5 Things to Remember when Writing a Topic Sentence

To write effective paragraphs, the need for a good topic sentence could not be overemphasized. The topic sentence introduces the paragraph, and in just one statement, you could lose or hook your readers in. Creating one is not rocket science, and you can easily get the hang of it with practice. Here are 5 things to remember when writing a topic sentence.

The topic sentence is the main idea or argument of your paragraph.

It reveals what your subject is and what you are trying to say. This means you should know what you are talking about in the first place.

Looking back and seeing the big picture, all of your paragraphs should point to the overall main topic. Therefore, each paragraph you write has a purpose. For instance, the first paragraph is your introduction, and the goal is to introduce your thesis – the main central point of your entire essay, article, or report. The succeeding paragraphs prove, define, or explain your idea, and the final paragraph is your conclusion – a way to tie in everything nicely and to remind your readers what you just said in the preceding paragraphs.

So you see, if you know the purpose and function of each of your paragraphs, then it would be easy to write the topic sentence to begin each paragraph with.

Keep your topic sentence short.

There is no magic number of how many words exactly. Sometimes you might need more words to lay down your topic, but make sure not to mumble around or use unnecessary terms. Watch your modifiers. It is a common mistake to use too many modifiers in one sentence. Novice writers think modifiers can make a sentence more interesting, but that is not the case.

Here is an excellent example of a short and to-the-point topic sentence.

“Music helps people relax.”

There are no flowery words. There are no compound words, subjects, or predicates. It is simple, short, yet very informative. Your readers would know exactly what the paragraph is all about.

A topic sentence gives a clear statement.

You can achieve this when you keep it short. An excellent technique to support your argument concise and clear is honesty and natural when you write. Here is another mistake mostly committed by first-time writers: they try to puff up their writing to make it look more “intelligent” than it really is. In a way, they are not being honest.

The quality of your paragraph is based on its content and not on the length of a sentence or its level of complication. In fact, the less complicated your sentences are, the easier people will understand them. And when people understand what you are saying, then your work is a success.

Be honest and natural when you write. Don’t impress or attempt to sound intricate. This will show in your topic sentence, so make sure you’re getting the right signals by coming up with a short and clear topic sentence.

Let your topic sentence lead.

Every sentence in your paragraph should support and be related to the topic sentence. A good paragraph is concise, cohesive, and united, and this will be achieved if you have a strong leading topic sentence.

When is a topic sentence weak? When the succeeding sentences do not follow its argument or idea. Take a look at this:

“Music helps people relax. Individuals today are too busy about many things – relationships, business, religion, and politics. What is up in the world? Why can’t people just work together and help each other in the name of unity and world peace? People should strive to understand each other to build a better world.”

Although the topic sentence is short, clear, and well-written, it is weak because it did not get any support. If the paragraph above was a group of people, and each sentence is a person, everybody ignored the leader completely. The group will not function in unity and will fail, and so would the paragraph.

Keep in mind that the other sentences should elaborate on your topic sentence by providing a description, more details, explanations, or examples.

Here is an exercise you can do before writing a topic sentence:

  1. Ask yourself, what am I writing about? Am I going to argue, show, or prove something?
  2. Answer yourself in a clear statement: “I am going to write about music and prove that it helps people relax in this troubled world.”
  3. Refine your sentence: “Music helps people relax.”

When unsure, it is always good to ask help from a friend, tutor, or teacher. Even the best and well-seasoned writers seek advice from trusted individuals. Here is where LingualBox can help. They have online tutors eager and competent to talk with you about your English writing needs and activities. Talk to them about the essay you are working on and whether your topic sentence is significant or not.


I am Edwin Estioko and I have years of experience in writing and editing for international audience. With a bachelor's degree in English and master's degree in Ministry, I am a published author of children's books and an elementary English textbook.