The Write Way

Why It’s Imperative to Stay on Topic

Arrow in bullseyeJust as your body requires strong bones and good circulation for optimum health, technical, business, and scientific writing need a strong internal structure to hold readers’ interest and pull them forward through the piece. Learning how to create this flow is an important writing skill.

Topic sentences, sometimes called focus sentences, are a primary part of any document’s skeletal structure. Good topic sentences make your document readable and easy to follow; in other words, they create flow. Such sentences

In scientific, business, or technical writing, the topic sentence is often the first sentence of each major paragraph. This placement easily catches and keeps the attention of hurried readers navigating complex information. For example, the sentence in bold above functions as the topic sentence of this section.

The University of Ottawa Writing Centre describes topic sentences as making a claim that the paragraph must then prove, or at least relate to or expand upon. This claim might be the premise of the paragraph, a point that you’re explaining, or an action that you want the reader to take. So aside from leading the reader through the document, constructing strong topic statements requires critical thinking and an analysis of your subject and your audience. (Learn more about the importance of critical thinking in the Spotlight article in this issue of The Write Way.)

Need to know more? Hurley Write’s grammar courses can help you get a firm grasp on topic sentences, active voice, and more.

Learning to write persuasive content can be challenging, but it is a learned skill that more than pays for the effort you put into it. Contact Hurley Write toll-free at 877-24-WRITE (877-249-7483) or by email for more information about our business writing training courses.

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