Organizing Documents

General Organization Patterns

Don Zimmerman, Journalism and Technical Communication Department
Each class in school or company you work for will have certain ways of organizing information. The trick is figuring out what are the accepted ways of organizing. These general patterns depend on what kind of report you're writing, a lab report, a progress report, a memo. Students often have trouble seeing the general pattern. A good way to figure out what the general patterns are is to back up and take a look at trade magazines, and other publications in the field you're writing for. Typically, in much writing, a problem is set up and a couple of examples are provided. Once you've figured out the general pattern, take a look at your content, think about your audience and pull it all together. Merely filling in the blanks on an outline won't give you a good idea of an organizational pattern.

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Introduction