Most Common Book or Essay Organization Patterns

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To improve your ability to understand a difficult book or passage, you might start by finding the organization pattern. This may sound more difficult than it is. There are a few ways that writers can choose to organize their work, and the organization depends very much on the topic.

If you were writing a description of your bedroom, for example, you would most likely use a spatial organization pattern. In other words, you would most likely start by describing one "space" and move on to another space, and keep going until you've covered the entire room.

Spatial organization would be a suitable type of pattern for real estate professionals to use when describing a property. 

Then again, if you were required to describe the events that led up to a certain event in history, your most likely organization pattern would be chronological. Chronological refers to the order that things happen in time. You might describe the legislation that set the stage for a particular event, followed by the public response to that legislation, and followed again by social conditions that changed because of the previous events.

So, one of the first things you should do when trying to understand a difficult text is to figure out the particular organization pattern. This helps you frame the entire work in your brain or on paper, as when you're writing an outline.

Chronological Organization

A chronological organization is used by writers when they want to describe what happened or happens in a particular order. Your entire history book is most likely written in a chronological patter. Some of the types of work that might follow this patter include the following. You can see that this type of organization is best when describing things that happen over time.

  • History chapters
  • Biographies
  • Summer vacation essays
  • Legal case studies

Logical Organization

A logical organization might be used in many ways. Logical organization refers to works that express a point or position using evidence.

Functional Organization

A functional organization system is used to explain how or why things work. The following types of writing might use this organization pattern most effectively.

  • How-to essays
  • Step-by-step essays
  • Instruction manuals 
  • Recipes

Spatial Organization

Spatial organization is used in essays that describe or give direction concerning a physical location.

  • Directions
  • Descriptions
  • Layouts
  • Anatomy essay
  • Descriptions in fiction

The purpose of developing and understanding organization patters is to help our brains set the stage and know what to expect. These patterns help us to build a framework in our minds and place information in the correct "places" on that framework. Once you determine the overall organization of any text, you'll be better equipped to process information as you read.

When writing your essays and chapters, you should keep your intended organizational pattern in mind as you work, to provide your readers with a clear message that is easily processed.

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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Most Common Book or Essay Organization Patterns." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Fleming, Grace. (2020, August 28). Most Common Book or Essay Organization Patterns. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "Most Common Book or Essay Organization Patterns." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 29, 2022).