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PatternsofOrganization
ChronologicalPatterns
SequentialPatterns
SpatialPatterns
CompareContrastPatterns
AdvantagesDisadvantagesPatterns
CauseEffectPatterns
ProblemSolutionPatterns
TopicalPatterns

Thelinkbetweenclear,logicalorganizationandeffectivecommunicationispowerful,bothforthe
"sender"andthe"receiver."Forthewriter,awellorganizedoutlineofinformationservesasablueprint
foraction.Itprovidesfocusanddirectionasthewritercomposesthedocument,whichhelpstoensurethat
thestatedpurposeisfulfilled.Forthereader,clearorganizationgreatlyenhancestheeasewithwhichone
canunderstandandremembertheinformationbeingpresented.Peopleseekoutpatternstohelpmake
senseofinformation.Whenthereaderisnotabletofindapatternthatmakessense,chaosandconfusion
abound.Effectivecommunication,then,beginswithaclearlyorganizedsetofideasfollowingalogical,
consistentpattern.Thus,oneofthemostimportantdecisionsawritermakesconcernsthepatternof
organizationthatisusedtostructureandorderinformation.

Therearemanypatternsawritercanusetoorganizehis/herideas.Thespecificpattern(orcombinationof
patterns)chosendependsupontheparticulartopicandtheobjectivesthewriterhasidentifiedforthe
document.Thereisnoruletofollowinchoosingapatternoforganizationonemustsimplythink
carefullyaboutwhichpatternmakesthemostsenseinhelpingthereadertobetterunderstandand
remembertheinformation.Therearemanydifferentwaysoforganizingthesameinformation,andoften
twoormoredifferentorganizationalpatternsarecombinedtocreateafinaloutlineofinformation.

Themostcommonlyusedpatternsoforganizationaredescribedbelow.

ChronologicalPatterns
Achronologicalpatternoforganizationarrangesinformationaccordingtoaprogressionoftime,either
forwardorbackward.Whenatopicisbestunderstoodintermsofdifferentsegmentsoftime,a
chronologicalformatworkswell.Forexample,topicsofanhistoricalnaturearebestorganizedusingthis
pattern.

Whenusingachronologicalpattern,eachmainsectionofinformationrepresentsaparticularperiodof
time,andthesubpointscontainedwithineachmainsectionrefertosignificanteventsthatoccurred
withinthattimeframe.Avariationofthisorganizationalpatterninvolvesdividingatopicinto"past
presentfuture"or"beforeduringafter"segments.

Forexample,supposeawriter'sstatedpurposeistodescribethehistoricaldevelopmentandevolutionof
thecityofSeattle.AssumingthatSeattleis100yearsold,thewritercouldorganizetheinformationby
groupingitintofour25yearchunks.Inthiscase,thesubpointswithineachmainsectionoftime
representthemostsignificanteventsthatoccurredduringthatparticulartimeframe.Noticethatby
breakingthe100yearspanintodistinct25yearchunks,thewritercancreateanoutlinethatfollowsthe
guidelinesofoutliningdescribedunder"PrinciplesofOrganizing."Thisoutlinecontainsfourmutually
exclusiveandbalancedsectionsofinformation.

ChronologicalPatternExample

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I.18951920
1.SignificantEvent#1
2.SignificantEvent#2

II.19201945

1.SignificantEvent#1
2.SignificantEvent#2

III.19451970

1.SignificantEvent#1
2.SignificantEvent#2

IV.19701995

1.SignificantEvent#1
2.SignificantEvent#2

SequentialPatterns
Asequentialpatternoforganizationissimilartoachronologicalpattern,butarrangesinformation
accordingtoastepbystepsequencethatdescribesaparticularprocess.Usingasequentialpattern,each
mainsectionofinformationrepresentsamainstepthatonewouldfollowintheactualprocess.Thepoints
includedwithineachmainsectionrepresentthesubstepsonewouldfollow.Whenonewishestodescribe
aprocessthatfollowsaspecificseriesofstepsinaparticularorder,then,asequentialpatternworkswell.

Forexample,supposeawriter'sstatedpurposeistoexplainhowwineismade.Asequentialpatternwould
beeffectiveinthiscasebecauseitbreakstheprocessdownintoaspecificseriesofstepswhichshouldbe
followedinapreciseorder.Noticethataseriesofrelatedsmallerstepsaregroupedintoonelarger
category.Thus,aprocesswhichinvolvesmanyspecificstepscanbesimplifiedbyhighlightingthemost
fundamentalsteps,whichhelpsthereaderunderstandtheprocessandrememberitskeyparts.

