How to Write a Topic Sentence (With Examples and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 22, 2022 | Published October 18, 2021

Updated November 22, 2022

Published October 18, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Before producing a piece of written content, it's essential to arrange your ideas so that readers understand your main point and supporting points. Developing a topic sentence for your introduction and supporting paragraphs is a critical component of writing any nonfiction piece. Learning how to write a topic sentence can help you be more concise and clear when you're presenting the main and supporting points to your audience.

In this article, we discuss how to write a topic sentence, describe the benefits of using one, share tips for writing effective topic sentences, explore the difference between a topic sentence and a thesis statement, and provide examples you can reference when writing your own.

How to write a topic sentence

A topic sentence is the first sentence in a paragraph that establishes the central concept of the text. It includes sufficient information to allow for many subtopics and examples without being so broad that the writing's aim becomes unclear. Topic sentences help readers by introducing the paragraph's subject and connecting the paragraph's primary concept to the overall body of writing. These essential sentences provide structure and order both to the paragraph and the rest of the article or message. Follow these four steps to create a topic sentence for multiple paragraphs:

1. Identify the key point in your piece of writing

Think about the overall topic of your writing. Decide how you can introduce this idea to your readers with an interesting opening sentence. Ensure that you introduce your opening sentence in a clear and concise manner.

Related: Understanding the 4 Writing Styles (And How to Use Them)

2. Create a topic sentence that connects to your main point with a definition and a purpose

Create a concise topic sentence by outlining the main idea and how that idea relates to your key point. State what the topic is and why it matters. Here's an example of using the definition and purpose structure with the topic of soy milk:

  • Definition: Many people study and enjoy soy milk

  • Purpose: For its beneficial properties

3. Use the sentence you created as an opening statement

You can compose an introductory line for your writing that uses the definition and purpose format to introduce the work's central point. Place this sentence just before your thesis statement to serve as an introduction to both the thesis and the central concept of your paper. The subject sentence can communicate your goal without the reader having to search for it. Keeping it concise can assist you in communicating your message clearly and keeping your readers' full attention.

4. Create the first sentence in each supporting paragraph

Create a sentence that begins each supporting paragraph by presenting the section's new topic and reintroducing readers to the piece's central theme. You can maintain the definition and purpose format as you construct new topic sentences for each paragraph. Ensure that each topic phrase is concise and flows naturally into the following sentence as you write.

Related:

  • How to Write an Effective Abstract

  • 4 Types of Sentences to Use in Your Writing (With Examples)

  • How To Write an Effective Email Introduction

Benefits of writing a topic sentence

Here are some benefits of knowing how to write effective topic sentences, including how it can benefit both you and the reader:

Provide context for the paragraph's content and purpose

Using a topic sentence provides a clear indication to your readers of the ideas you intend to discuss in the paragraph you're introducing. It helps your readers understand the way you want to explain that concept as the paragraph progresses.

The reasoning for this is that an intelligent and busy reader may choose to overlook the opening sentences in order to get to the paragraph's content and context. If you introduce the content properly, you can increase the chance you'll keep their interest. Using this strategy helps you manage your readers' expectations, as they know precisely what they can expect as they continue reading.

Support the thesis statement of your work

A topic sentence helps to support your thesis statement. It introduces new paragraphs that can assist readers in understanding the validity of your thesis statement. It's important for you to ensure that the statement does not reiterate but supports your thesis statement.

Provide an easy transition

Implementing a topic sentence unifies your paragraphs. The sentence directs your readers to subsequent sections that expand on the introduction. These sentences are critical for your writing, because they provide a transition between paragraphs. They direct your readers' attention and concentration to a new subject without unconnected gaps, which keeps your message organized. You can eliminate unnecessary sentences that don't bring unique value and transition more easily between them using the context of the topic sentence.

Related:

  • How to Start an Essay and Engage Your Readers (With Tips)

  • Thesis Statement Examples (Plus How to Write Your Own)

Tips for writing a topic sentence

The following are helpful tips to consider for creating effective topic sentences in your writing:

Use new information

Instead of using an obvious sentence or one with information the reader may already have, create a topic sentence that gives them something interesting to remember. When you write a topic sentence, try to deliver the information in a way that is not just factual. Be creative in your approach so it's memorable.

Example:

  • Obvious statement: Tea is a hot beverage that you steep.

  • Interesting statement: Tea, a hot brewed beverage, is typically steeped to release the full taste and aroma of the leaves that create this drink.

Make your topic sentence complex or compound

Compound and complex sentences enhance the tone of topic sentences. You can create compound sentences by connecting two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction and a comma. Create a complex sentence with a subordinate clause and independent clause that is connected by a comma and a subordinating conjunction.

Example:

  • Compound sentence: The Victorian Era was a time of invention, but [coordinating conjunction] it was also ruled by strict social cues.

  • Complex sentence: When [subordinating conjunction] birds migrate for winter, they follow aerial paths that have been used by their flock for generations.

Try transition words

Words like although, another, and even though act as transitions to begin a new paragraph. You can use these in a topic sentence that starts a support paragraph or in your opening statement topic sentence.

Example:

  • Another way local farms support sustainability is by using conservation methods.

  • Even though hurricane season starts in June, most major hurricanes occur toward the end of August or later.

How is a topic sentence different from a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is a phrase that outlines the essay's repeated focus. A writer often states the thesis statement after the hook and/or topic sentence of the opening paragraph to make a point that is intended to be described throughout the article. By presenting the topic of each supporting paragraph, a topic sentence may be used to support the thesis.

Here's an example:

  • Opening paragraph topic sentence: Many nutritionists study and enjoy soy milk for its beneficial properties.

  • Thesis: Drinking soy milk regularly has positive effects on a person's overall health because of the compounds it contains.

If you were writing a paper based on these examples, you'd use many paragraphs to describe the origins of soy milk and why it's beneficial to your health. Each paragraph's topic phrase can present a topic, such as sources of soy milk or how soy milk reduces the risk of heart disease. Both topics support the concept that soy milk is good and has a positive impact on a person's health.

Related: How to Write a Conclusion (With Examples and Tips)

Examples of topic sentences

Here are examples of topic sentences with a main idea listed to help you understand how the topic sentence supports the focus of a piece of writing:

Example:

  • Main idea: Jean Chrétien was the leader of the Liberal party for 10 years.

  • Topic sentence: Jean Chrétien was an influential prime minister for several reasons.

Example:

  • Main idea: Space agencies are planning a crewed mission to Mars within the next two decades.

  • Topic sentence: Humans can more easily reach Mars by using the moon as a launch base.

Example:

  • Main idea: The ocean is the most unexplored place on earth and should become a priority.

  • Topic sentence: Ocean exploration is essential to learning more about the history of our planet.


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