say and why. You have to decide if it’s a persuasive essay, informative, narrative, or descriptive. Determine your purpose for writing the essay after reading through the prompt. Whether it’s an assignment for school or if it’s to get into college, you need to make sure you have that purpose clearly outlined. 

Step 2: Create a thesis statement.

One of the first things you need to do is create a thesis statement. This is typically a sentence with three points that you’ll back up throughout your essay. 

For example: The Office became a cultural phenomenon because it spurred the careers of many of today’s successful movie stars, it talked about situations that most American workers can relate to, and even 15 years later, offers funny, relevant content that helps to break down prejudices. 

You then use that thesis statement to create an essay around the points you want to make. 

Step 3: Make your essay outline.

Once you have the points you want to make within your thesis statement hammered out, make an outline for your essay. This is where you’ll start to create your topic sentence for each paragraph. You want to clearly state the main idea of that paragraph in the very first sentence. From there, you back up that main idea with facts and reputable sources. Make sure your topic sentence is clear, but does not just announce your topic. 

For example, do not write something like: “In this paragraph, I will discuss why it’s bad that poachers are killing giraffes.”

Instead, write something that clearly states your idea with a reasonable opinion and that gives direction to the paragraph: “Giraffes are a key part of the African ecosystem, so it’s important to enforce regulations against the poachers who are killing them for their body parts.” 

You’d then follow that up with reasons why giraffes are a key part of the African ecosystem and how poachers are destroying their population.

Step 4: Begin writing your essay.

Once you have your thesis statement and you’ve created an outline with supporting paragraphs and their topic sentences, you can begin writing your essay. It’s important to make that outline before just jumping in–a disorganized essay can spell disaster for you as you continue to write, and could result in a poor grade. Many times, teachers will even require you to turn in your outline as part of your overall essay grade. 

Step 5: Proofread and check your resources.

After you’ve written the essay, go back through it with a fine tooth comb. Read through each topic sentence and the paragraphs that follow to ensure that you’ve written clear, solid topic sentences throughout and that the paragraphs with them make sense. During the proofreading phase, you also need to recheck the sources you’re using. Make sure each source is reputable. In other words, do not use sites like Wikipedia where anyone can go in and edit an article to add misinformation. Use sites that:

  • Are actual reputable news sources, such as the New York Times , CNN, CBS News
  • Have domain names that end in .edu or .gov
  • Come from an encyclopedia, such as Encyclopedia Britannica

Using sites that are not reputable could jeopardize the validity of your argument. 

topic sentence examples for essay

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Now that you know the steps to set yourself up for success when writing a topic sentence, there are certain elements that go into a quality first sentence. Always make sure that your topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph. You don’t want to make your reader hunt for the point you’re trying to make. Check out some key elements of a good topic sentence:

Make sure your topic sentence isn’t too vague.

You need a topic sentence that has some specifics to it. It also needs to hook in your reader in some way with an opinion. A vague sentence makes it harder to write a paragraph that can clearly backs up your thoughts. For example:

DON’T: “In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley seems like a nice guy.”

DO: “When Mr. Bingley is first introduced, he comes across as a kind person because he speaks to everyone and doesn’t immediately pass judgment.”

Choose a reasonable opinion.

Your topic sentence should clearly outline whatever point you’re trying to make in the paragraph, but you want to pick a reasonable opinion that you can easily reinforce with facts and statistics. Here’s an example of what you should and should not do:

DON’T: “It’s obvious that Mr. Bingley was a total loser with no backbone.”

DO: “Mr. Bingley could have shown more confidence in his choices and stood up to Mr. Darcy when he found himself in love with Jane Bennet.”

You can then back that up with facts, saying that he was a wealthy Englishman and thus one of the key players in society at the time, which should have given him more confidence. If he’d been more confident, perhaps he would not have left and devastated Jane.

Use your topic sentence as a transition.

Along with telling the reader the point of your next paragraph, your topic sentence should also serve as a transition from the previous paragraph. Without a transition, the essay can feel like it’s choppy and disjointed. For example:

DON’T: “Mr. Bingley is a good man and here’s why.”

DO: “Although Mr. Bingley did break Jane’s heart by leaving, he ended up redeeming himself by returning to Netherfield Hall.”

Keep your topic sentence short.

A long, drawn-out topic sentence can risk losing your reader. Many times, it’s hard to determine the point of a sentence when it goes on for too long. You want a clear, concise sentence that draws in the reader but also leaves some room for you to expand on it in the following paragraph.

DON’T: “Throughout the novel of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley was often quite different from Mr. Darcy as he would treat all people in a friendly manner, considering them all his friends and acquaintances, even agreeing to throw a ball after Elizabeth’s sisters rudely demanded he do so and was gracious to Mr. and Mrs. Bennet as well despite their manners.”

DO: “Overall, Mr. Bingley served as a foil to Mr. Darcy throughout the story by treating everyone around him equally with dignity and grace.”

Writing an essay can be overwhelming at times, but so long as you avoid some of these common pitfalls, it can be easier to get it done on time. 

Don’t wait until the last minute.

If your teacher assigns you an essay or tells you that you have an essay test coming up, don’t wait until the day before to do anything about it. You have to plan or study and you need to give yourself time to do that. If you know it takes you a while to write something, then start planning it as soon as you get the assignment.

Don’t forget to write an outline.

Along with planning, make sure you have that outline written up and planned out well. It will serve as your guideline for writing the essay. Without it, you’ll face the risk of a disorganized essay that does not clearly illustrate your point.

Ask for help if you need it.

This may be the most important pitfall to avoid. If you get in over your head while writing, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a friend to review the essay or ask your teacher for guidance. 

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topic sentence examples for essay

Topic sentences and signposts make an essay's claims clear to a reader. Good essays contain both.  Topic sentences   reveal the main point of a paragraph. They show the relationship of each paragraph to the essay's thesis, telegraph the point of a paragraph, and tell your reader what to expect in the paragraph that follows. Topic sentences also establish their relevance right away, making clear why the points they're making are important to the essay's main ideas. They argue rather than report.  Signposts , as their name suggests, prepare the reader for a change in the argument's direction. They show how far the essay's argument has progressed vis-ˆ-vis the claims of the thesis. 

Topic sentences and signposts occupy a middle ground in the writing process. They are neither the first thing a writer needs to address (thesis and the broad strokes of an essay's structure are); nor are they the last (that's when you attend to sentence-level editing and polishing). Topic sentences and signposts deliver an essay's structure and meaning to a reader, so they are useful diagnostic tools to the writer—they let you know if your thesis is arguable—and essential guides to the reader

Forms of Topic Sentences

 Sometimes topic sentences are actually two or even three sentences long. If the first makes a claim, the second might reflect on that claim, explaining it further. Think of these sentences as asking and answering two critical questions: How does the phenomenon you're discussing operate? Why does it operate as it does?

There's no set formula for writing a topic sentence. Rather, you should work to vary the form your topic sentences take. Repeated too often, any method grows wearisome. Here are a few approaches.

Complex sentences.   Topic sentences at the beginning of a paragraph frequently combine with a transition from the previous paragraph. This might be done by writing a sentence that contains both subordinate and independent clauses, as in the example below.

 Although  Young Woman with a Water Pitcher  depicts an unknown, middle-class woman at an ordinary task, the image is more than "realistic"; the painter [Vermeer] has imposed his own order upon it to strengthen it. 

This sentence employs a useful principle of transitions: always move from old to new information.  The subordinate clause (from "although" to "task") recaps information from previous paragraphs; the independent clauses (starting with "the image" and "the painter") introduce the new information—a claim about how the image works ("more than Ôrealistic'") and why it works as it does (Vermeer "strengthens" the image by "imposing order"). 

Questions.   Questions, sometimes in pairs, also make good topic sentences (and signposts).  Consider the following: "Does the promise of stability justify this unchanging hierarchy?" We may fairly assume that the paragraph or section that follows will answer the question. Questions are by definition a form of inquiry, and thus demand an answer. Good essays strive for this forward momentum.

Bridge sentences.   Like questions, "bridge sentences" (the term is John Trimble's) make an excellent substitute for more formal topic sentences. Bridge sentences indicate both what came before and what comes next (they "bridge" paragraphs) without the formal trappings of multiple clauses: "But there is a clue to this puzzle." 

Pivots.   Topic sentences don't always appear at the beginning of a paragraph. When they come in the middle, they indicate that the paragraph will change direction, or "pivot." This strategy is particularly useful for dealing with counter-evidence: a paragraph starts out conceding a point or stating a fact ("Psychologist Sharon Hymer uses the term Ônarcissistic friendship' to describe the early stage of a friendship like the one between Celie and Shug"); after following up on this initial statement with evidence, it then reverses direction and establishes a claim ("Yet ... this narcissistic stage of Celie and Shug's relationship is merely a transitory one. Hymer herself concedes . . . "). The pivot always needs a signal, a word like "but," "yet," or "however," or a longer phrase or sentence that indicates an about-face. It often needs more than one sentence to make its point.

Signposts operate as topic sentences for whole sections in an essay. (In longer essays, sections often contain more than a single paragraph.) They inform a reader that the essay is taking a turn in its argument: delving into a related topic such as a counter-argument, stepping up its claims with a complication, or pausing to give essential historical or scholarly background. Because they reveal the architecture of the essay itself, signposts remind readers of what the essay's stakes are: what it's about, and why it's being written. 

Signposting can be accomplished in a sentence or two at the beginning of a paragraph or in whole paragraphs that serve as transitions between one part of the argument and the next. The following example comes from an essay examining how a painting by Monet,  The Gare Saint-Lazare: Arrival of a Train,  challenges Zola's declarations about Impressionist art. The student writer wonders whether Monet's Impressionism is really as devoted to avoiding "ideas" in favor of direct sense impressions as Zola's claims would seem to suggest. This is the start of the essay's third section:

It is evident in this painting that Monet found his Gare Saint-Lazare motif fascinating at the most fundamental level of the play of light as well as the loftiest level of social relevance.  Arrival of a Train  explores both extremes of expression. At the fundamental extreme, Monet satisfies the Impressionist objective of capturing the full-spectrum effects of light on a scene.

 The writer signposts this section in the first sentence, reminding readers of the stakes of the essay itself with the simultaneous references to sense impression ("play of light") and intellectual content ("social relevance"). The second sentence follows up on this idea, while the third serves as a topic sentence for the paragraph. The paragraph after that starts off with a topic sentence about the "cultural message" of the painting, something that the signposting sentence predicts by not only reminding readers of the essay's stakes but also, and quite clearly, indicating what the section itself will contain. 

Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

Writing Topic Sentences — Purpose, Structure, and Examples

What is a topic sentence.

A topic sentence in academic writing identifies how a body paragraph relates to the overall purpose of an essay stated in the thesis statement . Topic sentences are usually at the beginning of a paragraph and identify the paragraph’s controlling idea.

While an essay’s thesis statement identifies the point of the essay in its entirety, the topic sentence has a much narrower focus, as it relates only to the paragraph in which it is located.

Topic sentence vs. thesis statement

What is the purpose of a topic sentence?

