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Journalism 101: When to start a new paragraph in newswriting?

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hey it's professor grabowski

and i want to briefly talk about

paragraph breaks

or when you should start a new paragraph

in your news stories

you've probably learned in your writing

classes

that you should start a new paragraph

only when you have a new idea

or a new point but in news writing and

journalism

you want to break that rule if you're

doing a short news story

you might only have one idea or point

but grouping

all 10 or 15 sentences together in one

paragraph

makes it difficult on the reader's eyes

we want readers to read our stories

and to keep reading them all the way

until the end so we want to make

our writing look very reader friendly

and approachable

one way to do that is to have short

paragraphs

short punchy paragraphs are much easier

for readers to scan and absorb

but long paragraphs give the appearance

of a wall of text

that scares readers away so

when you write news stories whether it's

a profile story

breaking news story or some other type

of news story

keep your paragraph short this is doubly

important

now that most journalism is posted

online

studies have found that readers quickly

get turned off by large

chunks of text and stop reading your

story

so how short should your paragraphs be

consider

starting a new paragraph after every two

or three sentences

at a maximum never have more than five

or so sentences in a newspaper paragraph

and

put quotations in their own separate

paragraph

this may require you starting new

paragraphs

when there is not a new point or idea do

it

your story will be much easier to read

let me show you what i mean

take a look at two versions of the same

story on the screen

which of these versions would you rather

read

this first version on the screen you can

see has no paragraph

breaks and just looks like a wall of

text

that doesn't look fun to read does it

it's also harder to keep your bearings

in the story if you temporarily lose

your place

but this next example i am showing you

on the screen has lots of paragraph

breaks

and you can see that it looks a lot

easier to read right

it's more visually appealing so use

frequent paragraph or line breaks when

writing news stories a good rule of

thumb is to have no more than 75 words

in a single paragraph it's also a good

idea to follow this rule when writing

emails people don't like reading

huge walls of text or chunks of text in

an email either

but of course when writing academic

traditional academic papers

stick to the traditional role of having

those longer paragraphs

otherwise your professor may think it

looks weird but as i've said many times

before

in journalism we often do things a

little differently

and short paragraphs are one of those

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