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How to Organise an Essay

Published by at August 17th, 2021 , Revised On February 14, 2022

The quality of a well written essay largely depends on the quality of content and the author’s writing style. Students with little to no essay writing experience almost always struggle to figure out how to organise an essay.

Even if you have great essay writing skills but are unable to keep the sequence of information right in your essay, you may not impress the readers.

A narrator cannot craft an engaging story until he learns to organise his vivid thoughts. The best way to organise an essay is to create a map of the essay beforehand to ensure that your essay’s structure allows for a smooth flow of information.

Here is all you need to learn in order to organise an essay.

The Importance of Organisation of an Essay

Readers are always looking for an essay that is easy in its approach, i.e. an essay that is reader-friendly and follows an easy-to-understand structure, etc.

Your essay should be organised to convey a clear message to the reader without using any vague statements. As an essayist, it will be your responsibility to make sure that there are no spelling, grammar, capitalization, and punctuation errors in the essay paper.

You might wonder why you need to put the increased effort into the organisation of an essay. If you had the opportunity to work with a professional essayist or any other individual working in English literature, you would get to know that each of these professionals pays a lot of attention to organising an essay because a poorly structured essay can really turn away your readers.

Basic Essay Organisation

The first things to organise are what you are going to say, and in what order you are going to say those things. After this, it is a case of refining those things. You can start by separating all your text into three sections: introduction, main body, and conclusion. Can it really be so simple? Yes, and of course, no. There are several ways to organise an essay depending on different factors.

Different Patterns for Organisation of an Essay

There is no specific way of organising an essay. Multiple styles and methods are utilised by writers based on the academic subject, academic level, and expectations of the audience. Below we have discussed some of the most common ways to organise an essay.

Chronological Organisation

Organising an essay chronologically – sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach – is one of the simpler ways to organise your essay. This way of organisation tends to discuss the events in the specific order they occurred. The chronological organisation method is especially important for narrative and reflective essays.

The writer will be expected to recognise the sequence of events and structure the essay accordingly, i.e. what happens in the beginning, middle, and at the end. Use this approach if it allows for the clearest and most logical presentation of your information.

Where is Chronological Organisation Used?

  • Scientific processes – Where a process has many steps, it is likely that the order of these steps is vital.
  • Historical events – Things are clearer for the reader when events in the past are relayed in the order in which they happened. This can also apply to political progress.
  • Biographies – Events that occurred in someone’s lifetime, or examining events covering just a short time in one person’s life, such as a JFK’s final day.

Specific Language Needed

Essays that describe a succession of events following each other will require good use of prepositions of time. These are words, often pairs, such as next, after this/that, following on from that, later… Be careful not to overuse the same word as this can become repetitive and tedious for the reader.

Spatial Organisation

Spatial organisation refers to describing items based on their physical locations or relation to other items. It often involves describing things as and when they appear. It makes it easier for the writer to give a vivid picture through the essay. This method tends to discuss comparisons, narrations, and descriptions.

When using this technique, make sure to organise the information pertaining to comparisons, narrations, and descriptions from either top to bottom or left to right. Note that while location and position are very important with this method, time is largely ignored.

Where is Spatial Organisation Used?

  • Descriptive essays – It is excellent for describing objects, people, and places. It is also useful for showing social or physical phenomena – the arrangement of a rainforest.
  • Narrating events – You can take the reader through a visual processor to describe events that occurred, showing them everything on the way.
  • Medical – Those who need to describe the workings of bodies, medicines, operations on bodies, and anatomy might choose this approach.
  • Technical construction – You can describe how a physical mechanism or building works or is constructed.

If you do not have a picture to show, you need to describe it.

For instance, if you are writing an essay about a brand-new, impressively featured smartphone, one can begin to brief about the smartphone starting from the top camera down to the buttons located at the bottom.

Specific Language Needed

From the example above, you can see that an essay using spatial organisation will require you to talk about where things are. This will mean quite extensive and careful use of a group of words called prepositions such as next to, attached to, near, behind, under, alongside… If you are describing movement then there are prepositions that indicate movement, such as through, into, out of, toward, away from, and past.

You need to be specific in your use of prepositions as the reader might be imagining events with no image to refer to other than what you have described.

Climactic Order

This method is also known as organising by importance or ascending order. Following this technique, the writer starts the essay with the least important information and gradually moves towards the most important – the climax. The idea is to save the best till last.

The introduction and conclusion are unaffected by this organisational style. The main body of the essay is where the structure is used. This type of organisation is applicable where there is no need for logical ordering. For example, in a scientific process each step logically follows the previous one. Steps will vary in how eventful they are; you cannot write about such a process by saving the most eventful for the end.

When to Use Climactic Order

This method is sometimes used as a way of keeping readers interested, even in suspense. If written in the opposite direction, anticlimactic, you might lose readers after they have learned about the most exciting part.

