8. Ensuring Paragraph Unity: Check That the Details Are Logically Organized

To help keep your paragraph unified around one central idea, it’s important to present information clearly and in a logical order. Make sure to include a topic sentence with a main idea, which might be (1) your reason for presenting the topic—why you think it’s important or necessary for the readers to know it—or (2) an argument about the topic itself. Writers often organize body paragraphs in easily recognizable patterns that give readers a sense of logical movement and order. Three examples of common patterns of ordering sentences in a paragraph are order of time, order of space, and order of importance. A writer might arrange details chronologically (beginning with the first step or event and ending with the last step or event). This is order of time. If the subject of the paragraph is a physical object, a writer might choose order of space to describe the object from left to right, top to bottom, or inside to outside. If the writer chooses to start with the most critical details and move toward less essential information later, they are using order of importance.
Read the following paragraph. Then answer the questions
Version A

(1) Although the foreclosure crisis has been covered often by the media, many people are still unclear about how the foreclosure process works or how people threatened by foreclosure lose their homes. (2) The first misstep in the process involves the home purchase itself; specifically, buying a home beyond what the buyer can comfortably afford. (3) Some new homes include luxury features, such as granite countertops, hardwood floors, and landscaped gardens. (4) The second misstep involves the loan terms; eager buyers often become trapped by loans with changing interest rates that start out low and increase dramatically a few years later or loans with low monthly payments that require the entire loan amount to be paid as a “balloon payment” at the end of the loan term. (5) The next misstep involves a dramatic change in the homeowner’s financial situation—the homeowner is laid off from work, a family member develops a costly medical condition, or the homeowner gets called to active duty in the military and has not provided for keeping the mortgage payments going. (6) In such circumstances, a smart homeowner can usually seek assistance from lawyers or government and nonprofit agencies that provide advice for individuals facing a financial crisis. (7) However, the fourth misstep that leads to foreclosure is when homeowners postpone seeking assistance until their legal rights have passed, or they walk away from their homes without being able to keep any of their investment. (8) The personal financial crisis of the homeowner moves into the public legal system. (9) The creditor (the agency from which the homeowner borrowed money) demands immediate payment of the entire balance (which is impossible for the homeowner) and then files a lawsuit in a court located near the property. (10) If the homeowner does not file an answer to the creditor’s lawsuit, then the court rewards the creditor with the property. (11) These four missteps that lead to foreclosure explain the often confusing process of how a buyer loses a home. (12) The home, now officially foreclosed, is sold under court supervision.
Source: “Steps That Advocates Can Take to Help Prevent Foreclosure.” National Consumer Law Center, May 2014, www.nclc.org/images/pdf/older_consumers/cc_steps_that_advocates_can_take_to_help_older_homeowners_prevent_foreclosure_may_2014.pdf.

What is the topic sentence of this paragraph?

Which of the following is also a suitable topic sentence for this paragraph? (Hint: Pick the sentence that best captures the main idea of the paragraph.)

Is this paragraph logically organized?

Which sentence does not clearly relate to and support the topic sentence?

How is the passage organized?

What is the purpose of this passage?

Which phases appear in the paragraph? Check all that apply.

Version B

(1) Establishing credit might feel overwhelming, but anyone can accomplish this goal by following a series of steps. (2) First, research why establishing credit is important. (3) Ask your family members or friends how their credit ratings have made an impact on everything from their interest rates on an auto or home loan, to getting a good job, to signing a lease on an apartment. (4) Now that you understand why credit is important, the second step is to open a savings account and a checking account in your name. (5) Your ability to withdraw, deposit, transfer, and save money shows you have financial responsibility, which is reflected in your credit report. (6) After establishing your bank accounts, the third step is to apply for a credit card. (7) Some department stores have coupons that allow you to save 20% on that day’s purchases if you get one of their credit cards. (8) The final step is to use your credit cards and bank accounts wisely. (9) You will establish good credit only if you make your credit card payments on time and don’t bounce checks. (10) If you do so, you will be on your way to having many great financial opportunities in the future.
Source: “Establishing or Rebuilding Credit.” National Foundation for Credit Counseling, www.nfcc.org/consumer-tools/consumer-tips/establishing-or-rebuilding-credit/. Accessed 30 May 2016.

Version C

(1) Many people pay high interest rates on car loans simply because they are unaware of the easy steps to refinance. (2) First, collect and organize your car documents. (3) You’ll need a copy of your current car loan; the age, make, and model of your vehicle; and the vehicle identification number (VIN). (4) The VIN can be found on the dashboard or in the registration paperwork. (5) Before the VIN was introduced, each manufacturer had a different system for numbering its cars. (6) Next, call your lender for the payoff amount and find out how long until the quote expires (usually five to ten days). (7) Then check your credit to make sure your new lender will receive the most accurate and up-to-date version of your credit report. (8) The fourth step is to shop for the best refinance loan offer and accept a new offer at a lower interest rate. (9) The fifth and final step is to make sure the original car lender has issued a notice stating that the loan was repaid in full. (10) By following these simple steps, a car owner can save hundreds of dollars each year.
Source: “How to Refinance a Car Loan.” ehow, www.ehow.com/how_2082486_refinance-car-loan.html. Accessed 6 July 2016.

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