The purpose of a topic sentence is to inform the reader of the main idea of the paragraph and how it connects to the overall objective of the essay. An effective topic sentence accomplishes one or more of the following:

Makes a claim

Supports other claims made in the paper

Identifies the purpose of the rest of the paragraph

Relates the paragraph to the purpose of the paper

Precedes information that defends a claim

Purposes of a topic sentence

How to write a topic sentence

To write a topic sentence, incorporate the following guidelines:

Determine the thesis of the essay.

Identify the main supports that help prove the thesis.

Use each main support to structure a topic sentence for each paragraph.

Compose a sentence that answers the following questions:

What will the paragraph prove?

How does the paragraph connect to the thesis?

How to write a topic sentence

Where is the topic sentence in a paragraph?

Topic sentences can be placed at the beginning or end of a paragraph.

Although it does not need to be the first sentence, the topic sentence should be placed at the beginning of the paragraph so the reader can quickly identify the purpose of the paragraph.

While not a common placement for a topic sentence, some writers use topic sentences at the end of a paragraph. Writers who choose this method want the reader to deduce the main point of the paragraph by presenting the evidence first.

Topic sentence examples

The following list identifies topic sentences based on the provided thesis statements for five-paragraph essays:

Thesis Statement: Capital punishment should be banned because it is inhumane, unconstitutional, and ineffective at deterring crime.

Support Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence: The inhumane nature of the death penalty proves it should be abolished.

Support Paragraph 2 Topic Sentence: Capital punishment should be outlawed because it violates the Constitution.

Support Paragraph 3 Topic Sentence: Because the death penalty does not effectively deter criminal behavior, states should not continue to use it.

Thesis Statement: College athletes should be financially compensated because they sacrifice their minds and bodies, cannot hold an outside job, and increase the school’s revenue.

Support Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence: Student athletes should be paid for their performance because of sports’ impact on their minds and bodies.

Support Paragraph 2 Topic Sentence: Because most college athletes cannot play their sport and hold a job, colleges should give them a living wage.

Support Paragraph 3 Topic Sentence: Student-athletes’ ability to increase their college’s revenue proves they should be awarded financial compensation.

Example topic sentences

Thesis Statement: Using alternative energy sources can help lessen the impact of global climate change.

Support Paragraph 1 Topic Sentence: Through the widespread use of solar power, countries can limit the environmental impact of other energy sources.

Support Paragraph 2 Topic Sentence: Utilizing more wind turbines as a power source can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Support Paragraph 3 Topic Sentence: Using geothermal power will effectively decrease the world's reliance on fossil fuels.

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What is a topic sentence?

A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph: it serves as a mini-thesis for the paragraph. You might think of it as a signpost for your readers—or a headline—something that alerts them to the most important, interpretive points in your essay. When read in sequence, your essay’s topic sentences will provide a sketch of the essay’s argument. Thus topics sentences help protect your readers from confusion by guiding them through the argument. But topic sentences can also help you to improve your essay by making it easier for you to recognize gaps or weaknesses in your argument.

Where do topic sentences go?

Topic sentences usually appear at the very beginning of paragraphs. In the following example from Anatomy of Criticism , Northrop Frye establishes the figure of the tragic hero as someone more than human, but less than divine. He backs up his claim with examples of characters from literature, religion and mythology whose tragic stature is a function of their ability to mediate between their fellow human beings and a power that transcends the merely human:

The tragic hero is typically on top of the wheel of fortune, half-way between human society on the ground and the something greater in the sky. Prometheus, Adam, and Christ hang between heaven and earth, between a world of paradisal freedom and a world of bondage. Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning: Milton’s Samson destroys the Philistine temple with himself, and Hamlet nearly exterminates the Danish court in his own fall.

The structure of Frye’s paragraph is simple yet powerful: the topic sentence makes an abstract point, and the rest of the paragraph elaborates on that point using concrete examples as evidence.

Does a topic sentence have to be at the beginning of a paragraph?

No, though this is usually the most logical place for it. Sometimes a transitional sentence or two will come before a topic sentence:

We found in comedy that the term bomolochos or buffoon need not be restricted to farce, but could be extended to cover comic characters who are primarily entertainers, with the function of increasing or focusing the comic mood. The corresponding contrasting type is the suppliant, the character, often female, who presents a picture of unmitigated helplessness and destitution. Such a figure is pathetic, and pathos, though it seems a gentler and more relaxed mood than tragedy, is even more terrifying. Its basis is the exclusion of an individual from the group; hence it attacks the deepest fear in ourselves that we possess—a fear much deeper than the relatively cosy and sociable bogey of hell. In the suppliant pity and terror are brought to the highest possible pitch of intensity, and the awful consequences of rejecting the suppliant for all concerned is a central theme of Greek tragedy.

The context for this passage is an extended discussion of the characteristics of tragedy. In this paragraph, Frye begins by drawing a parallel between the figure of the buffoon in comedy and that of the suppliant in tragedy. His discussion of the buffoon occurred in a earlier section of the chapter, a section devoted to comedy. The first sentence of the current paragraph is transitional: it prepares the way for the topic sentence. The delayed topic sentence contributes to the coherence of Frye’s discussion by drawing an explicit connection between key ideas in the book. In essays, the connection is usually between the last paragraph and the current one.

Sometimes writers save a topic sentence for the end of a paragraph. You may, for example, occasionally find that giving away your point at the beginning of a paragraph does not allow you to build your argument toward an effective climax.

How do I come up with a topic sentence? And what makes a good one?

Ask yourself what’s going on in your paragraph. Why have you chosen to include the information you have? Why is the paragraph important in the context of your argument? What point are you trying to make?

Relating your topic sentences to your thesis can help strengthen the coherence of your essay. If you include a thesis statement in your introduction, then think of incorporating a keyword from that statement into the topic sentence. But you need not be overly explicit when you echo the thesis statement. Better to be subtle rather than heavy-handed. Do not forget that your topic sentence should do more than just establish a connection between your paragraph and your thesis. Use a topic sentence to show how your paragraph contributes to the development of your argument by moving it that one extra step forward. If your topic sentence merely restates your thesis, then either your paragraph is redundant or your topic sentence needs to be reformulated. If several of your topic sentences restate your thesis, even if they do so in different words, then your essay is probably repetitive.

Does every paragraph need one?

No, but most do. Sometimes a paragraph helps to develop the same point as in the previous paragraph, and so a new topic sentence would be redundant. And sometimes the evidence in your paragraph makes your point so effectively that your topic sentence can remain implicit. But if you are in doubt, it’s best to use one.

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Learn How to Write a Topic Sentence that Stands Out

Published on: Jan 13, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

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As a student, you have probably heard the term "topic sentence" thrown around a lot in your English or writing classes. But do you really understand what it means and how important it is for effective writing?

Well, many students struggle with crafting strong topic sentences that effectively convey their ideas. They may find themselves unsure of how to make their topic sentence stand out in a sea of other ideas.

In this blog, we will explore the art of writing a great topic sentence, with examples and tips to help you enhance your skills. By the end of this blog, you will have a better understanding of how to craft a topic sentence that will make your writing clear, concise, and engaging.

So let’s get started!

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What is a Topic Sentence?

A topic sentence is the first sentence of a paragraph in an essay that introduces the main idea or topic of that paragraph. It serves as a roadmap for the reader, letting them know what to expect in the upcoming paragraph. 

Purpose of Topic Sentence

The purpose of a topic sentence is to clearly and concisely convey the main point of the paragraph to the reader. 

It helps to guide the reader through the essay, making it easier for them to follow the overall argument or narrative.

Features of a Good Topic Sentence

A good topic sentence has a few key features. Let’s take a look: 

  • Expresses the main idea of the paragraph or essay clearly and concisely.
  • Is specific and focused , avoiding vague or overly general statements.
  • Introduces the main point and is typically located at the beginning of the paragraph or essay.
  • Presents a claim or position that is arguable or debatable, which the rest of the paragraph or essay will support.
  • Can be a complete sentence or a concise phrase that effectively conveys the main idea.
  • Is relevant to the thesis statement and overall topic of the essay.
  • Engages the reader by creating interest and highlighting the significance of the topic.
  • Is well-written and avoids grammar and spelling errors.
  • Provides a roadmap for the rest of the paragraph or essay by indicating what will be covered.
  • Encourages coherence and unity in the writing by linking the paragraph or essay to the broader topic.

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Types of Topic Sentences

There are several different types of topic sentences that can be used in writing to introduce the reader through a paragraph or essay.

Simple Statement Topic Sentence This is the most common type of topic sentence, which straightforwardly states the main point or idea of the paragraph or essay.

Example: The rise of social media has revolutionized the way people communicate with each other.

Complex Topic Sentence This type of topic sentence is more nuanced and may require some explanation or elaboration to fully understand.

Example: While the rise of social media has had many positive effects on communication, it has also led to concerns about privacy and online harassment.

Pivot Topic Sentence A pivot topic sentence begins by connecting the current paragraph or idea to the previous one, before pivoting to introduce a new point or idea.

Example: Building on the idea of social media's impact on communication, it is important to consider how it has also affected business and marketing strategies.

Question Topic Sentence A question topic sentence poses a question that the rest of the paragraph or essay will answer or explore.

Example: How has social media changed the way businesses interact with customers and advertise their products?

Command Topic Sentence This type of topic sentence gives a directive or instruction, often used in persuasive or argumentative essays.

Example: Support local businesses by shopping at independently owned stores instead of large chains.

How to Write a Topic Sentence?

Here are a few instructions to help you write a good topic sentence. 

Step#1 Clearly State The Main Idea

A topic sentence is the first paragraph of the paragraph. It must clearly explain the particular subject that would be discussed in the paragraph. This should be stated in very clear language so that the reader can easily understand the idea. 

Also, it should include a bit of your personal opinion and also the main idea. 

Step#2 Hook Your Reader

Grab your reader's attention with an intriguing topic sentence. It would excite and make the reader curious about the content and convince them to read the particular part. 

Look out for some amazing hook examples and see what fits your essay type. 

Use a meaningful and relevant question or a fact as a topic sentence of the paragraph. Make sure that you have identified your audience and are developing everything accordingly. 

Step#3 Keep It Short and Precise

The paragraph topic sentence must be expressive enough that a reader understands your point of view effortlessly. This is only possible if you keep everything to the point, short, and meaningful. 

Choose the words in such a way that they help you express your idea in an ideal way. Avoid using complex sentences and use independent clauses.  

A topic sentence acts as a link between a paragraph and the main thesis statement. It should be specific and connected to the overall essay. Keeping it short and precise helps maintain the paragraph's flow and its relevance to the rest of the writing.

Step#4 Give A Reasonable Opinion

The body paragraph explains a topic sentence. This is why it is important that you should write this sentence in such a way that it can be explained in the paragraph.  If you are mentioning a fact in the topic statement, make sure that you have authentic evidence to support it. 

While the topic sentence is an integral part of the paragraph, it should stand out and possess a distinctiveness that sets it apart from the other sentences. This can be achieved by employing transition words and establishing connections between sentences.

Step#5 Use The Topic Sentence As A Transition

The topic sentences that serve as transition sentences can be considered a guide for the readers. This way, they can help the reader to move through the essay in a flow. 

Write this sentence in such a way that it creates a gateway between the previous paragraph and the rest of the essay. Moreover, it will also help keep the essay organized, and the reader understands the point of a paragraph.

