I am currently trying to achieve a better organization of my paragraphs. Usually improvements are fairly simple, but I do not know how to deal with one pattern that appears repeatedly. Consider this example:

When all references have been evaluated, the third stage replaces them with their definitions. There are two peculiarities that need to be addressed:

First, the search ...

The second specialty regards, ...

Here, I have two introductory sentences and an enumeration of two properties. Both properties make up good paragraphs on their own, but I wonder if I should break after the introduction (as seen above) or merge it and the first property.

In the former case, both paragraphs clearly stand out and are easy to parse and distinguish, but the introduction is short and does not carry any content on its own. In the second case, the enumeration is somewhat harder to see.

Is there a general consensus on how to deal with such a case?

  • 1
    I don't think there's a general consensus, though in general, short paragraphs are better. Also, though it's not what you asked, the words as well as the paragraphing can be improved: it's not clear that peculiarity and specialty refer to the same thing. I'd be very explicit even at the risk of repeating myself: Two peculiarities need to be addressed here. The first peculiarity is [...]. The second peculiarity is [...]. – Connor Harris Mar 3 '17 at 15:16

The reader can infer that there are two peculiarities by just listing two peculiarities. What you are doing is writing:
"The three items in the list are A, B, and C." instead of just
"The items in the list are A, B, and C."
The reader can clearly see there are three items in the list.

Upon all reference evaluations, the third stage replaces them with definitions. A and B are peculiarities that need to be addressed. (at least one extra sentence is needed to fulfill the need of the minimum number of sentences in a paragraph)

Peculiarity A is addressed by doing ...

Peculiarity B is addressed by doing ...


(1) Standard practice is for paragraphs to have at least three sentences. Maybe just make a comparison of A and B for the third sentence.
(2) In my opinion, a short block of text that ends with with a colon and then a logical enumeration is more a list header than a paragraph. As a writing style, using explicit list headers and list items can be visually distracting. Definitely use standard paragraphs like you are doing. The colon needs to become a period.

  • Occasionally, say once a page, a paragraph of just one sentence adds great importance to what you're saying. No disrespect, I do not use the rule that paragraphs need three sentences. In this case, the writer has finished the paragraph at two sentences, with no more to say. – Yosef Baskin Mar 3 '17 at 20:16

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