Writing Process

Text: types of essays and suggested structures, introduction.

The structural organization of an essay will vary, depending on the type of writing task you’ve been assigned. Below are outline templates for specific types of writing projects.  Keep in mind these are just a starting point: there is always room for variation and creativity in how a subject is most effectively presented to a reader.

Analytical essay

This is perhaps the most common structure. Examples of this include questions which ask you to discuss , analyze , investigate , explore, or review . In an analytical structure you are required to break the topic into its different components and discuss these in separate paragraphs or sections, demonstrating balance where possible.

  • Background information on topic
  • Overall point of view of the topic (thesis)
  • Overview of components to be discussed (structure)
  • Topic sentence outlining first component
  • Sentences giving explanations and providing evidence to support topic sentence
  • Concluding sentence – link to next paragraph
  • Topic sentence outlining second component
  • Sentences giving explanations and providing evidence to back topic sentence
  • These follow the same structure for as many components as you need to outline
  • Summary of the main points of the body
  • Restatement of the main point of view
  • Justification/evaluation (if required by task)

Argumentative essay

Examples of this type of essay include questions which ask you to take a position on a topic, such as a particular decision or policy, and present arguments which support your position. An effective way to argue a point can be to present the opposing view first then counter this view with stronger evidence.

  • Statement of your position on the topic (thesis)
  • Overview of arguments to be presented (structure)
  • Topic sentence outlining first argument
  • Topic sentence outlining second argument
  • These follow the same structure for as many arguments as you wish to put forward in support of the topic.
  • Restatement of the position

Interpretive essay

Examples of this type of essay include assignments where you are given data such as a case study or scenario, a diagram, graphical information, or a picture and expected to interpret this information to demonstrate your application of knowledge when answering the task. Based on this data, you may be asked to do a range of things such as provide recommendations or solutions, develop a nursing care plan, a teaching plan, suggest legal advice, or plan a marketing strategy.

  • Brief background information on topic
  • Overview of issues to be addressed in the essay (structure)
  • State overall interpretation (thesis)
  • Topic sentence outlining first issue identified from the data
  • Sentences giving further explanation and providing evidence from both the literature and the data, e.g. the case study to support the topic sentence (it is very important in this types of essays to make reference to the data you have been supplied to give your essay context).
  • Topic sentence outlining second issue identified
  • These follow the same structure for as many issues as you wish to discuss from the data you have been supplied.
  • Statement of overall interpretation
  • Summary of the main issues from the data supplied
  • Make recommendations or suggest solutions to address the issues arising from the data supplied.

Comparative essay

Examples of this type of essay include compare , compare and contrast , or differentiate questions. In this structure the similarities and/or differences between two or more items (for example, theories or models) are discussed paragraph by paragraph. Your assignment task may require you to make a recommendation about the suitability of the items you are comparing.

  • Outline of two (or more) things being compared or contrasted
  • Purpose for making the comparison / contrast
  • Overview of the specific points to be compared / contrasted
  • Topic sentence outlining first similarity or difference
  • Topic sentence outlining second similarity or different
  • These follow the same structure for as many items or aspects as you need to compare/contrast
  • Restatement of the main purpose for the comparison / contrast
  • Summary of the main similarities and differences
  • Recommendation about suitability of compared items for purpose (if requirement of assessment task)
  • Overall conclusion

Problem and solution essay

These essay questions often require you to structure your answer in several parts. An example may be to ask you to investigate a problem and explore a range of solutions. You may also be asked to choose the best solution and justify your selection, so allow space for this in your essay if needed.

  • Background information about the problem
  • Description of the problem and why it is serious
  • Overview of the solutions to be outlined
  • Topic sentence outlining first solution
  • Explanation of the positive and negative aspects of the solution
  • Evidence to support explanations 
  • Concluding sentence
  • Topic sentence outlining second solution
  • Evidence to support explanation
  • These follow the same structure for as many solutions as you need to discuss
  • Summary of the problem and overview of the solutions
  • Evaluation of solutions and recommendation of best option

Note : Depending on the topic, body paragraphs in a problem and solution essay could be devoted to discussing the problem in more detail, as well as the solution. It’s up to the writer to assess the needs of the project, in order to decide how much time is spent on each part.

Cause and effect essay

Examples of this type of essay include questions which ask you to state or investigate the effects or outline the causes of the topic. This may be, for example, an historical event, the implementation of a policy, a medical condition, or a natural disaster. These essays may be structured in one of two ways: either the causes(s) of a situation may be discussed first followed by the effect(s), or the effect(s) could come first with the discussion working back to outline the cause(s). Sometimes with cause and effect essays you are required to give an assessment of the overall effects, such as on a community, a workplace, an individual. Space must be allocated for this assessment in your structure if needed.

  • Background information on situation under discussion
  • Description of the situation
  • Overview of the causes or effects to be outlined
  • Topic sentence outlining first cause or effect
  • Sentences giving explanations and providing evidence to support the topic sentence
  • Concluding sentence – linking to next paragraph
  • Topic sentence outlining second cause or effect
  • These follow the same structure for as many causes or effects as you need to outline
  • Conclusion, prediction or recommendation

Finally, consider that some essay assignments may ask you to combine approaches, especially in more advanced classes. At that point, you may have to vary your body paragraph strategy from section to section.

This chart gives an idea of what different roles paragraphs can play in a mixed-structure essay assignment.

Flow Chart. Central idea: Choosing Paragraph Patterns. Radiating from top right: Narration - introduction, to tell a story that makes a point, to give background on people or event, to show sequence of events. Process - to show steps of action, to explain how to do something. Example/Illustration - to clarify a point or concept, to give a picture or specific instance, to make the abstract real. Analogy - to compare scenarios, to compare to a settled outcome, to compare one event to another very different one. Definition - to clarify meaning, to set foundation of argument, to give background. Comparison/contrast - to draw distinction between items, to find common ground. Description - to give details, to create a picture. Cause/effect - to lead from one item to another, to argue logic of evidence of action. Classification/Division - to put items in categories, to clarify comparison of items in a category, to divide items by characteristics.

