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Writing TipsWRITING TIPS
Ordering Your Ideas

 
  After you have determined the main points of your essay, you will need to choose a way to organize your ideas. The way that your ideas are organized can help your readers understand your material. How you arrange your ideas will help show the relationship between the ideas.

Here are four ways to organize your main points:

  • logical
  • chronological
  • climactic
  • random


Logical Order

Ideas that must be explained in a certain order — for example, one point must be explained before another point — are in logical order. Cause-and-effect essays are often written in logical order as one point must be explained before the next point can be understood.

The points must be told in the correct sequence; otherwise, the readers may be confused.

For example

The steps described in this paragraph must be in logical order, otherwise, it makes no sense.

Insert your ATM card into the machine. Then, punch in your personal identification number. Next, push the button for “withdrawal”. After you have entered the amount of cash you want, push the button for the account that you want to use. Then, collect the cash and take your card and your receipt. Finally, count the money to make sure that the amount is correct.


Chronological Order

Ideas that are presented in order of time, from first to last, are in chronological order, such as the ordering in a process essay. When the sequence of time is important to the topic, chronological order is the best way to organize your points.

For example

In this paragraph the process of a how a hurricane develops. It follows the chronological order of the steps that lead up to the creation of a hurricane.

Hurricanes are high-speed windstorms that start over the ocean and can have winds as fast as 250 kilometres per hour. Hurricanes usually happen over oceans, near the equator. They are formed when warm, wet air is forced upward by heavier, cool air. The air pressure drops quickly from the outer edge towards the centre. This causes the wind speed to rise. The winds move in a circular pattern around the centre, "eye", of the hurricane. In the "eye", the winds stop and the clouds lift, but the ocean below remains violent. The average hurricane covers an area of at least 240 kilometres. When the storm is over land, these winds destroy life and property.


Climactic Order

When you present your most important point last, or at the climax, your essay or paragraph is in climactic order. This type of organization is often found in persuasive, classification, comparison, or contrast writing. With the most important point last, the next most important point leads the essay, and the other points are arranged in the middle part of the essay.

For example

In this paragraph, the “punch line” or climactic point comes at the end.

Is there such a thing as being given too much of what we want? Most people would answer no, that if we want something, and especially if we are paying for it, we should receive as much as possible. However, when it comes to our automobiles, there is one thing that is over-supplied to us by manufacturers: speed. It is so overabundant that it is a danger to us and to others; excessive speeding leads to more traffic accidents and fatalities. Another less tangible but equally serious and harmful result is an increased dependence on oil. One way to get away from these harmful effects would be for the manufacturers to install in every car a governor, a mechanism that regulates the speed of the car. This should be done so as to create a maximum speed for all cars on the road.


Random Order

Ideas that can be presented in any order without affecting the reader’s understanding are in random order. This type of organization is very rare and can only be used when all the main points are of equal value and are not linked together logically or chronologically.

For example

Visiting Victoria is a wonderful experience because you can see both historic buildings and beautiful nature. The city is surrounded on three sides by the Pacific Ocean, so it has many protected harbours, secluded bays, and fascinating beaches. Many postcards from Victoria show the busy Inner Harbour in the centre of town. From the Tourist Office at one end of the harbour you can go down to the walkway and look at the sailboats moored at the wharves. One stairway on the walkway leads to the Empress Hotel, while the other leads to the Parliament Buildings. This combination of interesting architecture and natural beauty makes a visit to Victoria a satisfying experience.