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Why do paragraphs matter?

Emily L

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You can exact revenge when I use it's when I meant its and when I use they're when I meant their which I find myself doing more often. Ugh.

I'm glad I'm not alone in that! :)
 

Craig234

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I think some might not have understood the point, which is more than 'why are paragraphs nice'. Take a huge paragraph, and think about it, shouldn't you rationally be able to say ok, it's ugly, but you will just stop reading it every so often and pretend there is a paragraph break, then continue, and it shouldn't be that bad, right? Why should it?

Then try it, and see if it isn't a lot worse than that for unclear reasons.

Here's a sample for you.

 

dex4974

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Some grammar rules are flexible and can be broken but one has to understand the rule in order to break it. Knowingly breaking a rule is called style. Breaking a rule one doesn't understand is ignorance. Good writers and readers know the difference. Clues that one doesn't understand rules that shouldn't be broken are poor subject-verb agreement, dangling participles, inconsistent tenses and misspellings for instance.
It's true that I'm very stylish. Sometimes I forget that mortals can't keep up. Being perfect is a burden.
 

Integrityrespec

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When we're reading written text, we're just looking at words in order, at the speed we want.

So what the hell does it matter whether it's broken into paragraphs or not?

Whether you read

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

or Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3

Your eyes read the same letters with the same meaning in the same order. Why does it matter whether there was some space between them?

Yet paragraphs have a huge impact. Not only as a reaction, but even if I'm thinking 'paragraphs shouldn't matter, just read the text as if it had them', long paragraphs are still hard to read.

It doesn't really make any sense why. It's not speech, where the speed a person is talking, the pauses they take, are relevant. Want a break reading a paragraph? Wait a moment before going on to the next sentence. Rationally that should be fine, but it's not.

It's not really that different with other 'white space' or punctuation. If there weren't any periods, it wouldn't change the words; you could stop if you want. But having that period makes it more readable. So Comment 1. Comment 2. Is quite different than Comment 1 comment 2.

So it seems that replicating speech patterns in written text - pause here, take a break there - is more important than makes any sense for it to be. Again you could have the same pauses and breaks if you want without the white space.

Try reading an overly long paragraph, and it's hard to get through. It's as if the whole thing gets jumbled and grows in weight so you can't stand to keep reading it, all because there aren't a few blank lines.

It's strange.
Back in the day I got an A in freshman English comp in college. When I post on here, I just type. Half the time I don't proof if. It's not worth the trouble.
 

Craig234

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I'm surprised how many people saw this thread, it gets more replies than political posts. I don't think I ever saw this sub-forum before today.
 

Fearandloathing

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When we're reading written text, we're just looking at words in order, at the speed we want.

So what the hell does it matter whether it's broken into paragraphs or not?

Whether you read

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

or Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3

Your eyes read the same letters with the same meaning in the same order. Why does it matter whether there was some space between them?

Yet paragraphs have a huge impact. Not only as a reaction, but even if I'm thinking 'paragraphs shouldn't matter, just read the text as if it had them', long paragraphs are still hard to read.

It doesn't really make any sense why. It's not speech, where the speed a person is talking, the pauses they take, are relevant. Want a break reading a paragraph? Wait a moment before going on to the next sentence. Rationally that should be fine, but it's not.

It's not really that different with other 'white space' or punctuation. If there weren't any periods, it wouldn't change the words; you could stop if you want. But having that period makes it more readable. So Comment 1. Comment 2. Is quite different than Comment 1 comment 2.

So it seems that replicating speech patterns in written text - pause here, take a break there - is more important than makes any sense for it to be. Again you could have the same pauses and breaks if you want without the white space.

Try reading an overly long paragraph, and it's hard to get through. It's as if the whole thing gets jumbled and grows in weight so you can't stand to keep reading it, all because there aren't a few blank lines.

It's strange.

As a former practicing journalist I recommend you get a basic essay structure guide. Who, what, when, where, how and why are the science


The intent is to organize a message in for better understanding rather than have random thoughts scattered across the page. The best journalists use short, descriptive paragraphs moving from say, the result of the fire, the saftey of the children and family, how it may have started etc. In my years I've heard a lot of unloading - over excited rookies pissing their pants at seeing actual flames - they tend to report like this "the firemen are up on ladders, with hoses, it broke out around 9, it's not known how it started. And it appears not all the children have been accounted for....which is also called burying the lead. Writing is a science in the same way mirco chip manufacturing is an art
 
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Craig234

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As a former practicing journalist I recommend you get a basic essay structure guide. Who, what, when, where, how and why are the science


The intent is to organize a message in for better understanding rather than have random thoughts scattered across the page. The best journalists use short, descriptive paragraphs moving from say, the result of the fire, the saftey of the children and family, how it may have started etc. In my years I've heard a lot of unloading - over excited rookies pissing their pants at seeing actual flames - they tend to report like this "the firemen are up on ladders, with hoses, it broke out around 9, it's not known how it started. And it appears not all the children have been accounted for....which is also called burying the lead. Writing is a science in the same way mirco chip manufacturing is an art

I think you missed my point. Write the fire story, with and without paragraph breaks. It's the same story, word for word, in the same order. It's not just that the paragraphs are easier to read, it's that how difficult it is to try to read the one without them by manually taking 'breaks' reading it. You're talking about a different topic than the one for the thread.
 