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The Structure of Academic Texts

Structure is an important feature of academic writing. A well-structured text enables the reader to follow the argument and navigate the text. In academic writing a clear structure and a logical flow are imperative to a cohesive text. Furthermore, in many university assignments the correct use of structure is part of the final assessment.

Most academic texts follow established structures. This page describes some common structures in academic writing: the three-part essay structure and the IMRaD structure. Structure should be considered on all levels of text so you will also find information on structuring paragraphs.

Common structures

The structure of your writing depends on the type of assignment, but two common structures used in academic writing are the three-part essay structure and the IMRaD structure. Even shorter essays that are not divided into titled sections follow such a structure. Longer texts may be further divided into subsections. Different disciplines or departments may prefer that students use a certain structure, so make sure to check with your instructor if you are not sure what is expected of you.

The three-part essay structure

The three-part essay structure is a basic structure that consists of introduction, body and conclusion. The introduction and the conclusion should be shorter than the body of the text. For shorter essays, one or two paragraphs for each of these sections can be appropriate. For longer texts or theses, they may be several pages long.

See example essay

More on the three-part essay structure


Your introduction should include the following points (be aware that not all points may be relevant for your project):

  • Introduce your topic
  • Place your topic in a context
  • Provide background information
  • Point out the aim of the text
  • Describe how you will fulfill the aim
  • Provide a thesis statement or research question
  • Suggest what your findings are
  • Explain why your topic is interesting, necessary or important
  • Give the reader a guide to the text
  • Catch your reader’s interest

The statements you make in the introduction are to be developed in the body of the text and returned to in the conclusion.

You may write the introduction at the beginning or at the end of the writing process. If you write it early in the process it can serve as a guide to your own writing, but be aware that you most likely will have to go back to it and edit it as the writing progresses. 

More advice about introductions

This is the main section of your text and it should also be the longest. Depending on the length of the text, the body may be divided into subsections. If your text is divided into subsections, remember to briefly introduce each section. For longer works you may also need to conclude sections.

The body of the text is where you as a writer and researcher are the most active. It is the most substantial part of the text; this is where the research or findings are presented, discussed and analyzed. This is also where you present your arguments that support your thesis or answer your question. The structure and contents of this main part may differ depending on your discipline.

In the conclusion you should return to the thesis or problem that you presented in the introduction. But be careful to not merely repeat what you wrote in the introduction; instead, show your reader how what you have written sheds new light on the problem presented at the beginning. For longer works a brief summary of your findings may be in place, but this should not be necessary for shorter texts. Be careful that your conclusion is not just a repetition of what you have already written. In your conclusion, you may also evaluate and explain whether or not you have reached the aim or solved the problem presented in the introduction, and how. No new material should be introduced in the conclusion, but it is quite common to suggest topics for further studies.

More tips and examples of conclusions

The IMRaD structure

The sections of the IMRaD structure are Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion. Watch this short film about the IMRaD structure:

More on the IMRaD structure

See the description of the introduction in the above section about the three-part essay structure.

In this section you describe how you have conducted your study. This is where you present your material and your research as well as any previous research and background material. You describe what method or methods you have used and how you have come up with your results. You may also explain why you have chosen a particular method.

Read here for more tips on how to write the method section . However, you should be aware that there can be differences between disciplines in the contents and structure of this section.

In this section you report the results of your research. Usually the results are not discussed or analyzed in this section but you may have to explain some of your findings to avoid misunderstandings.

The discussion is the section where you as a writer are the most active and it should be the most substantial section of the entire paper. You should interpret, analyze and discuss your results as well as compare and contrast them to previous research.

Sometimes papers that use the IMRaD structure will have a separate conclusion and sometimes the conclusion will be merged with the discussion. Be sure to check with your instructor what is expected of you.

More tips on how to write a discussion

Other parts of academic papers

Apart from the parts that are treated in the above sections about the three-part structure and the IMRaD structure, academic papers also consist of other often quite formalized parts.

The title should catch the reader’s attention and interest and also indicate what to expect of the paper.

Many academic titles consist of two parts where the first part catches the reader’s attention and the second part is explanatory. Look at the titles of other academic papers and articles within your discipline for inspiration on how to construct titles.

Most often you are required to use a certain format or template for your title page. Make sure to check the instructions or ask your course teacher to find out what is expected of you.

Tips, inspiration and some examples

An abstract summarizes the main contents of your thesis and should give the reader a well-defined idea of what the thesis is about. Readers often use the abstract to determine whether or not the text is relevant for them to read.

It is recommended that you read abstracts that are written within your own discipline to learn what is expected of you, since what is included in an abstract may differ in each field of study.  Make sure that your abstract has the length that is required in the assignment and keep in mind that shorter assignments do not usually require an abstract.

Learn more about writing abstracts

Table of contents

Longer works usually have a table of contents. You will most likely be expected to use a certain format according to the template you are using. Otherwise most word processors will have formatting tools you can use to create a table of contents. Make sure to structure your table of contents in a way that makes the relationship between sections and subsections apparent to the reader.

Reference list

The reference list is placed after the text. Any appendices should however be placed after the reference list. The list should include all sources you have used in your work. How to construct the list and how to cite sources differ between disciplines and reference systems.

More information about referencing

A paragraph is a collection of sentences that deal with one topic or idea. When a new paragraph begins it signals to the reader that the focus shifts to a new idea or thought. At the same time, all paragraphs should connect to the main topic.

