Organization

Understand the role of organization as a mode of reasoning (deductive and inductive). Enhance the logical development of your ideas by focusing on organizational structure—schemas—across whole texts as well as sections of texts, paragraphs, sentences, and words.

Organization, for writers, is


The human mind craves order. We look into the sky and we give names to the stars. Order permeates our perceptions, logical reasoning, and conversations with others.

  1. Organization is a mode of thinking, a tool of logic. To think, we name the world. We engage in logic to identify similarities and differences. We define, categorize and prioritize. We recall information by keeping like items together and keep contrasting items apart. We engage in logic to define the world and identify causes and effects, problems and solutions, recommendations and solutions.
  2. Organization is a mode of communication. Rhetors and audiences share common ways of ordering information for audiences (e.g., organizational schemas, genres, motifs, or archetypes). To communicate, rhetors impose an order on the information they want to share. In order to figure out the best organization for a document, rhetors analyze their rhetorical situation. They question how the audience could best understand the information that is being conveyed. Rhetors often move from given-to-new information. They also list information in order of priority or chronology or logic.

Writers are able to communicate with their audiences because they share organizational schemas (see, e.g., Organizational Schema & Logical Reasoning, Paragraph Schemas, Sentence Schemas) for organizing information. [For more on this, see What is Communication?]

You can

  • enhance the unity, clarity, and persuasiveness of your writing by

When it comes to organizing your thoughts for others, distinguish between two different levels of organization:

  • Organization @ the Global Level
    • The Global Level concerns organizational schemas that govern how an entire document is organized. For instance, the writer’s Thesis or Research Question and desired Rhetorical Stance influences how an entire document is organized.
  • Organization @ the Local Level
    • The Local Level concerns organizational schemas that occur at paragraph, sentence, and word-level. For instance, readers expect a logical flow across sentences and paragraphs

In Writing Studies, it is commonplace to argue that writers are chiefly engaged with Organization @ the Global Level during composing, especially invention. The logic here is that writers first need to develop substantive texts–something worth reading–and this requires rhetorical reasoning.

Later, after the big stuff is done (e.g., the writer has engaged in strategic research, identified pertinent scholarly conversations, conducted primary and secondary research, then it’s strategic to begin examining Organization @ the Local Level.

Additional articles on Organization:

  1. Absent Thesis

    What is a thesis? A thesis consists of one or two sentences that clearly and concisely summarize the main point,...

  2. Announcement Use

    Announcements are like clearing your throat before a big speech. When you use them in writing, you may distract the...

  3. Conclude this Paragraph with Your Voice, Not Your Source’s

    Why is it important to conclude a paragraph with the writer’s voice rather than a quote?* Though quotations from reliable...

  4. Distinguishing between Main Points and Sub-claims

    As you learn in “Critical Reading Practices,” an effective argument contains a thesis, supporting claims, and evidence to support those...

  5. Edit Paragraphs

    First, to edit your texts at the paragraph level, refresh your understanding about paragraph conventions. Check out these articles at...

  6. Formulating a Thesis

      You need a good thesis statement for your essay but are having trouble getting started. You may have heard...

  7. Paragraph Transitions

    Effective paragraph transitions signal to readers how two consecutive paragraphs relate to each other. The transition signals the relationship between...

  8. Paragraphs Are Influenced by the Media of Writing

    As much as any of the above guidelines, you should consider the media and genre where your text will appear....

  9. Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Citing Sources within Paragraphs

    Why is it important to conclude a paragraph with the writer’s voice rather than a quote or paraphrase? Although quotations...

  10. Relate Paragraphs Logically to the Previous Paragraph(s)

    Readers also expect paragraphs to relate to each other as well as to the overall purpose of a text. Establishing...

  11. The Guiding Idea and Argumentative Thesis Statement

    Two Types of Essays Your composition professor has given you an assignment, requiring you to write an essay in which...

  12. The Thesis

    The main idea. The argument of an essay. The thesis. It’s a tricky thing to define “thesis” because theses come...

  13. Topic Sentences

    A topic sentence summarizes the main idea or the purpose of a paragraph. In an essay, topic sentences serve an...

  14. Unity @ the Paragraph Level

    Readers can generally follow the logic of a discussion better when a paragraph is unified by a single purpose. Paragraphs...