Start by grouping similar pieces of information together. Return to your assignment question. What are you being asked to do? Consider any directive words- see 1.1 Define your topic.

Some ways of organising your writing will be more appropriate than others, depending on your assignment.

Descriptive and persuasive essays

Descriptive and persuasive essays usually require you to convey a single idea or purpose. You need to consider how to best arrange the major themes so that each detail supports one main purpose. Each topic will be different. Look at the major topic and themes. What are the logical and critical points?

For example: Describe the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This task lends itself to following the organisation of the actual document. Closely following the organisation of the actual document will make your information product easier to follow.

For example: Describe the role of windows in a modern high rise building.

This task might suit progression from examination of the window form from the point of view of its various functions: letting in light, providing ventilation, contributing to the psychological wellbeing of the occupants. Within each function, order information from general to specific. 

For example: Describe the rise in power of the Greens in Australian politics.

You might choose to sort your information by point of view.

This pattern of organisation is useful for persuading. Start with the most conventional view, to get your readers on side, and then present the less conventional view points. If information involves a series of events in time, then order it in chronological order. 

Comparing and contrasting tasks

Comparison and contrast presents similarities and/or differences between two or more subjects. Consider what factors will allow you to easily compare the information.

For example: Compare and contrast the management practices of Mitsubishi and Microsoft Corporation.

In this instance, it is logical to compare specific aspects of management practice such as organisational structure and leadership style.

Cause and effect

Cause and effect shows the relationship between a condition and the events or forces that produced that condition.

For example: Explain the extinction of dinosaurs.

With this example it is easiest to sort information into possible causes and their effects. So you first discuss one cause and its effect, then another cause and its effect, and so on.

Problem based tasks

Problem based tasks require you to make a decision or judgment based on facts, information, logic and/or rationalisation.

For example: Why did the Titanic sink?

For this topic, it might help to organise information by human factors, design flaws, materials failures and effects of extreme environments.


Further information

QUT write - writing guides for common academic assignments in QUT cite|write

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