Topic sentence and supporting sentences

Paragraphs consist of sentences. Each paragraph should have a topic sentence that presents the main point or theme of the paragraph. This sentence is most often near the beginning of the paragraph. All other sentences in the paragraph are supporting sentences that connect back to the topic sentence. These sentences develop the idea that is expressed in the topic sentence. This development may for example be a deeper analysis, a contrast or an illustrative example. The last sentence of the paragraph is the concluding sentence or transitional sentence. It sums up the contents of the paragraph and leads the reader to the following paragraph. It is important to transition smoothly from one paragraph to the next. Otherwise the impression will be that the paragraphs are piled onto each other rather than constitute one coherent text.

The length of each paragraph depends on its contents. This means that the length of paragraphs may vary. That is, you should not begin a new paragraph simply because you feel that now it is long enough. However, if a paragraph is very short it could be an indication that something needs to be developed. If it is very long it could be an indication that it contains more than one central idea.

Further information about paragraphs

When you use language that guides the reader through the text it is called signposting. Read more about signposting

Paragraph development

Paragraphs can be structured in different ways. The internal structure of each paragraph often depends on the idea that is treated in that specific paragraph and its relationship to the surrounding paragraphs as well as to the text as a whole.

Your topic and the purpose of the paragraph should determine its organization. For example, if your purpose is to illustrate the differences between two theories, your topic sentence should tell the reader that you are about to contrast two theories. You may then describe first one theory, then the other, and finally contrast the two.

More on paragraph development and examples of different kinds of paragraphs

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How to Write a Text Response Essay: Structure & Tips 

It is essential for you to know how to write a text response essay that demonstrates your ability to express their opinions and ideas concisely. In text response essays are also  a great skill for you to learn to take with you into the work force and to further develop at university. 

What is a text response essay?

A text response essay is a style of writing where you share your reaction to something. It’s an opportunity to share your opinion with the world! 

A text response essay is specifically a response to a book that you read, but it can also be a response to a film that you watched, or a video game you played.

In order to get an A in English when writing a response, it is important that your essay gets the following points across to your audience: How you feel about what you read/saw/heard, what you agree or disagree with, can you identify with/relate to the situation? And the best way to evaluate the story. 

essays text structure

How do you structure a Text Response Essay?

When writing a text response essay, you start by introducing the text you will be responding to. Then in your body paragraphs you want to tell your audience how you feel about the text you are responding to, if you agree with it or disagree, how you may or may not identify with the text and how you evaluate it. Then in the conclusion , you restate your main point and sum up the main points. 

How to Write a Text Response Introduction

To begin with, you will set up the context. This will include the type of text you are responding to (is it a book? A play? A collection of poetry?), basic historical context (time, subject matter). 

Next explicitly outline your opinion. This must be clearly addressed in all aspects of the topic you are given. It also needs to demonstrate that you can think independently and uniquely. Finally, briefly introduce the topics you will be covering in your body paragraphs. 

Overall, try to keep your introduction to 3 to 4 sentences to keep your introduction clear and to the point, so your audience doesn’t lose interest. 

How to Write a Text Response Body Paragraph

When writing the body of your text response essay you should include 3 to 5 paragraphs. This allows you to be able to discuss your topics and your text in as much detail as possible. When writing your body paragraphs, it could be helpful to remember the acronym ‘TEEL’

T opic Sentence – Each paragraph should begin with this sentence; it serves as an introduction to your argument. It should engage with the topic you’ve been asked to discuss

E xpand/example – After you have introduced your main point, you are going to expand on this and provide examples from the text you are responding to. 

E vidence – At this point you will be using your text to support your examples, essentially to prove what you have interpreted from the text.

L inking Sentence – At the end of each of your body paragraphs you should be linking back to your central theme/topic of your essay. 

Here is an example of a text response body paragraph: 

Early in the novel, London makes reference to Norm White, the resident groundskeeper of The Golden Age Convalescent Home . [Topic Sentence] Norm White hands Frank Gold a cigarette, ‘as if to say a man has the right to smoke in peace’. Here, there is a complete disregard for rule and convention, an idea that London emphasises throughout the text. This feature provides a counter-cultural experience for Frank, pushing him to realise that he is a strong human being rather than a mere victim. [Expand/Example] This is a clear contrast to the “babyishness” of the home and is used as evidence of true humanity in an era where society judged upon the unconventional. Frank yearns for a traditional Australian life after his trauma in Hungary; ‘his own memory…lodged like an attic in the front part of his brain’. Hedwiga and Julia Marai’s caring of him pushed him towards fear and reluctance to trust, yet also pressured him to seek acceptance in a world that ostracises him for his Jewish heritage and polio diagnosis. This here is why Frank desires a mature, adult connection – love that regards him as an equal human being. Frank seeks Elsa’s love and company as she too loathes being reduced to a victim, an object of pity. Frank thereafter uses humour to joke of his wounds; ‘we Jews have to be on the lookout’. Elsa sees ‘a look in his eyes that she recognised’, thus their bond enables both characters to heal. [Evidence] London alludes that Frank requires love and recognition not from the perspective of a sorrowful onlooker, rather he longs to be recognised as a mature adult . [Linking Sentence] 

How to Write a Text Response Essay Conclusion

Your conclusion should be short and sweet! You just need to restate and summarise the points you made in your body paragraphs! Remember to not add any new information to your conclusion. Sometimes as you are summing everything up, you can come across another point that you really want to talk about – and that is amazing! If this happens to you, make a new body paragraph! And then you can talk about it in your conclusion. It can also sometimes be unavoidable for your conclusion to sound very similar to your introduction and be a bit repetitive – this is ok! Just be sure to use different words from what you used in your introduction. 

