Once you have developed a thesis statement, you are prepared
to organize your paper. There are several methods of arranging
the information in your paper:
- Chronological order refers to time. Narratives
and personal experiences are best explained by telling a
story in a step by step fashion. Even complex subjects,
such as how AIDS developed or how the Soviet Union collapsed,
are best understood when explained as a historical process.
Chronological order can make use of flashbacks and flashforwards.
To keep readers from being confused, it is important to
use paragraph breaks and transitional statements to signal
shifts in time.
- Spatial arrangement organizes ideas by
their physical relationships. You can discuss information
about crime by region, by types of offenses, by the nature
of the offenders or victims.
- Deductive order moves from a general
statement to specific details. An essay on the dangers of
smoking might open with a thesis statement followed by supporting
- Inductive order opens with specific examples
and concludes with a general statement. An essay might describe
several family sitcoms then conclude with a general observation
on how parents are depicted on television.
- Arrangement by degree of importance organizes
ideas in order of ascending or descending significance.
An essay presenting five reasons for exercising might begin
with the most important, preventing heart disease, and end
with the least significant, heightened self-esteem. By opening
with the most important idea, the paper has a compelling
beginning. Someone who reads only the first page will get
your most important ideas. But if you wish your paper to
have momentum and build to a dramatic ending, begin with
your least important idea and conclude with the most important.
Do not place the most important ideas in your paper
in the middle where readers' attention is the weakest.
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Sundance Reader, Third Edition, Web Site by Mark