Spirit of The Millennium

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Depending on the difficulty of the text, most of us have to stop and re-read parts of a sentence. Or all of a sentence. If paragraphs are sensibly short, they also allow for skimming or skipping whole paragraphs. Or hopefully, re-reading the whole paragraph that is too difficult.

For instance, if I start blathering about sentence length and visual spacing, you might decide that the whole paragraph isn't worth reading. And you'd be right.

In rhetorical writing, a paragraph marks one complete thought, and we actually suffer less from ill-disciplined attacks on our theses, if we break each thesis up into 'digestible' chunks using paragraphs.

Now I am very disappointed in myself: I just resorted to a culinary analogy. My only excuse is that it's Christmas time and food is on my mind.
 

Craig234

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If you want to test your ability to 'add your own breaks', read post 20 here.

 

Rexedgar

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Paragraphs = 1640545913860.jpeg
 

ecofarm

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It's about grouping elements of a presentation together so as to make the point more accessible. People don't need to try to communicate effectively, but it's generally a good idea.

Seriously, it's not random blank lines. It is, or should be, an organized pre-planned road to a point with breaks after major parts. And a break before the conclusion is good too. And don't forget about transitionary sentences before those breaks.

Basically, the OP is arguing that maps don't need lines.
 

Fearandloathing

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I think you missed my point. Write the fire story, with and without paragraph breaks. It's the same story, word for word, in the same order. It's not just that the paragraphs are easier to read, it's that how difficult it is to try to read the one without them by manually taking 'breaks' reading it. You're talking about a different topic than the one for the thread.


I strongly suggest that would be confusing to say the least. Certainly not pleasurable to see, and impossible to follow. From the beginning of time before words man has communicated in structure; free form may sound good on occasion but fails in its mission to actually pass along information. Again, randomness creeps in, the writer becomes less organized in thought and often incomprehensible. Then again you appear to be seeing the project in a narrow manner, through the lone eye of the communicator. That's a common everyday experience in the world, people who ramble on and on. They think they're being very popular when most of the so-called audience is bored if not offended. The objective is to communicate using the audience view, complete with a monitor of vocabulary insuring that the item remains on track. Often writers start out trying to share a train travel experience but soon lose sight of the objective and instead of hearing about traveling by train, soon ends of reporting from the personal perspective, needing the word "I" too. During my years as a journalist there have been thousands of times a story never got passed the paper wall because the sender didn't understand that. Often a so-called "wall of words" is created - which out of the gate gets rejected by a majority of readers simply because it looks to long. Lack of punctuation, which is what we're dealing with often does prevent any message from getting through. My question to you is why not? Why not follow clearly established guidelines that have become a form of law, having grown out of thousands of years of evolution and practice. For what reason would anyone NOT want to be read AND understood? Unless, of course, the resistor doesn't know or doesn't understand the rules and doesn't want to appear stupid. Years of life have taught me that "appearing stupid" is not something anyone should worry about and certainly not by jeopardizing understanding. And, you want to be read, right? Makes no sense to write something and not give a shit whether anyone reads it. Further, remember that writing is not invented or created by one individual, nor a class. Writing in the English language is a composite of trends, localized expressions, new words and new ideas. They come together in a package of understanding that is evolved, defined to a single level; one one could say would be ultimately democratic,because if you want to be understood you need to know that one linear perspective - truth: media messaging in North America is done at a reading comprehension level of about grade 8. In the end, one need only look at Mr. Make America Great Again, your belligerent past president and how he speaks. No body understands him MOST of the time. Why? Because he speaks the way you prescribe, random, unplanned, vague, illiterate and incomprehensible. I trust this further explains the need for good organization and punctuation. However I realize you are an American and unlikely to accept any explanation that does not mesh with you ideology.

Be well
 

ecofarm

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That's a map with no lines. Can't read it.
 

justabubba

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Back in the day I got an A in freshman English comp in college. When I post on here, I just type. Half the time I don't proof if. It's not worth the trouble.
that's what some of us say upon reading it
 

Mr Person

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No offense, but you are missing the point. And a bit ironically, given you're kind of doing what you're criticizing.

Why am I not surprised that the guy who doesn't understand why people tend not to read a disorganized wall of words arranged in a staccato of two or three-clause outbursts that get their own lines also thinks people are going to listen to him even though his one and only reaction to disagreement is to announce that he is ignoring the person or their post?

:unsure:
 

phoenix2020

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When we're reading written text, we're just looking at words in order, at the speed we want.

So what the hell does it matter whether it's broken into paragraphs or not?

Whether you read

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

or Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3

Your eyes read the same letters with the same meaning in the same order. Why does it matter whether there was some space between them?

Yet paragraphs have a huge impact. Not only as a reaction, but even if I'm thinking 'paragraphs shouldn't matter, just read the text as if it had them', long paragraphs are still hard to read.