In narrating a story or sequence of events that culminate in something serious or important, this is a good style to use.

Interested in ordering an essay?

Topical Organisation

As the name itself suggests, this form of organisation explains different features and sides of the topic with no specific order. Unlike climactic order, this type of essay organisation treats different aspects of one topic with the same importance. The way to achieve this is to divide the whole topic up into its subtopics, then define each one.

Where is Topical Organisation Used?

  • Scientific essays – This could be an exploratory essay, especially where an organism or something consisting of multiple parts has to be described.
  • Compare-and-contrast essays – Where things have to be compared against each other for their similarities and differences. This could be when comparing two pieces of art or literature; the works’ various aspects could be examined separately.
  • Descriptive essays – If, for example, you have to write an essay about yourself, you can describe the different aspects of your body and personality in their own sections.
  • Expository essays – Where something is explained with facts, not opinions, the subject can be broken down and looked at piece by piece.

For example, describing how information technology has had serious consequences on mankind can start with how people overlooked the technology in the beginning. It could then discuss the causes of social media addiction that have taken the world by storm in recent times.

Comparing and Contrasting: Alternating and Block Methods

It is worth noting that compare-and-contrast essays can be structured in two distinct ways. They are the alternating method, where each part is compared in turn, and the block method, where each thing is considered in its entirety.

Using the alternating method to compare two cars, you might compare the bodywork of both, then move on to their interiors, then the engines. The other way is the block method; here you would write a full block discussing all aspects of one car, then a block discussing the same aspects of the other car.

Also Read: How to Develop Essay Topic Ideas

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Key Tips for Organising Your Essay

Planning and organising your essay not only benefit the reader, but the writer also gets great help from the whole process. Following organisational patterns helps the writer by saving time without having to go through the same content repeatedly.

If you plan to develop a great essay, you must ensure good planning for your essay. Using the correct format to present your material will complement the material itself. Let’s discuss some key tips on how to organise an essay:

Also Read: Organisational Templates for Essays

Start Your Essay with Simple Arguments

A good tactic in producing an organised essay is to start your essay by providing simple arguments. It does not mean that only simple arguments should be part of the essay. Relatively complex or difficult arguments should also be placed later in the main body of the essay.

If your readers can understand the most basic arguments, they will be more likely to grasp the message resulting from more complicated arguments and statements.

This further relates to the point that if you start your essay with simple information that your readers can agree to without much hesitation, you will be more likely to convince them to agree to more controversial arguments.

Get the Readers on Your Side

As an example, by presenting a simple, well understood scientific argument early on, you start to get your readers on board. You then present another argument that can be seen as a logical progression from the first. When you raise a more complex and possibly contentious argument, it helps if you can apply principles from your initial example. If the readers agreed with the basic argument, logically they would agree with the more complex version.

This early presenting of a simpler argument ties in with giving your audience background information early in the essay. While you might assume your readers understand the subject you are writing about, you should not skip background information by assuming they will know it.

Know Your Audience

In this era of technological advancement, people tend to make quick decisions as they have to look at multiple platforms to find content. Understandably, the essay needs to be well structured and well formalised, yet it should be organised in a way that is user-friendly. If the audience you are going to target is not going to be enticed by it, you need to reconsider your approach and tactics.

Define Technical Terms

While providing information in the essay, make sure that you define all the technical terms that the readers may not be aware of. This needs to be done as the first step before you alienate and confuse your reader and he decides to avert.

It would be best if you drafted your essay in such a manner that a layperson can understand it without making any extra effort. Jargon or technical terms must be defined within the content.

If used excessively, you can describe these terms in a different paragraph, making it more convenient for the readers.

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Essay Organisation Checklist

The structure of an essay is the way in which you present your material. This mostly applies to the main body of your essay. You can consider the introduction and conclusion parts as bookends that hold the main block of information in place. There are several ways to organise the main body, and they mostly depend on what kind of material you are presenting. Certain types of essays benefit from certain ways of delivering the information within. An appropriately structured essay gives your arguments and ideas their best chance. When the correct structure is supported by well-written paragraphs and good use of transitions, it will be an impressive essay to read.

No, the approach you take in organising your essay does not affect how you reference your sources. What affects your referencing is the formatting style you are instructed to use, such as Harvard, APA, MLA, or Chicago.

No, there is no rule that says you have to use a certain style. However, practice shows that the aims of certain types of essays are best achieved when presented in particular styles.

How you define technical terms to your readers is your choice. It can depend on the amount of them. If there are not many, they can be introduced within the text. If the essay topic is of a highly technical nature, then a separate sheet with definitions might be the best way to explain them without extending the length of your essay.

About Grace Graffin

"Grace has a bachelor's and a master's degree from Loughborough University, so she's an expert at writing a flawless essay. She has worked as a professional writer and editor, helping students of at all academic levels to improve their academic writing skills."