Text Response Essay Writing Tips

When writing text responses essays, you should:

  • Always write in the present tense. 
  • Express complex ideas in several short sentences instead of long, this is more likely to control the reader’s interest.
  • Express simple ideas in longer, complex sentences. 
  • Tie everything back to the question. When preparing to write the essay the question asked should be dissected and at the forefront of your mind. 
  • Do not be afraid to make bold statements! 
  • Remember to consider how you feel about what you saw/read/heard, and to ask yourself if you agree or disagree with it! 

If you find yourself stuck, our English Tutors are here to help! 

Want to Excel in Your Text Response Essay Writing?

Using resources that are available to you are your greatest ally when it comes to writing your text response essay! There are great resources online such as YouTube Videos explaining how to get started and blog posts.

You also have access to your teacher and peers! Do not be afraid to ask your teacher for help – you are not going to get in trouble or made fun of for not knowing where to start. In fact, your teacher would be very excited to help you! It is why they are there after all! You can also utilise your peers! Set up a small study group with your friends and classmates! You can also get yourself a private tutor if you feel like you could use some extra help.

Need a helping hand writing a text response essay? A Team Tuition is here to help. With our tried and true tutoring methods , we can help you write impressive essays with our at-home and online tutoring. Find a tutor near you today!

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How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates

Published on September 18, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

The basic structure of an essay always consists of an introduction , a body , and a conclusion . But for many students, the most difficult part of structuring an essay is deciding how to organize information within the body.

Table of contents

The basics of essay structure, chronological structure, compare-and-contrast structure, problems-methods-solutions structure, signposting to clarify your structure, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about essay structure.

There are two main things to keep in mind when working on your essay structure: making sure to include the right information in each part, and deciding how you’ll organize the information within the body.

Parts of an essay

The three parts that make up all essays are described in the table below.

Order of information

You’ll also have to consider how to present information within the body. There are a few general principles that can guide you here.

The first is that your argument should move from the simplest claim to the most complex . The body of a good argumentative essay often begins with simple and widely accepted claims, and then moves towards more complex and contentious ones.

For example, you might begin by describing a generally accepted philosophical concept, and then apply it to a new topic. The grounding in the general concept will allow the reader to understand your unique application of it.

The second principle is that background information should appear towards the beginning of your essay . General background is presented in the introduction. If you have additional background to present, this information will usually come at the start of the body.

The third principle is that everything in your essay should be relevant to the thesis . Ask yourself whether each piece of information advances your argument or provides necessary background. And make sure that the text clearly expresses each piece of information’s relevance.

The sections below present several organizational templates for essays: the chronological approach, the compare-and-contrast approach, and the problems-methods-solutions approach.

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essays text structure

The chronological approach (sometimes called the cause-and-effect approach) is probably the simplest way to structure an essay. It just means discussing events in the order in which they occurred, discussing how they are related (i.e. the cause and effect involved) as you go.

A chronological approach can be useful when your essay is about a series of events. Don’t rule out other approaches, though—even when the chronological approach is the obvious one, you might be able to bring out more with a different structure.

Explore the tabs below to see a general template and a specific example outline from an essay on the invention of the printing press.

  • Thesis statement
  • Discussion of event/period
  • Consequences
  • Importance of topic
  • Strong closing statement
  • Claim that the printing press marks the end of the Middle Ages
  • Background on the low levels of literacy before the printing press
  • Thesis statement: The invention of the printing press increased circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation
  • High levels of illiteracy in medieval Europe
  • Literacy and thus knowledge and education were mainly the domain of religious and political elites
  • Consequence: this discouraged political and religious change
  • Invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg
  • Implications of the new technology for book production
  • Consequence: Rapid spread of the technology and the printing of the Gutenberg Bible
  • Trend for translating the Bible into vernacular languages during the years following the printing press’s invention
  • Luther’s own translation of the Bible during the Reformation
  • Consequence: The large-scale effects the Reformation would have on religion and politics
  • Summarize the history described
  • Stress the significance of the printing press to the events of this period

Essays with two or more main subjects are often structured around comparing and contrasting . For example, a literary analysis essay might compare two different texts, and an argumentative essay might compare the strengths of different arguments.

There are two main ways of structuring a compare-and-contrast essay: the alternating method, and the block method.


In the alternating method, each paragraph compares your subjects in terms of a specific point of comparison. These points of comparison are therefore what defines each paragraph.

The tabs below show a general template for this structure, and a specific example for an essay comparing and contrasting distance learning with traditional classroom learning.

  • Synthesis of arguments
  • Topical relevance of distance learning in lockdown
  • Increasing prevalence of distance learning over the last decade
  • Thesis statement: While distance learning has certain advantages, it introduces multiple new accessibility issues that must be addressed for it to be as effective as classroom learning
  • Classroom learning: Ease of identifying difficulties and privately discussing them
  • Distance learning: Difficulty of noticing and unobtrusively helping
  • Classroom learning: Difficulties accessing the classroom (disability, distance travelled from home)
  • Distance learning: Difficulties with online work (lack of tech literacy, unreliable connection, distractions)
  • Classroom learning: Tends to encourage personal engagement among students and with teacher, more relaxed social environment
  • Distance learning: Greater ability to reach out to teacher privately
  • Sum up, emphasize that distance learning introduces more difficulties than it solves
  • Stress the importance of addressing issues with distance learning as it becomes increasingly common
  • Distance learning may prove to be the future, but it still has a long way to go

In the block method, each subject is covered all in one go, potentially across multiple paragraphs. For example, you might write two paragraphs about your first subject and then two about your second subject, making comparisons back to the first.

The tabs again show a general template, followed by another essay on distance learning, this time with the body structured in blocks.

