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PARTS & SECTIONS

Click on any  part or section below:

Part I. Basics/Process

  A. Chapters 1-6: Start

  B. Ch. 7-13: Organize

  C. Ch. 14-20: Revise/Edit

Part II. College Writing

   D. Ch. 21-23: What Is It?

   E. Ch. 24-30: Write on Rdgs.

   F. Ch.31-35: Arguments

  G. Ch. 36-42: Research

  H. Ch. 43-48: Literature

   I.  Ch. 49-58: Majors & Work

Part III. Grammar 

   www.OnlineGrammar.org
 
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 Study Questions
     

 

                                                

Chapter 9: BASIC PAPER LAYOUTS

                 
What are basic section layouts of different types of papers?

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Is Structure a First-Draft or Second-Draft Concern?

Six Examples of Basic Types of Papers:

Typical College Paper

Paper with Summary, Precis, or Abstract at Beginning

Science Paper Using IMRaD

Inverted Pyramid of News Writing

History, Literature, or Humanities Flow of Ideas

Professional Proposal

Conclusion: Why So Many Types & How to Deal with Them?

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Introduction

This chapter discusses whether you should pay attention before or after your first draft to how the structure or pattern of a paper must be organized.  The chapter  then shows you some of the most common patterns of simple college and professional papers. 

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Is Structure a First-Draft or Second-Draft Concern?

Most college papers have a specific structure, form, plan, or map.  For example, most of them have

  • a short introduction--usually of just one paragraph

  • a body of several sections, and

  • a conclusion--usually of just one paragraph. 

In addition, the body sections have specific patterns, too.  Usually they have several paragraphs each.  And each body section performs a special function.  For example, in a thesis paper, each body section--usually there are just three or four--gives another major reason why the thesis argument is true.  Other types of papers have other patterns. 

Some types of papers have an even more specific type of structure.  For example, a college lab report uses what is called the "IMRaD" structure, with four very specific types of body sections called "Introduction," Methods, Result, and "Discussion."  Other types of papers exist, as well.

Do you start writing with a structure in mind?  The answer usually is "yes"--at least a little.  For example, if the purpose of a paper assigned to you is to write an academic argument using three reasons why it is true, you do not start with the phrase "Once upon a time," and then begin writing a fictional (made up) story.  You already know some structures from high school and/or from your reading experiences.

Just how much should you start with a specific structure in mind?  It is wise to know, at least in general, what kind of paper your instructor or professional supervisor has in mind.  Each type of paper can be very different.  Then you can at least start with the right kinds of questions and have a sense of the direction in which you are headed.  What often works best is to start by identifying the major body sections you will need, and then filling these in with your rough, first-draft writing.

Then, when it is time to start revising, you can polish your rough-draft organizational scheme by asking yourself, "Am I in fact using the organizational body sections exactly in the way the instructor or the discipline expects?  What examples can I see to better emulate the organizational scheme or map expected in this paper?  What style of writing should be used in these organizational sections?

The following diagrams and their descriptions show the most typical patterns in beginning and intermediate college writing.  There are all kinds of exceptions, slight variations, and sometimes very different patterns you will encounter.  The most important guidelines of all are (1) ASK THE INSTRUCTOR and (2) ASK FOR SAMPLES/EXAMPLES.  However, the patterns below will give you good preparation for the great majority of beginning college-writing courses.

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Six Examples of Basic Types of Papers
  

TYPICAL COLLEGE PAPER

 

Title

by Your Name

        Introduction

Introduction: A paragraph with a sent.

 summarizing the main point.  A quotation, background, or a brief summary of the main sub-points or sections may also be required.

        Underlined Subtitle

                                     

First of 3-5 body sections,
each with several paragraphs.

 

        Underlined Subtitle

                                     

Second of 3-5 body sections,
each with several paragraphs.

 

        Underlined Subtitle

                                     

Third of 3-5 body sections,
each with several paragraphs, et al.

 

        Conclusion

Conclusion: A paragraph with a sent.

 summarizing the main point or result.  A final quotation, brief summary of the main sub-points or sects., or future results may also be required.

       

College Paper

The typical general college paper has a 1- parag. intro, 3-5 body sections (each with several parags.), and a 1-parag. conclusion. Often, this type of paper is an analysis or a thesis argument.  If an analysis, each body section is one more interpretative point.  If a thesis, each section is a main reason why your argument is true.

Re subtitles, consult each instructor about what to do. Use differs among disciplines and even among individual instructors. Note that some disciplines--like sociology do not allow a introduction subtitle.

