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Writing a Paper: Revising for Effective Organization

Revising for Effective Organization

Whole-Essay Organization:

These strategies will help you identify paragraphs with information or ideas that need to be rearranged or adjusted.

  1. Read each paragraph. On note paper, write the central idea for each paragraph, forming an outline of your paper.
  2. Read your summaries of each central idea and ask yourself the following:
    • Does each central idea help you support the thesis of your paper? If not, then you have gone off-topic. Identify which paragraph does not relate to your assignment, and revise it.
    • Do your ideas progress logically? If not, then you have presented them out of order. Identify which paragraphs to present earlier or later in your paper, and rearrange them.

Individual-Paragraph Organization:

These strategies will help you identify sentences that need to be added to your paragraphs. Additionally, click this link for more details about organization on the Writing Center website.

  1. Read each paragraph. Compare it to the MEAL plan (Duke University, n.d.):
    • Main point: The first sentence of each paragraph should present its main idea.
    • Evidence: The next line should support for your topic with cited sources.
    • Analysis: The next lines should explain the evidence and connect it to your topic.
    • Lead out: The last line of each paragraph should help readers shift smoothly to the new idea in the next paragraph.
  2. If you find any paragraphs that do not follow the MEAL plan, identify which element is missing (main point, evidence, analysis, or lead out) and revise your paragraph to include this material.

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