Step#6 Look For Some Good Examples

Examples can help you learn a thing in a better way. If you are new to writing topic sentences, it can help to look at some examples. Find some great examples of topic sentences relevant to your essay topic.

Difference Between Topic Sentence and Thesis Sentence

Here's a table outlining the differences between a topic sentence and a thesis statement:

A sentence that introduces the main idea or topic of a paragraphA statement that presents the main argument or claim of an essay or research paper

Typically found at the beginning of a paragraphTypically found at the end of an introduction

Limited to one paragraphSpans the entire essay or research paper

Introduces the main idea of a paragraph and connects it to the thesis statementPresents the main argument or claim of an essay and provides a roadmap for the reader

Helps to organize the content of the paragraph and keeps the writer focused on the main pointHelps to organize the content of the entire essay or research paper and guides the reader through the argument

Good Topic Sentence Examples

Here are ten examples of good topic sentences:

  •  "Despite the advancements in technology, traditional forms of communication are still essential in today's society."
  • "The theme of power is prevalent throughout Shakespeare's play, Macbeth."
  • "In recent years, there has been a growing concern over the impact of climate change on our planet."
  • "The legalization of marijuana has been a topic of debate for many years." "Education is the key to success in life."
  • "The rise of social media has greatly impacted the way we communicate with one another."
  • "The effects of childhood trauma can have a lasting impact on mental health."
  • "The concept of justice is explored in depth in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird."
  • "Eating a balanced diet is crucial for maintaining good health."
  • "The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on the world as we know it today."

The Bottom Line!

An opening sentence is crucial to grab your reader's attention and set the tone for your piece of writing. The topic sentence introduces the controlling idea and acts as an important sentence in the essay outline. 

Effective topic sentences are necessary for a well-structured and organized essay. It's an integral part of the writing process that should not be overlooked. 

Make sure to spend time crafting a compelling topic sentence that clearly conveys your main point and guides your readers throughout your essay. You can even take ideas from an AI essay generator to get started.

However, if you find yourself struggling to write a good opening sentence, don't worry! CollegeEssay.org is here to help you with all your writing needs. We have the best online essay writing service providing top-quality essays that are sure to impress your professors.

So, why wait? Contact our essay writing service now and take the first step toward academic success!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a topic sentence.

A topic sentence can be multiple sentences long. The first sets the context for your ideas, while the second provides more depth on what you are saying beyond just stating it outright.

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What are Topic Sentences? A Comprehensive Guide with Examples

Published by Alaxendra Bets at August 18th, 2021 , Revised On August 22, 2023

“Topic sentences briefly describe what each paragraph of an essay will explore and discuss. You can consider topic sentences as the heading or the headline for the paragraph.”

Topic sentences help to;

  • Establish the focus of the paragraph
  • Demonstrate how the content of the paragraph relates to the overall thesis statement .
  • The transition from one paragraph to another

How to Write Topic Sentences

Topic sentences are written and rewritten throughout the  essay writing process  to make sure your  essay  is coherent and has a smooth and logical progression of ideas. However, before you can get to write topic sentences, you will be required to develop a strong and logical  thesis statement  that provides the paper’s purpose.

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Example Thesis Statement

Increasing consumption of processed food items has led to several environmental issues over the last decade or so. To save the planet from the disastrous consequences of increasing processed food production, it is vitally important to review and renew the existing production and consumption forms.

Once you have developed the thesis statement, you must prepare an outline to structure your essay correctly. Each paragraph in the outline will start with a topic sentence that will enable you to remember what you want to say and provide evidence you will use to support your arguments within that particular paragraph.

It should be noted that each topic sentence will introduce the focal theme of the corresponding paragraph and demonstrate how it relates to the thesis statement.

Example Topic Sentence

Studies have revealed that the meat industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental pollution.

The remaining paragraph can progress logically from this statement to include arguments and evidence.

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Using Topic Sentences for Transitioning

Topic sentences are often used for transitioning between paragraphs  in the paper. This means you can make use of transition words to give more weight and meaning to the statement. Here is a question that you should ask yourself;

  • How does the topic sentence that you created relates to the arguments and evidence presented in the previous paragraph?

Your topic sentence will be based on any of the following three strategies depending on the correlation between the paragraphs;

Highlight and Emphasize

You might consider making use of transitional words such as moreover, in fact, indeed, furthermore, as mentioned, indeed, certainly, although, however – where you want to expand and emphasize on the point you made in the preceding paragraph to add more weight and detail to your argument.

Also Read:  How to Use Transitions in Essay

Certainly, water and land have been significantly affected by the ever-increasing quantities of greenhouse gas emissions resulting from cattle farms.

Condense and Anticipate

You can choose to present additional evidence in the new topic statement and briefly describe the preceding paragraph’s theme if you aim to discuss a different aspect of the same subject matter in the new paragraph.

Although cattle farming is believed to be the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, other forms of farming such as poultry farming are also having a damaging effect on our environment.

Making Comparison

If you must compare or contrast information in the new paragraph, your topic sentence should use appropriate transition words to highlight the comparison. For example, you can use transition words such as “on the other hand,” “in comparison,” and “however.”

On the other hand, it is not always easy to establish the exact cost associated with our dietary choices. For example, it is possible that the environmental impact of a specific plant-based food production house could be considerably greater than a small scale cattle farm.

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Introducing Multiple Paragraphs with a Single Topic Sentence

It is possible to use a single topic sentence to introduce several  paragraphs  at once. For example, if you see the above examples in a broader picture, you will realise that all of them belong to one larger argument: excessive meat consumption is causing severe environmental issues, and veganism is the choice that could potentially address the situation.

Making the food industry sustainable is a challenge that can be overcome by introducing plan based food products. This means that your first topic sentence can introduce several paragraphs.

Where to Place Topic Sentences?

It is common to have the topic sentence as the first statement of the paragraph, but this may not always be the case, and you may choose to place it  in the middle  or at the very end, which generally suggests a change of opinion.

Veganism appears to be the only sustainable option for the food industry, considering the evidence confirming the impact of cattle farming on the environment. On the other hand, it is not always easy to establish the exact cost associated with our dietary choices. For example, it is possible that the environmental impact of a specific plant-based food production house could be considerably greater than a small scale cattle farm.

The first statement in the above example emphasizes the focal point. The topic sentence will briefly describe whether the corresponding paragraph will provide the argument in support or against the main point.

However, as indicated before, you are always free to choose where to place the topic sentences to give more weight and strength to your arguments. But if in doubt, it would be best to start the paragraph with the topic sentence.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a topic sentence example.

Here’s a topic sentence example: “Increased access to technology has revolutionized communication, leading to significant changes in how people interact and share information in the modern digital age.”

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In this article, we are sharing multiple patterns of template for essays along with some useful tips to make the structure of your essay strong and clear.

Here are some tips on writing the main body paragraphs of an essay to help you correctly plan and organize the most critical part of your academic essay.

While there are many types of essays, they can be broadly categorized into the following four main types – argumentative, expository, descriptive, and narrative.

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Using Topic Sentences

What is a topic sentence.

A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph: it serves as a mini-thesis for the paragraph. You might think of it as a signpost for your readers -- or a headline -- something that alerts them to the most important, interpretive points in your essay. When read in sequence, your essay's topic sentences will provide a sketch of the essay's argument.

Thus, topics sentences help protect your readers from confusion by guiding them through the argument. But topic sentences can also help you to improve your essay by making it easier for you to recognize gaps or weaknesses in your argument.

Where do topic sentences go?

Topic sentences usually appear at the very beginning of paragraphs. In the following example from Anatomy of Criticism , Northrop Frye establishes the figure of the tragic hero as someone more than human, but less than divine. He backs up his claim with examples of characters from literature, religion and mythology whose tragic stature is a function of their ability to mediate between their fellow human beings and a power that transcends the merely human:

The tragic hero is typically on top of the wheel of fortune, half-way between human society on the ground and the something greater in the sky. Prometheus, Adam, and Christ hang between heaven and earth, between a world of paradisal freedom and a world of bondage. Tragic heroes are so much the highest points in their human landscape that they seem the inevitable conductors of the power about them, great trees more likely to be struck by lightning than a clump of grass. Conductors may of course be instruments as well as victims of the divine lightning: Milton's Samson destroys the Philistine temple with himself, and Hamlet nearly exterminates the Danish court in his own fall.

The structure of Frye's paragraph is simple yet powerful: the topic sentence makes an abstract point, and the rest of the paragraph elaborates on that point using concrete examples as evidence.

Does a topic sentence have to be at the beginning of a paragraph?

No, though this is usually the most logical place for it. Sometimes a transitional sentence or two will come before a topic sentence:

We found in comedy that the term bomolochos or buffoon need not be restricted to farce, but could be extended to cover comic characters who are primarily entertainers, with the function of increasing or focusing the comic mood. The corresponding contrasting type is the suppliant, the character, often female, who presents a picture of unmitigated helplessness and destitution. Such a figure is pathetic, and pathos, though it seems a gentler and more relaxed mood than tragedy, is even more terrifying. Its basis is the exclusion of an individual from the group; hence it attacks the deepest fear in ourselves that we possess—a fear much deeper than the relatively cosy and sociable bogey of hell. In the suppliant pity and terror are brought to the highest possible pitch of intensity, and the awful consequences of rejecting the suppliant for all concerned is a central theme of Greek tragedy.

The context for this passage is an extended discussion of the characteristics of tragedy. In this paragraph, Frye begins by drawing a parallel between the figure of the buffoon in comedy and that of the suppliant in tragedy. His discussion of the buffoon occurred in an earlier section of the chapter, a section devoted to comedy.

The first sentence of the current paragraph is transitional: it prepares the way for the topic sentence. The delayed topic sentence contributes to the coherence of Frye's discussion by drawing an explicit connection between key ideas in the book. In essays, the connection is usually between the previous paragraph and the current one.

Sometimes writers save a topic sentence for the end of a paragraph. You may, for example, occasionally find that giving away your point at the beginning of a paragraph does not allow you to build your argument toward an effective climax.

How do I come up with a topic sentence? And what makes a good one?

Ask yourself what's going on in your paragraph. Why have you chosen to include the information you have? Why is the paragraph important in the context of your argument? What point are you trying to make?

Relating your topic sentences to your thesis can help strengthen the coherence of your essay. If you include a thesis statement in your introduction, then think of incorporating a keyword from that statement into the topic sentence. But you need not be overly explicit when you echo the thesis statement. Better to be subtle rather than heavy-handed.

Do not forget that your topic sentence should do more than just establish a connection between your paragraph and your thesis. Use a topic sentence to show how your paragraph contributes to the development of your argument by moving it that one extra step forward.

If your topic sentence merely restates your thesis, then either your paragraph is redundant or your topic sentence needs to be reformulated. If several of your topic sentences restate your thesis, even if they do so in different words, then your essay is probably repetitive.

Does every paragraph need one?

No, but most do. Sometimes, a paragraph helps to develop the same point as in the previous paragraph, and so a new topic sentence would be redundant. And, sometimes, the evidence in your paragraph makes your point so effectively that your topic sentence can remain implicit. But if you are in doubt, it's best to use one.

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How to Write a Topic Sentence: 3 Topic Sentence Examples

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Last updated: Sep 28, 2022 • 3 min read

Learn how to write topic sentences to support the main thesis of any piece of writing.

