Organizing Documents

General to Specific Order

Kate Kiefer, English Department
Composition folks talk about organization as typical patterns of presenting ideas: general to specific, specific to general, spatial, hierarchical (most to least important) and so on. Obviously, these patterns can apply both to paragraphs and to larger units of discourse, including several paragraphs in a chunk, a labeled section of a text, or the text as a whole.

With this type of organization, you can either: 1. make a general statement and support that statement with specific examples or 2. provide the reader with specific information and then make a general conclusion. Deciding on which of these two to use depends on why you are writing and what information your audience requires.

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Introduction