Pros know that chunking related text in their documents makes it easier for readers to get their message. Writers have been using visual signals to create textual chunks since the ancient Greeks. The photo is a page from Ælfric’s Grammar, written in the second half of the 11th century, with large initials and both Latin and Anglo-Saxon script. I found it at a British Library site dealing with medieval and earlier manuscripts (Royal 15 B xxii, f. 2).
If you have an interest in paragraphs, you might also check out The History of the English Paragraph, for which Edwin Herbert Lewis earned the PhD in arts, literature and science from the University of Chicago in 1894. In 1911, he published a book titled, Business English, based on his experience teaching professional writing. I’ll say more about that later.
If your interests are more practical, here is a short tutorial on paragraph unity to help amateurs become pro writers.
- Amateurs think paragraphs are for babies (proswrite.com)
Thanks so much for these videos! I’ve started using them with my scientific writing students this semester, and they always get good feedback.
Thanks for letting me know, Jessie. I welcome feedback and suggestions!
This is a wonderful resource. It concisely and clearly explains concepts that my first year students have so much trouble with when writing their essays…yes, I said “essays”. The principle applies as much to paragraphs within essays as in business docs. Thanks so much, again.
Thanks for your kind words, Celina. Paragraph structure is perhaps the only concept of effective writing that applies equally with workplace and academic genres.