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Topic Sentences for Body Paragraphs: Examples and Explanation

An essay with the first sentence highlighted and the words

A key to becoming a better writer is learning how to cover one main idea in each paragraph and write clearly—topic sentences can help you do that by focusing your writing.

What is a topic sentence in a paragraph?

A topic sentence is a sentence that introduces the main idea of the paragraph—it tells the reader what the paragraph is about in a clear and concise manner. It organizes an essay, engages the reader, provides a focus for the paragraph, and relates each paragraph back to the thesis.

Topic sentences provide structure and organization to your essay—this is helpful for both the writer and the reader.

The purpose of a topic sentence is to provide a clear focus for your paragraph and preview what you will discuss in the paragraph.

Is the topic sentence always the first sentence?

Can a topic sentence be more than one sentence.

A topic sentence is traditionally one sentence—this is recommended to state your point clearly and concisely. However, a topic sentence can be 2 or 3 sentences long if you are explaining the claim.

Topic sentences for paragraphs that are not a part of an essay

What is a good topic sentence.

A good topic sentence is clear and concise. It is general enough to cover what the entire paragraph is about but specific enough to make it easy to understand the main idea of what will be discussed. It should relate back to the thesis or question and help maintain the flow of the essay.

How to write a topic sentence for a body paragraph

Make sure you then expand on the statement and give supporting details and reasons, examples, or sources.

Topic sentences for body paragraphs examples

Example 1: stating your claim.

These could look like:

If you are writing an essay about the benefits of learning a new language, the paragraph that discusses the cognitive benefits could start with the topic sentence: “Learning a new language offers many cognitive benefits.”

Example 2: Transitions

If your writing an opinion essay about why dogs make the best pets, and your previous paragraph said that they are good companions because they are loyal, your next paragraph could start with the topic sentence: “Another reason why dogs are good companions is that they are affectionate.”

Example 3: Compare and contrast topics

Example 4: show cause and effect relationship.

For example: “The unrealistic photos posted on social media lead to many teenagers having body image issues.”

Example 5: Introduce a counterclaim

A topic sentence can also introduce a counterclaim.

Example 6: Answering a question

You can also answer a question in a topic sentence in an essay if you end the previous paragraph with a question.

Now that you know how to write a topic sentence and have seen topic sentences for body paragraphs examples, you are well on your way to becoming a better writer.

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Essay Writing Guide

What Is A Topic Sentence

Nova A.

How to Write a Topic Sentence: Purpose, Tips & Examples

topic sentence

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Do your essays and papers lack clarity and cohesion? Are your readers often left wondering what point you're trying to make?

You're not alone!

Many writers struggle with this issue, and it often stems from the absence of a strong foundation in their essay writing : the topic sentence.

In this ultimate guide, we will define what a topic sentence is, provide you with clear examples, and offer valuable tips to help you write effective topic sentences.

Let’s get started.

Arrow Down

  • 1. What is a Topic Sentence In An Essay? 
  • 2. Elements of a Good Topic Sentence
  • 3. How to Write a Topic Sentence - 5 Simple Steps
  • 4. Common Pitfalls in Crafting Topic Sentences

What is a Topic Sentence In An Essay? 

In an essay, a topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph, and it gives us a sneak peek into what the paragraph will talk about. 

It's like a signpost that helps the reader know what's coming up next.

Each topic sentence in a paragraph must have a topic and a controlling idea to show where the information is heading. 

What is the Purpose of a Topic Sentence?

The purpose of a topic sentence is to make your writing clear and organized. Think of it like this: if you're telling a story, you wouldn't jump from one topic to another without letting your friends know, right? That would be confusing!

Similarly, in writing, a topic sentence helps your reader know what to expect in each paragraph. It's like a mini-map for your essay. 

When you read the topic sentence, you instantly get a sense of what the paragraph will discuss.

Here's why topic sentences are important:

  • Guides the Reader : It helps the reader understand what each paragraph is about. It's like a helpful signpost along the reading journey.
  • Keep Your Writing Organized: Just like you wouldn't mix up ingredients when cooking, a topic sentence keeps your ideas in order. It makes sure each paragraph has a clear focus.
  • Connects Your Ideas : Topic sentences connect one paragraph to the next. They create a smooth flow in your essay, like linking train cars together.
  • Helps You Stay on Track : As a writer, a topic sentence helps you stay on topic. It reminds you of what you wanted to say in that paragraph.

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Where Is The Topic Sentence Placed?

The placement of a topic sentence in a paragraph is crucial for conveying the main idea and guiding the reader's understanding. 

Typically, the topic sentence is positioned at the beginning of a paragraph. This serves as a clear and concise statement that introduces the central theme or point that the rest of the paragraph will discuss and support. 

Elements of a Good Topic Sentence

A good topic sentence possesses several key elements that distinguish it as an effective component of your writing:

  • Clarity : It should be clear and straightforward, leaving no room for ambiguity or confusion about the paragraph's main point.
  • Specificity : A strong topic sentence is precise and specific, focusing on a single aspect of the broader topic to maintain a clear direction.
  • Relevance : It must be directly related to the thesis statement or overall purpose of your writing, ensuring that it contributes to the central argument.
  • Conciseness : It should be concise and to the point, avoiding unnecessary wordiness and getting straight to the heart of the matter.
  • Connection : A good topic sentence should establish a clear link to the previous paragraph or the essay's overarching theme, creating a seamless flow of ideas.

Although most of the essay paragraphs must have a topic sentence. But there are some cases when there is no need to add it at all. For example, you can omit if the paragraph continues to develop a story or idea that you introduced in the previous paragraph. 

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How to Write a Topic Sentence - 5 Simple Steps

Writing an effective topic sentence is a skill that can significantly improve your writing. Follow these five precise steps to craft a compelling topic sentence:

Identify the Main Idea

Be specific and concise, connect to the thesis, check for unity, engage the reader.

Let's break down each of the five steps for writing a topic sentence in more detail:

Before writing your topic sentence, take a moment to identify the main idea of the paragraph. What specific point of view or information in the paragraph do you want to convey?

This is the crux of your paragraph and should be crystal clear in your mind before you start writing.

Once you've identified the main idea, express it in a specific and concise manner. Avoid general statements that lack depth or detail.

Specificity adds clarity to your writing and helps readers understand precisely what you're discussing.

Your topic sentence should align with the thesis statement of your essay or the overall purpose of your document.

This connection ensures that every paragraph contributes directly to your central argument or message. It also keeps your writing coherent and focused.

Ensure that your topic sentence serves as the glue that holds the paragraph together. All the supporting sentences in the paragraph should relate to and reinforce the main idea presented in the topic sentence.

This unity creates a logical and cohesive flow within your writing.

Consider your topic sentence as the hook that captures the reader's attention. Craft it in a way that intrigues the reader and entices them to continue reading.

This engagement is crucial, as it sets the tone for the entire paragraph and encourages readers to invest their time in your content.

Topic Sentences Examples 

Here are five examples of topic sentences, along with their respective topics and controlling ideas:

"Climate change poses a growing threat to global ecosystems."

  • Topic: Climate change
  • Controlling Idea: Growing threat to global ecosystems

: "Effective time management skills are essential for academic success."

  • Topic: Time management skills
  • Controlling Idea: academic success

: "The benefits of regular exercise extend beyond physical health."

  • Topic: Benefits of regular exercise
  • Controlling Idea: Extend beyond physical health

: "Artificial intelligence is revolutionizing industries and reshaping the job market."

  • Topic: Artificial intelligence
  • Controlling Idea: reshaping the job market

: "Digital marketing strategies are transforming the way businesses reach their audiences."

  • Topic: Digital marketing strategies
  • Controlling Idea: Transforming business audience reach

Common Pitfalls in Crafting Topic Sentences

When writing a topic sentence, it's important to be aware of common pitfalls and things to avoid to ensure its effectiveness in your writing. 

Here are key things to steer clear of:

  • Vagueness and Ambiguity

Avoid using vague or ambiguous language in your topic sentence. A topic sentence should clearly convey the main idea of the paragraph without leaving readers guessing.

  • Overly Broad Statements

Steer clear of making sweeping, overly broad statements in your topic sentence. Keep it focused on a specific aspect of the topic to maintain clarity.

  • Lack of Connection

Ensure your topic sentence connects logically to the previous paragraph or the overall theme of your essay. Avoid abrupt transitions that disrupt the flow of your writing.

Avoid restating the thesis or repeating information from the essay introduction in your topic sentence. Instead, use it to introduce new ideas or aspects of your argument.

Topic sentences introducing complex sentences or information that may confuse readers. Keep it concise and straightforward. 

In conclusion, writing effective topic sentences is a skill that can significantly elevate your writing. 

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your topic sentences are clear, concise, and engaging.

Remember to identify the main idea, connect to your central argument, engage your readers from the very beginning. Avoid common pitfalls like vagueness, repetition, and lack of relevance, as discussed earlier.

Still struggling to write a topic sentence? Request " do my essay for me " and let our professionals handle the hard work. Whether it's a looming deadline or a complex topic, our essay writing service is here to deliver top-notch papers tailored to your needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the difference between a topic sentence and a thesis statement.

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A topic sentence is a sentence found at the beginning of a paragraph and introduces the main point of that specific paragraph.

A thesis statement, on the other hand, is usually found in the introductory paragraph of an essay and presents the overall argument or main idea of the entire document. It acts as a guidepost for the entire piece of writing, while topic sentences are specific to individual paragraphs within the document.

What are some good transition words for writing a topic sentence?

Some good topic sentence starters include:

  • Additionally
  • Furthermore
  • In contrast
  • On the other hand
  • Nevertheless
  • In conclusion

These words can help you introduce and connect ideas between paragraphs and provide a smooth transition into the main point of each paragraph.

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Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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How to Write a Topic Sentence for an Essay: Steps & Examples

Topic Sentence

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A topic sentence is the first sentence in a body paragraph that summarizes its main idea. It's like a mini-thesis statement for each body paragraph. A well-crafted topic sentence should be focused and specific, so that your audience has a clue of what the paragraph will be about.

While it's usually 1 sentence long, students often find it tricky to highlight the key idea of a passage. That's why our essay writing service is here to help you. In this blog, we will shed more light on how to write a topic sentence for a body paragraph of an essay and provide decent examples to help you engage your readers. But before we get down to suggestion, let's begin with a definition.

What Is a Topic Sentence: Definition

A topic sentence is the first sentence of a body paragraph that captures its central point. By providing a succinct preview of the whole section, it serves as a roadmap and keeps writing organized. 

A good topic sentence should be clear, concise and connected to a thesis statement. Your task is to grab the reader's attention, encouraging them to continue reading. Additionally, you will need to back up your key point by evidence and in-depth analysis.

Topic sentences also act as transitions that link paragraphs to one another. It's like building a bridge between sections allowing readers to move fluently throughout your essay.

Topic Sentence vs Thesis: What's the Difference?

Quite often, students confuse a topic sentence with a thesis statement. Let's clarify the difference between these 2 components.

A thesis statement is the main argument of the whole paper. It usually appears at the end of an essay introduction and presents your central position or claim. A topic sentence introduces the main idea of a single paragraph and should relate back to your thesis.

Take a glance at this example to understand the distinction.