SequentialPatternExample
I.StepOne:Harvestthegrapes
1.Harvestingprocedurenumberone
2.Harvestingprocedurenumbertwo

II.StepTwo:Preparethegrapes

1.Preparationprocedurenumberone
2.Preparationprocedurenumbertwo

III.StepThree:Fermentthegrapes

1.Fermentingprocedurenumberone
2.Fermentingprocedurenumbertwo

IV.StepFour:Pressthegrapes

1.Pressingprocedurenumberone
2.Pressingprocedurenumbertwo

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V.StepFive:Agethewine

1.Agingprocedurenumberone
2.Agingprocedurenumbertwo

SpatialPatterns
Aspatialpatternoforganizationarrangesinformationaccordingtohowthingsfittogetherin
physicalspacei.e.,whereonethingexistsinrelationtoanother.Thispatternworkswellwhena
writerwishestocreateamentalpictureofsomethingwhichhasvariouspartsdistinguishedby
physicallocation.Topicsinvolvinggeography,forexample,areoftenbestorganizedusingaspatial
pattern.

Forexample,supposeawriterwishedtodescribetheformsofentertainmentavailabletotourists
visitingSeattle.He/shecouldarrangetheinformationaccordingto"thingstodo"inthedifferent
districtsorgeographiclocationsofthecity.Noticehowthispatternoforganizationaidsthereader.
Itmakessenseforthewritertoorganizetheinformationbyphysicallocationbecausethe
informationiseasytounderstandanduseinthisformat,particularlyfortouristswhoarenot
familiarwiththearea.

SpatialPatternExample
I.DowntownWaterfront
1.Aquarium
2.PikePlaceMarket

II.SeattleCenter

1.SpaceNeedle
2.PacificScienceCenter

III.UniversityDistrict

1.UniversityofWashingtoncampus
2.The"Ave"(shopsonUniversityAvenue)

CompareContrastPatterns
Acompareandcontrastpatternarrangesinformationaccordingtohowtwoormorethingsare
similartoordifferentfromoneanother(orboth).Thisisaneffectivepatterntousewhenthereader
canbetterunderstandonesubjectwhenitisdescribedinrelationtoanother.Ifthereaderisfamiliar
withonetopic,thewritercancompareorcontrastitwithanothertopictoshedinsightonit.

Forexample,supposeawriter'sstatedpurposeistohelpthereadermakeaninformeddecision
aboutwhethertoattendatwoyearcollegeorafouryearuniversity.Onewaytoarrangethe
informationistocompareandcontrastthetwoeducationaloptionsalongseveralimportant
dimensions,suchascost,qualityofeducation,andvarietyofeducationalprograms.Inthiscase,the
numberofmainsectionsintheoutlinewoulddependonhowmanydimensionsorfactorswere
considered(threeinthecasebelow).Anotherwaytoarrangetheinformationwouldbetocreatetwo
mainsections,onethatdescribessimilaritiesandonethatdescribesdifferences(asshownin
example#2).Noticethateitherformatcouldbeequallyeffective.

CompareandContrastPatternExampleOne
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I.CostofTuition

1.Twoyear
2.Fouryear

II.QualityofEducation

1.Twoyear
2.Fouryear

III.EducationalPrograms

1.Twoyear
2.Fouryear

CompareandContrastPatternExampleTwo
I.PointsofComparison

1.EducationalPrograms
2.CostofTuition

II.PointsofContrast

1.QualityofEducation
2.TypeofDegree

AdvantagesDisadvantagesPatterns
Thispatternorganizesinformationaboutatopicbydividingitupintoits"good"and"bad"
parts,orpro'sandcon's.Itiseffectivetousewhenawriterwishestoobjectivelydiscussboth
sidesofanissuewithouttakingapersuasivestance.Thisallowsthereadertoweighboth
sidesofanissue.Aswiththecomparecontrastpattern,thereareanumberofpossible
variationstoanadvantagesdisadvantagespattern.Thesimplestformofthispatternisshown
below.

Suppose,forexample,thatawriter'sstatedpurposeistodescribetheadvantagesand
disadvantagesofattendingatwoyearcollege.Onewaytoarrangetheinformationisto
divideitintotwomainsections,onefortheadvantagesandoneforthedisadvantages.Inthis
scenario,theinformationcontainedwithineachmainsectionwillrepresentthespecifictopics
ofanalysis(cost,accessibility,etc).

