Organizing Documents

Definition of Organization

Steve Reid, English Department
To me, organization is the arrangement of the larger units of meaning in a paper. That's one of the things that's going to be very different from one course to the next. What are the expected patterns of organization? A lab report is very different from a scientific report, is very different from a poem, is very different from a report in the newspaper. All of these have their own patterns of organization, all of which are acceptable in specific disciplines.

Kate Kiefer, English Department
Organization typically refers to the large elements of text structure. Sometimes these elements are formalized in practice, as in the typical lab report, through consistent use of headings. Sometimes elements of organization are only informally acknowledged -like the thesis of an academic paper. Most writers across the university would agree, however, that organization refers to the ordering of ideas.

Organization in writing is how ideas are presented. Typically, organization refers to the larger parts of a piece of writing, although it also refers to how paragraphs and sentences are written. The flow of a piece of writing affects how readers interpret ideas. If the organization does not provide readers with the information they are looking for in an orderly manner, they will quickly lose interest. Unorganized writing makes readers search for the information they need.

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