Creating Topic Sentences

An illustration depicting the Crusades.
An illustration depicting the Crusades. Source: http://deum-quaerens.blogspot.com.au

Once you have sorted all of your quotes according to the sub-questions they answer, you are ready to create your Topic Sentences.

 

What is a 'Topic Sentence'?


A topic sentence is a single sentence which appears as the first sentence of a body paragraph that states the main argument of that paragraph.

 

A good Topic Sentence answers one of your sub-questions.

Steps in creating a Topic Sentence


After you have sorted all of your quotes according to the sub-questions they answer, you can start answering each sub-questions.

 

Your answer to each of your sub-questions will become your Topic Sentences.

 

Step 1: 

Read your first sub-question again, in order to remind yourself what the question was asking.

 

Step 2:

Read all of the quotes that you said helped answer sub-question1.

 

Step 3:

Using the information from those quotes, write a single sentence answer to the question. This single-sentence answer will then become your first Topic Sentence.

 

Step 4:

Repeat the process above for the other two sub-questions until you have a Topic Sentence for each of your sub-questions.

 

For example:


 

Sub-question 1: 

What caused medieval castles to fall into disuse? 

Quotes from Step 4 that help answer sub-question 3:

Castles became obsolete with the invention and improvement of gunpowder-based artillery (Hull, 2004, 33)

"Castles took years to build and, when new canon technology could destroy a fortification in a matter of days, they were no longer feasible" (Alchin, 2017, n.p.)

The development of modern artillery meant that attackers could destroy castles from a distance, which removed any advantage that defenders gained from their stone walls (Norris, 2007, 249)

Your answer to this sub-question (will become Topic Sentence 1):

Castles fell into disuse as a result of the development of gunpowder artillery because the new technology took away the advantages the defenders had enjoyed. 

 

What makes a great Topic Sentence?


To test to see whether you have good Topic Sentences, go through the following checklist:

 

1. Does the Topic Sentence directly answer the sub-question?

Read the sub-question again and then the Topic Sentence. If the Topic Sentence directly answers the question, it is a good Topic Sentence.

 

2. Does the Topic Sentence provide specific details to answer the question.

A good Topic Sentence gives specific information that helps answer the question. The is usually preceded by words such as "because", "due to", or "as a result of".

 

"Castles fell into disuse as a result of the development of gunpowder artillery because the new technology took away the advantages the defenders had enjoyed."

What's next?


Once you have a Topic Sentence for each sub-question, you are ready to create your hypothesis.


Need a digital Research Journal?

History Skills Online has a ready-to-use Research Journal that follows these 9 steps and provides links back to the website to help you at each stage of your research. You can grab it here.


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