Choose Your Organizational Structure

Selecting an organizational structure before you begin to write makes the actual writing process easier and more straightforward. If you recognize that you have several separate issues that need to be addressed, you might decide to use the category structure. Having made that decision, the next step is clear: identify your categories.

On the other hand, if you decide to write using a chronology structure, you won't list categories; instead, you'll start at the beginning and continue on sequentially.

As you review the nine organizational structures on the next page, consider the versatility and limitations of each, and note that no one organizational structure is better than another. The sections that follow are intended to help you understand how to make a decision about which organizational structure is appropriate for your project.

Copyright 2003 by Jane Cleland. Click Here for Terms of Use.

It's important to keep in mind that any project can use a combination of organizational structures. For example, consider an operating guide on how to use a washing machine. The guide might use a combination of the chronology and category organizational structures. The overall structure might be categorical (i.e., Before You Begin, Regular Washing Cycle, Delicate Cycle, Troubleshooting Guide, and so on). Within each category, however, the detailed instructions are likely to be organized chronologically (e.g., the Before You Begin section might start with "Before using your new washing machine, read the following safety instructions.").

Certain categories might use several structures. For instance, the Troubleshooting Guide (category) might list subcategories (i.e., machine won't spin). Within each subcategory, perhaps the guide would use a PAR (problem/action/results) approach combined with a chronological approach (e.g., "First see if the 'unbalanced' light is illuminated.").

Sometimes it's best to organize your content using a visual layout, such as a matrix or bulleted points.

There are a multitude of combinations. And there's no right or wrong approach. Make your choice based on the kind of project you're working on and what information you want to highlight.

The nine organizational structures are:

1. chronology

2. category

3. PAR (problem [or opportunity]/action/results)

5. visual layout

. . . plus four ways to say no or deliver bad news:

6. Bookend No

7. No with an Alternative

8. Diplomatic No

9. Direct No

It's important to understand each organizational structure's strengths and when to use each one. Each of the nine structures suggests a framework. Once you begin to work with the structures, you'll see how adhering to the standards streamlines and simplifies the entire writing process.

0 0

Post a comment