Thesis: The widespread use of social media has had a significant impact on society, affecting communication, relationships, and self-image. Topic sentence 1: Social media has transformed the way we communicate, providing new opportunities for connection and interaction. Topic sentence 2: The rise of social media has also had an impact on relationships, both positive and negative, with increased access to information and social pressure affecting how people relate to one another. Topic sentence 3: Social media has been linked to negative effects on self-image, with the constant pressure to present a perfect online persona leading to increased anxiety and decreased self-esteem.

What Is the Purpose of a Topic Sentence?

The primary purpose of a topic sentence boils down to emphasizing on the point you want to make in any specific section. It also serves other goals:

  • Guides the writer in developing content of each paragraph
  • Ties your paragraph back to the larger argument of your paper
  • Allows readers to follow your line of thought
  • Creates coherence of your writing piece
  • Makes ideas easier to follow.

Now that you know what a topic sentence in an essay body is and its purpose, let's discuss its main types.

Types of Topic Sentences and Examples

There are multiple approaches to previewing your paragraph's main point. Depending on the essay type, you may opt for different types of topic sentences – cause and effect, problem-solution, comparison and contrast. They can also appear in the form of a suggestion, question or a simple transition. Below we will define each type and provide topic sentence examples.

General to Specific

This type of topic sentence begins with a broad statement and then narrows down to a specific point.

Many factors contribute to climate change, but one of the most significant is the burning of fossil fuels.

Specific to General

In this case, you will start with a particular detail and then broaden out to a larger point.

The amount of trash in our oceans is staggering, highlighting the urgent need for more effective waste management policies.

Cause and Effect

Such sentences present a causal relationship between 2 ideas, events or phenomena. This type of topic sentence is usually used in cause and effect essays .

Poor nutrition can lead to obesity.

Comparison and Contrast

Sometimes, you may be assigned to compare 2 different concepts.  If you are writing a compare and contrast essay , you will need to build topic sentences for each paragraph that reflect the comparison.

While traditional classroom learning has many benefits, online learning offers greater flexibility and convenience for students with busy schedules.

Problem-Solution

As the name suggests, this type of sentence primarily focuses on how to solve a  specific issue. You will use this approach when working on a problem-solution essay .

It is becoming increasingly difficult for families to afford housing in major cities, suggesting that governments should pursue policies aimed at making rental costs more affordable.

Advice/Suggestion

Suggestions are an integral part of most kinds of essays. Whether you are writing a persuasive essay or a how-to guide, you need to express an opinion and provide a call for action. That's when you will turn your topic sentence into a piece of advice or guideline.

It is important for young people to develop an understanding of financial literacy, including budgeting and saving.

Sometimes, you may open a paragraph with a question in order to entice the reader and make them more interested in your opinion.  Such  questions should be used sparingly and confined to the introduction.

What can individuals do to reduce their impact on climate change?

When you are navigating from one paragraph to another, it is important that you make a seamless connection between ideas. The goal is to make the reader feel like they are continuously progressing through your essay. That's when essay transition words come into play. Here's how to create a topic sentence that can be used for linking.

On the other hand, this approach has its shortcomings that cannot be ignored.

How to Write a Good Topic Sentence for an Essay: 5 Easy Steps

When writing a topic sentence, there are 2 important aspects to keep in mind:

  • You should be specific and focus only on a single idea or point.
  • Stay on the point and don’t cover too many specifics in one sentence.

Now let’s take a look at the steps involved in the process. Follow these detailed guidelines on how to write a topic sentence and arrange your essay properly.

1. Determine the Main Idea of Your Writing

Before you write a topic sentence for body paragraphs, identify your essay’s main idea, or the point you’re trying to prove. The key argument is usually hidden in your thesis statement. Read through your thesis and think about the overall point that you are trying to make.  Powered by the main idea, you can start thinking how to structure your body paragraphs and what specific points to discuss in each section.

The modern educational system should be redesigned to ensure that all students receive a well-rounded education.

2. Break Down the Main Idea into Smaller Pieces

The next step is to split your idea into smaller points. Try to recognize major supporting points or subtopics that reinforce your thesis statement. It can be helpful to create an outline or diagram to map out the essay structure and organize your arguments. By doing so, you will see how your central idea can be separated into more manageable subpoints.

  • Subpoint 1 : Prioritizing teaching arts, music, and physical education along with core subjects
  • Subpoint 2: Engaging students in experiential learning (internships, service learning)
  • Subpoint 3: Enhancing critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

>> Read more: How to Write an Essay Outline  

3. Make Sure Each Body Paragraph Serves a Specific Purpose

The purpose of each body paragraph is to take one of the subpoints and explain it in detail. In order to do that, make a topic sentence focused and to the point.

One common mistake is integrating too many details in one sentence. 

Remember, the goal of your topic sentence is to introduce a single idea. For that, you need to establish the evidence and examples you want to use in your paragraph. Once you are clear on the goal of each paragraph, you can start creating your topic sentence.

❌ Example of a weak topic sentence

Fostering a well-rounded education should involve offering more classes in music, art and physical education, but also providing more opportunities for students to be involved in experiential learning.

In the above topic sentence example, a student combines 2 different ideas in 1 sentence. Eventually, this may lead to unnecessary confusion. Here's how this sentence may be improved.

✓ Example of a strong topic sentence

In order to nurture a well-rounded education, schools should prioritize teaching music, art, and physical education along with core subjects.

4. Grab Reader's Attention

The best topic sentence is the one that sounds compelling and captivates the reader's attention. Just like in the essay introduction, here you also need to integrate a hook. There are several hook techniques that you can use to involve your audience in your body paragraph:

  • Using surprising facts or statistics that challenge the reader's assumptions or expectations
  • Opening your paragraph with a rhetorical question that encourages to consider a new angle
  • Starting a topic sentence with an anecdote or personal story illustrating your point.
Have you ever wondered why many schools are not providing enough classes in music, art and physical education?

>> Learn more: How to Write a Hook for an Essay

Trigger words can also be used to persuade your audience read further. These are the words and phrases that evoke emotions or psychological reactions. Below you can find some of the most efficient trigger words for your topic sentences. 

Popular trigger words

When you write a topic sentence that elicits a strong emotional response, you will be able to interest more readers.

5. Write a Topic Sentence

Before you get down to actually writing a topic sentence for an essay body paragraph, remember that it should contain condensed information on your point. Still, you don't want to give away all supporting details or evidence from the get-go. Try to find balance between introducing your ideas and leaving some space for developing your argument further in the body.

Keep in mind the overall structure and flow of your essay. Your topic sentence should match a larger claim stated in your thesis. Otherwise, it will appear out of context and may potentially  ruin the entire argument.

Examine good topic sentences examples for essays presented below to get more ideas on how to create your own.

Essay Topic Sentence Examples

Whether you're writing an argumentative , descriptive , or narrative essay , a strong topic sentence plays a crucial role in setting the stage for your main ideas. In this section, we will offer multiple examples of topic sentences. Inspect each topic sentence example for an essay to see how theory can be implemented in practice.

Topic sentence example for an argumentative essay

Social media has a negative impact on mental health , as it creates unrealistic expectations and promotes constant comparison to others.

Descriptive essay topic sentence example

The salty ocean air and the sound of seagulls created a calming and peaceful atmosphere on the beach.

Example of a topic sentence for cause-and-effect writing

Due to the increase in air pollution, many cities are experiencing a rise in respiratory illnesses among their populations.

Topic Sentence Writing Tips

Here are some valuable tips for writing a powerful topic sentence in a paragraph.

  • Keep it brief but informative. Your topic sentence should contain only relevant information that directly supports the main point.
  • Associate it to your primary claim. Make sure that your subpoints are intertwined and contribute to your fundamental assertion.
  • Be precise. Make sure that you use specific language and avoid generalizations.
  • Make it flow. Each body paragraph should build on the previous one and lead the reader towards your essay conclusion .
  • Apply active voice. Using an active voice in your topic sentence can help to create a sense of urgency and engagement.

Bottom Line on How to Write a Topic Sentence

Crafting a powerful topic sentence is not easy, but with practice, you will be able to start your paragraphs in a convincing manner. Make sure that each opening is  clear and reflects your main idea in a brief, yet, meaningful way. Keep these tips and examples in mind when writing topic sentences for your next essay.

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FAQ About Writing Topic Sentences

1. how to start off a topic sentence.

A good way to start a topic sentence is by introducing the specific idea or concept that you are going to discuss. It should be concise and directly related to the point of your essay. For example: " The increase in air pollution has led to an alarming rise in respiratory illnesses in cities ." This sentence states the main point of your topic and sets the tone for what follows.

2. Can a topic sentence be a question?

Yes, a topic sentence can be a question. In fact, beginning a paragraph with a question can create a sense of curiosity and encourage readers to think critically about your topic. Be sure to follow up the question with a clear and concise statement that provides a direct answer.

3. How long should a topic sentence be?

A topic sentence should be concise and to the point, ideally no longer than 1 or 2 sentences long. It should make a preview to the main idea of the paragraph, while also leaving enough room for developing your arguments and evidence.

4. How to write a strong topic sentence?

To compose a strong topic sentence, clearly state the main idea of your body paragraph. Avoid vague or general statements. Instead, your topic sentence should grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. It's suggested to link it to your thesis statement of your paper to ensure that you stay on track.

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How to Write Topic Sentences Guide with Tips and Examples

Updated 25 Jul 2023

Topic sentences

The topic sentence is critical to any written work, including essays and papers. It is what you place either at the paragraph's beginning or the end of the previous one, helping the reader to look at the content overview.

The role of topic sentences is to present a clear idea to be discussed in the next section. 

They are like a map for the reader, providing a concise statement of the main point or argument you will run across in every paragraph.

By crafting effective topic sentences, you can captivate the reader's attention, establish the purpose of the writing, and organize key thoughts. This article delves into the crucial elements of well-written topic sentences, emphasizes their significance in writing, and provides guidance on creating them.

Topic sentence and thesis statement: what's the difference?

When writing a paper, both components play an essential role in crafting a well-organized, clear, and coherent essay. The  thesis statement sets the foundation for the entire paper, guiding the writer to stay focused on their main argument or idea throughout the paper. It should be concise, clear, and specific, presenting the central point the author wants to convey.

One way to ensure a strong thesis statement is to make it arguable, meaning it should present an argument that can be supported or refuted with evidence. A strong thesis statement will help the writer to stay on track and present their ideas coherently.

On the other hand, topic sentences help to organize the content within each paragraph by providing a clear and specific focus. In contrast, a topic sentence relates to a particular paragraph and presents more narrow ideas specific to the section. It should be concise and clear, outlining the paragraph's main idea.

When crafting topic sentences, ensure they are specific and not too general. They should be clear and precise, indicating the covered section. Additionally, they should be varied and not repetitive to keep the reader engaged and interested.

Both topic sentences and thesis statements work together to guide the reader through the author's central argument or idea while also ensuring that each paragraph contributes to the key message. While the thesis statement outlines the paper's central idea, topic sentences aim to organize sections within an essay to offer more coherence and clarity.

Topic sentences: types and examples

You may run across various topic sentence types that can be used depending on the paragraph's purpose and content. We offer to look at some topic sentence examples and 4 types of sentences to help you better understand which ones will complement your writing.

