by Kristoffer Warren
Clarity is king for many forms of writing, but this is especially true in business writing. Within the business environment, no one wants to spend an unnecessary amount of time attempting to figure out what you are trying to say. Fortunately, topic sentences work to prevent this struggle. Below you will find several reasons and examples that further explain the power of both basic and quantifying topic sentences.
Basic topic sentence
Topic sentences summarize your entire paragraph within the first sentence of the paragraph itself. They are so powerful that, hypothetically, your reader should be able to read just the topic sentence in order to understand the general point of the paragraph. Here’s an example:
Assume that you are writing a paragraph about the negative effects of employee burnout on both the company and the employee. A strong topic sentence could be:
“Employee burnout can have several negative effects to both the company and the employee, including loss of company money, increased turnover, low-morale, a suffering personal life, and health problems.”
Of course, in your following paragraphs you would go into a greater depth on each of these subjects, but the topic sentence – as a stand-alone entity – serves as a clear and concise summary; that is the source of its strength.
Quantifying topic sentence
A more specific form of topic sentence is the quantifying topic sentence. Quantifying topic sentences put the facts or points of your paragraph into a numerical system. This benefits the reader because it allows them to know exactly how many points you will cover. As they read your paragraph, they can count each point, and therefore they are able to recognize when they have completed your argument or analysis. Let’s move on to an example.
Here is a paragraph without a quantifying topic sentence:
“The Tyrannosaurus-Rex was very large, standing almost twenty feet tall. Not only was it large, but it also had massive teeth. Its teeth were so large that they could pierce through two inches of solid steel. Furthermore, the Tyrannosaurus-Rex’s head was almost the size of a Toyota Prius. Therefore, the Tyrannosaurus-Rex was very scary.”
Now, here is the same paragraph with a quantifying topic sentence, and a few corresponding revisions:
“The Tyrannosaurus-Rex was extremely scary for three reasons. First, it was very large, standing almost twenty feet tall. Second, not only was it large, but it also had massive teeth. Its teeth were so large that they could pierce through two inches of solid steel. Third, the Tyrannosaurus-Rex’s head was almost the size of a Toyota Prius.”
(Note: Not all of these Tyrannosaurus-Rex facts are accurate).
As noted above, topic sentences are a powerful tool when used to bring clarity to business writing.