It doesn't really make any sense why. It's not speech, where the speed a person is talking, the pauses they take, are relevant. Want a break reading a paragraph? Wait a moment before going on to the next sentence. Rationally that should be fine, but it's not.

It's not really that different with other 'white space' or punctuation. If there weren't any periods, it wouldn't change the words; you could stop if you want. But having that period makes it more readable. So Comment 1. Comment 2. Is quite different than Comment 1 comment 2.

So it seems that replicating speech patterns in written text - pause here, take a break there - is more important than makes any sense for it to be. Again you could have the same pauses and breaks if you want without the white space.

Try reading an overly long paragraph, and it's hard to get through. It's as if the whole thing gets jumbled and grows in weight so you can't stand to keep reading it, all because there aren't a few blank lines.

It's strange.
This is actually a fascinating area full of emergent research - neurobiology of reading comprehension. This article will provide a taste for the kinds of questions being asked but it's a mere starting point. https://neurosciencenews.com/neuroscience-sentence-structure-6450/

There are hypothesis that there is a predictive element to reading comprehension e.g. the brain anticipates what comes next, and its efficiency at doing so is influenced by word choice, sentence structure and even paragraph structure. I think we are in the very early days of eventually developing new languages that are optimized for comprehension depth and speed with neuroscience as their foundation.

Good, interesting topic IMO.
 

Chomsky

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When we're reading written text, we're just looking at words in order, at the speed we want.

So what the hell does it matter whether it's broken into paragraphs or not?

Whether you read

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

or Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3

Your eyes read the same letters with the same meaning in the same order. Why does it matter whether there was some space between them?

Yet paragraphs have a huge impact. Not only as a reaction, but even if I'm thinking 'paragraphs shouldn't matter, just read the text as if it had them', long paragraphs are still hard to read.

It doesn't really make any sense why. It's not speech, where the speed a person is talking, the pauses they take, are relevant. Want a break reading a paragraph? Wait a moment before going on to the next sentence. Rationally that should be fine, but it's not.

It's not really that different with other 'white space' or punctuation. If there weren't any periods, it wouldn't change the words; you could stop if you want. But having that period makes it more readable. So Comment 1. Comment 2. Is quite different than Comment 1 comment 2.

So it seems that replicating speech patterns in written text - pause here, take a break there - is more important than makes any sense for it to be. Again you could have the same pauses and breaks if you want without the white space.

Try reading an overly long paragraph, and it's hard to get through. It's as if the whole thing gets jumbled and grows in weight so you can't stand to keep reading it, all because there aren't a few blank lines.

It's strange.

Bah! humbug!

I missed a great discussion!

Oh well, put me on the side that desires proper paragraphing; sorry to disagree with you, buddy, but I'm in FearAndLoathing's corner on this!
 

Craig234

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Bah! humbug!

I missed a great discussion!

Oh well, put me on the side that desires proper paragraphing; sorry to disagree with you, buddy, but I'm in FearAndLoathing's corner on this!
This wasn't about 'sides'; it was about how it seems everyone prefers paragraphing, but why it's as hard to read without them as it is. Why can't people read a paragraph worth, pause, then read more? Yet it's hard.
 

CLAX1911

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When we're reading written text, we're just looking at words in order, at the speed we want.

So what the hell does it matter whether it's broken into paragraphs or not?

Whether you read

Comment 1

Comment 2

Comment 3

or Comment 1 Comment 2 Comment 3

Your eyes read the same letters with the same meaning in the same order. Why does it matter whether there was some space between them?

Yet paragraphs have a huge impact. Not only as a reaction, but even if I'm thinking 'paragraphs shouldn't matter, just read the text as if it had them', long paragraphs are still hard to read.

It doesn't really make any sense why. It's not speech, where the speed a person is talking, the pauses they take, are relevant. Want a break reading a paragraph? Wait a moment before going on to the next sentence. Rationally that should be fine, but it's not.

It's not really that different with other 'white space' or punctuation. If there weren't any periods, it wouldn't change the words; you could stop if you want. But having that period makes it more readable. So Comment 1. Comment 2. Is quite different than Comment 1 comment 2.

So it seems that replicating speech patterns in written text - pause here, take a break there - is more important than makes any sense for it to be. Again you could have the same pauses and breaks if you want without the white space.

Try reading an overly long paragraph, and it's hard to get through. It's as if the whole thing gets jumbled and grows in weight so you can't stand to keep reading it, all because there aren't a few blank lines.

It's strange.
I would say if you don't like the way someone else posts that don't read their posts.

I personally think that people that are real persnickety about spelling and punctuation are funny. These are the people I like to torment.
 

Spirit of The Millennium

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There are hypothesis that there is a predictive element to reading comprehension e.g. the brain anticipates what comes next, and its efficiency at doing so is influenced by word choice, sentence structure and even paragraph structure. I think we are in the very early days of eventually developing new languages that are optimized for comprehension depth and speed with neuroscience as their foundation.

Or perhaps a new speech form so dedicated to 'dumbing it down' that complex thoughts are unthinkable?
 

Rogue Valley

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I've always found a wall of text to be unappealing.
 
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