Statement of fact

This type of topic sentence presents a fact or statistic that supports the paragraph's main idea.

According to a recent study, over 50% of Americans believe regular exercise is important for their health.

Comparison/contrast

You can compare several things, concepts, or ideas to highlight the difference between them.

While some prefer traditional classroom learning, others find that online courses offer more flexibility and convenience.

Definition/explanation

It is one of the simplest types that provides a definition or explanation of a term or concept you aim to discuss next.

Topic sentence example:

In psychology, cognitive dissonance refers to the mental discomfort experienced by someone with two or more contradictory beliefs.

Cause and effect

Use this type to explain the cause-and-effect relationship between two or more events, situations, or phenomena.

Global temperatures are causing more frequent and severe natural disasters worldwide.

Argument/thesis statement

You can benefit from this type when presenting an argument for your paper.

Legalizing marijuana would significantly benefit individuals and society, including increased tax revenue and reduced drug-related crime rates.

How to write a topic sentence?

When you start writing topic sentences, identifying and organizing your thoughts may be easier with the text's main idea. Use these tips to set your topic sentence structure off to a good start.

  • Start with the main idea.

As previously discussed, the thesis statement is the key idea that will be spread throughout the essay. That is why the first step before writing a topics sentence is to craft a stong thesis statement — once you do, it will serve as a foundation for key thoughts in each section.

Using renewable energy sources is essential for combating climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.

Identify the key points.

Find ideas to support your main thesis and include them in the essay.

 Example:

The use of renewable energy sources can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Be specific.

Once you have some ideas and arguments written, narrow them down as much as possible — your topic sentences should convey one idea at a time and be concise and focused.

Wind and solar power are renewable energy sources that can be harnessed to generate electricity without producing greenhouse gas emissions.

Renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power and geothermal energy are readily available and can provide a constant electricity supply.

Relate your topic sentence to your key statement.

Once you create a topic sentence for the next section, review your thesis statement and see whether it supports it.

The increased use of renewable energy sources can help combat climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, which are finite resources that contribute to global warming.

By following these steps on writing a topic sentence, you will get to support your thesis statement, creating a well-developed and persuasive essay.

Using topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs

When crafting an essay, you aim to create a coherent flow of ideas throughout the paper. One of the ways to reach this is by using topic sentences as transitions between paragraphs, linking the previous section's key idea to the next paragraph's main idea.  Transition sentences play a crucial role in achieving smooth paragraph transitions.

This way, they ensure a logical and cohesive argument or narrative to help the reader see how different ideas are connected in the paper.

To achieve this, such sentences can briefly summarize the idea presented in the previous section and establish a new idea that will be explored in the next paragraph. Additionally, using transition words in your topic sentences can be helpful as they establish a link between your thoughts and facilitate the flow of your writing. Here are few good transition words samples you can use: for example, furthermore, in fact, also, in contrast, however, yet, etc.

In fact, research shows that regular exercise can improve both physical and mental health.

For instance, it can say that you will provide supporting evidence for an argument presented in the prior section or use it to emphasize a shift in focus or perspective.

Introducing few paragraphs

You will usually find topic sentences at the paragraph’s beginning. Yet, they can be used to introduce multiple sections at once. You can first introduce the section’s key idea when structuring ideas into subtopics. Then, you need to use subsequent paragraphs to provide specific details or examples of the main idea. This approach is especially helpful when you must convey the section's key idea upfront and leave some specific details to the following sections. 

From the reader's perspective, using topic sentences that introduce a few paragraphs can help grasp the essay's overall structure. This way, you can ensure your readers can easily follow the reasoning. 

For instance, a topic sentence example may be an argumentative essay about the benefits of a plant-based diet. You could use topic sentences to introduce each essay section, such as the environmental benefits, health benefits, and ethical considerations. Within the section on environmental benefits, the following sections could explore specific aspects of the topic, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water resources, and reducing land degradation. Similarly, within health benefits, you could use topic sentences to introduce the section's main idea and then use subsequent paragraphs to provide specific details or examples, e.g., reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.

Where should I place the topic sentence?

When writing an essay, it's essential to structure your paragraphs to allow the reader to follow your argument/idea. Regarding topic sentence placement, there are two common approaches:

1. The first is to place it at the paragraph beginning, which is the most common method.

This approach immediately lets the reader understand the paragraph's main point, providing a framework for supporting details or examples. This approach is particularly useful for complex or lengthy paragraphs requiring a concise introduction.

2. Alternatively, some writers may place the topic sentence at the end of the previous paragraph or even in the middle to create a smoother transition.

This approach is useful when the writer wants to connect sub-topics discussed in the previous section to the next section, highlighting their connection. It can also help to maintain the coherence and flow of the essay, making it easier for the reader to follow the writer's key idea.

It's worth noting that regardless of the placement of the topic sentence, it should always relate to the thesis statement and contribute to the overall argument or idea presented in the essay. It's also important to ensure the topic sentences are varied and not repetitive to maintain the reader's interest and engagement.

Where you put your topic sentences, define how well your essay will be structured, as it impacts the essay’s flow and organization. By carefully considering where to place them, you can create a clear and engaging piece of writing that effectively communicates key ideas.

What is a topic sentence example?

 "Social media has revolutionized the way we communicate and connect." 

This example shows a clear argument, which signalizes to the reader what will be discussed in the upcoming paragraph.

How to write good topic sentences?

First of all, make them clear and concise. Focus on the one main idea that relates to the thesis statement. You should use them to introduce the section’s main point or argument.

Why are topic sentences important?

They provide structure and organization to an essay or paragraph, guiding the reader through the writer's argument or point. They also help to make the writer's ideas clear and concise.

Where can I find topic sentences?

The topic sentence usually goes at the paragraph beginning to introduce the main idea or argument discussed there.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback.

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Written by Meredith Anderson

Meredith, a dedicated editor at EduBirdie, specializes in academic writing. Her keen eye for grammar and structure ensures flawless papers, while her insightful feedback helps students improve their writing skills and achieve higher grades.

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Examples

Essay Topic Sentence

Essay topic generator.

topic sentence examples for essay

Crafting an impeccable essay often hinges on the strength of its topic sentence. This pivotal sentence sets the tone, offers a glimpse into the content, and captivates the reader’s curiosity. Delve into the nuanced world of essay topic sentences, explore sterling Sentence examples , and arm yourself with tried-and-true tips to perfect this vital writing element.

What is the Essay Topic Sentence? – Definition

An essay topic sentence is the opening sentence of a paragraph that provides a concise summary of what the paragraph will address. It serves as a roadmap, guiding readers through the main idea or argument of that particular section, ensuring clarity and coherence.

What is the best Example of an Essay Topic Sentence?

Imagine writing an essay about the benefits of a balanced diet. An exemplary topic sentence might be: “A balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, plays an indispensable role in maintaining optimal health and preventing various ailments.” This sentence not only introduces the topic of a balanced diet but also hints at the benefits that the subsequent sentences in the paragraph will explore in detail.

100 Essay Topic Sentence Examples

Essay Topic Sentence Examples

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Essay topic sentences are the guiding lights of your paragraphs, illuminating the main ideas and ensuring readers navigate smoothly through your piece. Crafting a compelling topic sentence is paramount for grasping attention and setting the tone for the ensuing discussion. Here are 100 sterling examples that encapsulate various subjects and themes, each with its distinct allure to captivate readers instantly.

  • The Renaissance era ushered in a wave of unparalleled artistic and intellectual achievements.
  • Urbanization poses both challenges and opportunities for modern societies.
  • Climate change impacts global ecosystems, from polar ice caps to tropical rainforests.
  • Social media platforms influence contemporary communication and human interactions.
  • Mental well-being plays an equally significant role as physical health in overall wellness.
  • Education systems require ongoing reforms to cater to the evolving needs of society.
  • Space exploration holds the promise of discoveries beyond our planetary confines.
  • Wildlife conservation ensures the preservation of Earth’s rich biodiversity.
  • Digital advancements reshape business models and consumer behaviors.
  • Historical monuments stand as testament to a civilization’s legacy and prowess.
  • Reading habits enrich the mind, offering both knowledge and escapism.
  • Global economies interact in intricate networks of trade and diplomacy.
  • Alternative energy sources promise a sustainable solution to environmental concerns.
  • Emotional intelligence plays a pivotal role in interpersonal success and leadership.
  • Modern transportation bridges geographical divides, bringing cultures closer.
  • Culinary arts reflect the rich tapestry of world cultures and histories.
  • Migration patterns reveal socio-economic factors and global trends.
  • Sustainable farming practices benefit both the environment and consumers.
  • Oceanic ecosystems harbor mysteries yet to be fully unraveled by science.
  • Artificial intelligence challenges the boundaries of technological capabilities.
  • Childhood memories shape our adult personalities and choices.
  • Green technology offers innovative solutions to pressing environmental issues.
  • Philanthropic endeavors aim to bridge societal disparities and uplift communities.
  • Literary classics transcend time, remaining relevant across generations.
  • Photography captures fleeting moments, turning them into timeless memories.
  • Global tourism boosts economies while fostering cross-cultural understanding.
  • Musical genres evoke emotions, from nostalgia to exhilaration.
  • Ancient civilizations laid the foundations for contemporary societies and norms.
  • Virtual reality immerses users in simulated environments, from gaming to training.
  • Language evolution tracks societal shifts and historical influences.
  • Modern architecture melds functionality with aesthetic appeal.
  • Astronomical studies probe the mysteries of the cosmos.
  • Entrepreneurial ventures drive innovation and economic growth.
  • Fitness regimes promote holistic health and longevity.
  • The fashion industry sets global trends while reflecting societal shifts.
  • Psychological theories delve into the intricate workings of the human mind.
  • Parenting styles influence a child’s development and worldview.
  • Technological disruptions challenge traditional business models.
  • Documentary films highlight societal issues and human stories.
  • Gardening offers therapeutic benefits and a connection with nature.
  • Modern medicine offers revolutionary treatments and hopes for chronic ailments.
  • Cultural festivals celebrate a community’s heritage and traditions.
  • Robotics is transforming sectors from healthcare to manufacturing.
  • Urban planning addresses the challenges of rapidly expanding cities.
  • Environmental policies aim to mitigate the effects of industrialization.
  • Video games merge entertainment with interactive storytelling techniques.
  • Graphic novels combine visual art with narrative depth.
  • Theatre arts encompass a spectrum of genres, from tragedy to farce.
  • Digital marketing targets consumers using online platforms and data analytics.
  • Ancient mythologies provide insights into early human beliefs and values.
  • Quantum physics challenges our understanding of the universe’s fundamental nature.
  • Human rights movements fight for equality, justice, and freedom globally.
  • Online education facilitates learning beyond geographical boundaries.
  • Microfinance initiatives empower marginalized communities through financial inclusivity.
  • Space telescopes capture awe-inspiring images of distant galaxies and stars.
  • Holistic therapies combine traditional and modern practices for overall wellness.
  • Archaeological digs reveal secrets of bygone eras and lost civilizations.
  • Modern sculptures reflect contemporary societal values and artistic experimentation.
  • Nano-technology holds potential for advancements from medicine to electronics.
  • Digital art allows limitless creativity with the help of technology.
  • Global collaborations foster advancements in research and innovations.
  • Local cuisines represent the heart of a culture, infused with history and flavors.
  • Renewable energy initiatives combat the global energy crisis and climate change.
  • Ethical consumerism encourages responsible production and purchasing behaviors.
  • Wildlife documentaries raise awareness about endangered species and habitats.
  • Start-up ecosystems boost economic growth and technological innovations.
  • Classic literature resonates with themes that remain relevant across ages.
  • Mental health awareness breaks stigmas and fosters supportive communities.
  • Biographical works provide a window into influential personalities’ lives.
  • Adventure sports push human limits and offer adrenaline-filled experiences.
  • Underwater exploration uncovers marine biodiversity and submerged secrets.
  • E-commerce platforms reshape the shopping experience in the digital age.
  • Sustainable fashion champions eco-friendly materials and ethical production.
  • Forensic science plays a crucial role in solving criminal cases.
  • Digital privacy measures protect user data from breaches and misuse.
  • Animated films enthrall audiences with imaginative stories and visuals.
  • Hydroponic farming offers soil-less agricultural solutions.
  • Artificial neural networks simulate human brain processes for machine learning.
  • Classical dance forms preserve age-old traditions and storytelling techniques.
  • 3D printing technology revolutionizes manufacturing and prototyping processes.
  • Ancient cartography charts historical perceptions of the world and explorations.
  • Digital currencies are reshaping the landscape of financial transactions globally.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy offers tools to reshape negative thought patterns.
  • Space tourism heralds a new era of extraterrestrial travel for civilians.
  • Marine conservation efforts strive to protect our oceans’ fragile ecosystems.
  • Molecular gastronomy melds culinary arts with scientific principles.
  • Traditional craftsmanship preserves skills passed down through generations.
  • Augmented reality applications blur the boundaries between the digital and real worlds.
  • Public transportation systems facilitate urban mobility and reduce carbon footprints.
  • Jazz music captures improvisational brilliance and rhythmic complexities.
  • Antique collecting cherishes artifacts from bygone eras, each with its unique story.
  • Gene editing techniques hold the promise of eradicating genetic disorders.
  • Organic agriculture prioritizes natural growth processes and shuns chemical interventions.
  • Adventure travel invigorates the spirit with challenges and uncharted experiences.
  • Photojournalism chronicles real-life events, capturing moments that resonate deeply.
  • Neuroscience research explores the intricate workings of the human brain.
  • Contemporary dance expresses emotions and stories through fluid movements.
  • Ecosystem restoration projects aim to revive habitats and promote biodiversity.
  • Pet adoption campaigns advocate for giving shelter animals a second chance.
  • Solar-powered solutions present sustainable alternatives to conventional energy sources.

