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How to Structure and Organize Your Essays

Structure and Organization: first of all, how do they differ?

  • Structure simply means that each individual paragraph does what it is supposed to do.
  • Alright then, what is a paragraph supposed to do? It depends what type of paragraph it is.
  • The types of paragraphs are as follows:
    • The introductory paragraph.
      The body paragraphs.
      The concluding paragraph.
    Basically, you just want to make certain that:

  • Your introductory paragraph does its job.
  • Your body paragraphs do their job.
  • Your concluding paragraph does its job.
  • For a one page handout that explains exactly what each paragraph must do, see The 5 Paragraph Essay Format.

  • Okay, So Much for Structure, Now What About Organization?

  • Organization is all about body paragraphs.
  • Why? Because everything that comes between your first paragraph and last paragraph is a body paragraph.
  • Your essay is mostly made up of body paragraphs.
  • What is Organization?

  • It is how you order the information. Think of it this way: in your essay you make a number of claims and provide much information that supports those claims. How you order claims and information is your essay's organization.


  • You are writing a paper on the current state of research on human cloning.
  • You decide to include two paragraphs of background information on the history of cloning research.
  • The two paragraphs appear on page four of your five page paper.

  • Your professor suggests that the organization requires revision because there is an abrupt shift in the essay's narrative. Why after almost four full pages about the current state of cloning research does your reader get two paragraphs on history?

    Including history is fine, but perhaps it should be included at the beginning of the paper, so that your narrative moves from the early days of cloning research to the current state of cloning research.

    It is the same information, but ordered differently.


  • Structure: each individual paragraph does what it is supposed to do. And again, see The 5 Paragraph Essay Format.
  • Organization: It is how you order the information.
  • Also see the handout Definition of a Thesis Statement.