Writing: Structure and Organization

graphic of an outline

The structure and organization of writing is critical to effective communication. There is a standard format that can be followed regardless of the purpose or intended audience (two important elements that were discussed in this post). The following framework will help you successfully convey your thoughts and ideas. You may recognize it as the format your high school English teacher taught you for writing essays. But it works for all types of communications!

All writing should have an introduction, body and conclusion.

  • In today’s world of information overload, the best way to get your ideas across and to have any hope that people will remember what you wrote is to state what you’re going to discuss, provide the material, then summarize what was written.
  • Using different language each time will help you to reach a larger portion of your audience and deepen people’s understanding of what you’re trying to communicate.
  • The introduction and conclusion can be as short as one sentence each.

The introduction must state what your writing is about and prepare readers to receive the knowledge you will provide.

  •  Is there any background data needed in order to understand the overall topic or specific points?
  • Are there terms that should be defined?
  • Start general, ease into more specifics, and end very focused.

Always include a thesis statement or statement of purpose at the end of the introduction or in a separate paragraph immediately following the first paragraph. This can be expressed in one sentence or a whole paragraph. To compose the thesis or purpose statement, answer the following questions.

  • Why are you providing this material?
  • Why is it significant?
  • What will be discussed in the body paragraphs to illuminate and support your objective?
  • How do you expect audience members to use the data?

There should be at least one body paragraph where you expound on the introduction.

  • It will be helpful to your readers if you provide examples, similes or metaphors to relate the intelligence to knowledge they already possess. These types of connections not only engage your audience more, but it makes understanding your perspective easier.
  • To take comprehension and deepen it to belief, provide some type of evidence to prove your statements. A simple fact or anecdote should be sufficient.
  • Keep each body paragraph to one main idea. If you have 3 points to make, you will write 3 paragraphs.

Each paragraph should flow smoothly from one to the next while building upon the information provided in the previous one.

  • One way to accomplish this is to use transition words such as furthermore, in addition, next, although, and consequently.
  • A better method is to tie each paragraph back to your stated purpose. A thesis statement is, after all, both the purpose of your writing and the glue that connects together each point made in the body.
  • Effective passages have an introductory and concluding sentence. Body paragraphs are like miniature versions of the whole. Using transitional words and phrases at the beginning and end of each paragraph ensures an effortless stream of expanding knowledge through your writing.

The conclusion should succinctly summarize what you’ve written.

  • This helps your audience remember all the data in between the introduction and conclusion.
  • Start specific and end very general, the opposite of how you began in the introduction.
  • The thesis statement or statement of purpose should be restated in new language.
  • A useful conclusion will connect the big picture to something your audience already knows, aiding in comprehension and recall.
  • An outstanding conclusion will tell the audience what they should do with the information they just received.

This way of organizing writing will enable you to share your knowledge skillfully with any audience. You can also use this framework for presentations and speeches. Effective communication can take different forms. But, when you resort to speaking, you’ll want to notice what you do with your hands, the expressions that show on your face, how you stand, and how you move your body.  Don’t forget to pause during speeches to give people a chance to make the connections between your points, and be prepared for interruptions. In some ways, it is much easier to write to people than to talk with them!

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