8 Tips for Structuring Your Writing

April 29, 2007 by aaron

The structure of writing matters as much as the content because an overly loose structure is just as difficult to read and enjoy as badly written content. The following eight tips will help you to find your own specific writing style while providing a few “best practice” tips. These tips will apply to anything you write be it a blog post or dissertation.

  1. The introduction should be helpful and interesting. The first thing people will see in any type of writing is the introduction, and most people won’t read any further if the first couple sentences don’t interest them. Think about your first sentence this way: you just searched Google for something and this sentence is the first thing you read about a website. Would you click to read more?

  2. The main point, or thesis, should be stated in the introduction or at least clearly implied. This hearkens back to what your teachers told you in school: have a thesis because it makes it easier for the reader to figure out what you are trying to say, and if you are writing anything even close to an essay, it is polite to let people know what your 1000 word post is going to be about. This not only makes your position clearer, but it makes it easier for the reader to decide if they are interested.

  3. Paragraphs should be arranged logically and effectively. Don’t put the cart before the horse…unless you are in Communist Russia, in which case, don’t put the horse before the cart.

    While there is a stylistic argument to presenting a dozen loosely related ideas and connecting them together in a final paragraph, this method does not give the reader a good reason to continue reading unless there is a strong introduction. However, even if this method is used, it must not be used too frequently nor should it be used carelessly because in the right hands this method is attractive and impressive, but it can also make the writer look unintelligent and call into question their ability to write.

  4. The paragraphs should flow together both internally and externally. An easy trick to determine if your paragraphs are connected well is to read only the first and last sentences of all paragraphs in your essay or post: a well-crafted essay will have transitions that flow seamlessly together and the topic and conclusion sentences of each paragraph will be closely related.

  5. Conclusions should conclude what was previously stated. Your conclusion is your opportunity to tie up loose ends and to resolve any dangling thoughts. Rather than treating your conclusion as a high and lofty examination of the topic overall, remember to connect it with what you already said. If it doesn’t make sense starting your conclusion with “In conclusion” then you may need to rework it.

  6. The conclusion should be strong and resolute. Assuming your readers got to the bottom of your post, don’t disappoint them by making the ending wishy washy. Make it firm and make them think. Yes, they read your entire post, but they will remember your conclusion best.

    Some writers habitually leave the conclusion open ended (or worse end with a question) just to solicit comments. However, it is far better to make a strong conclusion that allows for dissenting or even complimentary opinions than taking the easy way out. Most times this method does not work because it leaves the reader dissatisfied.

  7. When writing for the web, use appropriate formatting methods. By using the right HTML tags and styling then correctly, you can make your writing far easier and more attractive to read. It takes a little effort, but if you can, add CSS to your website so you can use tags like

    , and to format your posts attractively. By styling these formatting marks correctly, your readers can quickly determine your main points and the different elements in your writing. It may help to add CSS to your website that will allow you to easily format your posts as you would if writing a formal essay.

    The same goes for writing in the real world. Structuring your writing correctly will make it far more attractive and easy-to-read. It is heavily suggested that you research the various formatting methods (MLA, CMA, APA) and incorporate some of their elements into your writing regardless of whether or not you are required to.

  8. Lists are great on the web, but not on paper. A list should be used when listing things and not when writing a paper. This post makes a perfect list be cause it contains 8 loosely connected ideas. However, in papers and essays never make it sound like it is just a list. (Although, you can get away with it in a paper about Walt Whitman. ((Okay, like three people just got that reference.)))

    A list on a piece of paper is bad, but on the web they are good. You can use lists two ways: to set off separate items as done her or to replace headings. For the latter, it would be better to use actual header tags, but for the former the list structure makes it easier for the average reader to pick out the information and decide if they want to read the explanations.

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