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COLLEGE PAPER WITH A SUMMARY, PRÉCIS, OR ABSTRACT NEAR THE BEGINNING

 

Title

by Your Name

        Introduction

Introduction: A paragraph with a sent.

 summarizing the main point.  A quotation, background, or a brief summary of the main sub-points or sections may also be required.

        Summary, Précis, or Abstract

                                     

A summary: This summary may be of what you read, of your paper, or of your findings/results, depending on the discipline and instructor.  Ask your instructor!

                                     

        Underlined Subtitle

                                     

First of 3-5 body sections,
each with several paragraphs.

                                     

        Underlined Subtitle

                                     

Second of 3-5 body sections,
each with several paragraphs, et al.

                                     

        Underlined Subtitle

                                     

Third of 3-5 body sections,
each with several paragraphs, et al.

                                     

        Conclusion

Conclusion: A paragraph with a sent.

 summarizing the main point or result.  A final quotation, brief summary of the main sub-points or sects., or future results may also be required.

       

College Paper with a Summary Section

In many discipline-oriented courses (i.e., those that are introductions to a specific discipline or profession, such as biology or nursing), you may need a specialized section immediately after your intro paragraph.  This may be called a "Summary," "Précis," "Abstract," or something else, depending on the discipline.

Ask your instructor how to write it, but it is always some type of highly logical, specifically-ordered summary. In some disciplines, it may be, instead, part of the introductory paragraph.

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BEGINNING SCIENCE PAPER (USING IMRaD)

 

Title

by Your Name

Introduction: A brief paragraph with a

sentence summarizing each of the four IMRaD sections.  Sometimes this introduction is not separate, but rather is at the very beginning of the "Introduction" section below.

        Introduction

The issue, needs, specific problem, and way of addressing it in this experiment or study in several paragraphs

        Methods/Materials

Description of the specific materials and/or methods used to carry out the research in several paragraphs

        Results

Description of the results or finds in several paragraphs

        Discussion

Extended discussion of the results--what they mean, what will or can happen next, what other experiments might be fruitful, etc.

        Conclusion

Conclusion: A brief paragraph summar-

 izing the "Discussion" section, sometimes with a sentence suggesting future directions.  This conclusion may not be separate but rather a final paragraph in "Discussion" above. 

       

Science Paper

The typical beginning science/laboratory paper often uses the "IMRaD" format:
   I
ntroduction,
   Methods and/or   
      
Materials,
   Results,
   and
   Discussion.

Its purpose is to show whether data supports or does not support an idea or opinion formed into a "hypothesis."

The first section, the "Introduction," is very different from the brief, one-paragraph intro to the entire paper.  The "Introduction" body section instead provides several  paragraphs of related  research or problems, and sometimes many quotations or paraphrases.

For more on IMRaD papers, see the chapter in this textbook called "IMRaD."

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INVERTED PYRAMID OF NEWS WRITING

 

Title

_________________________________________________

\                                               /

\       5 W's introductory sentence.       /

\-------------------------------------------/

\                                   /

\               WHO?                /

\                               /

\------------------------------------/

\                                  /

\                WHAT?           /

\                              /

\----------------------------/

\                          /

\        WHERE?       /

\                    /

\------------------/

\                  /

\      WHEN?    /

\              /

\------------/

\          /

\  WHY/  /

\ HOW? /

\    /

\  /

\/

News Article

The most basic form of news writing is the "inverted pyramid" and "5 W's" of journalism.  Start with an introductory sentence briefly summarizing all 5 W's.  Then give information answering the 5 W's questions.  Order this information from most important to least important (hence the "inverted pyramid").  You may use one or more paragraphs to answer each "W"  question, or even as little as a sentence or two.  However, you'll likely have more sentences or paragraphs for the more important W's.   

For more on this type of paper, see the chapter in this textbook called "News Article."

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HISTORY, LITERATURE, or HUMANITIES PAPER

 

Title

by Your Name

Introduction: A paragraph with a sent.

 summarizing the main point.  A quotation and/or background summary may also be required.

        [No extra line space, 1 extra line space, or subtitle]

                                     

1st main point in one or several paragraphs

                                     

        [No extra line space, 1 extra line space, or subtitle]

                                     

2nd main point in one or several paragraphs

                                     

        [No extra line space, 1 extra line space, or subtitle]

                                     

3rd main point in one or several paragraphs

                                     

        [No extra line space, 1 extra line space, or subtitle]

                                     

4th main point in one or several paragraphs

                                     

        [No extra line space, 1 extra line space, or subtitle]

                                     

5th main point etc.