AdvantagesandDisadvantagesExample

I.Advantages

1.Cost
2.Accessibility

II.Disadvantages

1.Numberofeducationalprograms
2.Qualityofinstruction

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CauseEffectPatterns
Thispatternisusedtoshowthedifferentcausesandeffectsofvariousconditions.This
patternisparticularlyeffectivewhenwritingapersuasivedocumentinwhichthewriter
advocatessomeactiontosolveaproblem,becauseitdemonstratesimportantrelationships
betweenvariables.Therearetwomajorvariationstothispattern(a)dividingtheoutlineinto
twomajorsectionscomprisedofcausesandeffectsor(b)dividingtheoutlineaccordingto
thedifferentcauses,withtheeffectsofeachcausecontainedwithinthelarger"causes"
section.Seetheexamplesbelow.

Supposeawriter'sstatedpurposeistoexplainthecausesofconflictescalationandtheir
effects.He/shecouldorganizetheinformationinoneofthefollowingtwoways.Again,
noticethateithermethodcouldworkequallywell.

CauseandEffectPatternExampleOne
I.CausesofConflictEscalation

1.Expandingtheissues
2.Personalattacks

II.Effectsofthesecauses
1.Losefocusonoriginalissue
2.Cycleofdefensiveresponses
3.WinLoseorientation
4.Negativeemotions

CauseandEffectPatternExampleTwo

I.Cause:Expandingtheissues

1.Effect:Losefocusonoriginalissues
2.Effect:Cycleofdefensiveresponses

II.Cause:Personalattacks

1.Effect:Negativeemotions
2.Effect:WinLoseorientation

ProblemSolutionPatterns
Aproblemsolutionpatterndividesinformationintotwomainsections,onethatdescribesa
problemandonethatdescribesasolution.Thispatternistypicallyusedinpersuasivewriting,
wherethewriter'sgeneralpurposeistoconvincethereadertosupportacertaincourseof
action.Thepatternisdesignedtocompelthereadertomakesomekindofchangeinopinion
orbehaviorbyestablishingthataproblemexists,thenprovidingasolution.Intheproblem
section,thewriteridentifiesdifferentaspectsoftheproblembeingdiscussedandoffers
evidenceoftheseproblems.Inthesolutionsection,thewriteridentifiesapotentialsolution
andsupportstheeffectivenessofthissolutionoverothers.

Forexample,supposeawriter'sstatedpurposeistopersuadehis/herreaderstoridebicycles
astheirprimaryformoftransportation.Firstthewriterwillattempttoestablishthatcommon
formsofmotorizedtransportationcreatecompellingproblemsthatrequireasolution.Then
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he/shewillshowhowtheproposedsolutionridingbikesprovidesabeneficialalternative
todriving.

ProblemSolutionExample
I.Problem:MotorizedTransportation

1.Increasingtrafficcongestion
2.Increasingpollution
3.Increasing"roadrage"fromtrafficrelatedstress

II.Solution:RidingBicycles

1.Bikeridingreducesthenumberofmotorizedvehiclesinuse
2.Bikeridingisnotasourceofpollution
3.Bikeridinghasphysicalandpsychologicalhealthbenefits

TopicalPattern
Thispatternisthemostcommonlyusedformat,andwilltypicallyworkwhentheother
patternsdonot.Atopicalpatternarrangesinformationaccordingtodifferentsubtopics
withinalargertopic,orthe"types"ofthingsthatfallwithinalargercategory.Usingthis
pattern,each"type"representsamainsectionofinformation.

Forexample,supposeawriterwishedtodescribevarioustypesofwine.Onewaytooutline
thisinformationwouldbetodividethetypeofwinebyitscolor,asshowninexampleone.A
secondwaywouldbetodividethetypesofwinebytheregioninwhichtheyweremade,as
showninexampletwo.

TopicalPatternExampleOne

I.RedWines

A.European

1.Bordeaux
2.Burgundy
3.Chianti

B.Californian

1.CabernetSauvignon
2.PinotNoir
3.Zinfandel

II.WhiteWines

A.European

1.Bordeaux
2.Burgundy
3.Mosel

B.Californian
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1.SauvignonBlanc
2.Chardonnay
3.Riesling

TopicalPatternExampleTwo
I.EuropeanWines

Red

1.___
2.___
3.___

White

1.___
2.___
3.___

II.CalifornianWines

Red

1.___
2.___
3.___

White

1.___
2.___
3.____

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