  • Point 1 (compare)
  • Point 2 (compare)
  • Point 3 (compare)
  • Point 4 (compare)
  • Advantages: Flexibility, accessibility
  • Disadvantages: Discomfort, challenges for those with poor internet or tech literacy
  • Advantages: Potential for teacher to discuss issues with a student in a separate private call
  • Disadvantages: Difficulty of identifying struggling students and aiding them unobtrusively, lack of personal interaction among students
  • Advantages: More accessible to those with low tech literacy, equality of all sharing one learning environment
  • Disadvantages: Students must live close enough to attend, commutes may vary, classrooms not always accessible for disabled students
  • Advantages: Ease of picking up on signs a student is struggling, more personal interaction among students
  • Disadvantages: May be harder for students to approach teacher privately in person to raise issues

An essay that concerns a specific problem (practical or theoretical) may be structured according to the problems-methods-solutions approach.

This is just what it sounds like: You define the problem, characterize a method or theory that may solve it, and finally analyze the problem, using this method or theory to arrive at a solution. If the problem is theoretical, the solution might be the analysis you present in the essay itself; otherwise, you might just present a proposed solution.

The tabs below show a template for this structure and an example outline for an essay about the problem of fake news.

  • Introduce the problem
  • Provide background
  • Describe your approach to solving it
  • Define the problem precisely
  • Describe why it’s important
  • Indicate previous approaches to the problem
  • Present your new approach, and why it’s better
  • Apply the new method or theory to the problem
  • Indicate the solution you arrive at by doing so
  • Assess (potential or actual) effectiveness of solution
  • Describe the implications
  • Problem: The growth of “fake news” online
  • Prevalence of polarized/conspiracy-focused news sources online
  • Thesis statement: Rather than attempting to stamp out online fake news through social media moderation, an effective approach to combating it must work with educational institutions to improve media literacy
  • Definition: Deliberate disinformation designed to spread virally online
  • Popularization of the term, growth of the phenomenon
  • Previous approaches: Labeling and moderation on social media platforms
  • Critique: This approach feeds conspiracies; the real solution is to improve media literacy so users can better identify fake news
  • Greater emphasis should be placed on media literacy education in schools
  • This allows people to assess news sources independently, rather than just being told which ones to trust
  • This is a long-term solution but could be highly effective
  • It would require significant organization and investment, but would equip people to judge news sources more effectively
  • Rather than trying to contain the spread of fake news, we must teach the next generation not to fall for it

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Signposting means guiding the reader through your essay with language that describes or hints at the structure of what follows.  It can help you clarify your structure for yourself as well as helping your reader follow your ideas.

The essay overview

In longer essays whose body is split into multiple named sections, the introduction often ends with an overview of the rest of the essay. This gives a brief description of the main idea or argument of each section.

The overview allows the reader to immediately understand what will be covered in the essay and in what order. Though it describes what  comes later in the text, it is generally written in the present tense . The following example is from a literary analysis essay on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .


Transition words and phrases are used throughout all good essays to link together different ideas. They help guide the reader through your text, and an essay that uses them effectively will be much easier to follow.

Various different relationships can be expressed by transition words, as shown in this example.

Because Hitler failed to respond to the British ultimatum, France and the UK declared war on Germany. Although it was an outcome the Allies had hoped to avoid, they were prepared to back up their ultimatum in order to combat the existential threat posed by the Third Reich.

Transition sentences may be included to transition between different paragraphs or sections of an essay. A good transition sentence moves the reader on to the next topic while indicating how it relates to the previous one.

… Distance learning, then, seems to improve accessibility in some ways while representing a step backwards in others.

However , considering the issue of personal interaction among students presents a different picture.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.

The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.

An essay isn’t just a loose collection of facts and ideas. Instead, it should be centered on an overarching argument (summarized in your thesis statement ) that every part of the essay relates to.

The way you structure your essay is crucial to presenting your argument coherently. A well-structured essay helps your reader follow the logic of your ideas and understand your overall point.

Comparisons in essays are generally structured in one of two ways:

  • The alternating method, where you compare your subjects side by side according to one specific aspect at a time.
  • The block method, where you cover each subject separately in its entirety.

It’s also possible to combine both methods, for example by writing a full paragraph on each of your topics and then a final paragraph contrasting the two according to a specific metric.

You should try to follow your outline as you write your essay . However, if your ideas change or it becomes clear that your structure could be better, it’s okay to depart from your essay outline . Just make sure you know why you’re doing so.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2023, July 23). How to Structure an Essay | Tips & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/academic-essay/essay-structure/

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Just like books can be divided into chapters, essays and articles are often divided into sections . Within each section, the text can be further divided into subsections, and each such section or subsection will be divided into paragraphs.

Whereas the introductory section of a text presents what will be discussed later on, the body sections develop the ideas that were initially set out. Writers following the IMRaD structure will divide their texts into sections; after the introduction follow sections on method, results and a discussion section. The writer of a three-part essay has more freedom in choosing headings and structuring the body part of the text. Although three-part essays do not always have section headings, adding such headings will help readers orientate themselves in longer essays. 

Structuring the section

Although most texts go through some kind of restructuring during the writing process, it is wise to aim at a logical and coherent structure from the start. To work with clearly recognisable parts of the text makes it easier to restructure the text if necessary.

Working with subheadings

One way of signposting the structure while writing is to insert tentative subheadings as soon as a new topic or turn of reasoning begins. Such subheadings will help you see the structure of your developing text and they will also help you identify the pros and cons of the structure you have chosen.

Depending on instructions from supervisors or publishers, section headings and subheadings you have inserted may have to be removed in the finished text. If this is the case, they can be transformed into suitable topic sentences or transitional phrases that will help your reader navigate in your text and transition from one section to another. Read more here:

Division into paragraphs

Generally speaking, there should be one idea per paragraph. This means that when you move on to talk about something new, you should start a new paragraph. However, how often you start a new paragraph also depends on the type of text you are writing. Some genres accept very long paragraphs, while others expect them to be fairly short. The writer's personal preferences and writing style may be of relevance here, although it is of course essential to follow disciplinary conventions and stipulated guidelines.