                                     

       

Conclusion: A paragraph with a sent.

 summarizing the main point or result.  A final quotation, brief summary of the main sub-points or sects., or future results may also be required.

       

History/Liberal Arts
Papers

The typical college history paper--and sometimes those in other liberal arts--is  sometimes a series of points with little or no division into separate body sections. Often, an extra line space between major sections (if any) is allowable, even helpful. But some liberal arts instructors frown on subtitles, so always ask each instructor.

In college, some instructors think their own way of organizing is the same for others (even if it is not), and so they just assume you know how to write that way.  For this reason, you might want to show them a sample and ask if its organization is acceptable. 

For more on literature papers in particular, see the section in this textbook called "Writing to Literature."  See also the sections on "Responding to Reading" and "Arguing."

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PROFESSIONAL PROPOSAL

 

Title

by Your Name

        Introduction

Introduction: Several sentences

providing a statement of the type of paper, the need or problem, the solution, and the results

        Problem, Need, or Background

Several paragraphs discussing the need, problem, conflict, or other background

        Solution or Proposal

One or several paragraphs briefly describing the proposed solution or resolution to the problem

        Plan

Several paragraphs laying out the plan for implementing or reaching the proposed solution: often includes subsections like Schedule, Budget, Personnel, et al.

        Results

Several paragraphs laying out the plan for implementing or reaching the proposed solution: often includes subsections like Schedule, Budget, Personnel, et al.

        Conclusion

Conclusion: A paragraph (or separate

 section) with your credentials for this work, and a summary of the above

       

Proposal

In many business or professional situations, you must propose something--an idea,  action, or project. Though several types of proposals exist, the most common is to have these four or five main body sections:

   Problem
   Solution
   Plan
   Results
   (Credentials)

This format is very efficient and clear in proposing a change. It is so adaptable that it can exist in as little as a one-page letter or formal email on the one hand or, on the other hand, a government document running for several hundred pages in length.

For more on this type of paper, see the chapter in this textbook called "Professional Proposal."

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Conclusion: Why So Many Types & How to Deal with Them?

Many other types of college and professional papers exist.  Why are there so many?  They are created to deal with specific types of learning, thinking, and acting in specific disciplines, majors, and professional jobs.

The best way to deal with them is simply to recognize the following elements in common:

(a) They all have the traditional pattern of a beginning intro, a middle of body sections, and an ending conclusion.

(b) They all need clear writing that is organized and styled for a particular audience of readers--those in the discipline, profession, or public who need to read the documents.

(c) They all need clear paragraphs with clear transitions.

(d) They all need details to support what they are saying, whether these details are quotations and paraphrases, facts and numbers, graphs and charts, anecdotal story examples, or a mix of these.

(e) And they all are either an examination of a situation (an analysis) or an opinion or decision about it (an argument), or often both.

The best way to learn them is to start by learning the main patterns of college writing--analysis and argument--and to write the types of papers in your required introductory college courses.  Above all, when you are in doubt, ask your instructors for guidelines.  And it is helpful to look at books like this and to Google questions on the Internet about the structures and styles of papers in specific deadlines (e.g., "How to write a history paper?").  Once you know how to write for introductory college courses, then the next step will be to learn to write even better in your chosen major or discipline.  In some majors or disciplines, you will then know how to write for your profession.  In other instances, your first writing assignments in your future profession may seem very different.  But even if they do, remember that basic patterns do transfer across disciplines and professions, and you already have learned a lot of basics in college writing. 

The only other really important element to remember is that you must write clearly for your audiences.  So, figure out just who your audiences will be, what they expect, and how you can make your own writings easy for them to read.

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B. ORGANIZE

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Chapters:

  7. What Is "Organizing"?

  8. Major Organization

  9. Basic Layouts

10. Typical Section

11. Paragraph Patterns

12. Intros & Conclusions

13. Details & Images

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Additional:

Activities Page

Video

Universal Organizer
                       

                

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 Related Links in
OnlineGrammar.org:

  7. Organizing and Paragraphs

19. Visual & Multimodal Design

                

 

 

Updated 24 Oct. 2013

  

   

 

WritingforCollege.org also is at CollegeWriting.info and WforC.org

Natural URL: www.tc.umn.edu/~jewel001/CollegeWriting/home.htm
Previous editions: Writing for School & Work, 1984-1998; CollegeWriting.info, 1998-2012
6th Edition: 8-1-12, rev. 8-1-13.  Text, design, and photos copyright 2002-12 by R. Jewell or as noted
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