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Writing Center: Structure

A guide to information to help you research and write more effectively.


Now that you have a formulated thesis and outline, it is important to organize that information. An essay needs a clear beginning, middle, and end. Organizing your ideas before you begin writing will give you a structure to cling to. Here are some example structures to follow.

Example Structures

  • Chronological Order- The paragraphs of the essay separate a series of events into main stages in order of how they happen.
  • Classification- The paragraphs divide the material into separate categories and tell the differences of each.
  • Increasing importance- The paragraphs build in intensity, starting with the least important idea and saving the most important idea for last.
  • Cause and effect- The paragraphs are split into pairs. The first paragraph explains the causes while the next paragraph explains the effects of that cause.
  • Comparison and Contrast- The paragraphs compare the differences and the similarities between ideas.

Although one pattern should serve as the main framework that you use throughout your essay, you can benefit from using a combination of strategies. For example, you may use an Increasing Importance structure but may incorporate comparisons and contrasts within the structure to get your point across.