Pattern of organization of an essay

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Expository text typically incorporates five common patterns of organization, and transition words and phrases often signal the use of these patterns in text. These patterns are sometimes referred to as text structures. They are more commonly found in informational and opinion types of writing, but may also be used in narratives. The topic web graphic organizer below identifies the five patterns with a brief description below each. They are presented left to right from simplest pattern to most difficult.

Why is it important to teach students about these structures? Awareness of patterns of organization supports reading comprehension and improves the quality of student writing.

Patterns of Organization

Children in the primary grades can be introduced to them during read aloud by showing how authors incorporate patterns of organization in model text. Begin by showing students clear and obvious paragraph examples from text used in class. In the primary grades, where children typically write just a few sentences to a few paragraphs, have students produce a sample piece of writing that uses the same pattern found in the model text.

Gradually introduce additional patterns, ending with the most difficult problem and solution. Click here to download a free set of cards that can be used to introduce patterns of organization to young students.

Organizational Patterns

Click here to download a free set of paragraph templates for writing the five patterns or organization as shown in the description paragraph example below. Beyond grade 4 and into high school, much of the text that students read will incorporate multiple patterns of organization within the same text, possibly within the same paragraph. A news article, for example, might begin with a description of an event, then chronicle the sequence of details related to the event, and then end with an explanation of the effect that was caused by the event.

When introducing a pattern of organization to students in these grades, try to find text samples that clearly show how the pattern is used in isolation.


Focus is on location; time is ignored. If talking about descriptions, this method means that the writer explains or describes objects as they are arranged in space. First, the writer has to choose a specific starting point and then create an orderly logical progression by providing readers with directional signals they should follow from place to place.

If the description is complicated, you can use a simple chart or diagram to help your readers understand it quickly. A spatial organization of information in paragraphs is also called descriptive writing.

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It is often used when a narrator wants to describe how something looks. A volcano is a beautiful and dangerous natural phenomenon.

Definition of Organization

Logical order of location in space can be used in some narrations, classifications, comparisons, and other forms of expository writings. According to annual weather patterns, there are 6 major climate regions. In the extreme northern latitudes, the climate is polar without any plant life. Next to it, there is cold tundra in the extremes of the north of Asia and North America where we can find shrubs and grasses. In the adjacent temperate regions, there are forests with a rich diversity of plants.

Here is a short list of spatial order signal words which might indicate that a speaker or a writer is following a spatial organization pattern. Many of these words are prepositions that are placed at the beginning of sentences to connect them with the ideas expressed in the preceding sentences. The spatial pattern works well when writers want to create mental pictures of something that has various parts distinguished by physical location. You may start by describing a scene, object, or a location as a whole and then focus on specific details in the setting.

This type of organization is the best for describing a setting and scene, but writers can also utilize it for giving directions or instructions. If you wish to apply this method of organization in your description, you need to make a series of decisions. Read this description of a room where all the details are described in the order of their location in space.

Literacy Lines

When you walk in the door of my bedroom, the first thing you notice is a large bed on the wall. In front of my bed, there is a grey carpet on the floor. Above the bed, there is a beautiful picture and an old clock. As you turn to the left, you will see a wardrobe and a big mirror. This approach to the logical organization has some disadvantages as well.

Spatial order as a principle of organization