P.I.E. Paragraph Structure

One way to think about structuring your paragraphs is to use the P.I.E. paragraph structure. Make sure each of your body paragraphs have the following parts:

  • P = Point
  • I = Information
  • E = Explanation

Point

Make sure your paragraph has a point. Often, the point is the topic sentence.

  • What is the point of this paragraph?
  • What claim is being made?
  • What will this paragraph prove or discuss?

Information

After establishing your point, provide information in the form of evidence to support your topic sentence.

Here are types of evidence you might include:

  • Facts, details, reasons, examples
  • Statistics, polls, percentages, data from research studies
  • Information from credible research or course readings
  • Expert opinions and analysis from experts on the topic
  • Personal experience or stories from your life or others (mostly used for reflective writing rather than argumentative)

For more information on types of evidence, be sure to review our Choosing Sources & Evidence page.

Explanation

The explanation is the writer’s analysis, elaboration, evaluation, or interpretation of the point and information given, connecting the information with the point (topic sentence) and the thesis. Without this step, your paragraph may be made up solely of someone else's work. Providing an explanation ensures you integrate your research and include your own academic work as well.

  • What does the provided information mean?
  • How does it relate to your overall argument?
  • Why is this information important/significant/meaningful?

 

Writing Body Paragraphs

Follow these steps below to write good body paragraphs.

Before writing a paragraph, it is important to think first about the topic and then what you want to say about the topic. Most often, the topic is easy, but the question then turns to what you want to say about the topic. This concept is sometimes called the controlling idea.  

Strong paragraphs are typically about one main idea or topic, which is often explicitly stated in a topic sentence. Good topic sentences should always contain both (1) a topic and (2) a controlling idea. 

  1. The topic – The main subject matter or idea covered in the paragraph. 
  2. The controlling idea – This idea focuses the topic by providing direction.

Examples of topic sentences: 

  • People can avoid plagiarizing by taking certain precautions. 
  • There are several advantages to online education.
  • Effective leadership requires specific qualities that anyone can develop.

These examples contain a topic and a controlling idea. When your paragraph contains a clearly stated topic sentence, your reader will know what to expect and, therefore, understand your ideas better. 

After stating your topic sentence, you need to provide evidence to support, demonstrate, clarify, and/or exemplify your point. Ask yourself:

  • What examples can I use to support my point?
  • What information can I provide to help clarify my thoughts?
  • How can I support my point with specific data, experiences, or other supporting evidence? 
  • What information does the reader need to know in order to see my point?
  • Here is a list of the kinds of evidence you can add to your paragraph: 
    • Facts, details, reasons, examples
    • Statistics, polls, percentages, data from research studies
    • Information from credible research or course readings
    • Expert opinions and analysis from experts on the topic
    • Personal experience or stories from your life or others (mostly used for reflective writing rather than argumentative)

Sometimes, adding transitional or introductory phrases like: “For example”, “For instance”, “First”, “Second”, or “Lastly” can help guide the reader. Also, make sure you are citing your sources appropriately. 

After you have given the reader enough information to see and understand your point, you need to explain why this information is important, relevant, or meaningful. This is an important step to adding your own academic voice and integrating your research rather than letting it take ownership of your paper.

Ask yourself: 

  • What does the provided information and evidence mean as you see it?
  • How does it relate to and help support my overall point, argument, or thesis?
  • Why is this information important/significant/meaningful for this conversation?

After illustrating your point with relevant evidence and analysis, add a concluding sentence. Concluding sentences link one paragraph to the next and provide another way to ensure your paragraph is unified. While not all paragraphs need a concluding sentence, you should always consider whether one is appropriate. Concluding sentences have two crucial roles in paragraph writing: 

First, they draw together the information you have presented to elaborate your controlling idea by: 

  • Summarizing the point(s) you have made. 
  • Repeating words or phrases from the topic sentence. 
  • Using linking words that indicate that conclusions are being drawn (e.g., “therefore”, “thus”, “resulting”). 

Second, they often link the current paragraph to the following paragraph. They may anticipate the topic sentence of the next paragraph by: 

  • Introducing a word/phrase or new concept which will then be picked up in the topic sentence of the next paragraph. 
  • Using words or phrases that point ahead (e.g., the following, another, other). 

The last step is to revise and proofread your paragraph. Before you submit your writing, look over your work at least one more time. Try reading your paragraph out loud to make sure it makes sense. Also, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Does my paragraph answer the prompt and support my thesis?
  • Have I avoided beginning and ending each body paragraph with a quote or paraphrase? Have I integrated my research into my own writing.
  • Does it make sense? Does it use the appropriate academic voice
A P.I.E. Paragraph
For Example

Television, textbooks, and computer games are just a few technological mediums in which information is presented and widely accepted as a form of communication even for education. This must be taken into account when determining what literacy means and how students receive information as well as how they master the skill of developing their competencies. Where reading and writing skills in the medium of spoken word or paper and ink once strictly defined literacy, the definition is widely changing to include proficiency in modern technology such as computers and other digital sources of information. For example, students can access digital applications, and according to Kervin (2016), “Digital play with carefully selected apps can provide active, hands-on, engaging and empowering learning opportunities. Apps can facilitate versatility in children’s literacy experiences by providing opportunities for reading and writing, and to listen and communicate through a range of scenarios and activities” (p.70). By this explanation, an app on a tablet can provide students an alternate medium for education while introducing them to technology literacy. Although not all available apps are created to enrich a child’s educational experiences, the guided use of carefully chosen apps for digital play can be a powerful learning tool when used in academic contexts.

Related Video Tutorial

Academic Paragraph Structure Video Tutorial
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