1. Increasing Order of Importance



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The following examples show you how to use each method of organization for writing an essay, but the basic principles of each method can help your organize your ideas within your paragraphs as well. 

1. Increasing Order of Importance:

This is one of the most basic types of organization, and it is useful for any paper or paragraph in which you are making an argument. Essentially, each of the points you are making support your thesis or topic sentence in some way, and you simply place them in order of importance. Usually it is easy to figure out the order: you begin with your weakest point and build towards your strongest point.



The basic set up for this style of organization looks like this:

First Paragraph: Introduction

  • Introduces topic and states thesis


Second Paragraph: First Supporting Point

  • Discusses weakest of your supporting points

  • Usually fewer examples, less details, etc. available to support this point AND/OR the least persuasive of your points


Third Paragraph: Second Supporting Point

  • Discusses the point that is neither your strongest nor your weakest point

  • Usually pretty well-supported with evidence AND/OR a fairly persuasive point


Fourth Paragraph: Third Supporting Point

  • Discusses your strongest point

  • Usually has a lot of supporting evidence and examples AND/OR the most persuasive of the points you are making in support of your thesis


Fifth Paragraph: Conclusion

  • Summarizes argument

2. Chronological Order:

This type of organization describes an event or process based on the order in which things happen(ed) along a timeline. This type of organization is useful for describing historical events (e.g. the causes of World War II) or explaining the steps of a process (e.g. how to bake a cake).

The basic set up for this type of organization looks like this:

First Paragraph: Introduction


  • Introduces topic and states thesis


Second Paragraph: Describes First Step or Event

  • For an essay on the causes of WWII this paragraph might contain a discussion on the Treaty of Versailles (1919)  and how it angered Germany, leading to war

  • For an essay on baking a cake, this paragraph might discuss preheating your oven and preparing your baking pans.


Third Paragraph: Describes the Second Step or Event

  • WWII essay: A discussion of the Great Depression (1930s) and how it created tensions between nations that lead to war

  • Cake essay: An explanation of assembling and mixing ingredients


Fourth Paragraph: Describes Third Step or Event

  • WWII essay: Describes the invasion of Poland (1939) and how it lead to the official outbreak of WWII

  • Cake essay: Describes how long the cake must bake for and how to know when the cake is done.


Fifth Paragraph: Conclusion

  • Summarizes the steps or events that you have discussed.

3. Comparison and Contrast:

This type of organization is useful when you are comparing two or more related items. There are two different organization formats for comparison essays: block format (best for shorter papers with only a few points of comparison) and point-by-point format (best for longer papers, papers comparing more than two items and papers where the discussion of each point of comparison will be quite detailed).



Whether you choose block format or point-by-point format, it is important to remember to discuss each of your points of comparison in the same order within each paragraph.

The basic structure for a block comparison looks like this:

First Paragraph: Introduction

  • Introduces the two items being compared (in this example, it is two Canadian prime ministers).

  • It should also identify the points of comparison (in this case, their leadership style, major successes and major failures) as part of the thesis


First Group of Body Paragraphs: Discussion of John A. Macdonald

  • Leadership style

  • Major Successes

  • Major Failures


Second Group of Body Paragraphs: Discussion of Wilfred Laurier

  • Leadership style

  • Major Successes

  • Major Failures


Final Paragraph: Conclusion

  • Once the points of comparison have been discussed, the conclusion draws connections between them, highlighting important similarities or differences. In our example, the author might comment on who was the more effective prime minister in the conclusion.


The basic structure for a
point-by-point comparison looks like this:

First Paragraph: Introduction

  • Introduces the two items being compared (in this example, it is two Canadian prime ministers).

  • It should also identify the points of comparison (in this case, their leadership style, major successes and major failures) as part of the thesis


Second Paragraph: Comparison of leadership styles

  • Macdonald

  • Laurier


Third Paragraph: Comparison of major successes

  • Macdonald

  • Laurier


Fourth Paragraph: Comparison of major failures

  • Macdonald

  • Laurier


Fifth Paragraph: Conclusion

  • Once the points of comparison have been discussed, the conclusion draws connections between them, highlighting important similarities or differences. In our example, the author might comment on who was the more effective prime minister in the conclusion.



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