fter you have narrowed your topic, used the aids to invention, and formulated a thesis, you should have a clear idea about your subject and how you will approach your essay. Now, it's time to collect information about your subject and prepare a draft. This is when we start to think about organization: how will you present the information you have about your subject?
rganization is important for two reasons. Not only does it help your readers understand the connection between the details of the essay and your thesis, but also organization itself can help you write the essay in the first place. Yes, true. Planning on a method of organizing your essay will help you determine how to write it. A clear thesis will give your essay purpose and direction, but choosing a pattern of organization before you draft will ensure that every part of your essay works to support and develop that thesis. Ideas as we first conceive them may pour out of our minds in a seemingly random fashion, but a reader (who as a different perspective, background, and ideas) needs the formality of organization to help him/her put all of your ideas together into a coherent pattern. So organizing before you write gives your ideas a structure that you can follow as you develop your draft; it allows you to articulate, analyze, and clarify your thoughts. It will also allow your readers to follow the same line of thinking too. What's more, if you plan the structure for your essay before you begin to search for supporting evidence, you will be able to conduct a more effective and directed search. Thus, deciding on a tentative plan of organization before you write can actually help you write the whole essay.
emember too that it's a tentative plan. Organization is a continuous process, and your tentative organizational plan can change and evolve as you refine your thesis statement or gather your research.
s you begin to plan the organization of the body of your essay, think about the methods you will use to organize the evidence that will support your thesis. Often the method of organization for academic writing is given to you in the assignment itself. For example, the essay topic might explicitly tell you to "Compare and contrast the causes of the 100 Years War." or "Define oligarchy, and give an example of one in contemporary geo-political movements." You will want to choose methods which are most suitable to your subject and the type of essay you have been assigned. Here are some principles of organization:
Explains the term (topic) to be defined by situating the term into the class of objects or concepts to which the term belongs and then enumerating all the differentiating characteristics that distinguish it from all all others of its class. Definitions are often extended in academic, business, and technical writing by the use of illustrations, examples, analogies, history, and citations.
- Time (Chronological) Order:
Separates the subject of the essay into major stages presented in natural time order. (See also chronology within paragraphs.)
Divides the material into major categories and distinguishes between the different categories by explaining the writer's logic in choosing his/her categories.
- Order of Increasing (or Decreasing) Importance:
Arranges paragraphs so that the most important supporting evidence comes last, thus building support for the essay's thesis. Writers sometimes choose to present the evidence in a decreasing order of importance, placing the most important supporting evidence first and finishing with the least important supporting evidence. This decreasing order of importance is most appropriate in journalism or business writing, where the writer knows that editors may likely cut paragraphs to fit the available space in the publication or that readers are likely to want just the central ideas and are unlikely to read all the way to the end of the document.
- Cause and effect:
Indicates causal relationships between things and events relevant to the essay's subject. (A note of caution: do not to mistake coincidence with causality when writing a cause-and-effect essay. See the logic in composition page for a discussion of the two post hoc fallacies.)
- Comparison and contrast:
Involves lining up related ideas for a detailed account of similarities and differences. In this kind of essay it is important to decide whether you will be concentrating on similarities or differences. In general, the more similar things are, the more you concentrate on the differences, and vice versa. If you are comparing two works by the same author, or two love poems, for example, what will most interest you will be the differences between them; if you are comparing an Anglo-Saxon riddle with a science fiction novel the differences will be obvious enough that you will want to focus on the similarities.
lthough one of the methods above will most likely serve as your major organizational method, you may choose a combination of these methods for your essay or report. For example, while the essay as a whole might have its evidence arranged in decreasing order of importance, you might still use comparisons, causes, classification, or chronology too within individual paragraphs of the essay's body. These methods of organization apply both to the essay as a whole and to individual paragraphs.
9 Organizational Patterns-Examples & Traits
I. Step One: Harvest the grapes
A. Harvesting procedure number one
B. Harvesting procedure number two
II. Step Two: Prepare the grapes
A. Preparation procedure number one
B. Preparation procedure number two
I. Red Wines
2. Pinot Noir
Increases the ease with which one can understand and remember the information
I. 1895 - 1920
A. Significant Event # 1
B. Significant Event # 2
II. 1920 - 1945
A. Significant Event # 1
B. Significant Event # 2
I. Downtown Waterfront
B. Pike Place Market
II. Seattle Center
A. Space Needle
B. Pacific Science Center
I. Points of Comparison
A. Educational Programs
B. Cost of Tuition
II. Points of Contrast
A. Quality of Education
B. Type of Degree
I. Cost of Tuition
II. Quality of Education
I. Causes of Conflict Escalation
A. Expanding the issues
B. Personal attacks
II. Effects of these causes
A. Lose focus on original issue
B. Cycle of defensive responses
C. Win-Lose orientation
D. Negative emotions
A. Effect: Lose focus on original issues
B. Effect: Cycle of defensive responses
II. Cause: Personal attacks
A. Effect: Negative emotions
B. Effect: Win-Lose orientation
A. Increasing traffic congestion
B. Increasing pollution
C. Increasing "road rage" from traffic- related stress
II. Solution: Riding Bicycles
A. Bike riding reduces the number of motorized vehicles in use
B. Bike riding is not a source of pollution
C. Bike riding has physical and psychological health benefits
Works when no others will
A. Number of educational programs
B. Quality of instruction
It keeps the reader interested.
Emphasizes or builds up to a strong conclusion.
2. Pinot Noir