There are two ways of indicating the start of a new paragraph. Either you leave a blank line between paragraphs, or you indent the first line of a new paragraph. If you are student writing a paper, check instructions or ask your teacher for a recommended format. Remember that you divide your text into paragraphs using one of the methods explained above - you should not combine them.

Check your word processor settings for the kind of paragraph division you want. If you want extra spacing between paragraphs, set the paragraph spacing accordingly; if not, set it to zero. If you wish to indent the first line of each paragraph, use your word processor's settings to do so. Do not use the space bar for indentation.

multicultural high school students in class discussing text

Reading and Writing Strategies

Text Structure

Text structure refers to how the information within a written text is organized. This strategy helps students understand that a text might present a main idea and details; a cause and then its effects; and/or different views of a topic. Teaching students to recognize common text structures can help students monitor their comprehension . 

Teachers can use this strategy with the whole class, small groups, or individually. Students learn to identify and analyze text structures which helps students navigate the various structures presented within nonfiction and fiction text. As a follow up, having students write paragraphs that follow common text structures helps students recognize these text structures when they are reading.

Create and Use the Strategy

To create the text structure strategy teachers should:.

  • Choose the assigned reading and introduce the text to the students. 
  • Introduce the idea that texts have organizational patters called text structures.
  • Introduce the following common text structures (see the chart below for more detailed information):
  • description 
  • problem and solution 
  • cause and effect
  • compare and contrast

4.  Introduce and model using a graphic organizer to chart the text structure. 

To use the text structure strategy teachers should:

  • Show examples of paragraphs that correspond to each text structure.
  • Examine topic sentences that clue the reader to a specific structure. 
  • Model the writing of a paragraph that uses a specific text structure.
  • Have students try write paragraphs that follow a specific text structure. 
  • Have students diagram these structures using a graphic organizer. 

Dickson, S. V., Simmons, D. C., & Kameenui, E. J. (1995).  Text organization and its relation to reading comprehension: A synthesis of research.  Eugene, OR: National Center to Improve the Tools of Educators. Retrieved March 26, 2008, from  https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED386864

Dymock, S. (2005). Teaching Expository Text Structure Awareness.  The Reading Teacher, 59 (2), 177-181. 

Simonsen, S. (1996). Identifying and Teaching Text Structures in Content Area Classrooms. In D. Lapp, J. Flood, & N. Farnan (Eds.),  Content Area reading and Learning: Instructional Strategies  (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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This is a photo of a house made out of books. There is a roof and walls. The center is open. A young woman smiling face is in the middle of the structure.

Common Core State Standards Related to Text Structure

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.5 – Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

ELA Standards: Informational Texts

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.5 – Describe the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in a text or part of a text. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.5.5 – Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.5 – Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.7.5 – Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.8.5 – Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept. CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.11-12.5 – Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.


Vilma arely.

very interesting and helpful. My students will appreciate this notes and the activities. Sometimes we just focus to teach them grammar and structures or to speak but we leave aside the aspects of puntuation which is very important.

This websites incredible, thanks so much!

This is very useful. Thank you. In your experience, what age should students be expected to study Text Structure?

In my experience, students begin learning text structure around kindergarten with concepts like “problem and solution” in relation to stories. Text structure is a skill that follows students from the lowest to the highest levels. Eventually, we hope that they can apply text structures to their own writings.

Tite Habarugira

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Damascene Mwambutsa

Thanks for this fantastic material. It is very important.

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Chantal nyirafuraha

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Marisa Abian

Very useful materials. Thank you very much.


This such an awesome website thank you.

sup thanks for the website

Moises Souza

Hi there, That’s a great website and superb job! Thanks a lot for providing all this.

I just would like to confirm the answers of the quiz about text structure. Some answers don’t really match. Am I doing something wrong?

Why question 6 is chronological? it seems clearly a case of cause/effect.

Thanks for your attention!

Thank you for reporting this error. The key has been updated.

skyler davis

Germaine aggingiton.

This website is beautiful

This is so helpful to my reading homework thanks so much!

Kritarsh Kumar Negi XVIII

The dodo bird never roamed in america, I think you might be referring to the passenger pigeon

You are right. Thank you.

the dodo bird lived in the madagascar and near the indian ocean NOT IN AMERICA

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essays text structure

8 Types of Text Structures Every Critical Reader Needs to Know

Types of Text Structures

  • peachyessay
  • January 6, 2023
  • Blogs , Essay Writing Guideline , General

Every word in this sentence has a distinct meaning. The words interact with one another to convey the sentence’s overall meaning. The sentence then connects with the ones around it to make a more significant point. The meaning of this paragraph would change if different words were used or the words and sentences were arranged differently.

Text structure refers to how words and phrases are organized and relate to one another on a written page. Understanding the significance of text structure, the various types of text structures, and how to conduct a text structure analysis aids readers in deciphering meaning.

What is Text Structure?

Text Structures are the organizational structures used within paragraphs or longer texts that are genre and purpose appropriate. The text structures are sequence/process, description, time order/chronology, proposition/support, compare/contrast, problem/solution, cause/effect, inductive/deductive, and investigation.

Over the last two decades, research in literacy learning has found that: a) understanding various text structures and their purposes improves students’ ability to comprehend what they read, and b) some text structures are more easily learned and understood than others. If you’re looking to write an essay and need assistance with text structure, consider exploring essay writers for hire who can provide valuable insights and support tailored to your needs.

The Value of Text Structure

Understanding and examining text structure is essential for analyzing multimodal texts.

The text structure is significant because it assists linguists in understanding one of the many ways meaning is conveyed in a text. The organization of various elements in authors’ written works can significantly impact how readers understand them. As a result, it is critical to consider how a text is laid out and how linguistic modes interact.

