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Hi, welcome back. Writing tasks can be time consuming, but thinking
about how you will structure your material will save you a lot of time in the long run. Different structures serve different purposes, and in this video I’m going to talk about
some of the choices you have here. My ultimate aim is to help you to think more
carefully about the decisions you make to ensure that you always choose
the right structure for the job. One common way of ordering information
is the general to specific pattern. This is a very logical way of writing, and the chances
are that you tend to structure much of your writing in this way anyway , even if you
are not consciously aware that you're doing it What happens in a general to specific
text is that, as its name suggests, a writer begins with a general claim and
then moves to more specific details. Individual paragraphs, for instance, typically
follow the general to specific principle. It is quite common to see the general to specific
pattern combined with other well-known patterns. Sometimes it’s necessary to describe
a process or a sequence of events. Maybe you want to present
material in chronological order? If you want to describe a process
you might write something like: “The process consists of three main steps. The first step in the process is to do X. Secondly Y….and finally Z…” Other common ways of structuring
information include explaining or arguing for a causal relationship between two things. To explain cause and effect you
might begin with a phrase such as: “There is evidence that X contributes to causing Y.” This perhaps would make a good
topic sentence for a paragraph. But a discussion of cause and effect could also be
the central idea around which an entire section, or maybe even an entire essay, thesis,
or research article is structured. If you want to structure a piece of text
around a comparison or contrast, you might signal this with an
introductory sentence such as: “X differs from (or is similar to), Y in certain respects.” As you can see, by providing
these kinds of signal phrases, the reader will know what kind of
pattern to expect in a section of text. Another common pattern for structuring
information is the problem to solution pattern. In a problem-solution text, first of all some
sort of question or dilemma is raised. Following on from this, an answer to
this problem or dilemma is suggested. This is a common format for structuring an essay, but it could also be used at the
section, or even paragraph level. The chances are that you’ll use a mixture
of different patterns in your writing, and the main point here is that different ways
of structuring information can be combined to suit your particular purpose at
various different levels of the text. Now you know about some of these
patterns you’ll be better equipped to start applying them more
consciously to your own writing. Another thing I want to talk about is
the use of headings and subheadings. Headings and subheadings are
visual bookmarks for your reader and can make a piece of writing
much more manageable. The question of whether or not you should
use headings and subheadings in an essay is partly a matter of the specific instructions
that you have been given for a writing task. Whether or not you should use headings will also depend on the type of essay you are writing, and the discipline that you are writing within. A short essay might only have a main
title and no subheadings at all. In a longer piece of writing you’ll probably find
that you need to break your text down into more manageable sized chunks. If you are writing a paper which follows
the classic IMRAD structure, you might use the generic subtitles of
Introduction, Method, Results and Discussion. In other cases you might find topic-specific
headings and subheadings more useful. Though headings and subheadings can be a useful
way to divide up your text and provide signposting, they should not do the job for you. You still need to signal the purpose of any given section of text within the running text itself. [MUSIC]

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