Each of these topic sentences encapsulates a distinct theme or idea, forming a foundation upon which a robust, engaging essay can be constructed. By crafting clear and compelling topic sentences, writers can navigate their readers through diverse landscapes of thought, ensuring a coherent and memorable journey.

Is a topic sentence 1 sentence?

Absolutely, a topic sentence is typically one sentence that succinctly captures the main idea or central theme of a paragraph. Its primary role is to provide clarity and direction, giving readers a concise overview of what to expect in the subsequent lines. The topic sentence functions much like a thesis statement for a paragraph, presenting the focal point around which other sentences revolve. By offering a clear snapshot of the paragraph’s intent, it helps readers grasp the essence of the content and understand the progression of ideas.

Are topic sentences always the first sentence?

Traditionally, topic sentences often appear at the beginning of a paragraph, setting the tone and direction for the following sentences. However, they don’t always have to be the first sentence. The placement can vary based on the writing style, structure, and the purpose of the text.

  • Beginning: In academic and many forms of informative writing, topic sentences usually start the paragraph. This placement offers immediate clarity and direction to readers.
  • Middle: Sometimes, writers might begin with a few introductory sentences before delving into the main idea, which is then presented in the form of a topic sentence in the middle of the paragraph. This can be especially effective in narrative or creative writing where setting a scene or building anticipation is crucial.
  • End: In certain cases, the topic sentence might conclude a paragraph, serving as a summarization or a transitional point leading to the next section.
  • Implied: Occasionally, especially in more narrative or descriptive paragraphs, the main idea might be implied rather than explicitly stated in a single topic sentence.

Regardless of its position, the role of the topic sentence remains the same: to anchor the reader and provide a clear focus for the paragraph. The key is to ensure that wherever the topic sentence is placed, it should effectively guide the reader through the content and highlight the central theme.

How do you write Essay Topic Sentences? – Step by Step Guide

The quality of an essay often hinges on its topic sentences. These crucial components anchor each paragraph, guiding the reader and establishing a clear focus. Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting compelling essay topic sentences:

  • Understand the Paragraph’s Purpose: Before penning a topic sentence, grasp the main idea or argument your paragraph intends to convey.
  • Be Clear and Concise: The topic sentence should succinctly summarize the paragraph’s central theme. Avoid ambiguity or overly complex language.
  • Stay Relevant: Ensure your topic sentence aligns with the thesis or main argument of your essay.
  • Use Specific Language: Instead of broad generalities, be precise. For instance, instead of “Books are beneficial,” say “Reading classic literature enriches one’s vocabulary and cognitive skills.”
  • Avoid Mere Statements of Fact: A topic sentence should provide insight or a perspective rather than just stating an obvious fact.
  • Incorporate Transitional Words: Especially in longer essays, use transitional phrases like “Furthermore,” “However,” or “In contrast” to guide the reader and indicate the flow of ideas.
  • Test its Strength: Once written, check if your topic sentence provides a clear roadmap for the paragraph. It should set expectations for what’s to come.
  • Iterate and Refine: Don’t be afraid to revise your topic sentence multiple times until it feels just right. It’s an integral part of the writing process.

Tips for Using Essay Topic Sentences

Topic sentences can elevate the quality of your essay when used effectively. Here are some tips to make the most of them:

  • Maintain Consistency: Ensure that your topic sentences are consistent in style and tone throughout the essay.
  • Vary Sentence Structures: While maintaining clarity, try different structures to keep your writing dynamic and engaging.
  • Link to Previous Ideas: Especially in longer essays, make sure your topic sentences build upon the ideas from previous paragraphs. This creates a cohesive flow.
  • Stay On Topic: A common pitfall is to deviate from the main idea. Ensure your topic sentence and the subsequent content remain aligned.
  • Avoid Overly General Statements: Aim for specificity in your topic sentences to give readers a clear idea of what to expect.
  • Seek Feedback: Have someone review your essay, paying particular attention to topic sentences. Fresh eyes can often spot inconsistencies or areas of improvement.
  • Practice Regularly: Like any skill, crafting excellent topic sentences improves with practice. The more you write and revise, the more intuitive the process becomes.

By mastering the art of essay topic sentences, you can guide your readers smoothly through your content, ensuring clarity, engagement, and a strong narrative flow.

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Journal Buddies Jill | October 29, 2023 March 30, 2022 | Writing by Grade Level

30 Examples of Topic Sentences (by grade level)

Yes! You are invited to use our tips for writing topic sentences as well as the examples of topic sentences listed below to help your students perfect their paragraph writing skills.

Topic Sentence Expamples by Grade

From the time young students begin to learn to write their own sentences, they start to understand that every paragraph has a structure.

As they progress throughout elementary school, into middle school, and go onto high school, they build upon the skills that they have learned, and they realize that the topic sentence sets the stage for all of their writing.

You see…

Writing a Good Topic Sentence

It doesn’t matter what type of writing your students are working on, they are going to need to know how to create strong, informative topic sentences that introduce the concept that will be discussed in their paragraph.

Elementary students begin to work on simple topic sentences as they work on their first paragraphs. Middle school students learn that their topic sentence must express the main idea of the paragraph.

High school students are often writing topic sentences that are complex and detailed and that allows them to expound upon an in-depth topic within the body of the paragraph. 

Purpose of a Topic Sentence

In addition to crafting strong topic sentences, students also need to realize that the first sentence of a paragraph must also be interesting and inviting.

They are literally pulling the reader in and encouraging them to learn more by reading the following sentence.

Every sentence that follows the topic sentence must support the overall theme and a well-developed and effective topic sentence will allow the paragraph to practically write itself. Further, writers will need to pay close attention to the content of a paragraph and to the transitions they use from the previous paragraph to the next.

Tips for Writing Topic Sentences

Initially, students may find it challenging to write a topic sentence in their own writing that captivates the attention of their reader.

Here are some tips and guidelines that can help them write their best topic sentences:

  • Have your students start the process by writing down the topic that they want to discuss in their paragraph.
  • Encourage them to write a simple sentence that introduces the main idea of their paragraph.
  • Ask them to write down three ideas, examples, or arguments that support their topic sentence.
  • Then, tell them to push their boundaries by rewriting the original topic sentence in order to grab the attention of the reader. 
  • Finally, show them examples of topic sentences that they can use for inspiration.

Examples of Topic Sentences for Elementary School Students 

Elementary students often write simple topic sentences that focus solely on the main idea of the paragraph. Some examples of topic sentences for this age group include:

  • When we had a snow day, I made snow angels, drank hot cocoa, and went sledding.
  • Students should not have to do homework because it takes a lot of time.
  • If you like going to the park, then you will love playing in the splash pad.
  • Since I started first grade, I have learned about maps, explorers, and communities.

Elementary School Topic Sentence Examples

  • My favorite ice cream flavor is banana chocolate chip because it is sweet and delicious.
  • Goldfish make a great first pet for young children. 
  • Riding my bicycle is my favorite after school activity.
  • I believe that the most important classroom rule is to listen closely to the teacher.
  • Science is the most interesting subject in school.

Middle School Examples of Topic Sentences

By middle school, students should begin to write more well-developed topic sentences that outline exactly what will be discussed in the following paragraph. Some examples of topic sentences for middle school students include:

  • When playing basketball on a team, there are several rules that you will need to follow.
  • Making an ice cream sundae is easy and fun, as long as you follow these simple steps. 
  • If you want to avoid getting a cold, you should take some of these precautions.
  • The three-toed sloth is a fascinating animal with many unique features. 

Middle School Topic Sentence Examples

  • When I went to the museum, I learned about the pharaohs of Ancient Egypt.
  • The best rides at the amusement park are the rollercoasters that go upside down.  
  • Although some people think tacos are the most delicious meal, I personally prefer to eat pasta.
  • While there are differences between taking a beach vacation and a ski trip, there are some similarities as well.
  • On my first day of middle school, I quickly realized that it was going to be very different from my elementary years.

Examples of Topic Sentences for High School Students

In high school, students have perfected the art of writing a complete topic sentence and they begin creating more complex and intricate sentences that they can use to anchor the entire paragraph. Some examples of topic sentences for high school students include: 

  • When I sat down to dinner with my grandmother, I knew that I was going to learn so much more about her past. 
  • College admissions officers should be considering more than grades; they should also be reviewing a student’s interests, job experience, and extra-curricular activities.
  • Climate change is a complex issue that is being caused by a variety of factors. 
  • As high school students, it is our responsibility to set a good example for younger children who look up to us.