Description Text Structure Examples

The following sentences demonstrate the concreteness, evocativeness, and plausibility of good descriptive writing.

She strolled through the woods.

This sentence describes what the person is doing—walking through the forest—but says nothing else about what is happening in the scene. Take the following sentence and add adjectives and adverbs to make it more descriptive:

She took her time walking through the lush green forest.

The adverb slowly tells us how she walked, and the adjectives lush and green describe the forest. This sentence is far more descriptive than the first and paints a clear picture of what the author wishes to convey.

Descriptive text can be used in more abstract ways as well. You can express what is happening vividly with your words if you show rather than tell what you want to convey. Here’s an example that isn’t particularly descriptive:

The elf was depressed.

We know what the elf was thinking but not why or how the elf expressed its sadness. To illustrate the same scene, let’s add some descriptive text.

When the elf saw its flower garden flooded by the storm, tears streamed down its cheeks.

Here, we not only learn that the elf was crying, but we also see a clear image of the elf’s face with the phrase dripping down its cheeks. This is far more evocative than simply stating that the elf was crying. We also know why the elf was crying and what the surrounding scene looks like. This is an excellent example of a descriptive sentence that paints a vivid picture of what is happening rather than simply telling the reader. The more information you provide about what is going on, your text will be descriptive.

  • Her last smile was not a sunset. It was the last eclipse, noon fading into the darkness where there would be no dawn.
  • My Uber driver sounded like talk radio on repeat and looked like a deflating airbag.
  • The old man was hunched into a capital C, his head so far forward that his beard almost touched his knobby knees.
  • The painting was a field of blue flowers and yellows on deep green stems that seemed to invite the viewer to join in the fun.
  • My dog’s fur felt like silk against my skin, and her black coloring shone like a pure, dark mirror, absorbing sunlight and reflecting it.
  • The sunset lit the sky with a deep red flame, igniting the clouds.
  • The waves rolled along the shore in a graceful, gentle rhythm as if dancing with the land.
  • Winter hit like a welterweight that year, a jabbing cold that you thought you could handle until the wind blew up and knocked you out.

Types of Text Structure

There are various ways in which the texts are constructed; it is the method by which the authors capture their ideas, the primary material with which they are constructed.

The type of text determines how the reader interacts with the text, including aspects such as the mental representation of what is read. It also determines how much it stimulates their imagination, emotions, or sensations, how the text can be used, how the person identifies with it, and other discursive order-related aspects.

This allows us to determine whether the text intends to entertain, inform, or convince. For example, if the writer wants to describe how some events occurred, he or she uses narration; if the writer wants to persuade someone about something, argumentation is the appropriate type to use. It is important to remember that each order has characteristics that must be followed to achieve the writer’s goal.

8 Text Structure Types Every Critical Reader Should Understand

The five most common nonfiction text structures are as follows:


Many nonfiction books for elementary school students contain descriptive text structures. The main topic of a paragraph or article is described in descriptive texts. Authors use descriptive text rather than other text structures to teach the reader about a specific topic.

Identifying a descriptive text structure:

  • A topic sentence is a sentence that introduces a central theme or topic.
  • Sentences describing the central theme or topic
  • Descriptive words are those that help the reader visualize the subject.
  • The author’s goal is to educate the reader on a specific topic. 
  • Nature and animal books frequently contain descriptive text. 

The author is describing facts about a particular subject. They provide information so the reader can visualize and learn from the text.

Order and Sequence 

Another famous structure in children’s nonfiction literature is order and sequence. The text in Order and Sequence is written in chronological order. Authors use order and sequence to quickly convey the order of events when narrating a true story or process.

You can identify “order and sequence” structures by observing the following:

  • Events or instructions that occur sequentially
  • A topic sentence that initiates a series of events
  • A final sentence that summarizes the final event
  • Words like “at first,” “finally,” “first,” “second,” and “third.”

The author’s goal is to describe a process or a true story. As a result, biographies and how-to books frequently use order and sequence text structures. Authors of biographies typically write about a person’s life from birth to death (or present day), including each event in the order that it occurred in their life.

The Cause and Effect

Cause and effect is the most flexible nonfiction text structure. A cause-and-effect structure employs the “If… Then…” pattern. If ABC occurs, then XYZ will occur. The author intends to explain a primary event and the events that follow it in cause and effect.

You can identify “cause and effect” structures by observing:

  • A major event
  • Additional events that occurred as a result of the main event
  • Words like “because,” “because of,” and “as a result of”
  • Cause and effect text structures can be found in various nonfiction writing styles. Biographies? Yes. How-Tos? Yes. What about historical nonfiction? Yes. What is scientific nonfiction? Yes. What is persuasive writing? Yes!

Some students may be perplexed by the Cause and Effect text structures. The number and significance of the main event’s “effects” vary. You could have one event that triggers three or four others, or you could have only one.

Compare and Contrast

One of the most common text structures is compared and contrast. Compare, and Contrast is a technique authors use to highlight the similarities and differences between two (or more) subjects.

Compare and contrast by observing:

  • A topic sentence that contrasts two subjects or topics
  • Sentences that alternate between describing two distinct subjects
  • Keywords like “likewise,” “in contrast,” and “both.”

Compare and Contrast various books, particularly informational books about animals or literary writing.

Problem and Solution

Authors use “Problem & Solution” to describe problems and potential solutions.

Identify problem and solution structures by observing:

  • A problem-initiating topic sentence
  • Sentences that suggest possible solutions are provided below.
  • Words like “problem,” “solution,” “therefore,” “so,” and “then.”

We are constantly exposed to “problem and solution” text structures as adults. It is a typical persuasive writing structure. 

Problem and solution texts for children are more challenging to come by. I frequently look for texts about the environment and communities in which the author emphasizes local or global issues. 

