One Lead Sentence Goes a Long Way.

Posted: November 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: The Argument or Analysis, Transitions | No Comments »

A lead sentence that summarizes your argument serves as the transition not only to that argument. It can serve as the transition to later paragraphs, as well. If the reader already knows where your argument is going, you need not waste time on careful transitions between paragraphs later on.

Consider Justice Breyer’s transitions to his section discussing the interest in stake in school desegregation cases in Parents Involved in Community Schools, 551 U. S. 701 (2007). There, Justice Breyer used his opening sentence to summarize the three major elements behind that interest and then addressed each element individually. In this passage, his opening sentence establishes the bridge for transitions to later paragraphs. Here is how he begins four successive paragraphs:

“Regardless of its name, however, the interest at stake possesses three essential elements.”

First, there is a historical and remedial element: an interest in setting right the consequences of prior conditions of segregation.”

Second, there is an educational element: an interest in overcoming the adverse educational effects produced by and associated with highly segregated schools.”

“Third, there is a democratic element: an interest in producing an educational environment that reflects the ‘pluralistic society’ in which our children will live.”

551 U.S. at 838–840 (emphasis added).

One lead sentence goes a long, long way . . . .


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