There are two basic rules for paragraph breaks:

  1. New speaker = new paragraph
  2. New subject = new paragraph

1. The first one, new speaker = new paragraph is for writing dialog. Here’s an example of a dialog between two characters. Notice how there’s a new paragraph each time a different person begins to speak:

How to teach paragraphing to middle school 6th graders, 7th graders, and 8th graders.

Image: My own Creation
Graphics: iClipart

2. Now here’s an example of the other rule, new subject = new paragraph:

How do you teach paragraph breaks in essay writing?

Image: My Creation
Graphics: iClipart

When you are editing someone’s paper, and you think they need a new paragraph, you should use the paragraph symbol to show them this. See “Proofreading Symbols” for an example of the paragraph symbol.

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