One important aspect that is often overlooked in the writing process is the structure and order that ideas will appear in the paper. Depending on what you will be writing, there are different organizational structures that may strengthen or weaken your writing based on which you select. This page is designed to give an over view of different organization patterns that are explored in depth in other handouts linked below.
So you’ve picked your topic, you’ve brainstormed, you’ve researched, and you’re ready to write. How do you decide how to organize your information into paragraphs? Every paper is going to be different, and every topic will likely have a preferred mode of organization. We have described three main categories: Logical, Chronological, and Hierarchical. Check out the linked pages for more information to select the structure that best fits your writing!
NOTE: While all these structures have examples, not every single organizational structure is covered in depth. We have reviewed some of the more common organization structures in UIS’s academic context, but other structures like classification/division, definition, and description are not expanded upon in detail.
When the points need to be explained in a particular order to logically move from one to the next to make sense, organizing according to that logical progression will lend your paper clarity and credibility. For example, if you have to write a problem/solution essay, it is helpful to first learn about the problem (causes, scope, consequences) before outlining a solution (implementation, feasibility, gains). On the Logical Organization Strategies page, structures like cause and effect, compare and contrast, problem/solution, and process are described further in depth with examples.
Sometimes, you will have a topic that needs to be organized in chronological order. If you’re writing a biography of a person or detailing a historical event or period of time, you likely should write about those things from their earliest point to their latest point in time. However, these events can become confusing especially in narrative writing. In the Chronological Organization Strategies handout, these structures are described with examples to show how to prevent your reader from becoming lost in your writing.
Some topics don’t have a linear, logical, or Point A to Point B organization at hand to use for your paper. In those cases, you can organize your body paragraphs according to value. You can follow this organization style in two ways: low to high or high to low. The Hierarchical Organization Strategies handout demonstrates how these progressions work with sample writing.