A few months ago, I tweeted this:*
Most people are able to use paragraphs very well without any help from me. But occasionally I am confronted with a solid block of words that makes my heart sink a little.
You can think of paragraphs as units of thought. There are no real rules about how long they should be, but one-sentence paragraphs should not be used too often and paragraphs any longer than a page are going to lose you readers. As usual, context will dictate what is appropriate. The best way to approach it is one idea per paragraph. (This doesn’t have to be a huge change of idea – it is usually nuanced.)
It might be helpful to consider the structure for paragraphs in essays. They should typically be structured as follows: introduce idea, elaborate on idea, reach conclusion and/or establish direction for the next paragraph. This can be applied to most other writing situations but its usefulness will depend on style and context (again).
Paragraphs are particularly important for web-based content, and they should be fairly short. Because readers tend to scan text online, gaining and keeping their attention is easier with short paragraphs.
Paragraphs break up the text, making it look less intimidating and more accessible. They make it easier to follow and understand the argument, discussion or narrative. And they will help the writer to focus on and progress through their ideas.
Use paragraphs. They’re great.
The universe Twitter largely ignored me.