Writing Madness Consolation Bracket #5 – Structuring a Paper!

The second round of our Writing Madness bracket has concluded, which left us with four writing issues that won’t be participating in the next round of voting. The Learning Hub’s writing staff have picked two of these four, and this week we will be presenting them along with specific resources to help you overcome your frustrations with them. This time? Structuring a Paper!

by Alex

I’m not much of a betting woman, but if I was, I would not have bet Structuring a Paper would lose to Staying Motivated. That’s what’s so exciting about Writing Madness: who knows who’s going to come on top!

However, Structuring a Paper did at least scrap its way into the Educational Eight, and I’m pleased to be writing about this particular topic. Despite how much it makes me want to throw my computer…

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*NOTE* One laptop may have been harmed in the making of this post

Over several years as a tutor, I’ve come up with a couple of strategies that I’ve found helpful and have led to a safer, more secure environment for all electronic devices. I hope some of these ideas and resources may be helpful to you on your writing journey.

  1. Organize using a pattern that fits with your assignment
    For certain assignments, certain patterns of organization make sense to use—no need to reinvent the wheel.
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Check out our handouts below about the three most common organizational structures: hierarchical, logical, and chronological.

  1. Let your thesis and purpose determine its structure

While writing during my undergrad, my ideas would often run away and leave me with a disorganized paper that was in no way connected to what I was supposed to be arguing.

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For me, returning back to the purpose of the assignment and the thesis statement was crucial to help me refocus. Sometimes, I would write the thesis statement on a post-it note and stick it to the side of my computer to remind me what I was supposed to be connecting each paragraph back to. This helped me maintain the structure and prevented me from going astray.

  1. Don’t be afraid to restructure

Sometimes, even the most well-planned outlines go awry. Maybe you discover you have more or less to say about a particular section than you anticipated, or you may even find some ideas aren’t as strong as you envisioned.

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That’s ok—revising the structure of a paper at the end of the paper is an important process that ensures your paper as strong as it can be—don’t feel like you need to stick to a particular structure just because it looked nice on your outline.

For more tips, see the Learning Hub’s handout on writing introductions below, visit the Learning Hub’s website for more handouts on writing skills, make an appointment with a tutor, and keep your eye on this blog!

I hope you found this resource helpful, and remember to vote in this week’s Writing Madness competition! Voting is open until 12:00pm CST tomorrow, March 21st. Voting in the final round will commence on Wednesday, March 22nd!

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