High School Topic Sentence Examples

  • Learning a new language allows you to connect with people from another culture, to boost your reading and writing skills, and to improve your memory function.
  • In this book, the main character learned more about who she was by pushing her boundaries and trying new things. 
  • For me, ice skating has always been a way to stay active, express myself, and connect with other people who love the sport.
  • On our senior trip, we volunteered with a local organization to clean up the nearby parks, and it was a rewarding experience that taught me the value of hard work and giving back to the community.
  • The best place to do your homework and prepare for exams is the local coffee shop, because it offers a quiet atmosphere and plenty of caffeine.

A Few Closing Thoughts

With the right examples of topic sentences, you can help your students discover that the paragraph writing process is anything but boring. Whether they’re writing a narrative essay, contrast essay, or a college entrance essay, strong topic sentences set the tone for the rest of the paragraph.

When they practice their skills and learn how to write compelling and effective topic sentences, they will realize the power that their words can hold. They might even discover that writing is fun! As long as they keep on writing, their writing will continue to improve!

111 More Free Writing Prompts

  • 20 Paragraph Writing Topics for K-12
  • 16 Technical Writing Prompts for Students
  • 35 Marvelous Paragraph Starters to Use in Your Classroom
  • 40 Incredible Introduction Sentence Starters for Students

Until next time, keep on writing…

If you enjoyed these Examples of Topic Sentences by Grade Level, please share them on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest. I appreciate it!

Sincerely, Jill journalbuddies.com creator and curator

Examples of Topic Sentences by Grade

PS Check out this helpful resource —> Teaching Paragraph Writing: Topic Sentences

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19 College Essay Topics and Prompts

Not sure what to write for your college essay? We've got you covered with a number of topics and prompts to help shape your unique story.

[Featured image] A woman works on her college essay with a pen, notebook, and laptop computer.

As part of your college application materials, you'll likely be asked to submit a college essay. These tend to be between 250 and 650 words , and are a unique opportunity to showcase your personality. Admissions panels are typically looking for students who will positively represent the school as a whole. In the end, your goal is to show them that you and the college are a good match. 

When drafting your college essay, you may be expected to answer a prompt or come up with a topic on your own. In this article, we've rounded up several ideas to get you thinking—and writing.

19 college essay topics

Each school sets different requirements around the college essay, so it's important to review the expectations around every application you intend to submit. Some give you creative freedom, while others expect you to respond to a pre-developed prompt. Either way, a strong college essay conveys to the admissions team who you are, why you want to attend that particular school, and what matters to you. It's a way to personalize an application that often focuses on quantitative data, such as GPA and SAT scores.

If you're given the creative freedom to write about whatever you want, consider a college essay topic that allows you to be honest and original. We've compiled the following ideas to help you brainstorm:

What's an important issue you care about? How have you gotten involved?

Have you changed your mind about something in recent years? What was it and why?

What's a situation that caused you to grow?

Explain a time when you failed. What did you learn from that moment?

Share a surprising pastime or hobby and what interested you about it.

What extracurricular activity are you involved in that speaks to your personality?

Detail a meaningful volunteer experience.

Dive into a meaningful travel experience.

Who do you most admire and why?

If you have a unique background, share a bit about it. How did you get where you are?

What's the best advice you've ever received?

Was there ever a time when you had to stand up for something—or someone?

What's something you might change about the world to make it better?

What do you hope to accomplish by attending college?

Is there something you want to do after graduating college?

Have you ever made or created something? Talk about it.

Do you have a big idea that could potentially impact your community?

What is most valuable to you? Dive into your values and share an example.

What are you most passionate about? Why?

Pre-developed college essay prompts

Some colleges and universities will give you a series of prompts to choose from. These will vary from school to school, and can either be questions or statements. Here are a few examples of both.

Sample question prompts:

What excites your intellectual curiosity?

How has your upbringing shaped the person you are today?

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Sample statement prompts:

Talk about an unusual circumstance in your life

Share how you hope to use your college education

Discuss a list of books you have read in the last year

Common App essay prompts

Common App is an online platform designed to simplify the college application process. Over 900 colleges use Common App, making it possible for you to fill out one application that's then submitted to multiple schools.

If you choose to complete the Common App, you'll have a choice of several distinctive prompts that change every academic year. Here's a sample of the 2022-2023 essay prompts [ 1 ]:

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Stick to the prompt.

No matter what type of prompt you receive, it's your job to stick to it. The admissions team has a lot of essays to read, so you'll have a better chance of standing out if you develop a cohesive response that stays on topic.

Start by identifying the prompt's main topic, then spend some time brainstorming to find the idea that resonates most with you. For many people, it's the topic that makes them feel some sort of emotion or reminds them of an entertaining story. Understanding what you're being asked to write about should make staying on topic throughout the entire composition easier.

5 additional college essay tips

Once you decide what you'd like to write, follow the tips below to craft a standout essay. You can also find more advice about college essays in our article College Essay Format: Writing and Editing Tips .

1. Be considerate with humor.

Showing off your sense of humor lets your personality show through your words and can make reading the essay more entertaining. Try including a few sentences that you think will bring a smile to the reader's face, or use adjectives to insert some colorful comedy.

2. Offer insight.

Beyond recounting an event, experience, or memory, a great essay shows insight aka an ability to highlight meaningful takeaways. For example, if you choose to write about your unique hobby, try to discuss what you've learned from that pastime—or how you've grown as a result of it.

3. Add details

Great essays also invite the reader to connect with the story on an emotional level. With that in mind, it can help to recount a specific memory rather than answer a prompt without those colorful details. More than discussing something on a surface level—or vaguely—you want to provide enough particulars to keep your readers engaged. For example, if you choose to write about the best advice you ever received, set the scene and take the reader back to that moment.

4. Have an editor.

Your essay should ideally be error-free. Ask a trusted friend or family member to review your essay and suggest edits. An editor can help you catch grammatical errors or points out ways to better develop your response.

Avoid passing your paper along to too many people, though, so you don't lose your own voice amid all of the edits and suggestions. The admissions team wants to get to know you through your writing and not your sister or best friend who edited your paper.

5. Revise your essay.

Your first draft is just that: a draft. Give yourself plenty of time to read and revise your first pass and make sure you fully developed your response, stayed on topic, and shared your personality.

When revising your essay, you may find it helpful to read it aloud so you hear the words as you're saying them. Some people prefer to print a copy on paper and write notes by hand. Both options give your brain a new way to process the information to catch details you may miss if you keep everything in your head and on the computer.

Watch to find out why the essay many admission counselor's favorite part of the application:

Next steps: Apply with confidence

Earn your bachelor's degree online from prestigious global universities on Coursera. Many even offer performance-based admission, meaning you can complete a course or two online and earn admittance with a passing score.

Article sources

Common App. " First-year essay prompts , https://www.commonapp.org/apply/essay-prompts." Accessed February 8, 2023.

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  1. How to Write Topic Sentences

    A topic sentence sums up the main point of each paragraph. Use topic sentences to structure your ideas and keep your paragraphs focused.

  2. How to Write a Topic Sentence (30+ Tips & Examples)

    Writing the perfect topic sentence took me years to master. Read this entire guide for a master class in how to write a topic sentence.

  3. Examples of Topic Sentences That Make the Purpose Clear

    A great topic sentence gives you insight into what you can expect in a paragraph. Make yours one to remember with these topic sentence examples.

  4. 12 Examples of Good Topic Sentences (and Why They Work)

    12 Examples of Good Topic Sentences (and Why They Work) An introduction or thesis statement for a narrative essay is different than an introduction or thesis in an argumentative essay.It makes sense, then, that you'll write different types of topic sentences for different types of papers.

  5. 10 Effective Topic Sentence Examples for Engaging Essays

    A topic sentence differs from a thesis but is no less critical to an engaging essay. Our writing experts at Paperdue have put together a guide to effective topic sentences.

  6. How to Write a Strong Topic Sentence + Examples

    Topic sentences are important to give your essays structure and flow. Check out these tips from a former English teacher to writing a strong topic sentence.

  7. Topic Sentences and Signposting

    Topic sentences and signposts make an essay's claims clear to a reader. Good essays contain both. Topic sentences reveal the main point of a paragraph.They show the relationship of each paragraph to the essay's thesis, telegraph the point of a paragraph, and tell your reader what to expect in the paragraph that follows.

  8. Writing Topic Sentences

    While an essay's thesis statement identifies the point of the essay in its entirety, the topic sentence has a much narrower focus, as it relates only to the paragraph in which it is located. ... Topic sentence examples. The following list identifies topic sentences based on the provided thesis statements for five-paragraph essays:

  9. Using Topic Sentences

    What is a topic sentence? A topic sentence states the main point of a paragraph: it serves as a mini-thesis for the paragraph. You might think of it as a signpost for your readers—or a headline—something that alerts them to the most important, interpretive points in your essay.

  10. Topic Sentences

    An effective topic sentence expands on a main thesis point by including details and explanation.

  11. How to Write a Topic Sentence

    Learn how to write a topic sentence that grabs readers' attention and sets the tone for your essay. Get tips and examples to craft a winning topic sentence.

  12. Here Is the Right Way and the Wrong Way to Write Topic Sentences

    Struggling with the nuts and bolts of topic sentences? Use this road map to learn how to write thorough, precise, and brief topic sentences—for any essay.

  13. What are Topic Sentences? A Comprehensive Guide with Examples

    What are topic sentences? To briefly describe what a paragraph will explore. Here is all you need to know about topic sentences.

  14. Using Topic Sentences

    Use a topic sentence to show how your paragraph contributes to the development of your argument by moving it that one extra step forward. If your topic sentence merely restates your thesis, then either your paragraph is redundant or your topic sentence needs to be reformulated. If several of your topic sentences restate your thesis, even if ...

  15. How to Write a Topic Sentence: 3 Topic Sentence Examples

    Learn how to write topic sentences to support the main thesis of any piece of writing.

  16. Topic Sentences for Body Paragraphs: Examples and Explanation

    Let's look at what a topic sentence is, how to write a good topic sentence, and topic sentences for body paragraphs examples.

  17. How To Write a Topic Sentence (With Examples and Tips)

    Learn how to write strong topic sentences, with examples and tips to help organize your writing.

  18. 5 Simple Steps to Write a Topic Sentence with Examples

    Struggling to write a compelling topic sentence? We've got you covered. Learn how to write a topic sentence effectively with the help of examples and tips.

  19. How to Write a Topic Sentence for an Essay: Steps & Examples

    Wonder what a topic sentence is and how to write it? Here is a step-by-step guide with a definition, writing tips, and topic sentence examples at your disposal.

  20. How to Write Powerful Topic Sentences (Tips & Samples)

    Master the art of writing topic sentences in your paper with our guide. Learn tips and examples for crafting clear paragraphs that include a strong topic sentence.

  21. Essay Topic Sentence

    Elevate your essays with compelling topic sentences! Delve into unique examples, garner invaluable writing tips, and set the tone for your masterpiece. ... Delve into the nuanced world of essay topic sentences, explore sterling Sentence examples, and arm yourself with tried-and-true tips to perfect this vital writing element. What is the Essay ...

  22. 30 Examples of Topic Sentences (by grade level)

    With the right examples of topic sentences, you can help your students discover that the paragraph writing process is anything but boring. Explore tips as well as examples.

  23. 19 College Essay Topics and Prompts

    Not sure what to write for your college essay? We've got you covered with a number of topics and prompts to help shape your unique story.