Authors frequently explain the issue at hand (problem) and how people attempt to solve those issues in those texts (solution).

Novels in Graphic Form

Graphic novels are prime examples of multimodal print texts. They include images of the events described in the text below in boxes. As a result, they include linguistic, visual, and spatial modes. The interaction of the storyline, images, and characters’ speech alters the reader’s understanding of the graphic novel’s meaning.

Podcasting Sites

A podcast website is an example of a digital multimodal text that includes linguistic, visual, and aural components. Typically, readers can listen to a podcast recording and then read a transcript or summary. Images on the website frequently add to the meaning of the discourse.


This is a text that is written in chronological order. Identify this structure by looking for a clear beginning, middle, and end in a specific timeline. Almost all fiction is written in chronological order.

Gone with the Wind is a fictional text about the Civil War that uses chronological order . The novel tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern belle who lives in the South before the war, during the war, and for several years afterward. The plot follows a set timeline with a distinct beginning, middle, and end.

Look for ways the author might manipulate the timeline to achieve a specific effect on the reader when analyzing this type of text structure. Flashbacks or stories within stories can be used to reveal important details at a specific point in time. For example, an author writing a tragedy may only reveal a critical detail at the end of a novel that dooms the main character to emphasize emotional impact. When reading a text chronologically, be aware of these time manipulations.

The author of descriptive writing does not simply tell the reader what was seen, felt, tasted, smelled, or heard. Instead, the author describes something from their own experience and makes it seem real through careful word choice and phrasing. Descriptive writing is colorful, vivid, and detailed.

Excellent Descriptive Writing

Good descriptive writing leaves the reader with an impression of an event, a place, a person, or a thing. The writing will be such that it will set a mood or describe something in such detail that the reader would recognize it if they saw it. Descriptive writing must be concrete, evocative, and plausible to be effective.

  • To be concrete, descriptive writing must provide specifics that the reader can visualize. Instead of “her eyes were the color of blue rocks” (Light blue? What color is it? Marble? Instead of “her eyes sparkled like sapphires in the dark,” try “her eyes sparkled like sapphires in the dark.”
  • To be evocative, descriptive writing must combine concrete imagery with phrasing that conveys the impression the writer wishes the reader to have. Consider the difference between saying, “her eyes shone like sapphires, warming my night,” and saying, “the woman’s eyes had a light like sapphires, bright and hard.” Each phrase begins with the same concrete image and then employs evocative language to create a variety of impressions.
  • To make the concrete, evocative image plausible, the descriptive writer must limit it to the reader’s knowledge and attention span. “Her eyes were brighter than the sapphires in Tipu Sultan’s golden throne’s armrests, yet sharper than the tulwars of his cruelest executioners,” will have the reader checking their phone halfway through. In a fraction of the reading time, “her eyes were sapphires, bright and hard” achieves the same effect. When in doubt, write less, as is always the case in the writing craft.

What Distinguishes the Text Structure?

The sunset filled the sky with a deep red flame, setting the clouds ablaze.

Text structures are incorporated into all state language arts standards (e.g., Common Core State Standards — CCSS, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills — TEKS). They are frequently mentioned directly in standards for teaching expository text comprehension.

They are indirectly related to narrative text standards in which children are required to think deeply about a text and engage in higher-order thinking — for example, why did the character behave that way? (This implies a cause-and-effect relationship). Students are asked to compare and contrast the problems and solutions in different texts.

Based on the inclusion of text structures in state standards, almost all textbooks include text structure instruction. A comprehensive list of English Language Arts (ELA) approaches designed to promote comprehension in four textbook series reveals that cause and effect are taught as specific skills to be learned (Beerwinkle, Wijekumar, Walpole, & Aguis, 2018).

T-Charts and Venn Diagrams are also used to teach compare and contrast. To organize passages, sequence and description are frequently used, and children are asked to participate in activities such as numbering the water cycle. The terms “problem” and “solution” were rarely used in the textbooks examined.

In every case, text structure was taught as a separate skill to be learned apart from writing main ideas, summarizing, generating inferences, and monitoring comprehension. Teachers use the following sequence of activities to teach reading within the ELA classroom, according to our observations of teachers using these textbooks to guide instructional practices in classrooms (Beerwinkle, Wijekumar, Walpole, & Aguis, 2018):

Engage background knowledge and discuss some intriguing aspects of the text.

Vocabulary should be pre-taught or taught in context. For children who are unfamiliar with the terms, provide definitions and examples.

Preview the text by skimming it, reading headings, and reading sections. These activities can be done in a large group, small group, silent reading for an extended period, or some combination of classroom organization.

Concentrate on the “skill” of the week or a skill combination. Typically, textbooks concentrate on one aspect of the text. Genre, main ideas, summaries, inferences, comprehension monitoring, writing, and author’s purpose are some of the observed foci.

Teachers have also asked students to choose critical ideas from the text and provide a central point.

According to Beerwinkle et al., over 90% of teachers used strategies such as “Beginning-Middle-End,” “First sentence and last sentence,” rereading the passage, and looking for what is essential.

Teachers may ask students to complete a graphic organizer on cause and effect and a T-Chart or Venn Diagram for a comparison, depending on the focus of the week.

The location and manner in which the text structure is introduced during instruction is an essential distinction between the Text Structure Strategy and the applications of text structures listed above.

After completing all other instructions, the text structure is presented in step 6 of the observed teacher activity list.

Bottom Line

Text structure refers to how information in a text is organized.

Linguists study how text structure affects meaning in semantics.

When considering multimodality, or the interaction of different modes of conveyed meaning, text structure is critical.

Among them are linguistic, visual, aural, gestural, and spatial modes. Print, physical, and digital media are examples of different mediums.

Readers should evaluate modes and medium, take note of context, identify functions, and analyze relationships between lexical items when analyzing text structure.

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