Why use paragraphs?

Paragraphs build up the structure of a text and organise its content. Without paragraphs, texts could be confusing.

There are two main reasons why paragraphs are used:

  • to show a change of topic
  • to show when a new speaker begins talking

Have a look at this extract from Louis Sachar's novel Holes.

He waited while the bus guard gave the man some papers to sign. "That's a lot of sunflower seeds," the bus guard said. Stanley noticed a burlap sack filled with sunflower seeds on the floor next to the desk. "I quit smoking last month," said the man in the cowboy hat. He had a tattoo of a rattlesnake on his arm, and as he signed his name, the snake's rattle seemed to wiggle. "I used to smoke a pack a day. Now I eat a sack of these every week."

Holes by Louis Sachar

Now look at it again.

He waited while the bus guard gave the man some papers to sign.

"That's a lot of sunflower seeds," the bus guard said.

Stanley noticed a burlap sack filled with sunflower seeds on the floor next to the desk.

"I quit smoking last month," said the man in the cowboy hat. He had a tattoo of a rattlesnake on his arm, and as he signed his name, the snake's rattle seemed to wiggle. "I used to smoke a pack a day. Now I eat a sack of these every week."

Holes by Louis Sachar

As you can see, the second version is far easier and far clearer to read.