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Organizing Your Work

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February 2010
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In the last post, I explained how to develop a paragraph. In this post, I will explain how to organize a paragraph or body of work, such as an essay or article.

You have several methods of organizing a paragraph and content. The method of organization will often depend on the type of prose you are writing. For instance, if you are writing a narrative, you would arrange information in chronological order. If you are writing an essay, you might organize information in topical order. Here are the most common methods of organizing your work:

General to Specific

This is the most common type of organization. You begin with a topical sentence, followed by general information, and conclude with specific details.

Use this method to argue a point, to explain, to write an essay or article.

Chronological Order

You arrange sentences according to their occurrence in time or in the order in which the events took or will take place. You tell your readers what happened in the past, what is happening in the present, followed by what will happen in the future. Be sure to use transitional words, such as “first”, “next”, and “then.” Use time order for exposition or narratives.

Question and Answer

You arrange a paragraph by introducing it with a question in the topical sentence. In the body of the paragraph, you answer the question. Each sentence is intended to answer the question. Use this method when you want to answer a question.

Logical Order

You arrange ideas in the best way or most logical way. Use transitional words, such as “also”, “in fact”, “for example.” Use logical order in expository paragraphs, personal essays, memoirs.

Order of Importance

You arrange your sentence by most important to least important. Or you arrange them from least important to most important. Use this method to organize a personal essay, memoir, or article.

Order of Location

You arrange sentences by location or spatial sequence, such as top to bottom, right to left, or left to right. In each sentence, use a transitional expression, such as “above”, “below”, “underneath”, Use this method to organize a description.

Problem to Solution

You introduce the problem in the topical sentence. You follow it with a solution for the problem. Each sentence that follows the topical sentence is part of the solution. Use this method to provide a solution for a problem.

Topical Order

You arrange information by topic. Each paragraph represents a different topic. When using this method, you will use headings and subheadings.

Use this method to write an article, memoir, personal essay, or any type of writing that requires you to discuss several topics.

The point to remember is that the way in which you organize your work will depend on the type of writing. Also, be aware that you can use several methods of organization.


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