Thanks to Preeti Kulkarni for contributing to this article.

In the previous article, we talked about the importance of academic writing. More specifically, we outlined the most prevalent struggles faced by journalists today, the importance of using proper vocabulary, and making your paper readable and credible at the same time. In this article, we will develop this concept by going into more detail about the structure of the three body paragraphs in a standard op-ed. In the article “Structure of an Op-Ed,” we gave a brief overview of the design of the body paragraphs. This article will go into more detail, explaining each part of the structure and the importance of quote integration. 

The Structure of the Body Paragraphs


In the article “Structure of an Op-Ed,” we talked about the fundamental structure of the body paragraphs. According to the Purdue Owl Writing Lab, a body paragraph should be constructed in the form of “TTEB”: It should begin with a Transition sentence to create a logical connection to the previous section.

Next comes a Topic sentence to introduce what the paragraph is about.

Then write sentences with specific Evidence which supports the topic sentence.

A body paragraph should end with a Brief “wrap-up” sentence that ties the paragraph back to the thesis.

Another acronym to help with constructing body paragraphs is “MEAT.”

M is the main idea to which everything in the paragraph must connect.

E is the evidence that supports the main idea.

A is the analysis that dives deeper into the evidence and draws a conclusion that supports the main idea, and T is the tie, which connects back to the thesis of the whole paper. 

The Topic Sentence


The topic sentence of each paragraph must be specific to that paragraph. While a thesis statement outlines the arguments and evidence throughout the op-ed, the topic sentence is specific to one section. It can technically be placed anywhere in your paragraph, but is most commonly found in the first two sentences. This placement helps your reader understand the premise of the topic before jumping into the details of the section. We have given an example of an ineffective and an effective topic sentence to display the difference.

  • Ineffective: The sun is bright. Many people say that the brightness of the sun comes from nuclear fusion and its size. Many scientists are fascinated by nuclear fusion.

Notice how you didn’t really learn anything from those sentences. You already know that the sun is bright. You know that we will be talking about nuclear fusion, but you know nothing else. This first example would be an ineffective topic and supporting sentences. Let’s look at the second example of a topic sentence and compare the two. 

  • Effective: One of the reasons the sun is so bright is because of nuclear fusion. The sun is made of hydrogen and helium. Nuclear fusion happens when the center of the hydrogen atoms fuse because of the sun’s gravity. The force that comes from nuclear fusion is 10 million times more powerful than combustion, which is why the sun is as bright as it is.

In this example, there is a clear and specific topic sentence. The supporting sentences back up this topic sentence by explaining what nuclear fusion is and why that makes the sun bright. This example showcases an effective topic sentence and well-written supporting sentences. 

The Two Kinds of Evidence

Now that you have a solid understanding of the topic sentence, let’s move on to the evidence. Evidence makes up the bulk of your body paragraphs. The evidence is how you support your topic sentence. There are two types of evidence, according to Purdue Owl. These are induction and deduction. Induction is reasoning where you give specific facts to support a general conclusion. Inductive reasoning is the most common kind of evidence because this format is the easiest to follow. 

  • Example of Inductive Reasoning from Purdue Owl:


There is the dead body of Smith. Smith was shot in his bedroom between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., according to the coroner. Smith was shot with a .32 caliber pistol. The pistol left in the bedroom contains Jones’s fingerprints. Jones was seen, by a neighbor, entering the Smith home at around 11:00 p.m. the night of Smith’s death. A coworker heard Smith and Jones arguing in Smith’s office the morning of the day Smith died.

Conclusion: Jones killed Smith.

Here, then, is the example in bullet form:

  • Conclusion: Jones killed Smith
  • Support: Smith was shot by Jones’s gun, Jones was seen entering the scene of the crime, Jones and Smith argued earlier in the day that Smith died.
  • Assumption: The facts are representative, not isolated incidents, and thus reveal a trend, justifying the conclusion drawn.

The second is deductive reasoning, also known as syllogistic reasoning, which has three major parts: the major premise, the minor premise, and the conclusion.

  • Example of Deductive Reasoning from Purdue Owl:


  1. Major premise: All men are mortal.
  2. Minor premise: Socrates is a man.
  3. Conclusion: Socrates is mortal.

Quote Integration

For the actual evidence, you can either use direct quotes or paraphrased content. We recommend a different mix of both. When you are using direct quotes, you must integrate them into a sentence written by you. There are three ways to integrate quotes. 

  1. The first is to introduce the quotation with a complete sentence and a colon.
  • Example: Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant church, revolutionized religious thinking. For those who wonder where his philosophy for changing the world came from, Luther stated it directly: “If you want to change the world, pick up a pen and write.”
  1. The second is using an introductory or explanatory phrase separated by a comma. You should use commas to separate your introductory phrase from the quotation. 
  • Example: According to Martin Luther, “If you want to change the world, pick up a pen and write.”
  1. The third way to introduce a quotation is to splice your quotation between your sentences.
  • Example: Martin Luther believed that “to change the world, [you must] pick up a pen and write.”

Some other general rules for quote integration are:

  1. If “!” or “?” are part of your sentence but not part of the quote, put them outside the quotation (“like this”?). Put them inside the quotation if they are part of the quotation (“like this!”). 
  2. Use ellipses (…) if you are cutting material from the middle of the quotation.
  3. Use brackets to show changes you made to a quotation for it to fit grammatically into the sentence (see #3 above). 

The Concluding Sentence

There aren’t many rules for the concluding or last sentence of a body paragraph. You can use your creative license here. The concluding sentence can restate the main idea, summarize the paragraph, give a mini “so what?” (we will talk about this in another article), and/or transition to the next paragraph. 

  • Example of a concluding sentence: Writing is incredibly beneficial to our daily lives. Without it, we wouldn’t know why the sun is so bright or Martin Luther’s philosophy on changing the world. In today’s world, writing has become more critical than ever. With the proper tools, you, too, can be a fantastic writer. 

There you have it! The full structure of a body paragraph, and several methods of quote integration. If you would like to learn more about the “So What?” paragraph and “How to Pitch an Op-Ed,” read on!

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